Alausi, Ecuador, It’s not just about the train
After our awesome time in Baños, it was time to move on again. So, we hopped back on the Wanderbus to make our way to our next destination, Alausi. Alausi is a tiny town in Ecuador that is largely popular due to one thing, el Nariz del Diablo (the Devil’s Nose). The Devil’s Nose is a famous train ride that showcases some of the breathtaking scenery of the Andes.
Because we were travelling on the Wanderbus, instead of using the local buses, we had to wait two days for another Wanderbus to arrive in Alausi. That meant we would spend a total of two nights there. We had read that it was a quiet town and that it was easily done in half a day. Still, we didn’t mind because we were planning to take a couple of days to relax anyway, before moving on yet again, this time to Cuenca.
Plus, once we reached Alausi, we were actually quite glad that we’d decided to stay longer because we really liked the feel of the town. It was so quiet and after the last train had returned, it was so sleepy that it felt like we were the only ones left in town! We were hungry for some downtime and we really liked its low-intensity vibe. Also, it turned out that there is more to Alausi than just the train ride.
Here are 5 things you should do while in Alausi:
1- El Nariz del Diablo
Of course, that’s the reason you probably came to Alausi in the first place, so don’t miss out. Be sure not to visit on a Monday because that’s the only day that the train is not running! The train departs every other morning at 8 am, 11 am and, during peak season, at 3 pm.
The trip lasts about 2 and a half hours, during which the train slowly winds its way to the Devil’s Nose viewpoint, passing some pretty breathtaking scenery along the way. Then, you’ll have around 15 minutes at the viewpoint to get out of your carriage and take photos.
Afterwards, you hop back on board and head to the next destination, Sibambe station. This station is purely made for tourists. You’ll be greeted by some indigenous dancers and they’ll even try to get you up and dancing with them, which was a lot of fun. There’s a small museum, a Llama to take a $1 Llama selfie with and a coffee shop. You stay in Sibambe for an hour, which seems like a long time but it passes quite quickly. After that, it’s back on board the train to return to Alausi.
The ride costs $33 per person and you can book it at the train station or online at Trenecuador. We booked online and it was fairly straightforward.
Tips for your train ride:
Try to book the ride at 8 am. The manager at our hostel told us that the weather is often nicer first thing in the morning and he was quite right. At 8 am the weather was mostly sunny but towards noon the clouds appeared and visibility became a lot worse.
It’s quite easy to book your trip online (using a bit of Google Translate if your Spanish is as bad as ours) and you can choose your own seat this way. You may be able to choose your seat easily at the station but with our very poor Spanish, we thought we were better off doing it online.
Once you’ve paid, you receive an e-ticket which you can save to your phone to show the conductor. There’s no need to print out your ticket. However, you will need an ID card or passport to prove your identity and it needs to match the ID card or passport number you entered when booking.
When booking your trip, choose the seats marked A (for abyss); they offer better views.
2- Enjoy the small town
Alausi might be small but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice place to visit. Like so many places in Ecuador, it’s really colourful and many of its buildings are more than 100 years old. You can start your walk at the train station and get lost in its colourful streets. Enjoy the street art, relax in the public parks and do some people watching, and check out the old railway bridge. You can also head to the Mercado Central (market) to get an insight into the local community and to buy some fresh fruit or veggies.
We felt very safe everywhere we went, people were very friendly and we enjoyed just wandering around town. With two days there, we ended up walking around the town a couple of times.
3- Climb up to the Mirador San Pedro
For some great views over the town, climb a few sets of stairs up to the Mirador San Pedro. The statue of San Pedro can be seen anywhere in town, it’s impossible to miss. Just follow it and eventually you will reach the bottom of the stairs leading up to it. At the base of the statue is a small square, surrounded by a nice grassy area where you can relax and enjoy the views, perhaps with a picnic lunch or a takeaway morning latte.
4- Hike the Devils’ Nose
If you can’t afford the $33 train ride, don’t despair, you can still enjoy the views by hiking. There is a really nice hike you can do that apparently offers even better views of the Devils’ Nose than the train. Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to it as Simon wasn’t feeling well on our second day in Alausi but we wish we’d had the chance to do it. Our hostel in Alausi (Community Hostel) even offers a free guided hike to it every morning at 8 am.
5- Take a walk down the river
For an easy walk outside of town, walk past the old railway bridge, keep going down the hill past the football stadium and eventually, you will get to the river Chanchán. It’s a nice, peaceful walk.
Where to stay in Alausi?
The Community Hostel Alausi is by far the best hostel we’ve ever stayed in. It’s only about a year old and it’s super clean, quiet, modern, spacious and very comfortable. You have the option of a private room with a private bathroom or a bed in one of the dorms. Breakfast is offered every morning for an extra $3.50. We strongly suggest paying for breakfast. It was delicious and easily the best breakfast we’d had to date in Ecuador.
Alternatively, you can search for hotels in Alausi across all the major accommodation sites with hotelscombined.com, using the search box below. We use it all the time.
Where to eat in Alausi?
The Cafe Del Tren
This little cafe is right next to the train station. The owner is really friendly and speaks very good English. We had two lovely lunches there. Try one of their chilli and lemon beers, they’re very nice!
El Meson del tren
A few steps from the train station, this restaurant serves traditional Ecuadorian food. The portions are large and the food is well priced.