Friday, September 14, 2012

Alausi: The Train and The Devil’s Nose

One of the most popular destinations over the past years in the Andes region of Ecuador has been Alausi. Thanks to the Railways of Ecuador project, this canton, located in the Chimborazo province, has experienced thriving tourist activity and has improved its lodging and dining services. 

Years ago, the railroad was still Alausi’s principal attraction, but back then its cars, stations, and tracks were not in the proper condition to sustain heavy tourism. Now, however, huge strides have been made regarding the train and it has resulted in big improvements for tourists and residents alike.

The train departs from Alausi Station and goes to Sibambe Station, traveling along The Devil’s Nose. This trip takes about two and a half hours, and covers a distance of twelve kilometers. The strip of railway is known as “the toughest in the world” because the construction and start-up of this railway project was incredibly complex and difficult. During the trip, the train ascends and descends on zigzag switchbacks, a big part of the tourist draw. Meanwhile, onboard the train, travelers ride comfortably in modern wagons as they enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and rivers they are crossing.

Once in Sibambe, travelers get off the train and can explore the area and visitor center. There are cultural presentations, locally made handicrafts, and presentations of the history and folklore of the site. The visitor center houses the Puñuna Condor Museum, where native guides from the local Nizag community discuss their way of life and the customs of their ancestors.

In summary, Alausi is a beautiful town, with a nice climate and locals that are very welcoming and helpful to tourists. The train has helped its residents improve their quality of life and offered more work opportunities through small and large tourist businesses.

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