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Thermal baths and a landslide at Papallacta

Quito and Papallacta


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Update from October 2019: 'Achiote' is still open and apparently doing well!

Today was taken up with a day trip to the thermal baths just outside the tiny village of Papallacta, about two hours east of Quito.

Our hostel owner told us that the quickest way for us to catch a bus to Papallacta was to get a taxi to the Cumbayá neighbourhood of Quito and then flag down a bus from there, so that's what we did. The bus cost $2.50 each. I had an aisle seat right at the back; on my left was a fellow passenger and on my right was a curtain covering what I assumed was a surface with a load of soft storage items of some kind on it. About halfway through the one and a half/ two hour journey the curtain suddenly moved as someone inside turned over! I assumed that it was an off-shift bus employee getting some sleep.

We were dropped off at the side of the main road and walked about 2.5 km up the hill through and then just beyond Papallacta.

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Once we arrived it was past 12.30 so we went straight to the restaurant and had some lunch first before we got changed and into the first pool we came across.

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Although sunny in Quito, it was almost completely overcast in Papallacta and was quite chilly, so the moment when I first sank into the first hot pool was absolutely heavenly. There were loads of pools; four or five hot main ones (including one that was extremely hot - you couldn't stay in too long, though it was wonderful to be in for five minutes at a time!), a couple of little freezing cold plunge pools and some small, hot footpools. Nearly all of them had a tiny waterfall on one side. All the mountains surrounding us had peaks covered in cloud.

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We did rounds of the pools for over two and a half hours before finally dragging ourselves out, getting changed and walking briskly down the hill in order to flag down a bus to Quito. We managed it in the end, but not without some drama - from halfway down the hill we noticed that the main road, which was at a right angle to the smaller road we were on, was completely filled with an immoveable traffic jam stretching round and out of sight! For a moment we were really worried that we were now stranded, because we saw that the road was blocked off for vehicles going in the direction for Quito...

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Once we reached the bottom, we walked round the corner and saw what had happened - a landslide! Luckily it was a relatively minor one and no vehicles had been caught by it. A digging machine was already in action moving piles of mud and stones out of the road. It cleared one lane's worth of stuff out of the way, watched by us and lots of other onlookers, and then traffic was allowed to move.

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As luck would have it, the second vehicle in the Quito-bound queue was a bus, so we hopped on it with relief. Within five minutes of us getting on, it was dark outside.

Instead of staying on the bus until it arrived at Quitumbe bus terminal in Quito, which would have meant a 40-minute taxi journey from there to the hostel, we got off the bus early at Cumbayá and took a taxi from there instead. This saved us a lot of time. Once we arrived back at the hostel we rested for a bit before going out for dinner. We ate at an Ecuadorian restaurant called 'Achiote'; Dave had a chicken grill with rice, I had fat juicy shrimps in garlic sauce, yuca chips and a salad of chopped cucumber, celery, tomato, pineapple, sliced boiled egg and pale corn.

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I really recommend this restaurant - the food was great and the service was really friendly as well.

Posted by 3Traveller 16:04 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains airport hostel buses dave quito andes ecuador papallacta landslide explorations ecuadorian_cuisine thermal_baths Comments (0)

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