Devil's Nose Train and Riobamba

Old Oct 8th, 2015, 07:22 PM
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Devil's Nose Train and Riobamba

After planning our days in Ecuador where the Devil's Nose train was running daily, I have just found out that the train only runs on weekends. We could move things around and do some backtracking to be in Alauis on a weekend so we could take the train. What's your opinion of the train? I love spectacular scenery, is the scenery stellar?

What about Riobama? I keep reading various opinions on it. I recall crellston did a biking trip from there, but I don't bike. Thoughts?
Thanks
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:02 PM
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I had an entire month so the trip for me was "filler" more than a must do. Plus I was spoiled by taking the much more spectacular version in Peru.

It's good scenery but a very short train ride (much of the time is at the end stop). I think I enjoyed the bus ride and people watching in Alausi as much as the train.

I just went through Riobamba to change buses, and it didn't impress. What are your before and after stops?
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:29 PM
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mlgb, thanks -- I did read your TR when planning the trip originally. We'll be in Colombia ~month & then fly to Quito for a ~month in Ecuador. After Quito we fly to Loja and go to Vilcabamba and then Cuenca. Will also be in Banos & Latacunga and then Otavalo. Originally thought we'd use Riobamba as a base to do some hiking, but as I explore fruther the hiking starts at pretty high attitude and dont think we'd enjoy that. So don't mind cutting that out. I'm ambivalent on the Devil's Nose Train.

Do you think Alausi is worth a night or 2 if we dont do the train? I realize its tiny-lots of positive comments about it on TA.
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:36 PM
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A very "raw" album..not organized, cropped or rotated!

https://flic.kr/s/aHskmkhykC
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:41 PM
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Could you expand your time in either Banos or Cuenca, to include a weekend, and shift around the activities to catch the train?

The one thing I might like to do is to catch one of the local towns either Alausi or another nearby on a market day.

I did like the place I stayed above town for the night, the garden and the setting. I didn't spend a lot of time in the town itself but it was fun sitting outside the restaurant for an hour and people watching on the main street near the bus station.

Be sure to go to the market in Gualaceo (from Cuenca) though...not sure if that was a special day or everyday.
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Thanks for the photos -- that always helps. What time was yout train? We can definitely shift places around and fit in the train ride. I just wanted to hear what people have to say about the train ride. I've been reading mixed reviews.
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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I believe I took the morning train, so I could get back to Quito the same day. I was afraid it might be totally misty/fog the whole way but you can see it wasn't too bad.

I have mixed feelings about recommending it.

The scenery is good rather than "spectacular" which I think many people expect. And I'm sure people are surprised that you don't get much time on the tracks.

I did enjoy the overall experience of the bus, hotel, town, train, & dances (which I do like probably more than the average person). Plus those little shicra bags!
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 01:23 PM
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Appreciate your review.
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Old Oct 10th, 2015, 01:47 PM
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I liked the town of Alausi and the place we stayed just outside of town (same place as mlgb stayed). Great hosts. As for the train...kind of a letdown. It would have been awesome if we could have ridden on top like one used to be able to do, but as is it was overrated in my opinion. Views were good, not great. Train cars were kind of neat. The ride is fairly short and quite slow--lots of switchbacks. I didn't think it was worth a special detour, but if you are in the area it's somewhat interesting.

Riobamba wasn't my favorite town (actually liked the much smaller Alausi better) but I did like the morning weekly market there--felt much more intimate and local than, say, Otavalo. Where are you planning to stay in riobamba?
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Old Oct 10th, 2015, 04:12 PM
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Thanks, aprillilac,s for your thoughts. In Alausi we were planning to stay where you and mglb stayed, Rincon de Isabel. Riobama we had not booked yet. At this point I'm thinking we may stay in Alausi for one night and then extend our our time elsewhere. Our plane tickets are booked so we have start and end dates in Ecuador, but we can likely juggle around what hotel reservations we already have. Although we just found out we are runnning into carnival and some places may be crowded.
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Old Oct 12th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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The bike ride we did in Riobamba was down Chimborazo which started at 5000m plus and went down to around 2500 - mostly downhill and not a great deal of pedalling as I recall. Great views and looked like some great hiking but if you are not into biking or hiking at altitude, then there is probably no point in going to Riobamba ( although it is a pleasant enough place). The Devils nose train wasn't running when we were there but we did enjoy our other train ride through the Avenue of the Volcanos (even if we couldn't see the volcanoes because of low cloud!)

Lots to do and see in and around Cuenca ( I can see why so many North Americans retire there) Parc Nacional de Cajas is spectacular and lots of good hikes there of varying lengths. Are you heading down to vilcabamba? If not, it may be worth considering a couple of days there
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Old Oct 12th, 2015, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for the info, crellston. Yes, we'll be in Vilcambama for 4 nights and Cuenca for 5 nights. Looking forward to hiking in Parc Nacional de Cajas. Any that you recommend?
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Old Oct 12th, 2015, 10:42 PM
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In Vilcabamba don't miss the hike up through the Podocarpus, the views from the mirador at top are pretty spectacular.
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...4441/tpod.html

As I recall there were walks around Cajas ranging from 2-3 hours to 3-4 days. We did one lasting around 5 hours ( but we did get a tad lost!). You can book a tour or guide but it is easy to DIY. Just get a taxi to the right bus station and the bus will drop and pick you up at the park HQ. Lots of info at the park HQ on routes to http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...6800/tpod.html
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Old Oct 13th, 2015, 05:54 AM
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Appreciate it, crellston! Are you still traveling?
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Old Oct 13th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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I did a $50 pp pool tour for Cajas, yestravel. It included a quick stop at a mirador, relatively level hike round a lake, a second hike the "pink" route from the ranger station (prob what crellston did), and a good trout lunch after. There were plenty of people hiking alone, altho like crellstons some lost ones! Our guide was good.

I thought it was a good option vs independently especially if you also want to see the lake which is off the highway. Plus we were able to take a few shortcuts including not needing to hike back up to the ranger station.

Cajas is high altitude and be prepared for "4 seasons in a day".
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Old Oct 13th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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Sounds good, thanks, mlgb.
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