Throughout the entire South America trip, Olivia wanted to go water rafting. Everywhere we went, it was either too expensive or the rapids was too small to make it worthwhile. Finally, Banos has great water rafting for reasonable price! However, several rafting operators that we went all said that children are not allowed. It was very disappointing for all of us. It was finally decided that Jon will go by himself while Annie home school the children.
On the 2nd night, when we booked the night tour to see the volcano, Jon just asked in passing, do you have rafting trip that children can also go. The company Adventure Equatorland (www.adventureequatorland.com) surprisely said yes! We were shocked and wanted to make sure that river is the same Rio Patate that other tours go and why is it this operator allows children. We finally concluded the main reason is that they have lots of experience in water rafting and they always have a person on ¨safty kayak¨ that accompany the rafts in case of emergency rescue. After bargaining the price to USD 100 for the whole family, off we went to rafting the next morning.
The trip started at around 9AM and we came back at 4PM, lunch included. After driving 45 mintues along Rio Pastaza, we arrived at the the starting point. At the start point, we first get a lesson on rowing forward, backward, turning around in unison. We also learned what to do if one of us fell or if the boat flipped.
Jon and Olivia was in charge of the right side and Annie and Nathan the left side. Joani sat in the middle without having to row. We nicknamed Joani, Queen Joani, because the four of us are like her servants rowing her down the river.
The Rio Patate that we rafted in was surrounded both sides by national parks. The vegetations on both sides are like jungle and many waterfalls abounds. Throughout the 1.5 hour trip, most of the time we needed to constant row in order to go through the rapids without getting stuck by water whirlpools. The hardest part was having to keep rowing even the boat is being tossed by water waves and with water splashing all around you. The excitement was just right for the children as it is exhilerating yet still relatively safe. A highlight was rafting under a waterfall feeling the pounding water on your body.
Our guide was very experienced. William made sure that we had enough excitement without being in danger. The guide on the other boat with 4 other tourists wasn`t so good. They went through a big rapid and the boat flipped over. Everyone was tossed into the rapid and it took a while, with our boat`s help, to get everyone back into boat and to recover their oars.
At the end of the memorable trip, we high-five with our oars, ending an unforgetable trip for the children.
THE BEST HOT SPRING IN THE WORLD
After the being soaked by the cold water from water rafting, what is better than a dip in the hot spring under the Volcano?
We decided to check out the other hot spring which is right in the town of Banos, called Piscina de la Virgen. (USD 1.6/adult) This hot spring is probably the best hot spring we ever had for many reasons: 1) It is outdoor surrounded by green, lushous mountains and a roaring waterfall. 2) From the hot spring pool, one can have a scenic view of the town of Banos. 3) Behind the hot spring, over the mountain, one can see the puffing smoke from the active volcano. 4) The hot pool is very hot, around 40-50C. The cold pool, fed by the water fall, is very cold at around 10C. We had so much fun going back and forth between the hot and the cold pools. It was so good that we promised ourselves to come everyday. 5) Banos has one of the best children playground we have seen even when compared to the US, with zip line, swing monkey bars, large tee horses, etc.
VOLCANO WATCHING AGAIN
After Jon & Nathan`s wonderful experience watchin volcano the night before, we all went again (USD 3/adult, children free) Although it was a bit more cloudy than the day before, Annie, Olivia, and Joani were able to witness 3 eruptions, hear the roar before the clouds rowed in and blocked the view.