The road of the waterfalls, Ecuador

Km 14 498

We had seen a place called the Road of the Waterfalls in the guidebooks. The name already made us dream, but it’s not really on our route. But we don’t want to miss this road, so we decided to cycle there and come back by bus!

So from Riobamba we cycle to Baños, the town where this road starts. We take a street a little off the Panamericana, so we can pedal comfortably without constantly breathing in the exhaust fumes of the buses and trucks. Only small rain showers spoil our happiness. A few kilometres after Baños we reach the first waterfall, the Cascada Agoyán. When it starts to rain again, we take advantage of a small shelter overlooking the waterfall to take a cookie break. A few kilometres further on, we can already see the Cascada El Manto de la Novia. There are small paths for the bikes to avoid the many tunnels on the road. These paths offer us beautiful views of the waterfalls and the valley of the Río Pastaza, in silence, far away from the cars. The day is already drawing to a close and the sun is finally coming out. It is almost too good to be true! We pass the Cascada San Pedro, then we reach Río Verde, a small village halfway along the road of the waterfalls. Here is also the highlight, the Pailón del Diablo. As we still have some time before sunset, we take the short walk to the foot of the waterfall. From a distance we can already hear the sound of the water, which suggests an impressive waterfall. Then we are halfway up the waterfall, with the Pailón, the Devil’s Cauldron, below us. The waterfall falls into a natural basin, the steam and the drops of water give the impression of a cauldron over a fire, hence the name. First we follow the path under the rocks to the top of the waterfall. Then a few steps lead up through a finer stream of the waterfall to the back. We put on the hoods of our rain jackets and start running. We find ourselves in a small, dark cave in the rock as the waterfall cascades down in front of us with all its might. It’s impressive, but we don’t stay long, it’s far too wet here! We go back and descend a steep staircase to get closer to the Pailón. The water drops fly in our faces, what a natural spectacle! We cross a small suspension bridge to admire the waterfall from a distance without getting wet, then we walk back to our bikes and look for a place to sleep. As it is already late and the sun is already setting, we can’t get far. On the advice of the locals, we pitch our tent on the side of the football/car park (we see goals and stands, but it looks like the pitch is used more as a car park) in a covered area. There are even electric sockets and a water tap. The only inconvenient is the super bright light. Despite our location in the middle of the village and the light, however, we sleep like babies!

The next morning it rains. It was luck that we visited the Pailón del Diablo the day before in the sun. We start the day in rain gear, but luckily it stops raining when we get to the next waterfall. We leave our bikes at the entrance and then walk to the Cascada El Encanto del Rocío Machay. We can see that we are approaching the Amazon forest, the vegetation has become very dense. There are many flowers and exotic plants, then a steep staircase leads us down a cliff. We cross a suspension bridge and then stand all alone in front of the beautiful waterfall. We follow the stream along a small path, but when Kati discovers a large stick insect on her thigh, we quickly turn back. We both have a phobia of small animals! We take a few more photos and videos on another suspension bridge, wondering at the same time when it was built and when it was last maintained, and then return to our bikes. We continue down the valley of the Río Pastaza, our destination is the town of Puyo at the entrance to the Amazon rainforest. But the big black clouds ahead make us rethink our plan. There are not too many waterfalls on the rest of the way. When we feel the first thick drops of rain, we drive a few hundred metres back to the village of San Francisco. We seek refuge under the eaves of a small shop. We are just lucky, because the rain starts to pour down right away. We take the first bus back to Baños. We have lunch until it stops raining, then we buy some Melcochos, the typical caramel bars of the town, before cycling back to the Andean highlands. This route of the waterfalls was a wet affair in the truest sense of the word, but a nice change from the Andes, which we know very well by now.

To see all photos, please click here:
The road of the waterfalls

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