Intag Valley

It was time to get out.

With dogs in tow, we headed north about 3.5 hours to Pacheco Farms, a property we found on AirBnB near the town of Apuela just past Otavalo. After winding through mountain roads that became increasingly more tropical in nature, we were met with quaint cabins on the bank of a roaring river. Each outfitted comfortably with two beds and a bathroom. The towels and sheets were clean and smelled fresh. Not an easy feat during rainy season in the cloud forest. Hot water and shabby chic decor made the place both functional and charming.

And at $20 a night per person with breakfast included, the price was also right.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the owner, Jimena. She pointed us in the direction of some waterfalls. Rain falling anywhere from gently to in sheets, our footing was first challenged with a bridge that felt just a few deep breaths too long over such a torrential flow. With rocks jutting out of the shallow but fierce current, one slippery step for this novice swimmer would mean death.

Don’t come after me if I fall, I say to my husband. Half-joking. But also completely serious.

We survived. Even my Rottweiler, who had to be carried across when fear splayed his legs against the planks and refused to let go.

Up and up we went. Set inside rolling hills of every different type of green imaginable, we climbed through a thick mist of fog watching it disappear below us as we rose through the sky. Passing locals along the way, everyone exchanged a friendly greeting, which is the custom in Ecuador. While most stopped for a quick chat and handshake.

Arriving at our destination in less than two hours, moving at the pace of a toddler for almost half the way. My husband and son stripped down to their skivvies, jumping into the freezing water on an already cold day.

Boys.

Gotta love them.

I stuck to the side, munching on apples and crackers. Not anywhere near dry. But also not willing to risk being caught in my underwear by those walking by.

My how times have changed.

We followed up the hike with some much needed warmth at Nangulvi hot springs. Just a half mile down the road from Pacheco, the pools and facilities are modest for a price of $3 per person. Submerging our weary muscles and chilled bones in mineral water while staring up into all of Intag Valley’s emerald splendor was the perfect way to end a day. The light sprinkle going from soggy to soothing in a matter of minutes as it misted our faces that peeked out of the steaming baths.

That night, we dined on a tasty home-cooked meal of breaded chicken and roasted vegetables for $7 a plate. Chatting easily with the other guests, we shared stories of where we’ve been and why before retiring to our quarters. Reading books in the cozy loft until my son’s eyes could no longer stay open. Lulled to sleep by the rush of water in a hurry to be somewhere else far away from here.

It was a great weekend.

And one of the reasons I love living in Ecuador. So many incredible and unique adventures within hours of where we live. Truly magical experiences that take me back to a place and time I didn’t even know existed, but always wanted to be.

For more photos from our trip follow me on Instagram @instamomaroundtheworld

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