Enjoy a Journey on the Tren Crucero
Running between Guayaquil and Quito over a distance of 280 miles the Tren Crucero route makes its way through some of Ecuador’s most spectacular scenery, allowing passengers to sit back in luxury and simply enjoy the view. The restoration of the railway line is part of the Ecuadorian government’s $280 million restoration of the national railway system, and it is anticipated that the Tren Crucero will breathe new life into communities along its route which follows the Andean spine and includes the Avenue of Volcanoes and Nariz del Diablo – the Devil’s Nose.
During the El Niño rains in the winter of 1982 and again in the 1990s, large portions of Ecuador’s railway lines were damaged, disrupting the railway service. Reports indicate that by 2008, only around ten percent of the country’s train network was operational, but since then a program of restoration has been underway, of which Tren Crucero is part.
At a cost of around $1,200 per adult, the four-day, three-night journey on board the Tren Crucero from Quito to Guayaquil promises an unforgettable journey. Other options that will be available include the three-day, two-night journey from Quito to Alausi, and the two-day, one-night excursion from Alausi to Guayaquil. The train carriages were built in Madrid and are pulled by superbly restored steam locomotives, the oldest of which was manufactured by Baldwin of Pennsylvania in 1900. The trips also run as separate excursions in the opposite direction, from Guayaquil to Quito, Guayaquil to Alausi and Alausi to Quito.
The Devil’s Nose is one of the highlights of the journey, as the train uses a series of switchbacks, or zigzags, to climb a mountain 2,945 meters high in just 56 kilometers. While making this journey, passengers may want to give a thought to the engineering ingenuity that made this possible back in 1908. Today, it meets modern safety standards and is an experience worth enjoying.
With the train stopping off in Alausi to offload and take on passengers the predominantly Quechua inhabitants of the town have reportedly already experienced an increased demand for their beautifully hand-crafted items as souvenirs. So be sure to buy something local to take home with you if you are fortunate enough to take a ride on the Tren Crucero.