A train ride to Hell

The track going down from Alausi to Sibambe is quite steep. Surveyed and laid by British engineers in the nineteenth century,it is a marvel of civil engineering. They still run the old carriages though the puffers have been replaced by prosaic diesel.

A lot of station staff wearing rather camp hats and trying to look busy. We left at 8 o’clock on the dot. You trundle along the narrow gauge track hugging the cliff face. They used to ride on the roof until a few years ago when a pair of Japanese fell off!

You are greeted at the lower station by a group of local people in costume doing unconvincing folk dances to taped music. I couldn’t bring myself to photo them, they seemed so forlorn.

The bottom section is so steep it has to use traverses.

The name Nariz de Diablo apparently refers to a rock sticking up on the hillside but I couldn’t see it. The story goes that the Devil didn’t want it built which explains the two thousand deaths including the chief engineer during its construction.

Alausi itself is a scruffy dump with no perceived good features. A young off-duty policeman told me everyone is at home by  8pm. He appeared to be right.

Next stop Cuenca four hours away on the coach. The prospect of a well-heeled and elegant city.


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    • Reply

    What an amazing train journey – hope Cuenca is more inspiring than Alausi!

    • Reply

    Looks good Paul – am sure Alausi beats Huddersfield on a Monday night ( I know where I’d rather be !). We are all enjoying the blog

    • Reply

    Train photos ! Amazed that wooden carriages could survive so long – perhaps the altitude assists their preservation. The summary of Alausi made me smile. Effectively a 0/10 rating. Your readers are expecting a great deal of Cuenca now …

    • Reply

    Some years ago, and for reasons I really can’t remember, I picked up in a charity shop a DVD entitled, “Steam Railways in Chile”. I appreciate that your journey was not empowered by steam and that neither were you in Chile, however, should you ever wish to re-imagine this part of your expedition, feel free to borrow it. I’ve never before had the courage to admit to anyone that I own a DVD of steam Locomotives, I now feel cleansed. Whoo Whoo. Take Care. Dx

  • Love those railway carriages!

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