Budget Tours Expert Insight Safety Tips Tips n Tricks

Baños – The House tree and the swing

I always wanted to go to Baños one day, the “swing at the end of the world”, the waterfalls. And today I went! Baños – swing Casa del Arbol

I took the bus from Riobamba to Baños, a bus drive of 2/3 hours, with once again a great view along the way.

I arrived in Baños, looked for a hotel (which are really easy to find, they’re everywhere), within 5 to 10 minutes I had a room (for 10$ a night).

One of the things Baños is known for is Casa del Arbol, also known as the swing at the end of the world. The first thing I did when I got a room was looking for someone who could bring me to Casa del Arbol. The tourist offices aren’t hard to find (they’re everywhere).

They picked me and some other tourists up with a bus, we first drove to a point from where you had a great view over Baños. After about 15 minutes we drove further to Casa del Arbol. Once I saw the swings, I was super excited. I waited in line for about 5 to 10 minutes. And then I was my turn! I went on the swing, I got strapped down (so I wouldn’t fall down). There is a person who pushes you, and then you’re swinging on the swing, with a great view and great feeling of freedom.

13410563_10206494670185797_1489041852_o - Baños - Swing Casa Del Arbol

We stayed at Casa del Arbol for about an hour, were you can enjoy yourself with a great view, some traditional Ecuadorian food and you can get on some other swings.

We went back to the city centre, I walked around for a bit, looked for some food (found some vegetarian food, yay) and went back to my hotel.

 Baños – swing Casa del Arbol

The next morning, I walked through the city centre and went through some shops. I decided what to do in Baños, because there is a lot for you to do in Baños, you won’t get bored. You can go rafting, canyoning, paragliding, bridge jumping, canopy, horseback riding, you can go to the jungle for a few days.

I decided to go paragliding, I’ve never done it before and for 60$ you can go paragliding, so I looked for a tourist office and booked my trip. Around two I met my guide, he first showed me how to paraglide, how to get up in the air and how to get down.

We drove for about 30 minutes to the location, once you get there you have a great view over Baños and you can see the volcanos Tungurahua and Cotopaxi. They made everything ready and we were ready to get up in the air! Once you’re in the air you have a great view over Baños and all the other cities that are nearby. You are allowed to take pictures, so of course I took allot of pictures!

The feeling you have once you’re up in the air is amazing. We did some tricks, which is really, really awesome! After about 30-45 minutes we went back down, the landing didn’t go so well (my first time). But all in all I had a great flight. We drove back to Baños, where they dropped me off and I walked through the city centre again, they have a great city centre. I looked for some food and went back to my hotel.

The next morning, I wanted to go bridge jumping but because of the heavy rain fall I decided not to do it. Instead I went to the church “Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water”, were they have paintings that tell the history of Baños.

The weather cheered up little, so I went for a walk through the lovely nature Baños has to offer, but it started to rain again, so I took went home earlier.

I would definitely go back to Baños, I had a really great time. If you ever find yourself in Ecuador, you should definitely go to Baños.

Budget Tours Expert Insight Independent Safety Tips Tips n Tricks Uncategorized

Galapagos – Santa Cruz

Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz

The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder – it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place that provided inspiration for Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of natural selection.

If there is one place on earth that you should absolutely go at least one time in your life is definitely, the Galapagos Islands. It should be in your bucket list without a doubt. I remember when I was a child watching National Geographic and being astonished of that incredible beautiful Islands of Galapagos and I promised myself that one day I’ll travel there.

Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz

I heard about the Galapagos in the context of Darwin’s research and theory conducted on the different islands allowing him to compare the differences of evolution of species.

When I arrived at the airport of Baltra, there is a bus to take for around 5-10 minutes and then a boat to pass the channel between Baltra and Santa Cruz (2 minutes). The first thing that surprised me is that there is only one road linking the North part of the Island to Puerto Ayora which is the town where people live. The reason for this one road is that the rest of the entire island is a protected area where no alteration of humans can be done.

My first visit in Santa Cruz was the world’s top 10 most beautiful beaches, Tortuga Bay. In order to arrive there, you need to walk for 40 minutes in order to arrive to the actual beach. Alongside the walk, you can enjoy Santa Cruz flora with big cacti, different type of trees such as Mangroves, Palo Santo. The beach was absolutely stunning, the sand was white and the water, crystal clear. When you start walking toward the bay, you can admire Marine Iguanas taking a nap under the shadows of Mangrove trees. I enjoyed my day at the beach, swam in the sea, did some snorkeling and relaxed.

Sea turtle - Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz

In the evenings, there are always great things to do. There are many great restaurants, bars where you can have a drink. Or just walk around and shop.

The next activity I did on the island, was the Bahia Tour (or Bay tour), which takes you on a boat to discover Santa Cruz bay and the surroundings. It was me and an Ecuadorian family very excited as well for this day trip! While waiting for the boat to arrive, we all took pictures of the relaxed sea lions laying on the benches at the port. With the boat we managed to close enough to take pictures of the famous blue footed boobies! They were magnificent! We went to Las Grietas which are caves where you can enjoy a swim and the crystal clear water, to some snorkeling and refresh yourself. After that we went to do snorkeling in a place where there are an abundance of sea turtles and sea lions. The experience was incredible! Right before the sunset, we went to the “Playa de los perros”, where you can see a reef of sharks. We then enjoyed the sunset on the boat on the way back to the port.

