Riding on top of the Devil's Nose Train (Nariz el Diablo)

Cuenca Travel Blog

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The crowd slowly builds on top of the train roof, you have to get there early to get on the right hand side of the train (less fumes)

For those that haven't heard of this, the Devil's Nose train (Nariz el Diablo) is a section of the track that used to run from Riobamba to Guayaquil, but now only partially runs due to landslides wiping out some of the track etc  There's a bit of a novelty to the track around the Devil's Nose where the track zig-zags back and forth to get down hill.

This is a rare occasion where I was glad I got up slightly earlier.  All gringos are told to head down for the train at about 6 a.m., but I'd the benefit of seeing someones photos of how full the roof was already at 6 so I targetted 5:45 instead.  I was one of the first on the roof so pretty much had my choice of spots (as well as being an early target for the coffee/biscuit/drink vendors).

With daylight comes more gringos
  You definitely want to go for the right hand side of the train (the train leaves away from where you bought tickets, if you need to figure out which way is right :) ), these means better views and less suffocation from smoke inhalation, which is always good I think.

One other thing is you definitely want is to pay the $1 to rent a cushion, I only saw a couple of people who didn't but there butts must have hurt!  Warm clothes are one more essential, I don't know how my early morning brain remembered to put a beanie and gloves in but both were appreciated. 

Once you're underway it is definitely a feast for the senses. You have the wind hitting you as you go past some pretty incredible views, the smell of, well, train I guess ;).  After not too long I chose to skip one course of the feast and put my iPod in to drown out the train noise, but it's really not too bad, I just preferred the music for this journey.

Train pose so you know I'm on top of the roof

One other thing that might be of interest to other travellers was that I reserved a seat on a bus to Cuenca from a guy selling tickets on the roof of the train ($5).  This could easily have been a scam but I took the chance and gambled well since some people didn't have seats for the bus ride and ended up standing for the better part of 4 hours.

Before taking the train ride there was a lot of debate among travellers on the road for whether it was worthwhile or not.  To put in my two cents I thought it was definitely worth doing.   Yes you're just on a roof full of gringos so it is most definitely a tourist trap, but the scenery and the novelty of being on a train roof definitely make it worth it, in my humble opinion.  However, I would say that for any of the people who got on in Alausi just for the Devil's Nose rather than coming all the way from Riobamba, it probably isn't worthwhile, it just doesn't go for that long and as far as I'm concerned, the scenery rather than the zig-zagging was the highlight.

Stayed that night in Hotel Mercando in Cuenca which was ok but had more of a hotel (as it's name would suggest :) ) feel than the communal feel of hostels so I'll try to change accommodation tomorrow if I can.

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The crowd slowly builds on top of …
The crowd slowly builds on top of…
With daylight comes more gringos
With daylight comes more gringos
Train pose so you know Im on top …
Train pose so you know I'm on top…
And were on our way
And we're on our way
A roof full of gringos
A roof full of gringos
Some of the early views, much bett…
Some of the early views, much bet…
Many, many people wave at the trai…
Many, many people wave at the tra…
Heres whats up ahead of me
Here's what's up ahead of me
Mt Chimbarazo (I think) hiding in …
Mt Chimbarazo (I think) hiding in…
Random village
Random village
Nice stream view
Nice stream view
The weather started to look ominou…
The weather started to look omino…
Its actually quite sad watching t…
It's actually quite sad watching …
But here are still some nice scene…
But here are still some nice scen…
I usually forget my llamas when I …
I usually forget my llamas when I…
The awesome views begin...
The awesome views begin...
Hope the photos do the view justice
Hope the photos do the view justice
Looking back along the river
Looking back along the river
Football, football, everywhere, bu…
Football, football, everywhere, b…
An even more loaded roof now we ha…
An even more loaded roof now we h…
The view below my feet, sure hope …
The view below my feet, sure hope…
A bit dark, but me in front of the…
A bit dark, but me in front of th…
Cuenca
photo by: Ils1976