La Piragua-Nanegal waterfall getaway

We’re in Nanegalito. A small, rustically charming restaurant on the side of the road is where Roberto and his family wait for us. They quickly make some bolón (fried plantain dumplings) with coffee and fresh orange juice for us visitors. The steaming hot dish and the crunchy texture of the first bite are amazing; the first sign that today will be a great day.


We get back on the bus and continue on our way. The sun slowly peeks out from behind the clouds, its reflection illuminating the landscape: emerald green with hints of color among the trees. We pass by Nanegalito and go farther down the mountain range. The humid air sticks to the windows, we’re close to the fresh waters of the Piragua waterfall.

Our guide, Sebastian, gets off the bus to finalize the last of the logistical details, and the group forms up. We all anxiously make our way towards the waterfall in our brightly colored bathing suits and comfortable sneakers. We find the Piragua waterfall in Nanegal at 1300 MASL.
Laughter, pictures, splashes. It’s a Sunday to recharge, away from our daily routines, in a rural parish an hour and 20 minutes from the city. We bathe in the cold water that falls from the Curunfo river- it refreshes and reenergizes us. As we head out we taste a delicious juice made from fresh sugarcane with lemon at Don Marcelo’s stand. The bravest among us add a dose of piraguazo (sugar cane liquor). Passers by can also savor a delicious ceviche made from heart of palm, with toasted maize and popcorn, typical of Northwest Quito.

We continue on our way to reach “Casa Rumisitana”. The smell of home cooked food gets our attention, and before we sit at the table, we tour the property and its organic orchard. We chat with other travellers, two sisters tell me about how they make the most of these trips to get to know more of Quito. What they enjoy the most are the legends and the scenery.

We can see the imposing Santa Lucia mountain, with the Maquipucuna reserve at its base. We all take advantage of this unique and amazing scenery to take pictures.
Its finally time to head back to the city. Some of us take lemon grass leaves from the orchard as a memento, and to make infusions back home. Raindrops litter the highway on our way back, and we take advantage of their sound to take a nap and dream about the day’s adventures.

How to get there

Take a bus to Los Bancos (Cooperativa Espejo or Flor del Valle) and get off at the town of Nanegalito to then take a van to Nanegal. If you’re driving, go to Km. 54 along vía Calacalí - La Independencia, drive to Nanegal and follow the signs to the waterfall.
Cost of entry to the waterfall: Adults 1.00 and Children 0.50
Nanegal’s Central Park is another attraction.

Text & Photo: Karla León - Quito Turismo

To See
Admire the beautiful scenery of the Maquipucuna ecological reserve and the Santa Lucía mountain

To Feel
Refreshing water from the Piragua waterfall, the same which descends from the Pichincha

To Hear
Lose yourself in the singing of the birds from the area such as tangaras, trogons and yumbos

To Taste
Try local products like the delicious sugar cane juice with lots of lemon


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