Traveling Ecuador by train
The train line through Ecuador is considered one of the most spectacular train lines in South America. A train journey of discovery.
The Trans-Andean railroad takes in the infamous Nariz del Diablo, or Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle, the train zigzags to ascend 500 meters in less than 12 kilometers. With steep ascents and descents, it’s no ride for the faint-hearted! The main line along the country’s Andean spine links the coastal city of Guayaquil with the capital Quito. It was finished in 1908, but was mostly shut down after a series of weather-related disasters destroyed much of the Ecuadorian rail network in the 1990s. After extensive restoration, a new cross-Andean service was opened in 2013, following the original narrow-gauge line. It’s 450 kilometers long and runs from the Pacific coast up to the Andean highlands. On its cross-country journey, the train is accompanied by guards on motorcycles who, in the absence of railway gates, stop traffic at every level crossing along the way to let the train pass. The Tren Crucero, – or “cruise train”- is the centerpiece of Ecuador’s rejuvenated railway. A revamped luxury steam train, it runs once a fortnight and has room for 54 passengers. The most exhilarating stretch of the ride begins deep down in the gorge of the River Chanchán. The train zigzags up the Nariz del Diablo – the “Devil’s Nose” – in a series of dizzying switchbacks in which the tracks almost seem to lie on top of each other. Join the reporters for the ride of a lifetime, as the train journeys on to Urbina, the highest station at 3,609 meters above sea level, and along the so-called Avenue of Volcanoes, to the Cotopaxi National Park and onwards to Quito, the world’s highest capital.