We decided our first weekend trip would be to Banos, a town about 3 and a half hours outside of Quito. We went with our friend Dave from NJMS and three other boys in our program. While Jenna and I asked to not have classes on Friday for better traveling abilities, the boys had class until 5. So Friday during the day we decided to take the Teleferiqo, basically this gondola thing that takes you up toward a volcano that you can then hike to.
Lonely Planet made it sound like it was very easy to get there by bus, but it was NOT. Three buses and an hour after leaving our apartment, we were told there were no buses to Teleferiquo, and so we disappointedly hopped in a cab and said "Teleferiqo por favor" and that was that - we were there in just 10 more minutes. The gondola ride up takes about 15 minutes. It should have been a really beautiful view, but it was so foggy that you could see absolutely nothing - not even the ground right below us.
Here's the beautiful view from the gondola:
We decided to hike anyway, and things did start to clear up at least a little bit by the time we were done. We somehow must have gone off the path though, because after close to an hour we realized we were almost exactly where we started instead of any closer to the volcano. Oops. We blame the fog. And the altitude. Because we blame the altitude for everything.
Our German roommates went the next day, and they said it was the most beautiful day and the most beautiful hike with the most beautiful view. Figures, right? So we added it to the list of things we need to do again if there's time.
Here's sort of what you're supposed to be able to see, and what we were supposed to be hiking towards: