Bike Ride from Banos to Puyo Ecuador – Devil’s Cauldron

Our goal for the day was to follow the Ruta de las Cascadas to the El Diablo waterfall and continue on to Puyo 60 kilometers away. Here is our bike ride from Banos to Puyo Ecuador

Bike Ride from Banos to Puyo Ecuador

You can also check out our trip to Peru and Machu Picchu.

Bike Ride from Banos to Puyo Ecuador – Day 3

Different city, more roosters. This one woke me At 4:14.

You can rent bikes for the day from numerous places in town. For no particular reason we chose Wonderful Ecuador. After a breakfast of fruit from the local market, we were there when it opened at 8:00. They had a choice of $5 bikes and $10 bikes. They looked pretty much the same so we chose the $5 bikes.

They give you a bike, a helmet, a chain and lock, a tire repair kit (but no instructions if you don’t know how to change a tire), and a map that doesn’t make a lot of sense to someone that doesn’t know the area. We headed out hoping we were going the right way.

From the bike shop, we headed toward the river to the main road and turned right. The first couple miles were uneventful as we rode through the outskirts of town. This part is super easy and you can coast much of the way.

About 20 minutes into the ride we came to our first pullover.  There was an amazing view, including a waterfall and also a zipline across the gorge.

This became a common occurrance – pullovers on the side of the rode with great views and businesses offering ziplining across the gorge.  A couple places even offered a cable car.  We stopped many, many times and I don’t want to bore you describing each one.

Ruta de las Cascadas

The Ruta de las Cascadas was pretty easy to follow.  Just stay on the main road.

There are about five tunnels along the way, which could get pretty scary since they are dark and vehicles are screaming along.  However at each one there is a sign and a marker on the road indicating a turnoff for bicycles.  You have to keep your eyes open when you see a tunnel and take the small road off to the right.  These turnoffs are actually much more enjoyable.  There are no vehicles and the views are much better.

After a little over an hour of amazing views, we came to a small town (I think it was called Rio Verde).

We continued through the town, over a bridge, and just after the bridge there is a sign for parking your bikes.

The total time, including stopping for pictures, was about 75 minutes from Banos to where we parked our bikes for the Pailon del Diablo waterfall.

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall

We locked up our bikes and hiked down the trail.  It was a very beautiful hike and, at one point, there was an amazing overview of our ultimate destination.

We continued down, the entire walk taking about 15 minutes.  At the end, we walked through the gate and paid our $2 each.

We crossed a very bouncy suspension bridge, but got an amazing view of the waterfall.

Our next goal was to climb as close to the waterfall as we could.  We crossed back over the bridge, up some stairs, and eventually came to a crossroad.  To the left was a staircase leading down near the base of the falls.

To the right was a tiny crawlspace which leads up to the falls.  I squatted down and shimmied my way through the crawlspace for a couple minutes.

Finally the space opened up.  Up until that point I only hit my head twice. We headed up some more stairs, climbed straight UP through another tight space, up another set of stairs and we were finally standing behind the waterfall.

By the time we headed back up the trail, it had been raining for a little while.  At the top, we had a decision to make – do we continue in the rain or do we call it a day and head back to Banos?  We decided to get something to eat and talk it over.

We headed into the restaurant where we parked our bikes and, after some large empanadas for $1.50 each, the rain had stopped and the sky cleared up a little.  We decided to continue on to Puyo.

Pailon del Diablo to Puyo

As we were leaving, a guy asked us where we were going.  We mentioned Puyo and were told it was 3 1/2 more hours.  Three and a half!  But we decided to forge ahead.

If you would rather go back to Baños, you can pay $2.00 and climb in the back of a truck waiting for bikers.

We followed the road we had come in on, which was now a mucky trail, including a few challenges,

for about 5 minutes, before we got back on the highway.

No turning back now

Soon after there was a looong downhill.  At this point we decided, there was no going back as we were not going to bike back up that hill.

Up until this point the ride was really easy, as it was mostly downhill.  But things changed.  Around the 54 kilometer marker, we hit a small climb, and then soon after a longer climb which tested us.  Fortunately after that there was a long downhill for about 7 kilometers, where I barely pedaled, to the town of Rio Negro.

Then came a series of challenging hills, each over a kilometer long.  We hit climbs around the 66k marker, 68k marker, 70k marker, 72k marker and 75k marker.  At the top by the 76k marker we had had enough of the climbs.  Brandon will probably say that he had enough of the climbs at the top of the climb that started at 66k.  This was made more challenging by the fact that it started to rain during this stretch.

At the top of that last climb we saw a sign for Postaza.  Most of the challenging part of the ride was now over.  Actually it depends upon how much you ride.  If you ride regularly, you will probably wonder what hills I am talking about.  But if you rarely ride, you will find this part challenging.

This was about an hour and 40 minutes after we left Pailon del Diablo waterfall.  If the guy there was right, we still had almost two more hours to go.  Thankfully there was a long downhill for three plus kilometers into the town of Mera.

Rest break in Mera, Ecuador

Since the rain had stopped, we decided it was time for a break and stopped at the Mera town square and sat down on some benches for a while.  This was actually a tough decision because we were tired from riding the hills and wanted to sit, but our butts were sore from sitting on the bike saddles for so long.

Across the street was a nice view that you should not miss if you happen to stop there.

The break was nice but it was time to get back on the road.

Our uplifted spirits from the rest were soon interrupted as at the 81k marker there was another climb for over a kilometer.  And to make things more fun, it started raining again.  My sunglasses had water all over them and were clouded up from the humidity, and water was splashing into my face from the front tire.

I would like to say that the rain stopped, but it did not.  It continued all the way to Puyo.  But on the positive side, the road was pretty flat the rest of the way.

At about 87k we came to the town of Shell and an unexpected sculpture of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.


At the 92k marker, we came to a sign for Puyo.

Our excitement was premature as we still had to ride about three more kilomters to the bus station.

We made it to Puyo in 2 hours and 55 minutes from Pailon del Diablo, and did a total of 4 hours and 10 minutes of butt numbing riding, not counting our stop for waterfalls and lunch.  The ride was challenging, and at times during it we were second guessing ourselves, but overall it was very satisfying and I am glad we did it.

For $2.50 we caught a bus back to Banos.  We sat in our soaking wet clothes for the duration of the one hour and 40 minute ride, but we finally made it back to Banos at about 4:30 p.m.

A hot shower, dry clothes, and dinner got our spirits back up.

Just before we went to bed, we heard the familiar sound of the ice cream truck.  We looked out and saw that music coming from a garbage truck.  That’s a pretty mean trick; who teases people with the sound of ice cream, only to surprise them with a garbage truck?

Next Day: Day 4 – Hike from Banos to Casa del Arbol and the Swing of Death

Previous DayDay 2 – Traveling from Quito to Baños Ecuador


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