Our journey begins in the northern Andes of Ecuador, in the valley of Otavalo, as we wind our way through traditional villages to meet craftspeople and enjoy a visit to a rose plantation. Venturing south from Quito, we travel through the famous “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, passing such giants as Cotopaxi and Chimborazo – the closest point on the planet to the sun. After a visit to the truly-authentic Andean market of Guamote, we make our way to warmer climes, zig-zagging down the mythical “Devil’s Nose”. After descending the colossal Andes we enter a tropical forest world, then ride through plantations of sugar-cane, rice and cacao, to end our trip in the peaceful plains of the coastal region.
Quito –Cotopaxi National Park – Lasso – Latacunga
Arrive at Chimbacalle station, south of Quito, a historic station that will open its doors to us with the country’s railway history from 1908. On the train, you’ll cross the impressive “Avenue of the Volcanoes”; the term that Alexander von Humboldt gave to this part of the Andean ridge, where there are more than 20 volcanoes, few of them still active.
You will arrive at the second highest station of the Ecuadorian railway system and disembark to begin your journey through a farm of Roses and learn why Ecuador gathers all the right characteristics to produce some of the best roses in the world.
After lunch we will go up to the Cotopaxi National Park.
Within the park we can enjoy a moderate altitude walk around the Limpiopungo lagoon, where you’ll find different varieties of plants and birds adapted to this altitude environment. Later on we will drive to our destination a typical Andean Hacienda in the hearth of the Andes were we will spend the night and be delighted by the delicious gastronomy of our hosts.
Latacunga – Urbina – Riobamba
The departure by train in the morning will be from Latacunga Station. Cross the inter-Andean valley and then the Yambo lagoon will open before your eyes by a scenic cliff. During the journey you will be approached by colourful devils from Pillaro village, part of a long Andean tradition known as the “Diablada Pillareña”, declared national heritage. Celebrate this folkloric demonstration from the comfort of your train.
Arrive to Urbina station, the highest point of your visit, located at 3609 meters above sea level. There you will be received by Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of the Chimborazo who will share the secrets of his old and almost extinct tradition. Enjoy some community experience, when you arrive to Jatari and the Community of La Moya and learn about the Quichua – Puruha culture and their ancestral work systems. Share the table with them and be able to interact with this amazing culture.
After this great day, transfer to Riobamba, a unique historical town for the country and for the railroad development in the past. A short walk through the city the and the handcraft plaza will be part of the end of the day before you arrive at your accommodation.
Riobamba – Devil´s Nose – Alausí
Setting off early from Urbina, but this time aboard the “Black Monster” steam engine, we chug our way through the heart of the Central Andes, amid colourful quinoa fields flecked in purples, yellows and reds, alternating with endemic species of flora and wildlife, indigenous settlements and the remains of ancient cultures. At Colta, the train will make a complex manoeuvre to switch locomotives; we will leave the “Black Monster” to be pulled by a electric diesel locomotive and continue south. (Colta saw the birth of this charming nation when Spanish conquerors made its first settlement at its shores.)
At Guamote market, one of the last truly indigenous markets in the Andes, there’s time to wander, admire and barter for goods. We will have lunch before we take a transfer by bus to the mythical Devil’s Nose pass: a vertiginous train ride descent of 450 metres which includes zig zags carved into the mountainside. At Alausi train station we will board a carefully restored convoy. Beautiful XX century wagons will take you on this vertiginous descend to the Sibambe valley a unique and wonderful experience on board one of the most difficult trains of the world.
Returning to Alausi we will board our bus on a mesmerizing trip from the imposing Andes to the peaceful coastal plains. A dramatic change in weather and vegetation will mark the transition between these regions. After this four hours ride we will arrive to our hotels were we can rest and reflect upon the titanic labour undertaken by the Harman brothers to overcome the colossal Andean mountain range.
Alausi – Naranjito – Yaguachi – Duran
We will take our bus with the first sun rays and that one will take us on a scenic trip from the imposing Andes to the quiet esplanades of the Pacific coast. During this trip we can witness the dramatic climatic and geographical changes that mark the transition between coast and mountains.
Arrive at a traditional hacienda and tour around its fields to learn about the farming and harvesting of the Ecuadorian cocoa bean, a bean so exquisite that is considered to be the best in the world. Enjoy the gastronomy of local cuisine with an exquisite lunch at the hacienda.
Your next destination will be Naranjito where you’ll board the train to Yaguachi, the first station built for the Ecuadorian railway system. At Yaguachi train station a restored steam engine awaits us, ready to whistle and thrum its way across the fields towards the Pacific Ocean and the end of our trip at Guayaquil’s Duran train station. Transfer to your hotel.