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Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

After a night’s rest at Vrindavan we decided to try out luck to see if we could get a chance to enter one of the hot springs. But it was not to be as, it was Easter Sunday there were many devotees who were more keen than us to get into the springs. So we gave that up and went back to Vrindavan.

On the way back we stopped at one of the waterfalls along the route of waterfalls. This waterfalls had a cable car that took people across the valley and adventurous ones could also canopy back across the valley. So we took the cable car and about seven of us decided to canopy back.

The waterfalls.

The cable car ride

The panorama around the waterfalls.

After that we returned back to Vrindavan. Here some of us decided to take a bath in the waterfalls that was nearby and two of trekked with the ISCKONites along the hills beyond the waterfalls. It was quite some hike. It started raining and so we could not capture any photographs of the trail that we took. To say that least some parts were quite treacherous. But it was fun nevertheless. We came down the hill and went to the river that flows behind Vrindavan. Here we had our bath in practically freezing cold water. It was a pleasant experience.
Got to see a spider in its web at the entrance of Vrindavan and saw a stick insect crawling its way under the idol of Lord Shiva.

The spider that posed for me

The willing spider

One of the croton that were abundant in the area

The waterfalls where some people had their bath

The Stick Insect

One way back to Quito, after a late lunch, we had another glimpse of fuming Tungurahua.

The Tungurahua

A week after our visit Tungurahua was in full flow and was gurgling and regurgitating boulders from its mouth and it spewed ash clouds to a height of 10 KM.

At Vrindavan we rested a bit and then towards the evening we left for the city of Banos to see the Church.
Some flora at Vrindavan to get an idea of the beauty of the place.

A waterfalls in front of Vrindavan

The only place in Ecuador where one can find an idol of Lord Shiva, just outside Vrindavan.

Lord Shiva at Vrindavan

A stick insect.

Vridavan is situated amidst the Amazonian forest, albeit in the outskirts. It has a river running behind and one can hear the sound of the water flowing through the night. It is a very pleasant sound.
The Church
The Church is situated at the heart of the town. And this is the view at night.

The Roof of the Church

After visiting the Church we retired for the day to Vrindavan.

Banos is a small town south of Quito. It borders the Andean and the Amazonian regions within Ecuador. Nearby to this town is the peak of Tungarahua which is one of the angry volcanoes in Ecuador and keeps spewing smoke and fire every once in a while.

Banos in Spanish means bathroom and this place is called so because of the presence of Hot water springs in the town. The actual name is Banos de Agua Santa, mean bathroom of Holy Water.

On the way one cannot miss the angry Tungarahua. The story local goes that Cotopaxi is a male volcano and Tungurahua is a female. Once Tungurahua proposed to Cotopaxi and the proposal was rejected. From them on Tungurahua is angry and keeps spewing smoke and ash every once in a while.

The day we reached was one of those days when Tungurahua had decided to vent her anger. It was raining ash dust and the vehicles were caked with this fine dust. This dust is tricky and if one breathes too much of it, it can lead to respiratory problems.

Tungurahua in action

Tungurahua in action T

Some flora on the way to Banos

The first stop was Pailón Del Diablo, the Devil’s Cauldron. This is a waterfalls which falls from a height into a gorge. The name is apt for the waterfalls. The water falls with a great force and the water splashes in the gorge with great force.

The Waterfalls

The Swirling Waters in the Gorge

A panorama of Devil’s Cauldron

There are three terraces that have been constructed in front of the waterfalls for people to watch the action. At the lowermost balcony one can hardly avoid getting wet. Also there is a tunnel that has been dug alongside the hill through which one can walk close to the top of the falls and here if one wishes one can have a nice drenching bath.
Some videos of the waterfalls.

A sign that greeted us as we entered the winding trail that leads to the Waterfalls read “Be prepared to see sights which will make you believe God exists”.
And one does get this feeling as one walks along the trail leading to the Waterfalls.
Here are some sights that one comes across along the trail.

Peeled sweetlimes.

Peeled Sweet Limes, although they are more sour than sweet.

See how these sweet limes are peeled.

A tour bus that goes through the waterfalls route. All along the route one can see one waterfalls after another and it ends in the Devil’s Cauldron.

A cartoon on a tour bus.

The Caption reads, “This is Life”

This was taken through the window of our bus and if you notice you can see the ash deposited on the glass from the rain water.

After the visit to the Devil’s Cauldron we retired to our hotel called Vrindavan which is run by the ISKCON in Ecuador.

Cotopaxi is one of the most loved volcanoes in Ecuador. People love to see it majestically stand heads about the plains around it. The Cotopaxi national park that surrounds this majestic peak has its own charm in the form lakes and different landscapes which one would normally need to travel miles to savour.

Some sights on the way to the mountain.


A panorama of city of Quito on the way to Cotopaxi

We left for the peak early in the morning and enjoyed the vistas offered by Ecuador’s countryside. The entrance to the park is a steep 10 dollars if you are not a Ecuadorian citizen and do not have the national card. For the Ecuadorian nationals and the ones with Ecuadorian national card the entrance is 2 USD.
At the entrance to the park, where one buys the ticket one has the skull of a few herbivores mounted on poles. Not sure why it has been kept there.

