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Alausi, Ecuador - The Devil's Nose Train To Sibambe Wasn't My Highlight

Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2015   » View Photoset (76 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 11yrs!
Alausi is the town that tourists flock to so that they can ride the Devil's Nose train. The Devil's Nose train ride is made
Ecuador Photo - Walking area beside train tracks in a street in Alausi.
Walking area beside train tracks in a street in Alausi.
out to be some kind of must-do activity, but to be honest it's not that great, the town of Alausi itself is much better! I came down to Alausi from Riobamba (2hrs north), stopping at Colta Lagoon for an hour on the way. The descent into the valley to Alausi is spectacular, this is when you will first see the 14m tall monument of Saint Peter on the hill and you will continue to see it everywhere you walk while you're in town! This place is charming indeed and there is lots to see, you just need to explore to find all the treasure but most of it is in plain sight.

Let Me Take You Around Town

Of
Ecuador Photo - Pink building and other nice buildings beside the Alausi train station.
Pink building and other nice buildings beside the Alausi train station.
course the train station and the tracks running through town are a highlight. In fact all around the train station and tracks are attractive streets, buildings, plazas, parks, murals and streetlamps. Many of the buildings here are over 100 years old and many houses stand in colorful rows. I talked for a while with one of the elder residents, she was 90yrs old and so was her husband, she told me that her house was the very first house in the town. She also told me to walk up the road to see the bridge, which I did. Black Bridge (Puente Negro) is the railway bridge up the street from the station. I walked out to the middle to hang out with 3 kids throwing paper darts off of it and also to enjoy the views.
Ecuador Photo - Lamps and buildings in the corner of Plaza Bolivar in Alausi.
Lamps and buildings in the corner of Plaza Bolivar in Alausi.
I made my way to the hill of the San Pedro (Saint Peter) monument along Alausi's cobblestone streets. The views of the colorful town are great from up here and you can see everything. Views of the monument however are best from around town, once you are right up close to it, it is too tall to see. Back in the town center beside the train station is the fascinating Plaza Bolivar with it's colored wooden facades, lamps and open space. The main park in Alausi is Parque 13 de Noviembre with the great white church beside it - Iglesia Matriz, there are nice buildings around the park also and beautiful views of the green hills all around. Alausi has many indigenous Quechua folk wandering around with their colored
Ecuador Photo - The dancers stand together for photos, touristness in Sibambe.
The dancers stand together for photos, touristness in Sibambe.
cardigans and peacock feathers in their hats, they sell their produce at the market. Alausi has plenty of places to eat a cheap breakfast, lunch or dinner. The locals are friendly and it's nice 'n' safe around town. I enjoyed Alausi a lot, it's a magical little place.

Alausi to Cuenca 3hrs 40mins by Bus

There are buses heading regularly south to Cuenca with 'Patria' - every couple of hours during the day. They are located up the hill a little. Another company in the town center opposite Hotel Europa has 2 buses to Cuenca that leave in the morning (6:30am and 10:30am). From Alausi I headed south to Cuenca, 3hrs 40mins by bus.

The Devil's Nose Train to Sibambe

Made out to be some kind of must-do activity, must-see sight. I bought my ticket a couple of days beforehand in Riobamba for $30USD. It's $19.60USD for kids under 12 and seniors. That's expensive for a 2hr trip for 9kms that includes an hour
Ecuador Photo - Quechua woman with a peacock feather in her hat, dressed in red and blue, Alausi.
Quechua woman with a peacock feather in her hat, dressed in red and blue, Alausi.
stopped at Sibambe. I thought Sibambe was going to be a cute little town to walk around for a while but no, they just take you to the station in the middle of nowhere where you see a dancing performance that is put on for the tourists. Then you are supposed to buy a coffee or something to eat, there's nothing else there. As for the Devil's Nose, this is just a big rock, nothing special or specatacular about it. In fact I had to ask somebody 'Is that it?' after we stopped to see it, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be looking at. It didn't blow me away at all, nothing but a big rock. The scenery on the journey was not mindblowing either, you see better and more beautiful scenery by traveling by bus around
Ecuador Photo - American Thaylor, old sign outside a shop in Alausi.
American Thaylor, old sign outside a shop in Alausi.
Ecuador. The bus journey from Alausi to Cuenca will show you that, as well as many other bus trips. Inside the train carriage, all the tourists (yes I was one of them and I hate that) were scrambling like hungry animals to the windows to take photos of something they thought they should be taking photos of, some amazing thing that never really happens. During the stop in Sibambe I remember I commented to somebody that I thought that the whole thing was just a big tourist scam and they agreed with me. Actually this ranks as my 2nd most hated tourist thing I have done in South America after Machu Picchu (tourist hell). It's not that the train ride is bad or anything, it's just the touristyness of the whole thing and the fact that a big rock is just not that interesting. Maybe this used to be fun when they allowed people to ride on the roofs of the train carriages, probably! But they don't allow that anymore. Come to Alausi to see and enjoy the town, not just for the train! I would be interested to experience some of the other train journeys in Ecuador in the future, there are around 7 available. All the information is available at the TrenEcuador website.

     

View all photos in the Alausi Photoset


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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Alausi, Ecuador:

Hotel Europa, Alausi, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hotel Europa, Alausi, Ecuador (July 2015 - 2 nights) - I chose the cheaper priced room of $10USD with shared bathroom. A room with a private bathroom is $18USD per night. Comfortable room and bed, tv and wifi. Right in the center of town, it's the big pink building, you can't miss it. Recommended, why not?

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Alausi, Ecuador - The Devil's Nose Train To Sibambe Wasn't My Highlight. Alausi is a charming town with a train station in the mountains! You can take the train to the Devil's Nose and see the countryside along the way.

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