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 maneuvre 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 hour ride we will arrive to our hotels where we can rest and reflect upon the titanic labour undertaken by the Harman brothers to overcome the colossal Andean mountain range.
For 2019: Following Itinerary will apply:
Day 3 – Thursday Riobamba – Devil´s Nose – Alausí
Early in the morning we will head to the historic Riobamba station, where a huge steam locomotive known as "The Black Monster" will be waiting to take us through colorful quinoa fields, picturesque villages and unique landscapes. Upon our arrival to Colta, we will carry out a maneuver that will switch the steam locomotive for a diesel-electric machine, meanwhile we can visit the first church in Ecuador known as the Balvanera or you can film the train with the steam locomotive before we leave it behind from the outside of the maneuver area.
Once in Guamote, we will visit an authentic Andean market, where people from several communities come together to trade a myriad of products. This market has maintained its traditional essence and with luck we will be able to observe how the barter works among the merchants that meet there coming from many other indigenous communities from the country. A short trip by bus will take us to Alausí, where the patrimonial consist(set) awaits the group; that one will transport us to the mythical Nariz del Diablo (the Devi´ls Nose). An impressive system of swicht-backs on a steep mountain that allow the locomotive to descend into the Sibambe valley; during its construction, was considered one of the most important engineering milestones in the country. Our patrimonial set will return to Alausí, the city of the Five Heritage and we can rest tonight in this small city nestled in between sharp mountains and diverse plantations. Walking at night through its streets will give us a feeling of returning several decades in time.
Riobamba (full name San Pedro de Riobamba) is the capital of the Chimborazo Province in central Ecuador, which is located at the Chambo River Valley of the Andes. It is 200 km (120 mi) south of Ecuador's capital Quito and located at 2754 m on the Avenue of the Volcanoes. The city is an important regional transport center as well as being a stop on the Pan-American Highway that runs through Ecuador. Riobamba stands as one of the largest cities in the central portion of Ecuador's Sierra region.