West of Mindo

San Miguel de los Bancos

Los Bancos, as the locals call it, is a pleasant market town surrounded by farms. It is perched on a ridge above the Río Blanco and has a nice climate. A dirt and gravel road goes south from town and then splits right to Santo Domingo via Valle Hermoso and left to Alluriquín.

A pleasant day excursion from Los Bancos is to
Cascada La Sucia
. Just upstream is a lovely cascade which spills into a great swimming hole. Leave enough time to catch a vehicle back to Los Bancos, otherwise it is a hot 5-km walk uphill from the bridge to town.

At Km 91 on the Calacalí-La Independencia road, 3.5 km east of Los Bancos, a secondary road goes northwest to yet another scenic area known as
. Here are a couple of bird-rich reserves on remnants of foothills forest.

Pedro Vicente Maldonado

Pedro Vicente Maldonado is a small supply town in a subtropical cattle-ranching area. A secondary road goes from here northwest to the Río Guayllabamba. The main road bypasses town to the south. About 8 km west of PV Maldonado, at Km 124 along the main road, is
Finca San Carlos
. Within the farm, it's a 15-minute wal to
Laguna Azul
a lovely pool at the base of a striking 35-m waterfall on the Río Negro.

Accessed from PV Maldonado are the
Río Guaycuyacu
Río Silanche

Puerto Quito

On the shores of the lovely Río Caoni is Puerto Quito, a small town which was once intended to be the capital's port. The main road bypasses the centre of town to the south. Along the Caoni and other rivers in the region are several reserves, resorts and Quiteños' holiday homes. This is a good area for birdwatching, swimming in rivers and natural pools, walking, kayaking, or simply relaxing in pleasant natural surroundings.

The Calacalí road meets the Santo Domingo-Esmeraldas road 28 km southwest of Puerto Quito. Just south of the junction, on the way to Santo Domingo, is the village of
La Independencia
and 5 km further south the town of
La Concordia

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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