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Rail Travel - Tren Crucero

A unique and fulfilling way to travel...

Tren Crucero - Devil's nose
Tren Crucero - Devil's nose

Trains are wonderful ... To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life. So wrote Agatha Christie and who are we to argue.

Nowhere in South America is this sentiment more true than in Ecuador. Peru often grabs the rail headlines for the glitzy Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu and the Andean Explorer (rightly so, as these are wonderful experiences). However, for sheer magnitude and variation of landscape, Ecuador’s Tren Crucero is hard to beat.

From the thriving Pacific coastal city of Guayaquil, through the tranquil cloud forests of the highlands and the formidable avenue of the volcanoes, to the Andean capital of Quito – this really is a train journey like no other.

The 4-day expedition runs in both directions – from Guayaquil to Quito and vice versa – and is a truly spellbinding and unique way of seeing the country. Unlike most rail journeys that include overnight travel, on the Tren Crucero you stay in small towns along the way, rather than sleeper cabins. Not only is this more spacious, it offers an ideal way to explore the area and sample the local life and culture - the best of both worlds!

We think this is a great experience to combine with the Galapagos Islands, with the convenience of direct flights to the Galapagos from both Quito and Guayaquil.

Of course, it is possible to sample Ecuador’s scenic train journeys in bite-size portions, if four days is too long to dedicate to the tracks! There are numerous day-trips that allow for an enthralling taste of these epic journeys. From Guayaquil, the Tren del la Dulzura is a fantastic excursion. The expedition passes through the changing landscapes of rice paddies, cocoa plantations and sugar cane fields into the cloud forests; with the opportunity to explore the towns of Yaguachi, Naranjito and Bucay.

Or from Quito, head south on the Tren Machachi Festivo, through the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Cotopaxi and El Boliche. As well as the volcanoes, this trip passes through ‘jungles of Panzaleo’, the source of the wood for many of Quito’s impressive churches. Finally, for the bucket-listers, the Devil’s nose (Nariz del Diablo) portion can also be done in hair-raising isolation!

When to do the Tren Crucero:

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    At a glance...Tren Crucero

  • Size: Up to 450km of track
  • Location: Across the country
  • Recommended time: 3 days/4 nights
  • Time to visit: Year round
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