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Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Riobamba and the Devil Nose Railway

11th – 14th July

After Guayaquil, we thought that Riobamba would take us back to what we had seen in the smaller towns of Peru and Bolivia. The journey was certainly bringing back some memories. Twisting mountain roads, crazy drivers and a lunch stop at a roadside café where you have to keep a close eye on the driver to make sure he doesn’t head back to the bus before you do!

Yet again we were surprised as we arrived. The first sight as we walked out of the bus terminal in Riobamba was a huge KFC! 15 minutes walk later, we were in the centre of the town an had found a place to stay.

Riobamba is the start of the Riobamba to Sibambe railway, the main tourist draw in the area. A journey that includes the ‘Devil’s Nose’, a set of double switchbacks which see the train descend 800 meters over only a few kilometres.

Local markets on Saturday are one of the main events in the Riobamba week, where thousands of indigenous people head to the town to buy and sell their wares. We explored the market and saw how Ecuadorians buy there weekly shop, as you’ll see from the pictures, it’s a little different to Tesco!

On Sunday we were all set to ride the Devil Nose railway, but discovered that due to a track problem, the train would only be running over a short part of the route. From Riobamba, we had to take a bus to Alausi, annoyingly, this was back the way we had come on the bus the previous day. At 6am we left for Alausi, and when we got there we had to queue for about an hour to get a train ticket. It was so busy that the next train we could take didn’t leave for a couple of hours, and to cut a long story short, we ended up in a second carriage which didn’t have seating on the roof, the whole point of doing the trip really! We still got some good pictures, but weren’t overly impressed with the day out.

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