Canyoning in Baños

Flashback, Baños, 2011.  A big holiday weekend, it feels like the whole country is in town.  Town is beyond packed.  People are sleeping in their trucks.  I want to go canyoning, but a recommended guide company encourages me not too go.  “Too many people with too many companies, so it’s not safe. ”  Sadly, I don’t go.

This trip, I am determined to go.  Rapelling down waterfalls in Ecuador sounds like too much fun.   $35 for a day I hope to remember.

Meet 9am.  The guide office is controlled chaos, with a canyoning and rafting trip leaving at the same time.  12 of us get our gear and load into a van.  We arrive 45 minutes later and put on the gear.  We feel very sexy in our wetsuits with heavy plastic on the butt.  A quick practice with the rapelling gear, then a 10 minute walk to the canyon.

First fall is only a few feet tall; we take turns jumping.  Ditto for the second.  Further down, the third is our first big challenge.  The drop is nearly 40 feet tall.  We have to jump down a narrow chute into a 8ft wide pool.  i have jumped this height before but never into such a narrow pool.

Deep breath.  Nervous smile at another client.  Jump.  Easy.  The hardest part is climbing out of the pool and standing on the lip of another waterfall.  We clip into a safety rope while we wait our turn.

This obstacle requires climbing up about 10 feet using a safety rope, and then rapelling down the side of a 25ft waterfall.

For the first time, I grow frustrated with the guides.  They are not checking our gear as well as they should.  I double check my own gear and their anchor.

The rappel is harder than I expected.   Not easy to maintain balance when trying to keep your feet steady on a slippery wall.  I lose my grip, and get stuck.  I used to rock climb; rapelling down rock cliffs is vastly easier.

I regain my balance and continue down.

Next fall.  We zipline down.

We are all in awe at the beauty of the canyon.  I am sad I don’t have a waterproof camera.  One of the guides is taking photos but I know they won’t be any good.

Another rappel.  Two more smaller falls.  At the final pool, some of the clients celebrate with flips.  It looks fun but I stick with a jump.  They are 25; I am 43.

Lunch at a restaurant.  Everyone is in a great mood. Six hours after we left, back in town.

Apologies for the bad photos.  The guide/photographer never thought to wipe the lens dry.  Better than nothing…

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