Check the available costs and routes of the Ecuador Train, which has won great prizes over time. Venture today and discover the unique magic of our country!...

Building the world’s “most challenging” railroad

Archer Harman and his brother John, the engineers who ventured out to Ecuador to complete the railway that would be known as the most “difficult engineering feat in the world”, reached remote Ecuador by mere coincidence.

It purportedly came down to an impromptu visit by the railway’s appointed fundraiser Luis Castro to his favorite New York bar-café. Archer Harman was there, playing pool, and after a brief conversation between tables, Mr. Castro asked him if he’d be interested in participating.

“Will there be adventure?” queried Archer with a grin.

It took Archer Harman five full days to reach Quito from Guayaquil, on mule and by horse and carriage, scouting the terrain that, he had no doubt, would crown him one of the most fearless engineers in history.

The majority of the coastal stretch (from Yaguachi to Chimbo) had been initiated during García Moreno’s presidency, but since his assassination, it had basically run into the ground, with large segments of the route already overgrown with lush tropical vegetation.

Then, almost ten years passed until Jameson Kelly was contracted to continue the railway’s construction. To this British engineer we owe the Yaguachi-Durán line, fabulous bridges designed and constructed by Gustav Eiffel (three years before this engineer and artist would erect his masterpiece, the Eiffel Tower), the first telephones in the country (located for operational purposes in all coastal stations), and the initial work up the Andes from Chimbo to Sibambe.

 Foto Costs and routes available for the Ecuador Train

The first major challenge the Harmans faced once they began their monumental work was that Kelly’s route along the foothill forests had been wiped out by rains and floods.

“What do we do now?” the brothers asked president Eloy Alfaro, who had contracted the Americans. He famously answered undaunted: “First, let’s have a whisky to fend off the Devil”.

Next, in a letter dated March 4, 1900, the Harmans proffered him their solution: the Davis route.

Henry Davis died of heat exhaustion not long after offering a somewhat questionable option to his superiors. He considered that detouring along the powerful River Chanchán, born from Chimborazo’s glaciers, to Bucay and then up to Sibambe, would avoid the difficulties encountered along Kelly’s geologically unstable route. It was a longer and steeper way up, but as soon as the decision was confirmed, the train’s administrators were quick to buy up land in the area of Huigra, shrewdly assuring that the track would pass right in front of their properties.

The complete overhaul of the railway was, of course, painstaking… uncomfortable, difficult, dangerous… but nothing compared to what awaited them next.

At some point or another they would be faced with the task of actually climbing up the wall of mountains of the Andes. The solution was to create a zigzag up this very mountain, today one of the great attractions of the Ecuadorian railway… the Devil’s Nose.

The entire site where the works took place to create this feat, turned out to be the deathbed of thousands of workers, including many of the Jamaicans who had been brought in. John Harman, the younger brother, also died on site, and his tombstone was placed in the town of Huigra (it quickly vanished under the gravel of numerous landslides and was only recently rediscovered).

Archer Harman, on the other hand, died back home, upon falling from his horse named, of all things, “Ecuador”. As for the train, it lived on to become the country’s most audacious feat of mutual collaboration.

Costs and train routes available in Ecuador

 

 

Tren de la Libertad I

Ibarra – Salinas – Ibarra
Standard $33.00

With seven tunnels dug with pick and shovel and tall bridges across steep canyons, the la Libertad Train offers a unique journey starting from Ibarra, the “White City” to reach the warm Salinas, where we are received to the tune of la “bomba”.

In Salinas you’ll discover colorful murals commemorating the history and culture of Afro-ecuadorian people. Visit its museums and enterprises and enjoy the local cuisine in a trip full of memorable experiences.

Departure to Ibarra in the afternoon.

 Foto Costs and routes available for the Ecuador Train

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - Holidays. Thursday operation in rail car.
  • SCHEDULE: 10:30 to 16:15 - Passengers must arrive 30 mins before departure time
  • RATES: Standard $33.00. Standard Child/Senior Citizen/Special Needs $25*

What is Included?

  • Standard: Train ticket, guidance through the journey and cultural show.

What is Extra?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary. Lunch is not included.

 

 

Tren de los Volcanes

Quito – El Boliche – Machachi – Quito
Standard $39.00

The adventure begins in Eloy Alfaro Train Station at Chimbacalle, from where we depart southwards to the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”.

Pichincha, Atacazo, Pasochoa, the Viudita, Rumiñahui volcanoes, among others flank the railway. The road descends through the “jungles of Panzaleo” whence wood for building the churches of Quito came from, through grasslands, croplands and haciendas.

In Tambillo and Machachi we’ll enjoy the cuisine and culture of the chagras, the Ecuadorian cowboys. In El Boliche, the recreation area of Cotopaxi National Park, we discover its singular flora and fauna in an easy walk, then return to Machachi for lunch (not included).

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Thursday (Jul/Ago) - Friday - Saturday - Sunday
  • SCHEDULE: 08:00 to 17:30 - Passengers must arrive 60 mins before departure time
  • RATES: Standard $39.00. Standard Child/Senior Citizen/Special Needs $26,00*

What is included?

  • Standard: Train ticket, guidance through the journey, mountain cloud forest walk at El Boliche area and cultural show.

