|The Devil's Nose
The Trans-Andean railway once ran from Quito to Guayaquil.
Construction of the historic line began in Guayaquil in 1899 & made it as far as Sibambe where it met a steep Andean slope of nearly solid rock, no less intimidating than the Devil's Nose itself. To reach Aluasi high above, a series of switchbacks was carved into the rock (many lives were lost in the process) that would allow the train, by advancing & reversing, to ascend nearly 1000m to Aluasi at 2607m. The completion of the first ascent in 1902 was the most incredible feat of railway engineering the world had ever seen. The trans-andean went on to reach Quito in 1908.
The 1982-83 & 1997-98 El Nino effects cause torrential rain & landslides closing all but the Riobamba to Sibambe section of track. This is now the only operting section & allows visitors the opportunity to Ride The Devil's Nose.
We arrived in Riobamba last night & were told by the station attendant that there were no more places on the Andean Explorer, the public train. Thankfully, our hotel owner made a few calls & we were slotted on the Chiva Express (a bus on train wheels). It turns out that this is the best option as it provides the ability for riders to SIT ON THE ROOF...for a full experience.
So at the crack of dawn (4:45) we got ourselves down to the station & took the 4hr Chiva Express from Riobamba to Alausi (above the Devil's Nose). Then a quick switch from inside to the roof & off we went to RIDE THE DEVIL'S NOSE... See pics.
At the bottom, in Sibambe we met the French couple from the Galapagos (are they following us by any chance???)
Then it was back up the Devil's Nose on the roof once more, then to catch a public bus back to Riobamba (an experince in itself).
Tomorrow ... we are off to Banos....