One of the skulls at the entrance

One of the skulls at the entrance

After the entrance begins the long climb, fortunately one can still go in a vehicle, to the parking lot at 4500 meters. Quito is at about 2800 meters above sea level so that is a climb of 1700 meters and it takes as expected quite some. One starts with coniferous trees and one ends up with a bleak landscape as one moves up ahead. If one is lucky one can get a glimpse of peak as one goes up the mountains. But we were not fortunate enough. There was enough of clouds swarming around the peak to deny us a good view of the peak.

Finally we reached the parking lot at 4500 meters after a traversing a winding road. Here we got off and started walking up to the refugee camp which is at a height of 4800 meters. It looked like a easy hike, but it took us all of 50 minutes to scale that hike. But it was nice hauling oneself up the steep slope. There were enough people trying to reach the refugee camp. There were also children as young as 4 – 5 years doing the climb and smaller ones were being carried by the parents.

One of the real Young ones climbing

All covered up and on the way to the top

Some children climbing the Cotopaxi
Some others puffing their way up.

The Refugee camp in the backdrop on the way up

Successful Rajesh at 4810 meters

That one can see birds at this height is really surprising. But here it is.

The snow capped Cotopaxi

The snow above the Refugee camp

The boy celebrating his fourth birthday at the refugee camp. What a birthday gift!!

At the refugee camp they have a small restaurant which serves hot soup and hot chocolate and has a little provisions of biscuits and chocolates. The former were very much required after climbing up the incline and we helped ourselves to hot chocolate and soup based on preference.

After a brief rest we went to explore a little above the refugee camp but we sorely lacked the ability to make any substantial progress. It was freezing cold. So after going up a few meters we went back to the refugee camp and had one more round of soup and hot chocolate and then we started the descent to the parking lot.

When we reached the parking lot we realized that our driver was hungry and so we shared some food that we had brought with us and after partially satisfying his hunger and to some extent ours we headed back to the plains.

On the way stopped at a Lake which offers a spectacle of the surrounding peaks reflected in it. Also there are birds which add to the beauty of the place.

The bird at the Lake Limpiopungo

The Peaks reflected in the waters of the lake

View near the lake

The view at the Lake Limpiopungo

The Lake Cuicocha is located in an now Extinct crater. Even as I say extinct there is some activity happening as the lake bubbles in different parts and one can see the bubbles that come up from the depths of the lake every once in a while.
There is a boat ride in the lake. One can see many ducks and storks along the bank of the lake and one the lake as one goes on the boat ride. The place is quite chilly, more chilly then one would find along the banks and so it will be better to be prepared with some good thick woolen clothing. It can rain so be prepared to safeguard your camera.
Here are some of the snaps.

The lake Cuicocha

The water

The boat on the lake

Duck on the lake

The peak Cotacachi which is an active volcano

A panorama of the lake Cuicocha

At the end of the boat ride they also give a hot herbal tea and believe me you will need one at the end of the ride.

Cuicocha is a lake in a Crater. This place is situated to the North of Quito and is about two hours drive from Quito near the city of Cotacachi which is known for its leather products.

We left as usual early in the morning for this place. On the way there are two well known cities, Otavalo and Cotacachi. Otavalo is known for the products of different types of the local artisans and Cotacachi as mentioned above is known for its leather products.

We were more interested in the lake rather than in the shopping that the places had to offer, but time will tell that we did shop.

The first stop was at Lago de Sao Paulo. This is a picturesque location a few Kilometers away from Quito. Some of the vistas that this place offers is as below:

This locale is just outside Quito.

Water drop on a leaf

Another view of the drop of water on a leaf

View of Lago de Sao Paulo

One the large flowers found. About a foot long.

Being in Ecuador one needs to go and see the Equator and that is what we did a couple of weeks ago. It is about 20 Kilometers North of the City of Quito. So off we went at about 9:00 in the morning which was fresh and drenched in sun. It turned out be an ideal day for the outing.
The Pululahua Crater
We crossed over from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere and stopped first at the Crater Pululahua. It is one of the two Craters that has human habitation. The additional uniqueness of this Crater is that the people also cultivate land in this crater.
Here are some snaps of the Crater:

The Panoramic view of the Pululahua Crater

See the cultivation in the crater and the clouds trying to crown the peaks.

The Sun Temple
There is also a Sun Temple in the vicinity where a couple dressed up in the local traditional dresses perform the traditional arts.

The Sun Temple

Here are some statues at the Sun Temple

The backside of a statue at the Sun Temple

A face sculpture at the Sun Temple

Another statue at the Sun Temple

Here are a couple of snaps of the people in the traditional Indian dress.

The Indian in his traditional outfit

The American Indian greeting the Asian Indians with closed palms (Namaste)

The Design on the back of the American Indian’s dress

The American Indian Lady

The Indian Dwelling
We moved on to the Center of the Earth. At this place is a museum and demonstration site, where they demonstrate the flow of fluids across the two hemispheres. Very interesting experiments.
There is also a collection of American Indian dwellings in this museum and a sampling of the flora and fauna of the region.
The American Indian dwellings.

