Itinerary in brief:
- 2 nights Quito
- 1 night Riobamba
- 1 night Bucay
- 1 night Guayaquil
Day 1: Quito
Upon arrival in Quito, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel for check-in. In the afternoon, you’ll be picked up for a private tour of the city. Located on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano and nestled in a green Andean valley, Quito is one of South America’s oldest cities. Rich in history and architectural heritage, it has one of the best preserved colonial centres in the continent. After the tour, your evening will be free for you to spend at leisure.
Day 2: Quito, Otavalo, Ibarra
You’ll depart from Quito early this morning and travel north by bus towards the town of Otavalo, passing rose plantations and mountains on the way. The journey takes around 2 hours. Otavalo is home to a very famous market where craftspeople from nearby local communities gather to sell their handmade goods.
After exploring the market, you’ll continue to San Roque train station, where you’ll board a steam engine for a trip through the northern routes of the Ecuadorian railway. Along the way, you’ll also visit a Hacienda dating back to the 18th century, now famous for its rose exports. In the afternoon, you’ll return to Quito for one more night, before your Tren Crucero adventure begins.
Day 3: Quito – Ambato – Urbina – Riobamba
This morning, you’ll board the Tren Crucero at Quito’s Chimbacalle station and begin your scenic journey south along the Avenue of Volcanoes. On clear days, you can see up to twenty volcanoes from the train! Most of these volcanoes have been extinct or dormant for centuries, but several are still lively and active. You’ll be surrounded by gorgeous landscapes all along the way. You’ll also make several stops, including a visit to an Andean hacienda, where you'll be treated to a rodeo demonstration.
After lunch, the train will start the climb up through the chilly Andean highlands towards Urbina train station. This will be the highest elevation of your journey, at almost 3,600 metres above sea level. Here, you’ll pause to enjoy stunning views of Chimborazo volcano, the planet’s closest point to the sun, and to meet Balthazar Ushca, the last ice-merchant in the Andes. Later, the journey will carry on towards Riobamba, where you will stay overnight in a typical Andean hacienda.
Day 4: Riobamba – The Devil’s Nose - Bucay
You’ll set off early today aboard the Black Monster steam engine towards Colta, where the Spanish conquerors built their first settlements in Ecuador. The train journey will cross colourful quinoa fields filled with endemic species of flora and wildlife, indigenous settlements and the remains of ancient cultures.
You’ll stop to visit one of the last indigenous markets in the Andes before continuing south towards the legendary Devil’s Nose Pass. Here, a thrilling descent of 450 metres will take you from the highlands to the coastal plains. Next, you’ll pass through the cloud forest and the narrow Chanchan river gorge to reach the charming city of Bucay, where you’ll spend the night.
Day 5: Bucay – Naranjito – Yaguachi - Guayaquil
The last day of your luxury train adventure will be characterised by yet more changing landscapes, as you leave the tropical forest behind and steam through rice, sugar cane, pineapple and banana plantations. On route, you’ll enjoy lunch at a local hacienda and learn about the growing and harvesting of the world’s finest cocoa beans.
Later in the afternoon, you will reach Guayaquil's Duran station, where you will disembark the train and will be driven to your hotel for the night.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, you will be picked up and driven to the airport for your onward flight.