Ecuador offers multiple activities and destinations. One of the nicest ways to see the country is traveling by train, choosing one or more routes through the country.
From Otavalo to Salinas de Ibarra:
This route starts in the Andean city of Otavalo and finishes in the hot and dry valley of Salinas de Ibarra.
As the train follows the back roads one can experience and see extensive agricultural areas and cross past small villages and haciendas with history and culture. The landscape is impressive. As the train travels north, with the father mountain Imbabura always at the right and the mother mountain Cotacachi at the left, you start to immerse in the Inter Andean Valley.
Agricultural area near Otavalo. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Hacienda La Compañia dinning room. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Admiring Imbabura Volcano and San Pablo Lake in one of the train stops. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
The train stops along the way in some villages so passengers can get a taste of the culture and the folkloric art of their local people. The stop in San Antonio de Ibarra is probably one of the most interesting because one gets the chance to visit a family of artisans. They are expert in wood carving and painting. From a single block of wood they can create the most fascinating religious art. When the pieces are finished, they look like porcelains. The technique used has been passed from generation to generation. Their art is well known in all of Central and South America.
San Antonio wood carver. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
San Antonio Wood Carvers workshop. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Artisan painting process. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Avenue of the Volcanoes Route:
This route also runs along the Inter Andean Valley but in direction south.
The route follows south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, as Wymper called it, while visiting some XVIII century Haciendas. The landscape is outstanding as one observes the West and East Mountain ranges. The majestic Cotopaxi, the Ilinizas South and North, the Quilindana and the Chimborazo are some of the main volcanoes one can see along the way. One follows Andean villages and cities where the colorful dresses of the local people and their traditions call the attention.
Impressive view of Chimborazo Volcano. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Chimborazo slopes. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Local women with traditional attires. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
From the Andes Region to the Coast:
This route goes from Riobamba or Alausi; in the Andes Region, finishing in Bucay; in the tropical Coast of the country.
The train crosses the famous Devil’s Nose, a step cliff where the train must Zig Zag to go down. The landscape becomes green and lush while crossing the cloud forest before descending to the flat tropical coast. It is possible to see plantations of banano, pineapples, and cacao amongst many other tropical fruits. The visit to a farm that produces cocoa is one of the highlights. The trip ends in the city of Guayaquil, known as the Pearl in the Pacific.
Zig Zag route to the Devil’s Nose. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Descending to the tropical coast. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Visiting a cacao plantation. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
Crossing the banano plantations. Photo courtesy of Tren Ecuador.
The diversity of landscapes, the colors and the cultures will leave a memory you will never forget.
Senderos Naturales CEO & Trip Leader