Travel in ultimate style between the Andes and the Pacific Coast with the magnificent Tren Crucero, the jewel in the crown of Ecuador’s world class rail system. From the comfort of the panoramic carriages, watch in wonder as you pass through the dramatic Avenue of the Volcanoes, fertile valleys, misty cloud forests and breathtaking Andean landscapes.
This is much more than just a train journey however, throughout the three night cultural tour you will have the chance to sample local Andean cuisine and frequently alight to visit indigenous markets, explore the ever-changing scenery and meet the locals who are keeping alive centuries old traditions and trades. On part of the journey you will be pulled along by an immaculately restored steam engine, as well having the chance to experience first-hand the vertiginous Devil’s Nose Pass.
The journey carries travellers in both directions between the high altitude capital Quito, down to the coastal city of Guayaquil - departure point for your next adventure; a cruise of the Galapagos Islands.
Tren Crucero Insights - Train of Wonders - Quito to Guayaquil
Our journey begins in the northern Andes of Ecuador, in the valley of Otavalo, where we will discover traditional cultures, handicrafts, and modern export-class rose plantations. From Quito we will start our trip to the coast, first climbing to the Chimborazo volcano moorlands along the Avenue of Volcanoes.
The Mythical “Devil’s Nose” pass awaits with its vertiginous zig-zag. Riding along the Chanchán river canyon we leave the highlands behind. We cross a cloud forest, then ride along the tropical plantations to the end of our trip in Guayaquil. We reach the shores of the Pacific Ocean after 504 km or rail and a 12,000 ft. descent to the sea.
Day 1 – Quito – Otavalo – Ibarra – Quito
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 skillful woodcarvers who keep the renowned Quito School style alive; After a tasting of traditional Andean cuisine and a visit to very special export-class rose plantation we return to Quito.
Day 2 – Quito – Urbina
We board our convoy at Quito Chimbacalle station and begin our journey south along the Avenue of Volcanoes. If the weather permits, you can spot up to twenty volcanoes from the train –most extinct or dormant for centuries.
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 11,800 feet above sea level.
In the skirts of mount Chimborazo we meet the last ice-merchant and learn the story of his ancestral trade.
Day 3 – Riobamba – The Devil’s Nose – Bucay
We depart Riobamba towards Colta, where the Spanish conquerors built their first settlement in Ecuador. We cross colorful quinoa fields painted in purples, yellows and reds, alternating with endemic species of flora and wildlife, indigenous settlements and the remains of ancient cultures.
We visit Guamote market, one of the last indigenous markets in the Andes, before continuing south towards the mythical Devil’s Nose pass. A vertiginous descent of 450metres zig zag takes us from the Andean highlands down towards the coastal plains.
We continue our descent along the narrow Chanchán river gorge and crossing an impressive cloud forest towrads the temperate city of Bucay.
Day 4 – Bucay – Guayaquil
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 and the end of our trip in Guayaquil.
Tren Crucero Insights - Train to the Clouds - Guayaquil to Quito
From the fertile plains in the coast we climb to the highlands in the Andes through the mythical Devil’s Nose pass. Riding across the Avenue of Volcanoes we reach Quito, Cultural World Heritage by UNESCO, to continue to Otavalo, amidst the Northern Andes, where we will explore the quichua culture, skills and traditions and have lunch in a very singular hacienda, amidst export-class roses. In the evening we return to Quito, where our services end.
Day 1 - Duran – Yaguachi – Naranjito – Bucay
We depart from Durán in the coast early in the morning, our heritage convoy pulled by a vintage steam engine. We switch engines in Yaguachi and continue across rice, sugar cane, banana and pineapple plantations to Naranjito.
Lunch is served in a traditional hacienda, where we will learn about the best cocoa bean in the world and taste home-made chocolate. After a show of Montubio culture we continue our trip towards Bucay. If the day is clear, we will get tour first glimpse of the Andes in the distance.
Day 2 – Bucay – Huigra – The Devil’s Nose – Alausí – Colta – Riobamba
As we travel along the canyon of river Chanchán the vegetation and temperature change abruptly. The cloud forest clears out and the sparse vegetation of the highlands takes its place, while the stone walls of the Andes loom in the horizon.
The train makes a stop at Pistishi lookout, where we can get a good glimpse of the impressive feat of engineering ahead of us, before start the daunting climb of mythical Devil’s nose. After a 450 meter climb in barely 12 kilometers of dizzying zig zag the train finally reaches the quaint village of Alausi, in the Andes.
We continue our journey to Riobamba, crossing colorful quinoa fields. In Colta we visit the indigenous community of Palacio Real, where we learn about llama breeding.
We arrive in Riobamba pulled by a powerful steam engine, with time to visit the Train Station Artisans’ Square before heading to our hotel.
Day 3 – Riobamba – Urbina – Boliche – Quito
We depart for Urbina, the highest point in our itinerary at 3600m.a.s.l. There, in the eastern flanks of Chimborazo volcano awaits the last ice merchant, to tell the tale of his ancestral trade.
Then we ride north along the Avenue of Volcanoes, the fertile valley sheltered between the two arms of the Andes mountain range. In clear days you can spot up to twenty volcanoes from the comfort of your seat. In the skirts of Cotopaxi volcano we will explore a singular Andean forest trail before continuing our ride towards Quito, with its UNESCO World Heritage old quarter.
Day 4 – Quito – Otavalo – Ibarra – Quito
Our journey continues to the Northern Andes. In Otavalo, home to a millenary market, we board the train, pulled by a lovingly restored steam engine. During the day we will discover the culture, traditions, music, gastronomy, paintings and the antique skill of woodcarving, learned from the renowned masters of the Quito carving school, back in the XVIIth century. After having lunch in a very singular hacienda, we head back to Quito and the end of our services.
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