Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: Durán – Yaguachi – Naranjito – Alausí
Our first stop will be the Duran railway station where a carefully restored steam locomotive will be waiting to transport us on a journey through time. With the roar of its engine and its steam whistle, it will take us back into the past, to the time when these fabulous machines first began to travel along the coastal tracks, completely changing the reality and history of the country.
The first stop will be at Yaguachi, the first station built on the railway system, where we will say goodbye to our steam locomotive to make a way for a diesel-electric, and we will be able to observe the changeover of these impressive machines from outside the maneuver area.
Our journey now continues through extensive plantations of sugarcane, banana, coffee, pineapple and a countless number of tropical products, on our way to the Naranjito area.
A bus will then take us climbing into the Andes on a scenic route that will ascend more than 2,000 meters (approximately 6,500 ft.) in just 4 hours. On the journey we will see abrupt changes of climate, vegetation and geography as we climb up to the picturesque mountain town of Alausí, high in the Andes.
Our first day ends in the comfort of our hotel in this small town nestled in a spectacular spot amongst the area’s jagged mountain peaks. An evening walk through the streets of Alausí will give us a feeling of travelling back several decades in time.
Night at Hotel Molino or similar
Included: English speaking guide; lunch, dinner, accommodation
Day 2:Alausí – Devil´s Nose – Riobamba
The second day begins with an inspiring trip aboard a train which dates from the early twentieth century, this time descending through the fearsome Nariz del Diablo, or Devil’s Nose pass; an intricate switch-back track that allows the train to descend 511 meters (1,6756 ft.) in just 12 kilometers of railway. Considered an engineering marvel in its day, this train ride is still spectacular. The Sibambe station awaits us down below, where we will visit a fascinating Andean mountain community that has historically depended on the activity the train has brought.
Back in Alausí, we will have time to take pictures and visit the local market, where the quiet city that the night before was lost in the mists of time, has now becomes the scene of one of the most colorful markets in the area, serving more than a dozen surrounding communities.
Lunch will be served on board after a short bus ride.
We now move on towards the town of Colta where the “Black Monster”, an impressive and carefully refurbished Baldwin steam locomotive is ready to take us on the final leg of our journey. Before leaving we will have the chance to visit Ecuador’s first church, known as the ‘Balbanera’ whose construction began in 1534. And as we head out, there will be a treat for train-lovers: the chance to film the journey with the steam locomotive at the head.
Fields of quinoa, potatoes, onions, corn and other products provided by these fertile soils, dot the picturesque landscape as we head towards the capital city of Chimborazo province, Riobamba. On the way we will pass by the majestic Mt. Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest mountain, at 20,549 ft. the world’s highest mountain as measured by its distance from the earth’s center.
In Riobamba, we will find an enchanting historic city where Ecuador’s first constitution was written. Here we will walk through cobbled streets and squares where every step tells the history of the country. Transfer by bus to the best accommodations in this city, at night we will enjoy dinner at the same hotel.
Night at Hacienda Abraspungo or similar
- Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide, lunch, dinner, accommodation
Day 3:Riobamba – La Moya – Urbina – Latacunga
In the morning we head towards Jatari Train Station, where the inhabitants of the community of La Moya will show us the life in the Andes, we will be able to interact with them and see one of the best examples of community organization for work, such as the millenary knowledge taught from past generations.
The tour continues towards the Urbina station. Located just over 3,600 meters above sea level, we will get to know the “paramo” ecosystems of the slopes of Chimborazo. Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of Chimborazo, will tell us his story and explain the reasons behind his dedication, despite the opposition and arrival of machines to the country. The train will get to Cotopaxi province but on the way, a group of devils will take the train by surprise when the Diablada de Píllaro (devil´s parade from Píllaro) is celebrated on board, a parade full of colors, music and joy that reminds us of the spirit of the Andean communities and their understanding of the world, this parade was declared national heritage.
The final stop of the day will be Latacunga station. Transfer by bus to the best accommodations in the area, at night we will enjoy dinner at the same hotel.
Night at Hacienda La Ciénega or similar
- Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide , lunch, dinner, accommodation.
Day 4:Latacunga – Cotopaxi National Park – Quito
We will meet at the Latacunga Station to travel by bus to the Cotopaxi National Park. Within the park we are able to join a moderate walk around the Limpiopungo lagoon where different sorts of plants and birds adapted to the altitude. Natural photography will be part of this morning and then we will board the train.
The train will continue near the slopes of Cotopaxi, to our next stop, a typical Andean hacienda where we will be part of the daily activities of the chagra hacienda. Upon our arrival we will be welcomed by these Andean Cowboys (Chagras), who will show off their skills as riders and teach us a little of their culture and traditions.
Our last day of expedition ends at the Eloy Alfaro station with a short walk inside the property, where our guides will make us discover the secrets of this patrimony.
The capital of Ecuador, the beautiful city of Quito, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, will welcome us at night.
Night at Swissotel / Plaza Grande or similar
- Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide, lunch, accommodation
Highlights of the Andes$1,999
A guided 5 day program crossing through the Andean mountain range in all of its cultural and natural glory. Where the history of Ecuador meets the present.
Train of Wonders$1,735
Just a Taste of Ecuador$2,250
A guided 6 day program. You will visit Quito, Cloudforest, Otavalo, and the Cotopaxi. A thorough summary of the country in less than a week.