One section of the the inside of an American Indian dwelling.

Typically multiple families share the same room. They sleep in the hammock (one per family) that can be seen behind in the dwelling. Other items of use can also be seen, e.g. a fishing net, baskets for storing fruits and vegetables etc.

Another view of the dwelling.

What one needs to note is the blow gun that is hanging from the roof. Must be at least 5 feet in length. This was used to shoot and kill the monkeys for food.

The Fishing Net

The roof built to withstand the regular and heavy rains that occur in this region.

A drum

A view of the kitchen in the American Indian dwelling.

Edibles hung in the kitchen

The Head of a goat in the kitchen
Guinea pigs which formed a staple diet of the American Indians.

The Fauna
Some fauna of this region

A Spider found in this region

A Boa Constrictor

The skin of an anaconda in two halves. This is the first half, for the next half see the next photograph

The second half of the Anaconda

The Flora
Some flora from the area

The Burial Chamber
There is also a depiction of the American Indian burial site. Typically the wife was buried with the husband and so one sees two pots here. The body was twisted into a fetal position and inserted into the pot. One can also see a pumpkin hanging. It was meant to be eaten on the way to the other world. Also one can see the skull of a wild cat.

The burial site

The pumpkin hanging from the roof of the burial chamber

The two pots into which the bodies would be put in a fetal position

The skull of the wild cat

Some shells. Not sure what purpose they served.

Some shells. Not sure what purpose they served.

Preserving the Enemy’s head
This is how a defeated enemy’s head would be preserved.

The head of the enemy would be cut and then boiled in a liquid
And then would be coated with a preserving liquid to keep it for long. The head would shrink over a period of time.

See this photograph of a shrunken head

A shrunken head of an American Indian

Balancing a raw Egg
One the experiments at the Equator involved balancing an egg at the Equator on a nail head. This is apparently possible only at the equator as the yolk inside remains steady because of the balance of speed on either side of the egg. In the rest of the Earth the rotation of the Earth is uneven causing the yolk and albumen to be unsteady. This is due the Coriolis effect.
The Wind Vanes
Cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere whirl counter clockwise and the ones in the Southern Hemisphere whirl clockwise. This can be seen in the wind vanes on both sides of the Equator here in this short video.

The Water Vortex
In the same way as the wind one can see the same Coriolis effect in water. One can see a demonstration of this in the following videos. The first is a video when the basin was at the Equator. The second is one where the basin was in the Southern Hemisphere and the third is the one where the basin was in the Northern Hemisphere.
Notice how the water goes down the drain without any vortex in the first, in a clockwise direction in the second and in the counter clockwise direction in the third.
This happens because of the effect of the rotation of the earth on the fluid.
At the Equator
In the Southern Hemisphere

In the Northern Hemisphere
The Monument
After this the last stop was at the Monument erected to honour the pioneers who traced the Equator. This is an Obelisk with a world on top of it. Here are some photos of the Obelisk.
The Obelisk with the World on top of it one can see the Northern and Eastern side in this photograph.

The Globe atop the Obelisk from the Western side.

The legend showing the altitude and longitude of the place.

The legend showing the latitude and the magnetic declination of the place.

Here are snaps of the vistas that we saw at the Jungle Resort (Suchipakiri).

This greeted me when I went to the cabin in which we spent the night.
Looks deceptively calm, pluck one of them and one will experience the ants.
This is the only butterfly that I could capture
One of the beautiful flora of the forest.
Another example of the flora. There are multiple hues of the same flower.
The woods beside the Misahualli river
Ants on the Banana Tree
Another one which obliged me
A panorama of the forest around the resort where we stayed,

We wanted to go to the cave of Jumandi, but we were late to enter the caves so we had to settle for a zoo that was close by. But it was not a bad deal.
Some of the sights at the zoo.

One of the ducks
An Emu
The Galapagos Turtles
The Bamboo Avenue (my name)
The Tapir

That effectively ended our trip to the Amazonian Jungle.

The night was great as we were able to see a very clear sky with lots of stars. We did not spot any satellites. At 11 it started to rain. So we experienced a dinner rain rather than a tea rain.
The next day morning we were greeted by raindrops on the leaves and flowers.

Raindrops on the leaves
Raindrops on the leaves

After a late breakfast we left the Jungle resort. We managed to get stuck at the same stream, but came out faster this time as we resorted to pulling the stuck van using the unstuck van.
We passed over the hanging bridge once again to be back in civilization (at least we can claim to have spent a night in the forest).
We went for a place where there was some festivity going on account of it being the carnival day in Ecuador. Many were displaying their ability to play with Boa-Constrictors. They were offering the public a chance to be draped by a Boa for a dollar each.
Here is one of them.

The Boa Constrictor
Draped with a Boa Constrictor
The Boa again

The daring amongst us did drape the Boa around their shoulders and took their photos. I was not one of the daring ones for sure.
After the Boa we went to a Cascade. The walk to the cascade was an adventure. The cascade itself turned out to be small one, but the water was good and cold and the wash refreshing.

At the cascade