Trip reference number: ITN-ECU012
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
Tren Crucero will take you on an incredible trip through Ecuador's history from the soaring highlands to the endless plains of the coast. This is a unique experience on a vintage train which features four different coaches each reflecting aspects of the countries history and culture. For some parts of the journey the train is pulled by restored steam locomotives, adding to the authenticity of the trip. The on board service is excellent and accommodation is based on charming local properties.
The journey starts in Quito and travels through the landscapes taking in the snow capped mountains, the whisper of the volcanoes, magnificent valleys and the vibrant colours of the coast before reaching Guayaquil. Along the way you will experience the warmth of the Ecuadorian people and will be astonished by the countries diverse and striking landscapes. This is a unique and memorable way to spend an Ecuador holiday.
Day 1 Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Quito via Bogota, Colombia.
Day 2 Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the old town. This UNESCO World Heritage area is the perfect location to stay with its maze of cobbled streets, picturesque plazas flanked with colonial architecture and ornate churches.
Day 3 Today on a private city tour, explore the highlights of Colonial Quito. This is a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls , the city's many steeples and cupolas rise above the numerous ornate historic churches. Quito has one of the best preserved colonial centres in all South America, and it was declared a World Cultural Heritage site in 1978. For fantastic views of the city and the encircling volcanoes and mountains, visit the El Panecillo lookout point, instantly recognisable by the Virgin of Quito statue at its summit.
Day 4 Your first stop today will be the Chimbacalle railway station in the south of Quito, a historic station that will open its doors to show you the history of the country's railways that began in 1908. Once aboard, cross the impressive "Avenue of the Volcanoes"; the term Alexander von Humboldt gave to this part of the Andes, where more than 20 spectacular volcanoes can be seen, a few of which are still active. Once at the railway system’s second highest station, in Latacunga, visit a rose plantation and learn why Ecuador has all the right characteristics to produce some of the best roses in the world. After lunch, continue to Cotopaxi National Park. Within the Park enjoy a walk around the Limpiopungo lagoon and spot many types of fascinating plants and birds that have adapted to the high altitude. Nature photography will be part of our afternoon before arriving at an historic hacienda where we will spend the night in the timeless stillness of the Andes.
Day 5 Departure this morning will be from Latacunga Station. Cross the inter-Andean valley and then the Yambo lagoon will open before your eyes. During the journey, look out for the colourful devils from Pillaro village, part of a long Andean tradition known as the “Diablada Pillareña”; declared a national heritage. Enjoy a folk show from the comfort of the train. Arrive to Urbina station, the highest point of the day, located at 3609 meters above sea level. At Chimborazo, meet Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of the Chimborazo who will share the secrets of his ancient traditions. At the end of the day, the train will be waiting to take you to Riobamba, a picturesque historical market town.
Day 6 Departing from Riobamba, today's scenery will be the most diverse taking you from the cool mountain highlands, through transitional cloud forest and onto the steamy coastal region. Take the steam locomotive to Colta to visit the Balbanera church, the first to be built in the country and onto Guamote for the authentic indigenous market. The highlight, after lunch, is the Devil's Nose section of the track with it's switchbacks and dramatic scenery. You will be able to appreciate the complexities encountered during the construction of this railway. Spend the night in the tiny town of Alausi, a town lost in time, nestled between towering mountains and plantations.
Day 7 Take the bus at first sunlight and witness the dramatic change of scenery as you descend from the Andes towards the lush Pacific coast. Arrive at a traditional hacienda on the coast to take a tour of a cocoa plantation (Ecuadorian cocoa is considered the best cocoa in the world!). After lunch at the hacienda, the next destination will be Naranjito where you will board the train to Yaguachi, the first station built for the Ecuadorian railway system. There, a Baldwin steam locomotive awaits to lead the train to its final destination on this trip, a journey full of wonderful landscapes and cultural experiences. On arrival into Duran, transfer to your hotel in Guayaquil.
Day 8 Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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