Sunday, May 6, 2012

Drive from Banos to Cuenca -- Part 1 of 2

Our new car
We recently flew from Cuenca to Quito to buy a car (2011 Kia Sportage SUV) and we drove it back to Cuenca, staying two nights in Banos and one night in Alausi.  This blog will chronicle our trip.


The town of Banos sits at the base of the volcano Tungurahua ("throat of the fire" in Quichua).  It is an active volcano, and has erupted since we moved here.  When it erupts, it makes headlines and the townspeople are ordered to evacuate.  Lucky for us, it was resting when we visited.

There are thermal baths in town, and it is an adventure-seeker's paradise with hiking, rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, climbing, bungee jumping, and zip lining.  Banos is also the jumping-off-point into the jungle, through the town of Puyo.  We chose to take it easy and spend our time at the Samari Spa Resort.  (

Entrance to Samari Resort
Samari Spa Resort
This resort sits on the site of an 18th century Jesuit monastery.  We stayed two nights here and really enjoyed walking around the grounds.

Families were enjoying the indoor pool
Lobby Area of the Spa

Our room was in this villa
View from our window
There are tours that you can take that involve horseback riding, mountain biking, etc.  You can also take a night tour up the slope of the volcano.  We chose to hire a taxi to show us around and he took us to another beautiful resort called Luna Runtun.  (

Luna Runtun
This resort is perched at the top of a sheer cliff overlooking the town of Banos.  This was a very peaceful place and one that I wouldn't mind staying at sometime.

High above the town of Banos

After staying at Luna Runtun for about an hour, we got back in our taxi which headed even higher up in elevation.  We didn't know where we were going, but we weren't disappointed.  Our next stop was La Casa del Arbol (the treehouse).

The treehouse is on the edge of a cliff

I made it all the way up, but it was swaying in the wind!

Swinging out over the edge!

Don't look down!


 The next day we left Banos and drove to the small town of Alausi, where we spent the night at La Quinta Hosteria.  It has beautiful views of the surrounding area and is adjacent to the train station which was convenient for our early morning train ride the next day.

Our companion, keeping us safe!

Enjoying breakfast just before our Devil's Nose Train ride
Part Two will detail our trip on the Devil's Nose Train, which is not to be missed.


  1. Other than enjoying a nice trip south afterwards, why would folks go all the way to Quito in order to buy a car? From my apartment I oversee a large sales lot with dozens of cars right here in Cuenca. Just wondering!

    1. We actually bought our car in Ibarra (near Quito), from a friend who gave us a good deal. Typically, the new cars in Ibarra are cheaper than in Quito or Cuenca.

  2. Hi Mike..

    Great blog! I enjoy reading your adventures. I would like to interview you about your vehicle purchase in Quito. Can you email me please?


    1. My email is

  3. Hi Mike and Patty
    I always love reading about your adventures. This one sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Patty,
    I am investigating retirement in Ecuador and will be on vacation for a couple of weeks in July 2013. It sounds like a car is very handy for exploring most of ecuador. Will be spending a few days in Banos and undecided on going to Cuenca or back to Guayaquil and on to salinas and the coast. Really enjoyed your blog.