I arrived at the bus station in Cuenca and as usual there was a bus leaving right away for Alausí. It’s a four hour journey and follows the road up to Quito, which is where my bus was headed. I got on the bus which was stiflingly hot. And readied myself for the ride. I generally listen to podcasts which helps drown out the blazingly loud movies that are played. Although sometimes it is just music but at a sensible volume. I’ve taken to listening to podcasts and at the moment Adam Buxton is the podcast of choice.
It was an interesting journey out of Cuenca, at first we were on a Mother way as we wound around the mountains and then this turned into single lanes as we got higher. About 2 hours outside of Cuenca the scenery suddenly turned beautiful. I couldn’t get any photos due to the bus windows but we wound our way around one of the biggest valleys I’ve ever seen with a huge mountain in the middle that just dropped off far far below. It was stunning and I’d recommend doing it in daytime if you can.
It was dusk when I arrived in the town. Dropped off on the main road I headed down, the long way, towards my hostel. The town was really pretty and I wanted to take photos but decided to head to the hostel day come back in the morning. The hostel was amazing. It was a little more expensive but worth the cost and I had the best shower I’d had in months. Maybe even here? Showers generally aren’t that great as there is no mains gas. It’s all bottled.
I chatted to a Dutch guy who was also getting the train the next day and he headed off to dinner while I took my time sorting things out. I then headed to a local restaurant which was dead but I couldn’t be bothered to search further as I was so tired. I opted for prawns again. I love them and was not disappointed until they tried to charge me more for the bill but I sorted that out.
I heard a lot of shoring and cheering coming from somewhere and walked a few blocks until I found a sports hall full of people. Most were watching and others were lined up in the middle. I had a peak in the main door and didn’t realise I could go in. It tirned our that the Dutch guy has gone in and watched the whole thing as it was a Miss World esq competition. Next time I have nothing to do I’ll try and join in, although I was exhausted and happy to go to bed and watch Netflix.
The next morning I work up early and properly met Denis, who had come into the room late the night before. I sat down to a great breakfast and then headed to the train.
So if you want to book tickets for the Nariz del Diablo you can do so here. It’s $33 and if you do book I’d advise you go for the A side as it gets better views than the M side. I don’t think it really matters which carriage you are in as the train swaps sides for the return journey. We all needed up in different carriages and after a short introduction from the guard on the train we were off.
The train turns around back on itself as it starts the first big descent.
It then settles down and traverses along the side of the mountain for 20 minutes or more.
As you can see it’s a fairly scenic train ride. It would have been nicer if the other half of the carriage didn’t pour over to the side I was on as mine had better views. But to be fair you can’t really blame them. One guy filmed the whole journey, which is about 45mins one way. I hope there will be some editing.
Soon I started to see the track where the train would take its second steep downhill. You could see it winding back on itself and it really was a feat of engineering. Then the station came into view as well as lots of local people that the staff had to encourage to move off the track. They were all taking photos and I wondered if this was part of a daily routine, or put on for the tourists but I actually think they all left on another train I saw as they all disappeared fairly quickly after the first stop.
The train soon came to an abrupt halt with a shudder. I started to wonder why when it began moving backwards and changed tracks. This was the first switchback. It’s obviously hard to build a turn on the mountain so instead it just reversed direction.
We pulled through the station, past all the people and past dancers and stopped a few hundred metres up the track. We were told that we could disembark and it gave me a chance to get some photos of the train.
After the short break we returned to the train station for an hour. By this time must people had gone, the locals, and we were treated to dancing. There was a small museum and the engine switched ends. We are here for a little over an hour which for me was took long but it gave me the poor to take photos.
Soon it was time for the return journey. The train returned to the town the same way but the engine was now on the other end. Also less people were taking photos and the light had changed so I got some better shots.
The above is the track and next more shots of the train along the valley.
The train ride was really fun, it would have been better if it were a steam engine and I was able to sit on the roof, but I understand why this has been banned due to people dying. I was really glad I had made the stop. As the village was pretty Denis make the decision to stay an extra night and I stayed a few more hours. We wondered around the town and up to te statue taking photos. Stopping in the market for lunch.
Soon it was time for me to start the journey to Latacunga, it would be another 4 hour bus journey and I was keen to arrive before dark.