"Alausi - Somewhat of a Miscalculation" Alausí by calcaf38

Alausí Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 28 photos

If you found this page, chances are you are looking for information about transportation between Riobamba and Cuenca. I will tell you exactly what happened to me. With hindsight - or with more precise information - I would have done things differently that day.

I happened to arrive in Riobamba on a Wednesday, the night before the famous train leaves town on its weekly trip to Alausi, and further on to the renowned Devil's Nose (el Nariz del Diablo). Although it seemed a bit hokey, I decided to take the train, early in the morning, and get off at Alausi where I would catch a bus to continue South. Three hours on the roof of a train inching through gorgeous landscape would be enough of a good thing.

I had bought my $11 ticket at the Riobamba station the day before, and I was on time, at 6:00 a.m. sharp, on the platform. All the other travelers belonged to groups. Before we even left the station, I learned two crushing facts:
#1 - The "train" would not be a train, but an autoferro. That is an old bus fitted with train wheels.
#2 - There would be no riding on the roof, following a fatal accident a little while ago.
In other words, I had bought a $11 ticket to do slowly what I could do faster and more comfortably for $3 in a regular, cushier and more quiet "modern" bus.
The tourist group was tightly packed in the autoferro, but I was still able to snap a few shots, which I'm organizing in travelogues below. The landscape was admittedly more attractive than it would have been on the highway. It took three stuffy hours from Riobamba to Alausi, with a pit stop in Guamote in between. No matter how fantastic the Devil's Nose (the next segment) may be, I was happy to miss it and get off the autoferro in Alausi, where I planned a quick switch to a regular bus with rubber tires and Ecuadorian passengers.

Alausi is a sweet little town, and also the hottest and sunniest spot in the Andes. Although you can't tell on the map, the town is a bit off the Panamericana Highway. You can catch a bus downtown to go North or South, but only a couple of times a day. Or you can walk uphill to the Panamericana and hail a bus which would not stop downtown. That's what I did. And I ended up spending two hours at a hot, desolate intersection, until the next bus from Ambato to Cuenca showed up.
Fortunately, a talkative old man waited with me. He explained that midday is a bad time to wait for a bus. We had a good talk about everything under the sun (literally), but I was hot, thirsty and tired.
Eventually, a bus stopped, and the ride that followed was also very long and hot, with some torrid pauses due to road work. It took forever (about three hours) to go from Alausi to my next stop, El Tambo, gateway to Ingapirca. No matter how tolerant you think you are, there is something unnerving about riding uphill, in first gear, for hours.

This is an unusual page, but I wanted to make sure you got the whole picture on one page in case you are interested in a similar itinerary. In retrospect, I should have caught a nice, early bus from Riobamba, before it got too hot, and it would have been less exhausting. Since there are no tips to rate on this page, just leave a message - or rate another, more pleasant page of mine. Thank you.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Local color, different habitats
  • Cons:Hot, slow and tiring
  • In a nutshell:Time is what matters, not distance
  • Last visit to Alausí: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated Oct 3, 2009
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Comments (6)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2010 at 12:02 AM

    Sounds like I should avoid the train to Nariz del Diablo. Great info for other travellers!

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    what an adventure

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2008 at 2:24 AM

    Thanks for all the helpful advice - and for the great scenery :)

  • Apr 11, 2008 at 5:07 AM

    Great pictures and tips

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2007 at 10:38 AM

    Well, at least you saw some fantastic views, judging from your Travelogues! Some day you will look back on this experience and laugh - maybe!

  • ATLC's Profile Photo
    Oct 5, 2007 at 2:47 PM

    Much appreciation for this page and photo's, despite I don't have plans to go there :-)

calcaf38

“Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin”

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