Unfortunately, due to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Devil’s Nose Train operations have been suspended and the company has faced bankruptcy. Despite this, I still want to share the memories of our journey aboard this legendary train. The crisp Andean air whipping around us as we marveled at the breathtaking panoramas, the excitement of navigating such steep terrain by rail, and the warmth of the Ecuadorian people are memories that remain as vivid as ever.
The Nariz del Diablo, or “Devil’s Nose” train, is a legendary railway route that winds through the picturesque Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Renowned for its historical significance and remarkable engineering feat, this iconic train journey offers a unique experience for all travelers.
However, its story is not without its trials and tribulations, as the Nariz del Diablo train eventually succumbed to financial challenges and went bankrupt. It used to be one of the must do things in Ecuador.
In this article, we will guide you in visiting this famous spot in Ecuador. We will delve into the captivating story of the Nariz del Diablo, exploring its rich history, highlighting its unique engineering marvel, and shedding light on its cultural importance.
The History of Nariz del Diablo
The Nariz del Diablo train was initially constructed as part of the ambitious Guayaquil–Quito railway project in the early 20th century. This project aimed to connect Guayaquil’s coastal city with Quito’s capital city in Ecuador. The construction of the Nariz del Diablo section began in 1899 and was completed in 1908.
The primary purpose of the Nariz del Diablo train was to overcome the challenging topography of the Andes Mountains. The route had to navigate through steep slopes and rugged terrain, making it a remarkable engineering feat of its time.
The train’s construction involved intricate switchbacks, zigzagging tracks, and daring cliffside tunnels. This ingenious design allowed the train to conquer the infamous Devil’s Nose, a nearly vertical rock face that inspired its unique name.
Where is the Devil’s Nose Train Located?
Alausi is a town in the Chimborazo province of Ecuador and is home to the renowned Devil’s Nose Train. Nestled in the scenic and mountainous south-central region of the Andes Mountains, Alausi offers breathtaking scenery.
How To Get To The Devil’s Nose Train?
La Nariz del Diablo in Ecuador is located near the major city of Guayaquil. However, reaching this attraction still requires considerable travel time. When we drove to Alausi, the journey took approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.
While it is possible to travel by bus from Guayaquil to Alausi, direct buses were unavailable during our visit. Based on the information I gathered, taking a bus would have required multiple connections and a total travel time of over 8 hours.
Despite Quito being farther away than Guayaquil, visiting La Nariz del Diablo in Ecuador from the capital city is still feasible. The drive from Quito to Alausi typically takes around 5.5 to 6 hours. Unlike the route from Guayaquil, most of this journey follows Ecuador’s main highway (E35) and is relatively safe, without the dangers of cliffs and steep roads.
Direct buses from Quito to Alausi are available, allowing you to stay on the same bus throughout the journey. While these buses make frequent stops, it eliminates the need for multiple connections.
Traveling from Baños to Alausi is a straightforward journey. Whether you’re heading from Quito to Alausi or vice versa, I highly recommend considering a stop in Baños for a few days. It is an excellent opportunity to make the most of your Ecuador trip.
There are no direct buses available between Alausi and Baños, so you’ll need to take a bus from Alausi to Riobamba and then transfer to another bus heading to Baños. If you have a quick connection time, the entire journey should take approximately 3.5 hours.
Best Time To Ride the Devil’s Nose Train
This attraction is enjoyable throughout the year, making it a worthwhile visit regardless of the season.
But for the optimal experience of visiting Alausi and riding on La Nariz del Diablo in Ecuador, we suggest planning your trip between July and September. During this period, there is less rainfall, although the weather may be slightly more relaxed compared to the summer months.
Nariz del Diablo Tickets and Schedule
I recommend pre-booking your tickets online to ensure a spot on the Nariz del Diablo train. This guarantees your reservation and allows you to select the best seats available. Alternatively, you can also purchase tickets in person at the Alausi train station, conveniently located in the heart of town. This station is also where you will board the train.
Tickets for the Nariz del Diablo train cost USD 40 per person. The train operates every day of the week except on Mondays. There are two trips scheduled each day, one at 8 AM and another at 11 AM. Opting for the earlier departure is advisable, as it increases the likelihood of clear skies and better visibility during the journey.
Alausi Train Station
Alausí’s train station is conveniently located in the city center, so it is very easy to find. If you have spare time before departure, there is a café near the station where you can grab a quick snack. You can bring some snacks and drinks since no food or beverage services are available on the train.
The Nariz del Diablo train offers both double and single seats, positioned to face each other with a fold-out table in between. You can quickly identify these seats on the online seating plan.
The seats are spacious and comfortable, with a luggage rack available for smaller bags. Each carriage has a bathroom at the end, and you’ll find several rubbish bins conveniently placed in the aisle.
While there are no power sockets or Wi-Fi on board, the absence of distractions encourages passengers to gaze out the window and fully enjoy the ride. The train’s interior has an understated and elegant ambiance characterized by wood paneling. Overall, the train is well-maintained, clean, and functional.
The Scenic Journey
Our journey started precisely at 8 AM as we hopped on the Nariz del Diablo train. We passed through the small town of Alausí, surrounded by the majestic Andes Mountains.
We left the city behind and got closer to the steep slopes of the mountainside. As we traveled, we descended an impressive 500 meters in altitude. We followed the winding tracks, alongside a river, with tall cliffs on either side.
After approximately 10 minutes, we arrived at Sibambe Station. At this point, we had the opportunity to spend an hour exploring the area. There were beautiful scenic viewpoints nearby, offering picturesque vistas.
For those interested in delving into the train’s history, there was ample information available at the station.
One of the highlights of this experience is the vibrant cultural dancing performance in which visitors could choose to participate.
We spent approximately one hour in this area. When it was time to leave, everyone was instructed to board the train again. The return journey took around 30 minutes, giving us additional opportunities to capture stunning photos.
After enjoying the performance, we explored the open-air museum just a few meters from the railway. It was a fantastic opportunity to browse and purchase locally crafted souvenirs and sample some snacks.
I highly recommend trying the cheese empanadas baked in the clay oven – they were delicious and a great bargain at only $0.50 each! Once I finished exploring the small clay huts, we still had enough time to capture a few pictures of the railway and treat ourselves to a cup of coffee. It should be one of the foods to try in Ecuador in your list.
After spending approximately an hour in Sibambe, it was time for the train to take us back to Alausí. During the return journey, we had the pleasure of relishing the route once again, but this time with the delightful accompaniment of traditional Andean music playing through the speakers. It added a special touch to the experience and enhanced the overall ambiance as we returned to Alausí.
The Devil’s Nose Train is undeniably one of Ecuador’s top tourist attractions. In particular, the town of Alausi offers an authentic cultural experience that is well worth a visit. Although this experience is quite pricey, I would say that it is worth your money. The entire experience was impeccably organized, providing a refreshing change from the usual long train rides.
The route itself is incredibly scenic and holds appeal not only for train enthusiasts but for everyone. If you plan a trip to Ecuador, I highly recommend embarking on this train adventure. We definitely enjoyed this journey and highly recommend it to our fellow travelers.