Cruising Ecuador by train: 4 days / Quito to Guayaquil
This trip offers you the opportunity to take a journey through the majestic landscapes of the Andes to the endless plains of the coast; a unique experience in an exceptional train with a high quality service.
The Train’s staff and onboard services won a prize in the World Travel Market Trade Show held in London in 2013. The train was awarded by the British Guild of Travel Writers as the “Best Product outside Europe”. The Train Cruise in Ecuador is considered as one of the “Top 5 Unmissable Journeys by rail” by Lonely Planet together with world renowned trains such as the Ghan or the mythic Orient Express, find out more about these international awards at:
DAY 1: Tuesday Quito – Otavalo – Ibarra:
The journey starts in the Northern Andes. While we travel towards Otavalo, the highest peak on the equator might appear, the snowcapped Cayambe volcano. The landscape changes constantly: from fertile green valleys to yellow dry forests as we continue to Ecuador’s Northern Andes and its millenary market. A restored steam engine awaits us at the Otavalo train station. The Last stop is at the Ibarra train station and return to Quito by coach, for an overnight stay in the city.
DAY 2: Wednesday: Quito – Cotopaxi – Riobamba
Check in and board the Train Cruise. Today`s journey is through the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, with an exploration of Andean ecosystems at the “Boliche” Recreational Area and Cotopaxi National Park, amazing views of the Yambo Lake.
The train passes by the city of Ambato. The next leg of today’s trip ascends through Chimborazo’s páramo. The landscape will suddenly change from Andean forest to desert like areas as we go up higher in altitude. Arrival to the Urbina train station, the highest train station on the Ecuadorian railway system at 3,609 meters above sea level. If weather permits, the view of Chimborazo offers breathtaking opportunities for pictures.
Disembark at the Urbina train station. Here, we will meet a unique person, Mr. Ushca who has a deep relationship with whom he considers a father, ¨The Chimborazo volcano¨. Baltasar is a 75 year old local that goes high up in the mountain to dig for ice in the surrounding underground glacier of this extinct volcano. He hikes about 10km through harsh weather conditions. He discretely whispers for permission to the Chimborazo to extract its ice, using only a pickaxe and breaks it into blocks. Later on he will wrap it in hay, pack it and load his cargo onto a donkey, his loyal friend and helper. He then hauls the ice down the mountain to store it in a hole in the ground. On Saturdays, he sells the ice at the market in Riobamba to vendors who turn it into ice cream and fruit juices. Baltazar is now the last remaining ice merchant; when he dies, the tradition of harvesting glacial ice will have been lost forever. He has been declared by the Ecuadorian government as living patrimony of the country. http://thelasticemerchant.com/
Once back aboard the train, we continue to Riobamba with the Chimborazo volcano dominating most of the landscape. Arrival in Riobamba at dusk and transfer by bus to the hotel. Accommodation and dinner.
DAY 3: Thursday: Riobamba – Guamote – Market – Bucay:
Early departure from the hotel to the Riobamba train station by bus. Here we will get on board the Train Cruise and continue south. The scent of local coffee floats through the interior of the train while we go ride past corn and potato fields, and the Andean cereal known as ¨quinua¨. Our first stop of the day is by the Colta Lake, here we have a short visit of the ¨La Balbanera¨, this church sits behind a low stone wall. It has a stone facade with a large arched doorway, supported by two columns.The “La Balbanera” Church was constructed in 1524, making it the oldest church constructed by the Spaniards in Ecuador.
Our journey continues to the spectactular Guamote Market, where explosions of colors, flavours and smells flood the air. Great photo ops and time for shopping for some of the local goods. We will have lunch in the area and continue later on to Alausi.
From Alausi the train reaches one of the most famous sections of railway known as ¨The Devil´s Nose”. In 1902, the hill known as “Condor Pununo or Condor’s nest” was built alongside ‘The Devil’s Nose’, a very challenging work of engineering, which led to it’s designation as “The most difficult Railway in the World” which now presents to you the majestic and unique engineering of the zig zag railroad that promises to be an unforgettable experience.
Continue through river canyons and tunnels to the little town of Huigra know also for its year-long springlike weather and continue on to the tropical lands of Bucay. Overnight and dinner.
Day 4: Friday: Bucay to Guayaquil on the Pacific coast:
Early breakfast and departure to the lowlands of the Pacific Ocean, on the way we will notice the temperature rises and the exhuberant vegetation of the tropics makes its presence known. Our first stop of the day is in Bucay to visit the local tourism projects such as a Cocoa bean plantation and other interesting activities. We will have lunch in the area before continuing to our last stops. In the town of Yaguachi we will switch to the steam locomotive, here we will get a chance to take pictures and marvel at this jewel of 20th century engineering that has been revived to bring back the glories of its time. On our ride to Duran we will see the coastal plains full of rice fields, sugar cane, pineapples and other agricultural products Arrival in Duran and transfer to the main hotels in Guayaquil.
Does not include
- Free Lunch
- Tickets to the park
- Tickets to museums