The journey starts in the Northern Andes. While we travel towards Otavalo, the highest peak in the equator might appear, the snow-capped Cayambe volcano. The landscape changes constantly: from fertile green valleys to yellow dry forests as we continue to Otavalo and its millenary market.
A restored steam engine awaits us at Otavalo train station. While we travel on board the train, many wonders await for us on each stop: skilled woodcarvers who keep alive the renowned Quiteña School style; a tasting of the rich Ecuadorian Gastronomy, and local traditions featured in weavers, musicians and healers. Next on our journey, we will descend 11,811 f.a.s.l. From the heights of the Andes to the shore of the Pacific Ocean, traveling along the famous “Avenue of Volcanoes”. Here, the Andes split into two ranges that run to the south. The fertile valley trapped in between these imposing zone walls is home to a veritable treasure trove of biodiversity.
Pristine landscapes, endemic species of wildlife and flora, indigenous cultures as well as archaeological and historical remains are scattered everywhere, guarded by magnificent volcanoes. The train leaves behind Cotopaxi volcano and National Park and slowly climbs across purple-tinged quinoa fields towards Urbina station, the highest point in on our route at 11,843 f.a.s.l. There, protected by majestic, powerful Chimborazo volcano awaits Baltasar Ushca, the last “ice-harvester” and guardian of this ancestral trade.
After a visit to Guamote traditional indigenous market, the mythical “Nariz del Diablo” pass awaits; a ertiginous descent of 1,476 f.a.s.l. That signals the transition from the Andes to the tropical lowlands.
The landscape changes as we leave the narrow gorge of the Chanchán river and its cloud forest and ride into the wide, fertile tropical plains. Rice, banana, cocoa, pineapple and sugar cane plantations pass before our eyes as the steam engine whistles its way towards the Pacific Coast and the end of our trip.
This train journey has set departures only. A journey not to be missed!
From Quito we will start our trip to the coast, first climbing to the Chimborazo volcano moorlands along the Avenue of Volcanoes. We depart Quito early in the morning for a one-and-a-half drive north. In Otavalo, home of a millenary market, a carefully restored steam engine awaits us. At a slow pace we will discover the many wonders hidden in this part of the country: musicians, painters, weavers and the skilful woodcarvers who keep the renowned Quito School style alive; After a tasting of traditional Andean cuisine and a visit to a rose plantation we return to Quito.
Transfer to Chimbacalle railway station where you board the Tren Crucero. Here, the Andes range splits into two arms that run parallel down South. The fertile valley trapped between these stone walls hosts a treasure trove of biodiversity. From the comfort of our panoramic cars we watch the change of vegetation and landscape as we slowly climb the Andean highlands to Urbina, the highest point in our itinerary at 3609 m (11,800 feet) above sea level. Dinner and overnight at a hotel near Riobamba.
Early morning departure from Riobamba railway station towards Guamote. In Guamote, you have time to explore the authentic and colorful indigenous market. During the afternoon the Tren Crucero descends to Alausi and from there over the famous “Devil’s Nose” to Sibambe. The train leaves slowly the Andes and enters the tropics following the Chanchan river. In the evening the Tren Crucero reaches Bucay where you have dinner and spend the night.
The landscape changes again as the train leaves the tropical forest behind. Rice, sugar cane, pineapple and banana plantations pass before our eyes.
We have lunch at a traditional hacienda, where we can learn about the growing and harvesting of the best cocoa bean in the world. Later, the steam engine whites its way across the fields towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Arrival to Duran´s train station, transfer to the hotel in Guayaquil for overnight.
- Accommodation and full meals
- English/Spanish-speaking guides
- Baggage allowance : 2 suitcases of 23 kg each