Nariz Del Diablo, popularly known as Devil’s Nose is an iconic train ride in Ecuador. It is a small section of a large train line connecting the Sierra region to the Coast of Ecuador. We took the train to see what the fuss was about.
Getting to Alausi
Alausi is a small town on the Panamericana highway 2 hours away from Riobamba, (some say) Ecuador’s third largest city and around 6 hours from Quito. There’s not a lot to do here apart from the train. It seemed like a usual one-night kinda town. And so we had to pay $30 for a double bedroom. That was the cheapest we could find!
We arrived in Alausi after a 4 hour bus ride from Banos. We had worked hard on the farm during the day and so were pretty hungry and tired. We walked into a cafe that offered noodle dishes but could not see a single Asian or Italian staff. Therefore, the noodles were neither chow mien nor spaghetti. However, for $5 each we got some amazing Ecuadorian noodles! Unfortunately we don’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was on the main street close to Alausi station.
First In Line
Our main purpose in Alausi was to get the Nariz del Diablo train. We got to the train station at 7am to buy our tickets but the window only opened at 7:20am. I was first in line and we paid $30 per person. It was expensive by Ecuadorian standards but very popular so we had to do it.
Devil’s Nose Train Ride
At 8:00am sharp, we heard that announcement that the train would be leaving shortly. The train resembled classic old carriages from another century with the frame made of wood. There were two engines one in the front and one in the back and 4 carriages. Inside the carriage was quite modern with nice seating, large windows and toilet facility. As an added extra, there was an bi-lingual attendant / tour guide who could speak in English.
As we boarded the train, we realized we were sharing the carriage with 30-40 french retirees mostly women. The thought of fighting grandmas for pictures was a little funny. As the train left, everyone was on their feet trying to get their best shot of the mountains on both sides.
Our attendant told us that the this stretch of line was built to connect Quito and Guayaquil for transporting goods. The elevation drops 500 metres over 10 kilometres of the line. The name Devil’s Nose comes from the deaths of workers on the line as well as the shape of the mountain from Sibambe.
The view from the top of Devil’s Nose was once of the best in Ecuador. High mountains on all sides and a small river below. The train line was built right on the edge of the mountain and at times it looked like we may fall off. Given the view, the french grandmas wanted to take photos from our side, the right side of the train. We came to an understanding and let them share our space so we could use theirs when the scenery was better on the other side. There were 3 switchbacks on the line as that was the only way for the train to turn and go up or down. Finally, after 45 minutes we reached Sibambe.
Stopover in Sibambe
The stopover was spectacular but also very touristy. Sinambe station had mountains on 3 sides and a valley opening up to the coastal region on the other. As soon as we got off the train, there were horsemen ready to take us for a horse ride, a traditional dancing group, a market and a teenager who brought her llama for tourists to kiss and take photos with. There was also a cafe and a museum which provided more info on the train line.
I must confess I paid $1 to kiss the llama! I had to as I wouldn’t get one so close again. A lady in the little market had some amazing handwoven textiles. We couldn’t get the carpets and sling bags but Shruti did buy some woven earrings. We even managed to reenact the famous scene from DDLJ at the station!
The train ride back up the mountain was as beautiful as before but not many were interested in photos this time. We reached back to Alausi and had a cheap but unhealthy lunch before leaving.
Devil’s Nose train ride was expensive and it was touristy but it was an incredible ride. Not only for its natural beauty but also for the history. It may not be an engineering marvel of the world but it certainly is one for Ecuador. A must do in Ecuador if you don’t mind spending some money!