This beautiful journey crosses some of Ecuador’s most charming and inspiring areas. Starting in Quito you’ll have a chance to visit the equator before boarding the Tren Crucero. On board you’ll witness dreamy landscapes, whispering volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, the cheerful and patchwork colours of the coastal plains, the glare of the equatorial sun and the warmth of the people all combine to provide a unique rail journey experience.
Day 1: Quito
Arrival into Quito and transfer to your hotel.
Our carefully selected Quito hotels are chosen for their quality of service and ideal locations from which to explore the city – the first to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Day 2: Quito
A day designed to give you a taste of your new environment. No trip to Ecuador is complete without a visit to the equator and so first visit Mitad del Mundo for a great photo opportunity with one foot simultaneously in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon head back to Quito’s superb historic centre – the best-preserved colonial center in Latin America — to properly spend time exploring the cobbled streets, squares and churches of this fascinating area with your English-speaking guide.
Day 3: Chimbacalle to Cotopaxi to Lasso
Private transfer to Chimbacalle train station.
The tour begins early when you’ll leave Chimbacalle station aboard a traditional excursion train. From the Cotopaxi station you’ll travel to the Cotopaxi National Park in a modern bus. Taking a walk around Limpiopungo, a glacial lake located near the slopes of the volcano, visitors are surrounded by typical Andean landscapes. The Cotopaxi National Park is home to Andean flora and fauna including Andean gulls, caracaras, white-tailed deer, the Andean wolf and the Andean condor. The páramo (high grasslands) is the highlight of the day, together with the splendid Cotopaxi Volcano, an almost perfect cone rising to 5,897 meters. The journey continues to Hacienda San Agustin de Callo to enjoy a lunch of nouveau Ecuadorian cuisine. The ruins at this hacienda are an example of Inca architecture and before the colonial period the building was an Inca palace. After exploring the hacienda, return to the Cotopaxi station to take the Cruise Train to Lasso from and take a bus to the hotel.
Dinner and overnight stay and dinner in Lasso.
Day 4: Lasso to Latacunga to Riobamba
After breakfast depart for the Latacunga station to board the Cruise Train and continue the journey south. The day’s itinerary includes a visit to a flower plantation to learn more about Ecuador’s world-renowned roses. The train then travels to Ambato where lunch will be served. If weather conditions permit, it might be possible to observe at a safe distance a volcanic eruption of the majestic Tungurahua.
After lunch, the train travels on towards the Urbina station, located at 3,609 metres above sea level. Here you will meet a very special Andean character, Baltasar Ushca, the last ice merchant of the Chimborazo Volcano. If conditions are favorable, Chimborazo may provide a spectacular sight from the station. After this visit, the train travels to the Riobamba station from where a bus transfers passengers to a hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 5: Riobamba to Bucay
In the morning, depart by bus to the Riobamba station. Riobamba is surrounded by five volcanoes and is known as the “Sultan of the Andes”. Today the train is powered by a steam engine as it travels through the Andean landscape until reaching the Colta station. Then travel on to Guamote where the indigenous market is waiting to be explored. It is one of the few places where bartering is still practised in Ecuador. Lunch is served on board the train.
In the afternoon, the train continues its journey to the Alausí station traveling alongside curious geological formations before beginning the descent down the emblematic “Devil’s Nose”. Zigzagging its way through the mountainside, the train drops 200 meters in just 3 kilometers. A short break at a viewpoint enables us to appreciate the magnitude of this engineering feat that has earned the Ecuadorian rail system the title of the “world’s most difficult”. The journey continues along the Chanchán River to the Bucay station. Witness the transition from the Andean highlands to Ecuador’s coastal plains.
Arrive at the station and disembark for dinner and an overnight stay in Bucay.
Day 6: Bucay to Duran
After breakfast depart by train from the Bucay station and travel to San Rafael. The journey is alongside a rainforest and banana, cacao and sugar-cane plantations. The trip ends upon arrival at Durán station. Transport is provided to take you to Guayaquil’s main hotels.
Day 7: Guayaquil
Today you’ll explore Guayaquil on a day tour – the most populous city in Ecuador. You’ll find quaint squares, parks and lots of regeneration. The city also has a growing arts scene with lively bars.
Overnight in Guayaquil.
Today you’ll check out of your hotel and will need to fly to Quito for your onward flight.