Riding the Rails in Ecuador: The Devil's Nose

By: Shelley Seale
Map of Devil's Nose route
Map of Devil’s Nose route

I love trains. I’ve been on several epic train journeys, and the Nariz del Diablo — or Devil’s Nose — train in Ecuador is one of those legendary rail rides.

Going a distance of only 12 kilometers, the 2.5 hour round-trip journey from Alausi to Sibambe is truly spectacular. The train travels on tracks that hug the edge of the Andes mountains, with dramatic drop-offs and several switchbacks where the train has to back up and re-position in order to navigate the sharp mountain curves. Ecuadorians call this the “zig zag railroad.”

Ecuador has recently renovated many kilometers of their old train tracks, and the system offers half a dozen other train journeys ranging from 45 minutes to 10 hours. But Nariz del Diablo remains the most popular.