I hike up from Baños to catching a glimpse of the snow capped Tungurahua volcano surrounded by grassy paramo and a thick forest. Clouds hang low in the region and after hiking through a foggy patch I emerge over the cloud layer and watch the beautiful conical peak golden under the rays of evening sun
Like most travellers typically do, I check a few adventure sport agencies to choose what activity I would prefer to do. Without much deliberations, I rent a bicycle for $5 a day from one of the bike stores and decide to embark upon an ambitious journey beginning in hills of Baños ending all the way to the Amazon basin some 62km east. Well, not quite ambitious, since this is a standard bicycling route called “Ruta de las Cascadas,” or route of the waterfalls
I liked Baños instantly, mostly because the bus stand is flanked by a row of atleast a dozen sugarcane juice stalls. It had been three years since I had sugarcane juice in India, and it’s my absolute favourite. I excitedly went to a seller and asked for a glass of juice. As I held up the glass, my eyes got a bit moist, it reminded me of my hometown and my childhood
There are numerous hiking trails around Baños with towering mountains in any direction you look. Tungurahua volcano is generally climbable but since 1999, the volcano has sprung back to life, and it’s not safe anymore. Last major eruption was in 2006 when the town had to be evacuated and it took months to cleanup the volcanic ash dumped into the valley. Still, it’s possible to hike to the top of the southern mountain and catch glimpse of mama Tungurahua. She looks very beautiful
Hitch hiking two rides from Latacunga, I ended up in the little tourist town of Baños in the central Andes. The town is located at the base of the active Tungurahua volcano, which has been pretty active lately with the last eruption reported in April 2011.
Originating from Quichua tunguri (throat), rahua (fire) “Throat of Fire”, I wasn’t able to see the volcano for two days due to a thick cloud and fog cover. The third day, after I hiked to the top of mountain and above the cloud layer and the volcano Tungurahua rewarded me by revealing herself, albeit for a brief moment. Thank you Mama Tungurahua!