Train-tracking through Ecuador
Take the award-wining Tren Crucero to discover the diverse ecosystems between Quito and Guayaquil, crossing tropical plantations, mountains and historic haciendas.
Between 1861 and 1908, Ecuador took on the construction of what was later acknowledged as “the most difficult train track ever built”, from the temperate Andes Mountains down to the tropical Pacific Coast. Over four thousand workers participated in this engineering feat that to this day is considered unrivaled, connecting remotely beautiful villages with the outside world. Today, the newly restored track now carries South America’s award-winning luxury train known as “Tren Crucero” or cruise train, consisting of two colonial and republican-style themed passenger cars pulled by a selection of modern, electric-diesel and lovingly-restored antique steam locomotives. To ensure personalized service, this boutique train has a carrying capacity of just fifty passengers, complete with a bar, gift-shop car, two comfortable observation lounges and an open-air terrace.
Our deeply passionate guides and bartenders will surely satisfy your curiosity about our land and culture throughout the trip. Some meals will be served on the train, while others will be offered at the various visitation sites, as well as on-board snacks, freshly-made juices, coffee, tea, soft and alcoholic drinks. Overnights are at the best countryside hotels and haciendas, not only for a good night’s sleep, but also for an even deeper emersion into Ecuador’s natural and cultural uniqueness. To attest to this, not only has the train become a special attraction for foreign travelers, but also for affluent Ecuadorians that are rediscovering their country’s lesser-known wonders!
To make all of this possible, top-notch local tour operators have joined forces to create and ensure a high standard of social and environmental responsibility, with a deep commitment to local communities, its people being one of the centerpieces of this adventure. They will take you on hikes in the rainforest, roam through splendid open-air markets and introduce you to the lifestyles of their indigenous communities dressed in a rainbow of colors.
Thanks to the climatic diversity, as you literally go up and down the countryside, your taste buds will be heightened with a realm of ingredients found along the route that go into the most deliciously prepared culinary dishes. From checker-board agricultural fields in the temperate Andes to expansive tropical plantations in the warmer lowlands, you will see (and perhaps for the first time) not only natives growing potatoes, but also the world-famous red and yellow quinoa crops coloring the landscapes amongst herds of alpacas, plus chirimoya, zapote, pitajaya and cacao pods, the latter from where Ecuador’s emblematic dark chocolate is made from.
Option One: Train-Tracking Down the Andes · Quito – Guayaquil
From Quito head to the northern highlands of Otavalo to train-track through their amicable communities, famous for handcrafts, and go back in time at a colonial hacienda that today produces world-class roses. Then it’s south, lined by volcanoes on both sides, some snow-capped, to the most exciting stretch of the journey, down the zigzagging “Devil’s Nose”, as your train then pivots southwest to even lusher tropics with countless streams rushing towards their final destination and yours: the Pacific lowlands, accented by a diversity of plantations. In short, it’s over 500 kilometers (300 miles) on rail track and a 3,600-meter (12,000-foot) drop to the Gulf of Guayaquil – literally, a natural and cultural cross-section of the country!
January 16, 30 / February 13, 27 / March 13 / April 10, 24 / May 8 / June 5, 19 / July 3, 17, 31 / August 14, 28 / September 11, 25 / October 9, 23 / November 6, 27 / December 11.
DAY 1. QUITO / OTAVALO / IBARRA / QUITO
DAY 2. QUITO / URBINA / RIOBAMBA
DAY 3. RIOBAMBA / THE DEVIL’S NOSE / BUCAY
DAY 4. BUCAY / GUAYAQUIL
Option Two: Train-Tracking Up the Andes · Guayaquil – Quito
This is the same adventure as Option One, but in reverse, starting your 500-kilometer (300-mile) rail track journey from the Gulf of Guayaquil up the Andes – a 3,600-meter (12,000-foot) ascent, the easy way – literally, a natural and cultural cross-section of the country! A diversity of tropical plantations border the train-track as you head east and rise above the clouds, with countless streams rushing through deep canyons to reach the town of Sibambe and your amazing zigzagging ascent via the “Devil’s Nose”. Now northbound, your route is lined by volcanoes on both sides, some snow-capped, as you reach Quito. The final leg of the trip is the northern highlands of Otavalo to train-track through amicable communities, famous for handcrafts, and go back in time at a colonial hacienda that today produces world-class roses.
January 6 / February 3, 17 / March 17 / April 14, 28 / May 12 / June 9, 23 / July 7 / August 4, 18 / September 15 / October 13, 27 / November 10 / December 1, 15.
DAY 1. GUAYAQUIL / DURÁN / BUCAY
DAY 2. BUCAY / THE DEVIL’S NOSE / RIOBAMBA
DAY 3. RIOBAMBA / URBINA / QUITO
DAY 4. QUITO / OTAVALO / IBARRA / QUITO
Since the climate changes as you descend the Andes, from temperate (14°C / 57°F) to warm (35°C / 95°F) and vice versa, we recommend clothing you can peel off or add on:
- A jacket or light wind-breaker for cold temperatures
- Light cotton long-sleeve shirts/blouses
- Long pants, cloth hat, comfortable walking shoes
- Sunscreen, small foldable umbrella
- Personal toiletries
- Any medicine you might be taking regularly
2019 Rates (per person in USD)
|Type of Accommodation||Prices|
|Standard (double accommodation)||$1,735|
|Standard Child (applicable from 2 years old to 11 years-11 months old)||$1,560|
*Passengers are recommended to purchase travel insurance.
- A 35% deposit is required within 10 days to confirm the booking.
- Balance payment is due 60 days before departure.
- If cancellation is made 60 days before departure, no penalty applies.
- If cancellation is made 59 days or less before departure, full payment applies.
- Rescheduling is possible without a penalty 30 days or more before departure.
- Name changes or endorsements are allowed subject to a USD 25 administrative fee.