A Different Form of Transport

We left the beautiful Pequeno Paraiso and headed back up into the Andes to the mountain town of Alausi.

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We had come to Alausi to ride the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train. The reason it is famous is that it travels along some of the steepest section of train line in the world. It ascends/descends over 500m in less than 7kms. To do this it has to use switchbacks whereby the train pulls in one way and then effectively does a hairpin turn by reversing out the other. This way it is able to go steeper down the mountain.

We camped at a hostel overlooking Alausi and decided to do the early morning train as the weather tends to be better first thing on the morning. To get from our hostel to the station we first had to walk down the rail tracks. This is pretty safe as there is only about one train a day on this section of the line.

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As we entered the town the area near the station has been brightly painted and makes for a pretty entrance.

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The station has all been done up and the train is a bit touristy with its faux old carriages.

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But the ride itself gave us spectacular views. As we descended the gorge we could see how steep it was. The sun was shining so we were rewarded with some fantastic scenery.

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The sun though was in the wrong position to get a good photo of the Devils Nose. It is so called not because of its shape but because so many people died building this section of the railway.

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On arrival at the station at the bottom there was a dance troupe to entertain the tourists which the girls enjoyed.

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Although the whole thing was very touristy, we all enjoyed it. The railway line is slowly been renovated and trains run much further. In fact it may be possible to go all the way from Guayaguil to Quito which would be a spectacular ride.

We were lucky that when we were in Alausi it was market day so we went for a wander around the market. This was not a tourist market but a real food market and all the locals from the surrounding countryside were in town for it. Their clothing was fantastic and very brightly coloured. In this area they seemed to go for bright pinks, reds and blues.

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We took the opportunity to eat with the locals at the market stalls. The pork and maize were good and we were pleased to report there were no side effects.

The next day we headed for our last stop in Ecuador, Cuenca whose centre is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. As usual there was lots of interesting things to see on the drive. Today pigs seemed to be the order of the day!

The next day we headed for our last stop in Ecuador, Cuenca whose centre is a designated UNESCO world heritage site. As usual there was lots of interesting things to see on the drive. Today pigs seemed to be the order of the day!

We stayed in Cuenca at a small hostel on the edge of the city where we could park in their grassy field. Whilst we were still in the city and only a 40 minute walk to the centre we were on a mini farm so it was all very tranquil, until the roosters started up at 5am!

While Cuenca is pretty it was not outstandingly so. However unlikely some of the obviously touristy colonial towns Cuenca was a working town and felt very liveable. It also seemed much more prosperous than other parts of Ecuador we had visited.

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We also took the opportunity to visit the city’s museum and particularly enjoyed the section on the different indigenous groups in Ecuador. This included a particular tribe in the Amazon that used to behead their enemies and then shrink them. There were a number of shrunken heads on display. Alisha thought they were just fakes but I was not so sure.

Time to head to Peru.

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