Day 3: Papallacta Spa and Hakuna Matata Jungle Lodge

This morning we left Quito by perfect weather – it’s usually sunny and clear in the mornings, yet today we were lucky and it stayed like this for the whole day. Our itinery was first destined to the hot springs of Papallacta. From Quito it took us about two hours drive, which passed quickly because of the beautiful scenery. Because the day was so clear we could for the first time really experience what it means to be in the Andeans. 

The area is a high plateau with various height differences though – a lot of times you are just going up and down but never really straight. The road we took was under fresh construction and where possible at least cut through the smaller mountains in its way. As we were going up to a 4060m high pass we passed through various vegetation zones and also saw Polyleppis tree – which has several skin layers allowing it to grow in such tremendous heights. The special vegetation is also vital for the climate as due to its sponginess it captures the rainwater and slowly releases it to the soil.

At Papallacta we took a really relaxing bath in several pools with different temperatures and took a refreshment at the nearby river. The sun was so strong though that at the end of the day I realized that 5 minutes sunbathing were enough to get me burned. After the spa we felt like after a sauna trip as the temperatures really get you wasted. The food offered at the location was really great – we had the locally grown salmon trout crispy from the barbecue and joined with some fresh juice.

Or final destination of the day was Hakuna Matata Lodge near Archidona. The trip was again short-while as we were passing through the famous foggy mountain forest until reaching the Oriente area of Ecuador. The lodge is right in the rain forest and really nicely located. Most group members have decided for the rafting trip tomorrow, but the jungle exploration and relaxation in the pool with is certainly an alternative.

At the delicious dinner including for example some home made bread from jukka flor (Manioc) a heavy shower started that should not end before tomorrow noon and led to a black out in the lodge. As soon as it got dark you could sense the energy of the jungle sound, but combined with the knocking rain this was a little too much surroundings for a decent sleep for ears unused to this sound…

Boris Kuster