Imagine a purpose built steam-hauled train which transports you from sea level to the heights of the Andes then back to sea level again over four days and you have the idea for the Cruise Train, or Tren Crucero, a remarkable new tourist train which shows you the best of Ecuador.
This journey promises stunning panoramic views of landscapes throughout the Andes and coastal regions, journeying nearly 500 kilometres and ascending up to 3,600 metres in the Ecuadorian Highlands.
The train promises a luxury trip which combines two important elements. One of these is the train itself which has its own special characteristics; the other is a full and complete program of visits and activities for which the emphasis is on comfort, fun, education and an adventure-filled journey between Ecuador’s two main cities Quito and Guayaquil.
Depending on the landscape and gradient, the train is powered by a combination of steam engines and modern electro-diesel locomotives which haul six luxurious carriages at different stages of the journey. Each carriage is fitted with panoramic windows and decorated in vintage style that is very reminiscent of the “Golden Days” of train travel. At night, passengers are accommodated in either good hotels or in beautiful colonial haciendas and historical estates some of which feature 600-year old Incan construction.
The train, operated by local company Ferrocarriles del Ecuador, and passengers offers several itineraries which range in duration from two to four days. The longest itinerary is four days, but there are shorter three and two day itineraries from which to choose as well.
The full program starts out of the now fully restored Station of Chimbacalle, south of Quito’s Historic Centre. This part of the trip introduces passengers to a series of amazing landscapes as it crosses one of the most awesome sections of the famed “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. The scenery constantly changes from beautiful snow-capped mountains to the exotic Cloud Forest.
Stops and tours include the spectacular Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, the glacial Lake of Limpiopungo, a historic Hacienda with Inca walls, and San Agustin de Callo at the foothills of the 6000 metre Mt. Cotopaxi.
As the train negotiates the Andes there is a guided visit to one of Ecuador’s most stunning rose farms; also the mythical Lake of Yambo and the highest Station of the route Urbina, which has an altitude above 4,000 metres above sea level.
The terminates terminates at the picturesque town of Yaguachi, at the historic fully restored Duran Train Station, which is on the eastern banks of the Guayas River near the coastal city of Guayaquil.
The cruise train promises a great, yet comfortable, adventure on one of the most interesting and inspiring railway lines in South America.