Greg and I headed out on our first independent day trip to the lovely hot springs of Papallacta a few weekends ago. We'd heard such good things about them and are probably the last ones of our friends to head out there, but timing was not right before. Sorry I don't have pictures for you because we left our camera behind, not knowing if there were secure lockers or not. You'll just have to take my word for it that they were wonderful.
The thermal baths have two parts: spa and regular thermal baths. Since there was about a $10 difference per person, we decided to try our luck with the regular thermal baths. The first one we went into was warm, but not hot, and there were plenty of kids in there.
So we headed up to the second more secluded baths. This was where all the adults were and it was definitely hot. We'd have to sit out on the steps for most of the time because it was too much otherwise. There were two or three other baths that were even hotter, but we didn't do much more than stick our toes in because we liked the second one we tried. We even chatted for a while with a Guayaquil couple - the wife wanted to practice her English really badly and Greg even got to practice a bit of his Spanish speaking and understanding.
It was fairly easy to get to Papallacta from our area, but required a taxi, bus and truck to get all the way up to the baths (only on the way there). In the end, the bus ride was only 1.5 hours and was shorter than I imagined. Luckily, we had more or less specific directions on how to get the bus. On the way back, we took the truck back down, the bus to an outskirt of Quito, and then 2 buses from there to our apartment. Sounds confusing, but we could not have done that a month ago without getting horribly lost.
Our next adventure will be going to Mindo, about 2 hours away, for the November holiday. We will definitely bring our camera since there will be a lot of birds, butterflies, plants and other interesting things to see there!