We leave out hotel parking lot a little before 9:30AM. We snake through small towns slowly moving down in altitude and arrive in Banos about an hour later. The valley we drive along is filled with small farms growing sugar cane, oranges, and other crops. The Ruta de Cascadas starts in Banos and heads east along the Pastaza Valley. Outside of Banos there are a number of high adventure vendors offering zip lines and cable cars which go over the valley. I think to myself, maybe a cable car ride on our way back, but the zip lines look a little too adventurous for me. We see a few waterfalls along the drive including Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil), but mostly see the rock formations that indicate there is a waterfall there in the wet season.
Our end-point of the town of Puyo arrives around noon, making the drive approximately two and one-half hours. The scenery has been lush and green, with some great views of the river valley. As we drive along the temperature turns warmer and more humid - Puyo is known as the gateway to Ecuador's Amazon basin. It is 3,100 feet in altitude, a definite drop from Banos at ~6,000 feet and Ambato at ~8,200 in the city center.
We enjoy a relaxed lunch, then get back in the car to go another 5-10 kilometers to the Monkey Sanctuary. Just as we are leaving Puyo it begins to rain. When we reach the Monkey Sanctuary it is pouring. We join some other tourists under the roof of a building at the entrance to the Sanctuary to wait out the rainstorm. 20 minutes goes by with no end of the rain in sight. Sigh! We decide we can't wait any longer and will not be able to see the monkeys today.
The rain continues the whole way back to Banos and beyond. Now we are able to see many small and medium-sized waterfalls. However, due to the rain the high adventure activities are not in operation. Our "high adventure" turns into being one of a mile long parade of cars following a loaded down Pilsener cerveza truck as it slowly follows the twisting road climbing back up to Ambato.
As we approach our hotel we see the Ambato Carnavale is in full swing. Burt is about to pull into the parking lot and we see that the gate is locked. Oh oh. There is no parking anywhere near the hotel! Evelyn runs the block down to our hotel and returns with one of the waiters who has a smiling face and a key in hand. Yeah!