Of the country's once extensive rail network, only sections remain, and trains don't run as regularly as they used to. Today, there are infrequent departures from Quito
to El Boliche Station
, at Cotopaxi National Park
, and from Riobamba
Ecuador nevertheless boasts what must rank among two of the most thrilling train rides in the world, both of which wind up and down the steep slopes of the Andes. Most travellers regard a train journey as one of the highlights of their trip.
The route from Riobamba
, [on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
] takes about four hours in antiquated equipment. The most dramatic section of track in the country lies between Alausi
[south of Riobamba
] and Sibambe
, now run only for tourists at a steep US$15*
a pop. It's known as the Devil's Nose
, because of one particularly steep and perilous curve, but also perhaps because only the Devil knows how they managed to lay the track in the first place.
Up until the damage wrought by the El Nino floods of 1997, the train from Ibarra ran all the way to the coast at San Lorenzo. Today we still wait that hopefully the entire route will one day be re-instated.
*The prices are approximately
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||Article contributed by Dominic Hamilton|||