……the day I’d been looking forward to!

Day 3; Mindo to Bahia de Caraquez. 315Km/196m
Via; Laguna Azul & Hacienda La Isla
To catch up with the story so far; click Day 1 & Day 2

Spoiler alert; today’s post will mainly be photos ~ so if you’re only on here for my banter, I apologize!!!

To see ALL the pictures from this hike and the beautiful pools & falls, follow this link 🙂

Laguna Azul

After another great nights sleep, we enjoyed a scrummy breakfast and enjoyed another chat with our new friend AnaLú. Then we took a quick walk around the garden areas. El Septimo Paraiso would be a wonderful place to come with a party of friends, the outside facilities are just perfect to gather and party in. The bar/restaurant area and the food are all wonderful and the bedrooms are roomy, comfortable and well appointed.

El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
El Septimo Paraiso
Then we were off and on our way to the part of this trip that I had been most looking forward to. This was going to make up for my disappointment at missing out on my waterfall fix yesterday!
We climbed in elevation from the warmth of Mindo until we were back on the main asphalt road and headed west. It became a bit chillier and was quite foggy as we descended along the western slopes of the Andes. We passed out of the cloud forest and transitioned to tropical rainforest. True to its name, it was very overcast and began to drizzle gently. I began to fear we were going to have a “Cliffs of Moher” moment; check out my daughters post for an explanation 😉
We pulled in to the very understated entrance; basically you just turn into what looks like a private homes parking area! We wouldn’t have known it was here if it wasn’t for the faded sign. There was a kindly old fellow there who tried very hard to explain everything to us – major communication breakdown!
Laguna Azul

Eventually, we worked out that we needed to give him $7 and we could be on our way, he pointed in the general direction, we gathered it would be about 20 minutes hike (ask me later how that translation worked out!) and then he left us to it.
Now, think on this; when we ride, we are in protective gear, big armored jackets and pants, and protective, heavy boots. Of course, we couldn’t hike in this but thankfully, as I’m “Mrs Organized“, we had planned ahead! I had worn my swimming gear, topped with a t-shirt and exercise pants under my outer gear and we had our “splodging (water) shoes” and travel towels in the top box, easy access! Off we skipped……..

Laguna Azul hike
Hike Path to Laguna Azul
Laguma Azul

From what we had understood, and I use the term, “understood” loosely, the hike time to the first pool was only 5 minutes and it was all downhill. This part was quite accurate. We started to hike down rough steps and were immediately thankful that we had planned ahead. There was no way this could have been done in our riding gear! The rain had eased off a bit and I was feeling happy 🙂

About 5 minutes after starting, we rounded a bend and were rewarded with this wonderful sight………

Laguna Azul
Laguna Azul

This was the first pool we came across and I was amazed. So beautiful

Bamboo bridge

There was a small area across the bamboo bridge where you could change to swim and a rather unique looking toilet!
We chose to carry on with the hike to the second pool; after all, the man had said it was only 20 minutes, right?!?!

We crossed over the bamboo bridge (carefully!) and immediately hit our first upward climb. It was pretty steep and also quite slippery from the rain. After that, there were many more ups and downs of steps and paths in varying degrees of steepness/safety.
When you add in my frequent stops for photos and this made for some slow going!

As the path leveled out, we passed many thick growths of amazingly tall bamboo ~ from the ground, looking up, it seemed almost to reach the sky!

We went, up, down, across, up again and then across another rickety bridge and I mean rickety; this one had huge holes in it!

At this point we had been walking 20 minutes so we figured that we were nearly there………..
Not quite, we still had more up and down to do, except this included one slip that landed me on my bum
~ good job it’s cushioned!
At least the rain had stopped!

Finally…..35 minutes from the 1st pool and nearly 45 minutes – not 20 – from the start, we forgot how out of puff we were when this teasing view appeared…
…shortly followed by this;
no more words needed 🙂

It was simply a wonderful place to be! Made all the better as we had it to ourselves to enjoy.
We stayed and played for a while and I fulfilled a life goal by swimming up to and behind the falls!
it would be a great place to have a picnic and just relax the day away 🙂

Again, there was a little changing hut that made it easy to store clothes and keep things dry while splashing and then some privacy for changing after the fun!

Eventually, it was time to leave, we still had quite the ride ahead, not to mention the hike back!

We made it back up to the bike again with no further slips and did the whole changing thing in reverse, waved goodbye to the helpful chap and hit the road again.
We were heading for Hacienda La Isla, a place where we could stop for a coffee and a snack before the long ride across to the coast.

Bonus attraction of this place was the wooden suspension that needed to be crossed to get there 🙂

After this, it was time to haul ass over to the coast and Bahia de Caraquez which was our stop for the night, We still had 4+ hours to ride and it was already past 1pm; it is recommended to be off the road before sundown, approx 6pm.  Iain was happy to be out on the open road and able to open her up and really use the bike to her full potential!

As the altitude decreased, the temperature rose. It became humid and memorable of riding back home. However, it was still overcast and just as I was thinking we were lucky to be seemingly bypassing the rain, the heavens opened up and we got drenched. It was a good test of our new gear and I’m happy to say, it passed with flying colors. Not a drip got inside and we both stayed nice and dry!
The tarmac led us on easy roads that eased and down and had long sweeping curves. We passed through small villages and through the larger towns of La Concordia, Pedernales, Jama and Canoa, just glancing visits; before arriving at Bahia de Caraquez, our home for the night. Our happy dance stopped abruptly……..but more about that tomorrow 🙁