10 Best Railroad Journeys in South America – #8 The Devil’s Nose

February 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Devil's Nose Train Ride Ecuador

Devil's Nose Train Ride Ecuador

Originally part of the rail line connecting Quito and Guayaquil, today the most popular train ride in Ecuador is a the train ride from Riobamba to Alausi.  The train heads down the Central Highlands through the Avenue of the Volcanoes where passengers have stunning views of the Andes snow capped Andes Peaks including Tunguragua, El Altar and Chimborazo the highest mountain in Ecuador on both sides of the train.  The most popular way to travel the route is by sitting on the roof of the old box cars offering the best view of the countryside.

The highlight of the trip is a section of the track known as the “The Devil’s Nose” at the time it was built it was called “The Most Difficult Train in the World”. An engineering marvel the makes its way up a series of nail biting zigzags to climb the sheer  stone face of the mountain climbing a gradient of  1-in-18 from 1800 meters to 2600 meters.  Engineers designed the route by having the train goes forward and backwards up the series of switchbacks that are near parallel to each other.

Part adventure ride, the The Nariz del Diablo train uses a relatively modern engine to pull the beautiful old carriages.  These days, the train is often replaced by one of two ‘autoferros’, which are basically a bus body mounted on train wheels.  You still see the same views, but it can be disappointing if you were expecting a train ride and there are also fewer seats.

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