Posted by: Merrilee | March 8, 2013

Experiencing the Nariz del Diablo Train

Experiencing the Nariz del Diablo Train

IMG_2558A short bus ride north from Cuenca on the Panamericana (highway) brought me to the quaint Andean town of Alausi at an altitude of 3323 meters (10,900 feet).  I came here to take a unique train ride to a mountain named Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose).


On arrival in Alausi I booked into Hotel Europa, a lovely, historic hotel in the heart of town ($15 for private room w/bath) and walked the surrounding cobblestone streets and along the town‘s railroad tracks.


Women in colorful traditional dress were gathered on a street corner. Children were playing in the gazebo in front of the cathedral of the main plaza.


Shops seemed to display their colorful merchandise more outside their shops than inside.  Rows of houses along the railroad tracks were in the process of being restored.

The following morning I took a spectacular train ride along with two passenger cars full of mostly Ecuadorian tourists.


The Ecuadorian rail system, built in the early 1900’s, connected Ecuador’s major port city of Guayaquil with the capital, thus joining Quito to the world and to the rest of the country. The railway was severely damaged by El Nino in 1997 and most of it fell into disrepair.


During the ride to Nariz del Diablo we passed through steep gorges and over rushing rivers. To the delight of many, one of the passengers who had been a conductor for 15 years on this train line had his lantern with him and posed for photos aboard the caboose.

Alausi was relatively quiet until Sunday morning when it came alive with the weekly market.  Music blared from a music shop in front of my hotel, trucks full of people unloaded men, women and children. Many were dressed in their traditional finest.


Women and children lined the outside walls of the covered market selling their goods.  Upstairs in the prepared food section I shared a table with some locals while I had some chicken and rice soup.


Having lunch along with indigenous people of Alausi and surrounding villages was a fitting closure to a wonderful couple of days in this unique Andean town.


  1. Blessings and thanks again for the vicarious tour.

    • Hi James,
      Nice to hear from you. glad you are enjoying my blog. See you in Newport in the spring!

  2. Great trip it looks like. Are you going to be able to get to the ocean?

    • Hi Dan,

      I am off to the Galapagos Islands tomorrow. I have no plans to go to the main coast of Ecuador on this trip.


      • Enjoyed your reports on the trip Merrilee. You did a great job getting the camera to bring out the energy of the locale. Probably good to hear English again?

      • Hi Dan,
        Glad you enjoyed my photos. I sure had fun taking them. It felt strange getting off a plane in the States after spending two months in a Spanish-speaking country. My first reaction when someone spoke to me was to respond in Spanish. I found myself halting and then searching for the right words in English!

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