Riobamba and La Nariz del Diablo

Riobamba Travel Blog

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ANDREI - A fond farewell to the lovely town of Cuenca and a ride North to the less enchanting Riobamba.  We were a tad worried as the bus driver declared that we were to get off on an apparently random street corner.  A quick taxi ride brought us to our hotel, though.

The town may not have appeared welcoming, but at least the hotel was nice.  The Hotel La Estacion was $8 per night each and opposite the railway station, rather surprisingly.  TV in each room and the wash basin in the en suite bathroom actually had a hot water tap!

Our only reason for coming here was to take the train along the only surviving piece of the railway line between Guayaquil and Quito.  This stretch includes the famous Nariz del Diablo (Devil's Nose) - rather precarious trip up an impossible slope thanks to some fine engineering and some switchbacks.  Unfortunately, this week, that particular bit of the line was out of use due to a landslide!  We had to be content with taking the train down to Palmira and then back again.  Despite our disappointment, there were several mini landslides of a couple of rocks as the train rumbled through gorges which certainly tempered this.

A 6am arrival at the station secured us a good spot on the roof of a carriage in the middle of the train, away from the worst of the exhaust fumes of the engine.  Our seating was secure, thanks to a metal railing on both sides of the carriage roof, plus the $1 rental of cushions.  Pleasant travelling companions included a multilingual Dutch couple and a Swiss girl called Anne.  The scenery we did see was great - open plains leading to the foothills of the Andes followed by a climb amongst some of the minor peaks.  At an altitude of just over 3300 metres, we were still passing through rural farming communities and a few towns - amazing that humans still prosper with little money in the thin air and the see-sawing temperatures.  The weather was a little cold in the early morning but soon brightened up and remained sunny and pleasant for the rest if the day.

Light relief was provided as we passed children waving by the track - we threw sweets out to them and watched them swarm to collect them on some of the rather precarious landscape!  Meanwhile, a few local men remained on the train from Riobamba looking to cash in by selling us more sweets - I recommend stocking up beforehand, dear reader, should you decide to take this trip!

We arrived back in Riobamba after 7 hours rather tired and reflected that the full return journey to the Devil's Nose may well have been a bit ambitious if we{d done the roundtrip.  But we were still glad to have done it, and even happier to only spend 2 days in Riobamba!  Next stop Banos.

Photos to follow....

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photo by: Adrian_Liston