6 days from £1620pp plus international flights.
Set to become a modern 'classic railway journey' this is a superb way to see Ecuador.
Tren Crucero is a new experience in Ecuador and makes an excellent addition on any holiday in this country. It's a really fantastic way to see some of the stunning and varied landscapes. The railway line that runs from Quito through the Avenue of the Volcanoes and then down to the coast at Guayaquil has been fully restored and a four coach stylish luxury train now runs along this route. This is Tren Crucero. The route also includes the famous section known as The Devil's Nose, an exhilarating series of dramatic switchbacks descending 450 metres. As a multi-day luxury train journey using both diesel and steam engines, it is a first in South America.
The scenery as you pass through the Andes and down to the coastal plains is absolutely spectacular, changing from vistas of snow-capped volcanic peaks and rugged mountain valleys through seven distinct climatic zones through to tropical forests and the lush agricultural lands around Guayaquil. But this journey is not just about sitting on a train and enjoying the scenery - far from it. The train stops along the way and you spend a lot of your time visiting some fascinating places, meeting local people and staying in traditional haciendas at night.
You'll see snow-capped volcanoes, watch skilled craftsmen and women at work, learn about the local culture, visit a traditional market, tour a rose plantation, meet the last ice merchant of Chimborazo and enjoy traditional cuisine. While on board the train you'll be thoroughly pampered, and can enjoy panoramic views from the observation cars and open terrace, socialise in the bar, graze on tasty snacks and buy souvenirs in the gift shop.
It's an amazing way to spend a few days travelling though the heart of Ecuador at a very leisurely pace, and can be linked to any Ecuador holiday including a Galapagos cruise as flights to the Galapagos leave from Guayaquil or Quito.
There are 2 classes of travel on this journey. Both use the same train but stay in different properties, or different room types, en-route. The hotels shown in this holiday are used in the luxury experience category. If you opt for gold class you stay at upgraded accommodation where possible.
NOTE: The journey from Quito to Guayaquil is called 'Train of Wonders'. This trip can be taken in reverse, i.e. Guayaquil to Quito, 'Train to the Clouds'. Please ask us about this.
You are met on arrival at Quito airport and transferred to Swissotel. The remainder of the day has been kept free to allow you to recover from your journey and enjoy the hotel's impressive facilities. These include a spa, gym and no fewer than 5 restaurants. It's also close to the shops and sites of the old town should you wish to do some independent exploring.
You leave your Quito hotel for Chimbacalle train station in the south of the city. Today's ride takes you through the famous 'Avenue of the Volcanoes'. Sit back and enjoy the views of some 20 peaks, some still active. You disembark at the second highest railway station in the country, to tour a rose farm and learn about the cultivation of these beautiful flowers and the natural conditions that make this region suitable for their production. After lunch you continue to Cotopaxi National Park for a walk around Limpiopungo Lagoon. This is a good opportunity to observe the varied plant and birdlife of the region and to capture some fine photographs. At the end of the walk you are transferred to Hacienda La Cienega for an overnight stay. Breakfast, lunch, Dinner
You are transferred to the train station after breakfast for the ride through the Andes to Yambo Lagoon. The scenery is stunning, but vies for your attention with the colourful 'devils' from Pillaro village, continuing a long Andean tradition known as the 'diablada pillarefia'. Later you arrive at Urbina station, the highest point on the route at 3,609m above sea level. Here you meet the man dubbed 'the last ice merchant of Chimborazo', Baltazar Uscha, who for some 50 years has been harvesting glacial ice from the mountain. Afterwards you have the chance to spend time in La Moya community to learn about the Quichua-Puruha culture, including the chance to join in with daily tasks and to share food with villagers. You then re-board the train as it travels to Riobamba where you have a short walk through the city before sunset and transferring to Hacienda Abraspungo for dinner and to spend the