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Baños & Alausí (Paillon & Nariz del Diablo)!

Baños & Alausí (Paillon & Nariz del Diablo)!

Jun 9th, 2015, 03:31 PM
  #1  
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Baños & Alausí (Paillon & Nariz del Diablo)!

This is just a small slice of a month in Ecuador. I had a few days between Mindo (birdwatching, boring to all but about 3 Fosdorites) and Galapagos.

So decided to go Quito -Baños (2 nights)- Alausí (1 night)- 8 am train- Quito. As I write this I am at a lovely hosteria above the town of Alausí,

But first, Baños.
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Jun 9th, 2015, 03:55 PM
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First, the bus. Despite being clanged awake at 7:15 am by cleaning staff banging buckets outside my room, I took forever to leave my Quito old town hotel. On Sunday the taxis don't use meters. Easy negotiation from $10 down to $8 (but then I dropped a $1 coin in the seat) So he got $9 with tip. Quitumbe bus station is really rather far, even without traffic.

To pick a bus line I just looked to see where all the other people were lined up for Baños. The company was San Francisco, rather nice and no need to change buses. The Quitumbe station is modern and spacious, well signed and there are also people to point out which way. IIRC it was $4.25 and took about 4 hours.

The ride is scenic, especially as you enter the canyon near Baños. The volcanoes were mostly clouded out at the top. Sunday is a good day for long distance bus travel, I think. Arriving into Baños you see people pullong taffy and slicing up sugar cane (eith machetes) and pressing juice for sale. On Sundays lots of roadside food stands. Across from the station many stalls selling the regions special candies and bags of cane to chew ($1). Central Baños is compact. The station is in town, not far from many lodging, dining and touring options.
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Jun 9th, 2015, 04:20 PM
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Hotels in Baños. Actually I stayed in two because I wasn't happy with the first "La Casa Verde Eco Guest House". I am rather mystified by their high ranking on TA. Perhaps because the owners have been away for months. A pair of "managers" are in charge (English/Argentinian). Based on the few questions I had, the girl knew very little about Baños other than what was in the printed materials. E.g. Q: are there any restaurants nearby, since you don't offer dinner on weekends? A: I don't know, we recommend 4 in town. Q: Are there any group tours to visit the waterfalls. A: Most people come here for adventure activities. Q: How do I get to Alausí? A: I don't know, but I can find out. (I aske a taxi driver). Amenities were limited (just a tiny knob of soap, temperamental hot water, no hair dryers) and the vaunted views even from the best rooms just so-so. Actually my view was of the muddy path and neighbor's windows. Given that it was a $2 taxi ride into town I decided there was no compelling reason to stay a second night.
I moved to La Floresta in town. A full service hotel with an amazingly helpful Ecuadorean staff. Excellent breakfast, view of the falls from the roof. All rooms look into a private garden. They were able to answer all questions (with a smile). Good showers, cable TV. But, a surprise in the morning, megaphones at the schools on either side! It seems there will be no sleeping after 7 am on this trip, ever.
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Jun 9th, 2015, 06:47 PM
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On the road again mlgb? Liked Banos a lot and stayed at La Chiminea.. Hope you experienced the hot springs?

Looking forward to hearing more of Alausí as I have never heard of the place. Where else do you have planned apart from Galapagos?
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Jun 10th, 2015, 03:53 PM
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Hi crellston. Yes just a month. I flew to Cuenca for 8 nights, then Mindo (birds), back to Baños, now Quito after very short train ride followed by 6 hrs bus, then Galapagos and home.

Time to hunt and peck,so report continues.

