Travel by Train from Ibarra to Salinas

With its temperate climate, spectacular colonial-style, white-washed houses and quaint cobbled streets, the market town of Ibarra is a popular tourist destination in the Imbabura province of Ecuador. Founded in 1606 by Spanish settlers, destroyed by an earthquake in 1868, then reestablished in 1872, Ibarra has a number of interesting sites to visit, including the museum in the Santo Domingo Church. A market with local produce and arts and crafts is held each Saturday and well worth going to when visiting Ibarra. The town also boasts a range of restaurants offering traditional cuisine, some clubs and discos, as well as a paragliding club for visitors with an adventurous streak.

An interesting excursion to consider when visiting Ibarra is a journey on the Tren de la Libertad (Liberty Train) between Ibarra and Salinas. Covering a distance of about thirty kilometers in an hour-and-a-half, this excursion is available every day of the week except Mondays, with the train departing at 10:30. Traveling through some spectacular and contrasting scenery, the route includes a number of bridges and tunnels which were built by laborers with pickaxes and shovels, breaking through rock and shifting dirt in manual labor. Visitors will note the difference in cultures between Ibarra and Salinas, with the former being mainly populated by indigenous and Mestizo groups and the latter being home to a vibrant Afro-Ecuadorian community.

Salinas is the westernmost city on Ecuador’s mainland and is an important tourist destination with a variety of activities and attractions. Displaying items related to the natural, political and anthropological history of the area, the Museum of the Great Peninsula in Salinas is a must-see attraction for insight into this beautiful part of Ecuador and the people who call it home. Paying tribute to the various cultures over the centuries, items on display include human and animal figurines, ceremonial vessels, bottles, beads, jewelry, stone axes, whistles and horns. A model of the galleon wrecked offshore in 1654 – along with items retrieved, such as silver cutlery, coins, plates, pottery, a gold cross, cannonballs and lead for muskets – is another interesting feature of the museum.

Punta Carnero Beach in Salinas is popular with surfers, while scuba diving, parasailing, deep sea fishing and whale watching are other popular water-related pastimes. Restaurants, pubs and cafés are plentiful, as are parks, churches and museums. After allowing passengers some hours to enjoy Salinas, the Liberty Train makes its way back to Ibarra in the late afternoon.