night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Back on the train you continue south to Colta passing fields of colourful quinoa, indigenous settlements and historical sites. If available, this part of the journey is by steam train. The next stop is Guamote, where there's time to visit the lively market that attracts traders from miles around and is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the locals. Lunch is served and you are then taken by bus to Alausi and the next highlight: the Devil's Nose! This train ride is a made up of a series of sharp switchebacks that decsend a total of 450 metres to the coastal plains. It's quite a ride! You then return to Alausi where you are staying tonight in a charming hotel near the train station. There should be time for a walk around the cobbled streets before dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After an early breakfast at the hotel you take a bus ride to Huigra, a village that used be a base for the Guayaquil and Quito Railway Company. From here you travel through changing scenery as you near the coast, stopping in Bucay for a drink and then continuing through a region of cultivated land with plantations of cocoa, bananas and pineapples plus fields of rice. You have time to visit a hacienda where you learn about locally-produced chocolate, a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Lunch will be served in the lush gardens, before re-boarding the bus to Naranjito where your train awaits. Subject to avaliability the final part of your train odyssey will be by steam train, and you arrive in Duran station in fine style. From here you are transferred to your hotel in Guayaquil, where you spend the night. Breakfast, lunch
This morning, having breakfasted, you are taken you to the airport in Guayaquil for your onward or home-bound flight. Breakfast.
Guide price from (pp sharing): £1620 (ex. international flights)
2019 prices (pp sharing, excluding international flights):
Standard class travel from £1620 per person
Gold Class travel from £2155 per person
2020 prices (pp sharing, excluding international flights):
Standard class travel from £1775 per person
Gold Class travel from £2370 per person
2 nights Swissotel in Quito, 1 night Hacienda la Cienega in Cotopaxi, 1 night Hacienda Abraspungo in Riobamba, 1 night at Hotel El Molino in Alausi and 1 night Wyndham Guayaquil, all accommodation based on twin-share - Luxury Experience class; meals as specified in the itinerary; snacks and soft drinks on board the train; excursions as per the itinerary; transport by bus or van for excursions and to and from accommodation; arrival transfer in Quito; departure transfer in Guayaquil.
If you upgrade to Gold Class you stay at upgraded hotels where possible, precise details to be confirmed on request.
International flights and taxes; meals not specified as included; alcoholic drinks on board; single supplement for accommodation; tips; visa; travel insurance
The 6-day trip starts in Quito and ends in Guayaquil. It can also be done in reverse. A rough guide to flights in and out of Ecuador from £900 per person.
Departure dates: There are set departures on the following dates. Train of Wonders departs Quito on a Tuesday, and Train to the Clouds departs Guayaquil on a Saturday.
Quito – Guayaquil
29 Oct | 12 Nov | 10 Dec
Guayaquil - Quito
2 / 16 Nov | 14 Dec
Quito – Guayaquil
7 Jan | 18 Feb |17 Mar | 14 Apr | 19 May | 2 / 23 Jun | 28 Jul | 25 Aug | 15 Sep | 6 Oct |3 / 24 Nov | 15 Dec
Guayaquil - Quito
11 Jan | 22 Feb | 21 Mar | 18 Apr | 23 May | 6 Jun | 4 Jul | 01 / 29 Aug | 19 Sep | 24 Oct | 7 / 28 Nov | 19 Dec
Hacienda Abraspungo is set in lovely gardens with views of the magnificent Andes mountains and offers traditional Ecuadorian hospitality.
A 400 year old hacienda full of history with atmospheric accommodation and gardens near Cotopaxi volcano and national park.
Close to the train station in Alausi for the Devil's Nose ride, this charaterful hotel is a convenient overnight stop.
One of Quito's finest hotels, Swissotel provides top quality accommodation, facilities and services just 45 minutes from the international airport
How this holiday helps
As winner of the Responsible Travel Awards 2016, this is not only a superb luxury, cross-country adventure, but it also benefits a lot of people along the route.
5/5 from 85 reviews
Find the best time to visit Ecuador
Time: GMT -5 hours
Flight time: There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.
Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.