In Santa Cruz, there also the highlands worthwhile visiting. It not only gives you an amazing view from the entire island, but as it is a little cooler and more humid: the land is home to the famous Giant Tortoises. There are ranches you can visit where you can enjoy the natural habitat of these Tortoises and a guide will tell you the story of those beautiful creatures. In the afternoon, the tour continued to the Garrapatero beach, which is a rather small white sand beach. I did kayak for more than an hour exploring the bays, where it is forbidden for humans to access by feet those places as it a protected area.

I decided to visit the largest island of the Galapagos, Isabela Island. After a 2-hour trip by boat, I had the impression to be in a postal card view. The colors of the water were unreal! Together with the group, we visited the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where they explained to use the process of breeding and their conservation and preservation efforts. We then visited a lake with Flamingos, that decided to start living there instead migrating every winter. At the end of the day we enjoyed snorkeling in a bay, it was beautiful. Next time I go back, I’ll visit the spectacular volcano and Las Grietas where is one of the best places in the Galapagos to snorkel.

Another activity that you can’t miss is the Darwin Center! Together with the guided group, we walked around and got a better insight on Darwin’s theory and what kind of species he was comparing. In the center, there are some rare species they desperately try to preserve. In the afternoon, we enjoyed snorkeling around on a beach in the actual center.

Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz

I got the chance to be part of the Pinson tour. It’s a chance because there is only one boat per day with 10 people maximum that gets the opportunity to do the tour. It means that for the entire day, you won’t see any other boat on your trajectory, and you’ll be the only ones enjoying the different islands you visit. This day, I got the chance to swim with sea lions, penguins, and turtles. It was absolutely fantastic! We did a beach landing and got free time to enjoy the beach where there were only us. We could see on the sand the pathways of the sea turtles going in the land to set up their nests.

My last experience, was scuba diving. I didn’t have my license so I did a discovery day where we had instructors showing everything you need to know and assist you constantly. The day was absolutely perfect. We went first for scuba diving in North Seymour and then scuba dived for 45 minutes. The water was crystal clear and the visibility was incredible! We swam with white-tipped sharks, beautiful fish, turtles. We saw Batoidea, commonly known as Rays. There are such beautiful creators and the expert eyes of our guides were needed in order to find them.

Galapagos, Santa Cruz - Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz

Budget Tours Independent Safety Tips Tips n Tricks Uncategorized

Devil nose train

By Iris Bearslag

I’m in Alausí, a village in the Andean highlands of Ecuador to experience the Train ride to Devil’s nose.
I took the bus from Riobamba to Alausí, a two hour bus drive, with fantastic views the whole way, before i knew it i was in Alausí. I looked for a hotel (which are not hard to find in Alausí, within five minutes of my arrival I found a room, also important it was affordable, 15$ for one night), walked through the village and enjoyed the great scenery Alausí has to offer. Tomorrow I will take the train ride Nariz del Diablo, also known as the devil’s nose.

I woke up early, because today at eight o’clock I will take the train ride Nariz del Diablo. I took a shower, looked for some breakfast and was ready to go.

Alausí -Sibambe- Alausí, 12km to Nariz del Diablo
The whole train ride was amazing, it was a two hours long rise and on one side of the carriage you were able to look down on the mountains and on the other side you were able to look up towards the mountains. Along the way a guide told something’s about the things you saw along the way and how the railroad was made.Nariz del Diablo - Train Ride To Devil's Nose
While we were riding towards Nariz del Diablo, we were driving past Sibambe were we could see natives do a traditional dance, as we were driving by a cowboy (native on a horse) was riding along the carriage, waving at us. We stopped in front of Nariz del Diablo, were the cowboy was greeting us and letting you in the horse (for a small payment). From here you could really see the devil’s nose.

From Nariz del Diablo we rode back to Sibambe, were we stopped for an hour and were able to enjoy; some traditional dances from the Nizag community, a great scenery, a museum about how the railroad was made and you were able to walk around for a bit I was able to do all of it, and while I was walking around I saw beautiful birds and insects including a hummingbird and a monarch butterfly. After the hour was done, we rode back to Alausí it was the same way back, but still an amazing view to see, as some Ecuadorians thought otherwise, some slept the whole way back, but as for me it was amazing.

Being back in Alausí I bought, as a real tourist, some souvenirs, which are not hard to find because almost the whole town was full of touristy things.
I went to a restaurant (the first one I’ve seen which said vegetarian food available) ate some vegetarian food, walked up to San Pedro (a huge statue of San Pedro) and enjoyed my view. After that I went back to Riobamba by bus (also very cheap about 2,5$) again a two hour bus drive with amazing scenery.

Nariz del Diablo - Train Ride To Devil's Nose