Can you imagine reaching an altitude of 1.900 meters above sea level by train? Well, this is possible! In the southern Andes of Ecuador there is a natural stone monument at 2.346 meters which can be reached by train.
This railroad is an impressive piece of engineering. It offers a 12 km long track in which you will follow the rails on a steep mountain fall, from which it is only possible for the train to descent in a zigzag with a total height difference of 500 meters from start to finish. . Over the years this train route has been called as the “most difficult railroad in the world”.
This place is known as “Nariz del Diablo” (Devil’s Nose) as the mountain Pistishi, where the railroad passes, has the shape of a giant nose. Another reason for which this place has earned its devilish name, is because the railroad of Ecuador began during the presidency of conservative Gabriel Garcia Moreno in 1861, but ended during the presidency of the liberal Eloy Alfaro finished in 1908, who, at the time, was considered by the Catholic Church as a rebel figure. A local legend says that the president Eloy Alfaro made a pact with the devil to finish this work, but that due to the difficult circumstances of its geographic location, hundreds of lives of Jamaican workers were lost as a result of dynamite explosions, diseases, landslides and snake bites.
The train journey to the Devil´s Nose takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. You will start the trip in Alausi, a heritage city of Ecuador located between mountains on the Volcano Avenue. You can see amazing landscapes of crops in the area and the Andean vegetation that changes to coastal vegetation as the journey progresses. As you travel, suddenly descent steep descent begins along the zig zag rail going into reverse along the road until reaching Sibambe, something really unique! In Sibambe you´ll get off the train and can see the Devil’s Nose in all its splendor, take spectacular photographs and also admire Tolte’s dancers, get to know the local museum and enjoy some delicious traditional dishes in the train cafeteria before returning to Alausi.
If you want to extend your visit, the community here offers accommodation and many different activities such as hiking, horseback riding or visits to the Devil´s Nose viewpoint “Cóndor Puñuna”. You will be able to share the traditions of its people during your stay.
This is truly a unique experience in life that you cannot miss when visiting Ecuador.