Eating in Baños. Both places included breakfast. La Floresta featured mora or babaco juice, fresh pineapple and papaya. Fresh rolls,croissants,good granola,yogurt, cheese, ham and steam table eggs. Casa Verde had incredibly watery citrus juice, fresh fruit salad, bananas,yogurt, good bread, oat "dust", hard cheese, avocado, sliced tomato and one ant. Snacking included ice cream (Da-Leo) in lemongrass lemongrass & taxo. A bag of sliced sugar cane, taffy and guava paste candy. The fresh sugar cane was a throwback to my youth. Walking into town Sunday night I found Paradero Santa Ana which is next door to Primax gas station near Casa Verde. They had fresh lamb "borrego asado". Delicious,cooked medium but still "suave". The boiled papas came with a fresh cheese sauce. IRC there was also a broth starter with potato and pasta. Ice cream, perhaps guanabana. I added a taxo jugo. Altogether $9.50 & perhaps the best meal of the trip at this point. It was clean & seems new but I can only speculate that Casa Verde doesn't recommend because they aren't an expat hangout?
Dinner number two was a bit later and choices were limited on Monday. The desk clerk suggested Bamboo Steak House. But 2/3 of the bag of sugar Ice cream, perhaps guanabana. I added a taxo jugo. Altogether $9.50 & perhaps the best meal of the trip at this point. It was clean & seems new but I can only speculate that Casa Verde doesn't recommend because they aren't an expat hangout?
Dinner number two was a bit later and choices were limited on Monday. The desk clerk suggested Bamboo Steak House. But 2/3 of the bag of sugar cane takes takesthe edge off appetite. I found La Abuela Cafe open near the church.(There are two restaurants with similar names, the other in a house near the Virgin baths). A nice juicy chuleta, piña soda, and a cheesy soup for $4+ish and just the right amount *ignoring most of the rice. Pleasant service.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:18 PM
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Things to do in Baños.The "piscina" obviously! (And hopefully no one did). I went to the ones at the Virgin falls. While guidebooks suggest going in the morning, I thought the hot pools were too much then. Chatting with a local, he said it depends on the person doing the filling. The afternoon was perfect temps and less crowded. Procedure as followsay $2 at window, get ticket and walk around to give it to the girl at gate. If you don't have a bathing cap (gorro) you can rent one for .50 or buy one for $1.50 at the little snack bar just ahead. A ramp goes upstairs to the main pool, changing rooms. Administracion is where you can leave stuff in a crate.You must shower first, the warm ones are outside near the clear (cold) pool which no one uses! The big murky pool is comfortably warm with a great view if the falls. Downstairs is a smaller hot pool with a 5 minute limit. The hottest pool was 38˙ (I was told). A great place, I had intended to go 3x but got a bit lazy to walk the 8 or so blocks at night.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:30 PM
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Chiva bus tour of the falls (Pailón del Diablo). Not having ridden a bike in over 30 years, I opted for one of the $5 party buses. Advertised all over town except Casa Verde (snark). A fun time. The first !eaves at 1:30 pm and returns around 4? Allows a few photo stops, chance to take a tarabita cable car and an hour for the falls at Rio Verde. The new hotel mentioned there is also a $6 double decker bus. Pailón del Diablo waterfall was impressive! We came in from the top at Rio Verde, you view the "cauldron" and cross the swingbridge, then stairs diwn to stand in a two spots near the falls. $1.50 entry. You can reward yourself for the climb back, with an helado (the kind in a cup). There looks to be a second viewpoint from below but I don't think they connected.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:39 PM
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There are the usual shops, market, murals, and the church is worthwhile for the paintings of various miracles. The second evening it was clearing a bit, so I took a walk across the bridge to the antennas, to catch a glimpse of Tunguhara. Some bungee guys on the bridge were just wrapping up and predicted clear in 15 minutes. They were right *for a minute, before the cloud returned. If it is clear, a return taxi runs $15 or $20 to one the better viewpoints. There are also tours but the front desk wisely suggested checking from the bridge first.

June-August apparently is rainy season. I saw no evidence of kayaking. The river was very high and fast. But still a good time for hit springs,and the waterfalls were full on.

