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Biking to the waterfalls of Dos Mangas

When in Montañita, hiking, biking and horse riding tours can be arranged to the “waterfalls” of Dos Mangas.  But, I’m not a fan of being guided when I know we can just rent bikes and head into the jungle on our own. So that’s exactly what we did. 

Before you head out on this trek, tour or no tour, figure out if it’s been raining in Dos Mangas and for how long.  Don’t ask the guy renting you a bike or taking you on a tour, he’s going to tell you it will be no problem, ask a local who has nothing to gain or lose financially from your decision. Dos Mangos.

We rented a couple of extremely ill-fitted mountain bikes, complete with loose hubs, non-working brakes, frozen front suspensions and 3 of 18 functioning gears.  That was all o.k., we didn’t expect much from a guy who lives in the office of his tourist agency and didn’t have change…he still owe’s me $3.

Before we grabbed the bikes, Antonio drew us a map of the area (see attached), in his words, “No really, this is a very good map.” I have to say, it was one of the better maps we’ve received whilst in Ecuador.  

Armed with “a very good map” and two very rusted bikes, we headed South on Ruta de Sol. The road to Dos Mangas was wonderfully paved. Once past Dos Mangas, the road turned to dirt and we were crossing rivers every 200 meters. The rivers were being used to wash cars, laundry, animals, kids and later we would use it to wash ourselves and the bikes.  

After about 2 miles we came to a “T”, I predict, given our history of making bad decisions at “Ts”, many of our misadventures will begin with, “We came to a “T….” Anyway, we went straight, as it was the road that looked more traveled – Whitman isn’t right all the time. Actually, in this case he was because we went the wrong way.  Our way started off wonderfully, then we descended into the jungle, down to a creek with calf deep mud, waiting to pull off your Chaco at every step. As we slipped and slid and cursed and shoed away mosquitos, we continued on. Deeper into the jungle, deeper into the mud, we told ourselves, “we must be close,” and “let’s just keep going, we are committed.” And so we continued to drag our bikes, using them as crutches to pull ourselves out of the mud or to balance down and up the steep terrain.

After still no waterfalls, and more and more mud, we finally called it. I was crawling along the ridge of Quilotoa faster than we were walking so we dragged ourselves back toward Dos Mangas with the plan of having a cold beer and forgetting the falls.  After all, as my cousin Amy says, “It’s just water going over a rock.”

Back at the “T” baking in the hot sun, Kate looked down and say a very large arrow with the words “Cascades” pointing in the direction we didn’t take. There might as well have been a neon sign it was so big.

Covered in mud, hot and tired we decided to follow the arrow. This way started wonderfully, then we started crossing rivers and the trail turned into ankle deep mud and soon we were walking the bikes again. After about 1.5 hours Kate stopped and said, “the waterfalls really aren’t that big anyway.”

And on that note, with the sound of howler monkeys growling in the distance, we turned around and headed back. We stopped and cleaned off the bikes and ourselves in the river, and within a couple of hours we were back on the beach, cold beer in hand, bathing in the ocean.

We weren’t disappointed in not seeing the falls, after all “it’s just water going over a rock.” It was a fun day all in all. I’m confident one day, we will see a waterfall again.


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