What is Extra?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary. Lunch is not included.

 Foto de Costs and routes available for the Ecuador Train

 

Tren del Hielo I

Riobamba – Urbina – La Moya – Riobamba
Standard $25,00

The adventure begins in Riobamba, a typical Andean city located in the Ecuadorian Central Andes. A clear day view is breathtaking: Capac Urcu volcano rises above the horizon with its five-peak crowned summit; witnesses of a past eruption a thousand years ago. The Majestic Chimborazo – Ecuador´s highest peak and the closest point to the sun from the center of the Earth, – rises northbound. As we move north, if we are lucky, the shy Carihuairazo volcano might appear amidst the fog from time to time. Once at Urbina station we meet Baltazar Ushca, the man who braves low temperatures and high altitude to harvest ice from the bowels of Taita (father) Chimborazo. Tourists from every corner of the world come here to learn about this ancient trade while enjoying ice-creams prepared with this very same ice and blackberry juice.

Just before we depart to Riobamba, we pay a visit to La Moya. The descendants of the ancient Puruha people await for us to share their once secret daily live in the Andes and enjoy a typical lunch (not included) in the paramos of Chimborazo volcano.

 Foto del Costs and routes available for the Ecuador Train

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Saturday - Sunday
  • SCHEDULE: 08:00 to 14:30 - Passengers must arrive 30 mins before departure time
  • RATES: Standard $25,00. Standard Child / Senior Citizen / People with Special Needs $15,00*

What is Included?

  • Train ticket, guidance through the journey, visit to the Ice Interpretation Center, activities according the itinerary.

What is Extra?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary. Lunch at La Moya.

 

 

Tren del Hielo II

Ambato – Mocha – Urbina – Cevallos – Ambato
Standard $25,00

This train combines scenery, culture and shopping in a journey that takes us from the temperate valley of Ambato to the Andean high plateau – known as paramo- of Urbina, more than 4,000 meters above sea level in the foothills of Chimborazo. There, the last Ice Merchant of Chimborazo and custodian of this ancient trade awaits us. Those willing to stay overnight in this unique place can book a comfortable room at the Train Mountain Lodge.

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Saturday and Sunday
  • SCHEDULE: 08:00 to 17:00 - Passengers must arrive 30 mins before departure time
  • RATES: Standard $25,00. Standard Child / Senior Citizen / People with Special Needs $15,00*

What is included?

  • Rail car ticket, guidance through the journey, Access to attractions and other visits detailed in the itinerary.

What is Extra?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary.

 

 

Devil’s Nose Train Ecuador

Alausí – Sibambe – Alausí
Standard $33,00

The biggest complication faced by the construction of the Trans-Andean railroad was the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. To overcome this obstacle a zigzag railroad was bulit that climbs more than 500 meters in less than 12,5 km with steep ascents and descents. It today remains an impressive piece of engineering.

 Foto de la Costs and routes available for the Ecuador Train

While recovering from the mind-blowing descent you will enjoy the views of the narrow gorge of river Chanchán and will have the chance to learn a bit about the traditions and worldview of the Puruhuas in Sibambe.

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - holidays
  • SCHEDULES: Departure Time 1 08:00 a 10:30 | Departure Time 2 11:00 a 13:30 | Departure Time 3 14:00 a 16:30 (Apply for holidays)
  • RATES: Standard $33,00. Standard Child / Senior Citizen / People with Special Needs $22,00*

What is included?

  • Train ticket, guidance through the journey, Visit to a local Museum in Sibambe and Presentation of a folk dance in Sibambe.

What is not included?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary.

 

 

Tren de la Dulzura

Duran – Naranjito– Duran
Standard $32,00 | One way $20

Enjoy a day of adventure in Yaguachi and Naranjito, reliving the railway history of Ecuador. From the comfort of your seat in a renovated convoy with air conditioning and bar service, you will discover the changing landscapes of the Coast: from plantations to the cloud forest, through the historic town of Yaguachi. An unforgettable adventure to enjoy with the whole family or with your friends.

Rates and Departures

  • DEPARTURES: Friday - Saturday - Sunday - Holidays
  • TIMES: 08:00 to 15:30 - Passengers must arrive 30 mins before departure time
  • RATES:  Standard $32,00 | One way $20. Standard Child / Senior Citizen / People with Special Needs $22,00* | One way $15*

What is Included?

  • Train ticket, guidance through the journey and visits detailed in the itinerary.

What is Extra?

  • Additional expenses not detailed in the itinerary.

 

Travel Recommendations by Train Ecuador

  • CLOTHING: Wear layers, clothes for warm-humid weather, comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunscreen (SPF 70 at least), sunglasses, camera, cash and insect repellant.
  • ALTITUDE: From 80 to 320 meters above sea level. Temperature from 25 ° to 34°C.
  • IMPORTANT: At Duran station free, guarded parking station is available for our clients.
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: All itineraries are subjected to change due to force majeure or technical, operational circumstances. Please check our policy regarding refunds and cancellations. At Tren Ecuador we are committed to providing the best possible travel experience.

For reservations and purchase of tickets visit the official website of Tren Ecuador. www.trenecuador.com

Source and Photography:
http://trenecuador.com

 

 


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