Chiva Express Train Tour

By: Eric Castro

On June 25, 2005 Metropolitan Touring started the operation of its highlight rail tours along the Ecuadorian Andes and down to the Coast, with new one-car vehicles on tracks, called the "Chiva Express". The Chiva has long been a favorite means of transportation in Ecuador, a colorful bus with plenty of room on the roof for people, bananas and perhaps chickens.

The fun of riding the "Chiva" has been combined with the historic Trans-Andean rail ride, down the famous "Devil's Nose" from Quito in the Andean Highlands all the way down to Guayaquil on the coast. Three brand new "Chivas", were specially built with capacity for 34 guests, with comfortable seating, large windows, toilet facilities and bar. Guests can enjoy a comfortable ride inside or the fun and exhilarating experience of 'riding the roof'.

The one day trip of Metropolitan's rail tours departs from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to the Cotopaxi National Park on a one-day adventure excursion along the Avenue of the Volcanoes with spectacular views of the Andes Mountains. Enjoy the ecosystems of the park's windswept moors and lunch at a cozy restaurant up high. Departures are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (MT-150).

The two-day Quito/Riobamba/Guayaquil "Chiva Express" program departs the Quito train station on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays on a southward journey along the Andes. Guests can leave the comfort of the car to climb the outside ladder to sit on the roof for the exhilarating ride and panoramic views, protected by a guardrail, as the "Chiva Express" lollops and lurches along narrow-gauge tracks at a leisurely pace. Upon reaching Cotopaxi National Park, the voyage continues by motorcar for a visit of an Indian market. Lunch and ride to Riobamba, to spend the night. The constantly changing scenery is awesome: snow-capped peaks, high treeless plateau, rushing streams, lush valleys, and steep slopes with patchworks of terraced fields and small Indian villages.

On the second day, the rail trip takes guests on the "Chiva Express" from Riobamba to AlausÃ? and on to the famous 1,000-foot Devil's Nose (La Nariz del Diablo) switchback, an almost sheer cliff on which the railway track zigzags down a ledge cut into the mountainside overhanging a river gorge south of AlausÃ?. The adventure continues on our third Chiva Express down the slopes of the Andes while guests experience the transition from Andean ecosystems to the lush tropical coastal vegetation: bananas, oranges, pineapples, ginger and wooden farm houses on stilts. The last leg of the "Chiva Express" ends in Bucay, and on by motorcar to Guayaquil. Guests returning to Quito can take the flight Guayaquil/Quito that same evening. The two-day Quito-Riobamba-Guayaquil program includes all meals and overnight in Riobamba. Air ticket Guayaquil/Quito is extra. (MT-181).

The "Chiva Express" programs also connect with an overland trip from AlausÃ? to the beautiful city of Cuenca in the south of Ecuador on three- or four-day excursions including tours, hotels, all meals, tour guide, ground transportation and transfers. (MT-182 and MT.353).

For more information about Ecuador & Galapagos Cruises visit:

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