Baños, Riobamba, Alausi and the train

BañosWhile in Baños we passed up a visit to the thermal bathing pools and a drive around town in a rented go-kart or cuad-runner, but we did make time for the popular waterfall tour aboard a old-fashioned chiva bus.  The waterfall pictured here can be seen from the roadway linking Baños with the town of Puyo, which serves as the gateway to Ecuador’s slice of the Amazon Basin.

That Thursday we departed Baños headed for Riobamba, the starting point for the world-famous Riobamba-Alausi-Sibambe-Alausi tourist train ride down the Nariz del Diablo, or Devil’s Nose.  It’s primarily a tourist train because it doesn’t really go anywhere, just through the mountains and back to where it started.  We were expecting a Friday morning departure, but upon arrival discovered that Friday’s departure had been suspended and that tickets for the next departure date (Sunday) were already sold out.  Apparently, it’s not uncommon for tour operators in Quito to buy up all the seats and run tours from the city. 

Then we were told that there might be a chance of boarding the train when it stops in Alausi.  We took a bus from Riobamba to Alausi, and as it turns out, the train tracks and the highway run parallel for much of the journey between the two towns.  The real highlight of the train ride is the series of switchbacks that take place between Alausi and Sibambe, so we remained hopeful.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have any better luck in Alausi.  And since we didn’t want to hang around in the small railroad town indefinitely, we  decided to continue our journey south to Cuenca without having taken the spectacular Nariz del Diablo train ride through the Andes.

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