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.
Quito To Cotopaxi
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.
Cotopaxi To Urbina And Riobamba
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.
To Devils Nose And Alausi
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 switchbacks that descend 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.
Alausi To Duran - Guayaquil
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 availability 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.
This morning, having breakfasted, you are taken you to the airport in Guayaquil for your onward or home-bound flight.
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