Next..to Alausí.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 05:06 PM
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Looking forward to readiNg more.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 06:02 PM
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Good information and very timely. I will be in the same towns next week so this is helpful. Am in the third week of my monthlong trip and finding Ecuador to be so beautiful!
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Jun 10th, 2015, 06:20 PM
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Thanks,sorry for the double posts and typos, I am on a tablet.

Getting from Baños to Riobamba is easier on weekends and holidays, and in the morning.I again got a slow start despite the 6:45 am wakeup call from the school next door. Breakfast, checkout, ATM, and a too-brief visit to the baths. Pack, email etc.

The Baños station is small, and you will be directed to the next scheduled bus. I had to wait about 20 minutes for the (late) 11 am bus to Riobamba, but made a 1:30 connection to Alausí at the station. Fortunately there was no standing at roadside waiting for connections. Both buses were okay. Lunch only a croissant ham sandwich from the breakfast buffet, and three pan de yuca puffs from Riobamba station. Always peddlers, hopping on and off. Most were not pushy. The ice creams on the sticks can be muy rico.More bus trivia.. I discovered that everyone is assigned seat '5'. A joke on gringos. There really aren't assigned seats in practice. I learned not to take too much time if I wanted a window seat. Also, if the ticket seller doesn't think your name is easy, she might enter "Gringos" in the name field, Lol! There probably won't be more than a few. Others a colorful mix with many regional costumes. Rural scenery, cows and diverse crops including chocho or Andean lupine bean. Cloud and fog drifting in and out. Not boring at all and arrived in 2 hours.
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Jun 11th, 2015, 04:50 AM
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So what is in Alausí, you ask? The famous "Nariz del Diablo train" runs for tourists from there. The website for ticket purchase actually works! Info here http://trenecuador.com/en/nariz-del-diablo-en/

A verrry short actual train ride with nice scenery, a short zigzag, a few other touristy things, dances, exhibits. A mini version of the Lima to Huancayo train. Not sure it is really detour worthy by itself, but I think in combo with Alausí, yes. I would look into trying to time it with market day.

The trains sell out, now that the website works. The lovely Gloria at !a Rábida hotel says it is easier to book this way.

Special mention for lovers of handcrafts, the shigras at the station store are the real deal. Maria, the older lady does not read, or do sums. Prices are marked and if you buy you
will have to help with that! The last stall on the right. There is another tienda at the end of the ride.

There is a direct bus to Quito that leaves 30 minutes after each train. It goes through Riobamba but not to the terminal. Not an express, took 6 hours! An older bus as well. Not sure of alternatives.
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Jun 11th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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Btw I am not sure that a train runs from Riobamba to Nariz del Diablo. Check the website.


I heard there is a muy caro excursion all the way from Quito to Guayaquil that takes several days. Probably one of the Metropolitan Touring type excursions.
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Jun 13th, 2015, 02:02 AM
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Alsausi bus station is on the main drag, great people- watching, and just a few blocks from the train station (the reason I was there). I stayed one night at Hostetía Rincon de Isabel via booking.com (highly recommended at $35 + IVA but if you book direct there is a discount), Had a late almuerzo at Panamerican Hotel, including a fantastic soup of the day, with bits of chard, fresh corn, potato, cheese, impeccable seasoning.

I had asked if the taxis knew them,and the owner himself offered to pick me up. The hosteria has a wonderful site within earshot of a white-noise stream. Small but comfortable rooms, wifi in some common areas. Loved looking into the canyon as the fog rolled in, impressive veg garden (with tree tomato and babaco). Had a cuppa and sitdown with manager (or spouse) on the antique-laden porch, & meet the pets. Breakfast was ample (good coffee). ,Recommended.
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Jun 13th, 2015, 05:28 AM
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Great--we are staying overnight there next week.
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Jun 13th, 2015, 04:34 PM
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Have a good trip! There was about an hour of rain in the morning but the train trip was fine. I had feared dense fog the entire way.
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Jun 15th, 2015, 02:33 PM
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Sounds wonderful.
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May 8th, 2017, 02:05 PM
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Thanks a lot for the tips and advice... going there in June!
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