……swing high; or not!
Day 11; Baños to Cotococha Lodge, Tena. 146Km/90m
To catch up with the story so far; click Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7/8, Day 9, Day 10
Todays ride to the Cotococha Lodge near Tena was a short 146Km/90m, so we had a leisurely morning and planned to go try out one of Baños’ more adrenaline pumping attractions,Casa del Arbol, or “swing at the end of the world”. This is just a short ride (or a long hike) up into the hills just outside Baños.
There are several different sites where swings are situated around Baños, so we took our direction from the town map and headed off. I did find out later that neither of the two swings we visited was the actual, well documented, Casa del Arbol – ho hum!
Any hoo….I’m not really your gung ho adrenaline junkie, but I had been researching and the pics I had seen caught my eye (I later come to find out that these were of the real place). However, as we started to weave our way up the mountain, I noticed what looked like “the swing”, right up there at the top……my “I can do this” wavered slightly at the sight!
If you squint enough you can just see the swing, right in the center at the top of the green!
Onward, and upward, we rode, twisting our way towards the fun! The closer we got, the more I was thinking “nope”!
On a side note, I just want to point out the tenacity of the farmers around here. These slopes were steep but they were determined to get their greenhouses set up – this must have taken some work to do!
Eventually, we found our way to the first swing; as we rode in to the parking, my first words were “oh Hell NO”.
This was so not going to happen!
This was not the idea that I had in my head of the swing. This was a death machine. There was not a snowballs chance in hell that I was getting near that dang thing, let alone being strapped in and swinging out over the edge. JUST NO!!
We chatted to the nice chap who tried to persuade us it was “safe and fun” but politely declined to partake.
I said to Iain that this wasn’t what I had seen in my research and maybe we should look further for the other one! Back on the bike, we did indeed see a previously missed sign. We followed this and again, rode in to a parking area……shaking my head. Same deal. Same set up. Just a big old, lets jump off the side of a mountain thing. Nope, not happening 🙁
Again though, this did not resemble the photos I had seen so maybe we hadn’t found the reviewed Casa del Arbol that I was seeking. But I was too over it by now. My stomach was churning just looking at these things so there was no way I was going to carry on looking!
I had been looking forward to getting a shot of the bike with the active volcano,Tungurahua, in the back ground, replicating the ones I had seen on Freedoms Bike Rentals tour info.
Sadly, that was not to be, the cloud came down and completely obscured the view of Tungurahua, nice shot of the bike though! and a really good photo of the city of Baños.
We wound our way back down to the town, finished packing our bags, bade farewell to the incredibly helpful Edgar, and set off for the Cotococha Lodge. The last stop of our adventure.
Following the route, it took back along the “Ruta des Cascades” and we took advantage of the clear road to get in a few more memory shots before getting down to the penultimate ride.
….& a couple more waterfalls 🙂
The weather had set in some by this time and it was hard to take pictures because of the drizzle. Not enough to make us uncomfortable though and we stayed warm and dry throughout.
The route was an enjoyable slow curving ride and the roads were some of the best maintained we had ridden during this trip. None of the random huge pot holes or parts of road fallen away!
Its a shame about the weather really as the route took us along a river for much of the way and the photos could have been pretty cool!
Did get a shot of this silly driver though – pootling along on his wheel rims with two flat tires!
We gradually began to descend along the eastern slopes of the Andes into the Amazon River Basin. As we rode into the rainforest, the vegetation changed from the thick deciduous mountain terrain to more junglesque pampas grass, bamboo and banana/plantain trees.
Leveling around 1000ft elevation, the air became warmer and more humid as we passed through Puyo.
Continuing on and resting at 500ft,we turned in to a road that took us alongside the Napo River and deeper into the Amazon Jungle until we reached our stop at the Cotococha Lodge.
Welcomed to the Lodge, a beautifully maintained eco resort overlooking the Napo River, by the amazingly helpful manageress, Karim, we were shown to our lovely bungalow which was situated right on the river.
Having to lug our bags up and down the steps, Iain did have a little joke about all our accommodations being the farthest away possible!
But he was very happy with our accommodations 🙂
Fun Fact; there is NO electric in the bungalows! No hairdryer for me then! At night, we were provided two oil lamps to light the rooms 🙂
We headed back up to the main lodge area where we could link up to the wifi and catch up with the news on Hurricane Irma. Sadly, it wasn’t looking good. The path was showing Irma to be aimed right at Tampa, where our daughter, our home and our business are. We spent a tense few hours trying to make plans with our great friend Michelle who was taking care of everything for us. We were due to be staying at the lodge for two nights and had a fun excursion planned for the next day but we were beginning to rethink out plans and considering heading back in to the city sooner so we could be in better contact, follow the news easier and be in a more accessible place should we need to get home fast.
With nothing else we could do that day, we tried to enjoy the facilities and relax a while.
Note how well my bikini blends in with the foliage 🙂
We were the only guests at the lodge that evening and felt very well cared for with a 3 course delicious meal specially made for us and very attentive service.
After a couple of drinks, we took our lamp and headed back to the bungalow where we settled down for the night with the sounds of the fast flowing river and various “jungle noises” helping us drift off to sleep!