The Devil’s Nose Train: 5 things you should know before riding
The Devil’s Nose Train uses a segment of the Trans-Andean railroad which runs from Alausi to Sibambe. It’s notoriously one of the most complicated railroads to have been built, and you can feel it when you ride the train. The Trans-Andean railroad runs from Quito to Guayaquil, and although taking the train for the whole route can be incredibly expensive, taking this segment is affordable and by far the most exciting part.
The train line construction began in 1872, and was finished in 1905. It connected parts of the northern coast to the Andean region of Ibarra, Quito and continued south to Cuenca. Now, some of these parts are no longer functioning, but the main route from Quito to Guayaquil was refurbished in 2007.
You used to be able to ride on the train’s roof around the Devil’s Nose, but this was closed after two tourists were decapitated by a low hanging electricity wire several years ago. Nowadays you can only ride inside the train, but if you sit on the side of the views it’s still pretty hairy. Here are five things you should know before going:
1.How to get to the Devil’s nose train
If you want window seats on the side of the train with the views, you might want to book in advance on www.trenecuador.com or through a travel agency in Riobamba or Cuenca. You’ll need to travel to Alausi with enough time to catch the train. If you’re staying in Cuenca it will take about 3.5 hours by bus to get to Alausi, or if you’re in Riobamba about XX hours. If you want to take the early morning train you can travel to Alausi the day before and stay overnight. Unlike other transportation in Ecuador, this train leaves bang on time, so make sure you arrive early enough.
2. How much it costs
Tickets for the Devil’s Nose train cost $33 and include the the train to Sibambe and back. The ticket includes a visit to the Puñuna Condor Museum and a traditional Andean show in Sibambe. If you want to take the train for longer distances you can check out the website for more info. www.trenecuador.com. There are several routes through the Northern Andes or from Quito.
3.There are only two departures a day
Make sure you plan ahead, as there are only two departures of the Devil’s Nose Train a day from Tuesday to Sunday. The first leaves at 8:00 and the second at 11:00. The trip takes about 2.5 hours in total.
4. The Devil’s Nose train doesn’t go in a straight line
The train is one of the most complex feats of engineering, as it descends 1000 metres in just 12 km. In order to accomplish this, the train follows a zigzag path carved into the rockface, slowly moving forwards and backwards until it reaches the bottom. American engineers were brought to the country to solve the puzzle of how to cross this segment of the Andes.
5. Many people died building it
This section of the railroad was built by 4000 jamaicans and other workers. It is estimated that 2000 of them died while building this Devil’s Nose train segment of the railroad from the dangers of the landscape, illnesses and plagues.
The Ecuadorian Andes are such an amazing area to explore. We recommend you check out our article about the Cotopaxi Volcano and Baños, a gorgeous town in the skirts of Tungurahua Volcano.