So today (Monday) I was heading southeast to the little village of Papallacta to lounge around in the famous hot springs of the same name.
Angela and Jamie, unfortunately, had a change of plans so they arranged for another guide, Roberto, to take me to the springs. Not a big deal since I really only needed a driver to take me there.
The weather was beautiful and the skies were clear as we left Quito. In fact, it was so clear that we were able to see the magnificent Cotopaxi volcano presiding over Quito as well as Cayambe, which I was unable to see on Saturday when we went to the crater lake near Cayambe.
Anyway, the drive took us past the airport and then a mega climb through the Andes to 12,200 feet. The road we were on traces the “The Cinnamon Trail”, which is the route taken by Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellanato discover the great Amazon river in 1542.
When we reached the summit, we stopped for some pictures, and I was actually lightheaded in the thin mountain air (and damn it was cold).
Fortunately, our stop was brief and we were soon heading back down the Andes to Papallacta, at the much more “comfortable” 3,300 meters or 10,800 feet.
By 9:50 we had reach the Health SPA & Resort just outside Papallacta. The spa is one of the best natural hot springs in Ecuador with rich volcanic waters and the option to choose between different health and beauty treatments.
Once at the spa, I was given the rules regarding health and safety, provided a towel and bathing cap and was then directed to where the pools were located.
I quickly changed and was lounging in the hot volcanic waters by 10:05. There were a handful of people in the various pools but plenty of space to keep a distance and relax.
After about an hour, I headed inside and was given a 45 massage before ending my visit with a trip to the showers.
Once cleaned up, I checked my email messages and found out that my COVID test came back negative so I was all set to head to the Gallapagos tomorrow. (The Ecuadorian government requires a 72 hour Covid PCR test for all people traveling to the Gallapagos even though I already had to take a COVID PCR before boarding my flight to Quito last Wednesday night.)
Anyway, after confirming with my booking folks that I was good to go, Roberto and I headed back down to Papallacta and through a little valley dotted with Andean villages finally arriving at the Guango Reserve. This was yet another hummingbird and nature preserve, but these hummingbirds were different from the hummingbirds I had seen at the Mindo cloud forest the day before in both colour and shape.
The hummingbirds yet again provided me with countless entertainment. The birds repeatedly buzzed by my head and fought back and forth for space on the hummingbird feeders. I must have taken a hundred pictures. It was fascinating and wonderful.
After about an hour at the site, we got back in the car, doubled back through the valley past Papallacata and then back up and over the Andes mountains. As we passed by Laguna Parachocha we decided to make a pit stop for a late lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the lake.
I ordered a massive bowl of chicken soup along with a plantain empanada. The soup was fabulous, but the empanada was a little bland. Fortunately there was some home made green sauce on the table that added a little flavor, but not the best empanada I have ever eaten.
After lunch, we were back in the car for the winding trip through the Andes before finally dropping down into the valley and Quito. We arrived back in town around 3:00ish, just in time to beat rush hour.
My pre-Galapagos time in Quito had come to an end. Tomorrow I am off bright and early to the Galápagos Islands and two weeks of island hopping. There will be no posts until I come back to Quito in two weeks as the Galapagos has VERY spotty internet (if at all). See you on the flip side!