Alausi and the train ride
Alausi Travel Blog› entry 23 of 92 › view all entries
The guide books tell you that the train from Riobamba to Alausi only leaves 3 times a week, and that it is a popular ride, so I was prepared for difficulty in getting tickets which is why I was so keen to leave Baños on Thursday. But really what followed was a bit of a nighmare! I turned up to the station mid-PM Thursday only to be told that tickets went on sale at 5PM. What they really meant, as I found out at 5PM, was that all tickets had already been bought up by tour operators as they were only able to run one carriage of the train. But we could buy bus tickets to Alausi and we might be able to get tickets for a part of the train ride from there.
A rumour goes round that extra tickets for the ride from Riobamba might be available at 6AM the next day (early, but the train and bus were due to leave at 7AM). So we tried this but it was untrue, so we (and 40 other tourists in the same position) boarded the bus south. When we arrived it was true that we could get tickets for the train, only it turned out to be a different train put on just for tourists, that only went a short distance to the middle of nowhere before turning back. The highlight of the train is supposed to be riding on the roof to take in the views, but this was so small that only half the people were able to ride on the roof at any one time. So when we reached the half way point we swapped, and us downstairs passengers got out turn on the top. Only we were squeezed in to a small space, and I didn´t get to sit on the edge so any good views were somewhat obstructed. And I´m calling it a ´train´ but in reality it looked and felt more like a bus! Although the views were good, we are talking about a route through the Andes where all scenery is spectacular. So overall I was somewhat underwhelmed by what had been promised to be a highlight of what Ecuador has to offer. It isn´t, and riding impromptu on the bus in the jungle was much more fun! Still, Alausi was a nice small town to spend and hour or two in, and at least there was a bus service south to Cuenca where I was heading....