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La Nariz del Diablo, Part Uno

Old Rolling Stock on the Nariz Del Diablo Train

Old Rolling Stock on the Nariz Del Diablo Train

The day my brother returned to the U.S., I took a Patria bus to Alausi for one of the most spectacular train rides in the Americas: The Nariz Del Diablo route from Alausi to Sibambe and back.

Originally, there was a single long train ride from Quito to Guayaquil. It still exists, as a luxury train called the Tren Crucero. If you take it, you will see a lot of rich Americans and Europeans—and damned few Ecuadorans. What the Ecuadorans did was to break the route into manageable day trips from Quito, Riobamba, and Alausi, while keeping the complete route as a four day trip including deluxe hotel accommodations.)

What is interesting about the Nariz Del Diablo (translated as “The Devil’s Nose”) is the rapid descent from the Andes where there is really no room to turn around. So the rail engineers designed a simple and elegant solution:

Excuse My Hand-Drawn Schematic

Excuse My Hand-Drawn Schematic

The train moves forward from the upper left to the end of track at the same level. Note the orange dots which represent switches. A rail employee throws the first switch, and the trains backs up past the second switch to the lower level end of track. Then the second switch is thrown, and the train moves forward at the lower level to its destination, the crafts village of Sibambe.

Here’s a view of the milieu:

Where There’s No Room to Turn Around ....

Where There’s No Room to Turn Around ….

Tomorrow, I will continue this post and also talk about our destination, Sibambe.