Alausí Devil’s Nose Train

Alausí is a small town between Baños and Cuenca. We wanted somewhere to stay to break up the long bus ride between the two cities.

Nestled in a valley in the Andes mountains. It’s altitude is 7,696 feet and in 2001, the population was around 5,000 people. There are lot of indigenous people there and it was enjoyable to see them when we walked around town.

The town itself is doesn’t have much else for tourists than the train although we had a very enjoyable evening talking with a retired couple from Germany. They have done tons of traveling and talked about some of the places they recommended, especially Africa and Europe. Not likely to get to either of those places but you never know with us!

The Devil’s Nose train is likely another governmental project similar to the Tren de Libertad to Salinas that we took a month or so ago. The scenery is beautiful along the way.

Sign indicating the train will back up and change direction.

The Devil’s Nose train takes track that was extremely challenging to build, climbing more than 500 meters (more than 1,500 feet) in 12 kilometers (7.2 miles). This was accomplished by having zig zags in the tracks where the train backs up in an area and changes direction because the brakeman throws a switch on the tracks!

The whole peak is considered the “Devil’s Nose” however I think the little point on the left side of the peak looks more like a nose on a face.

The ride itself is not that long, about 30-45 minutes each way. On the way there, we stopped briefly for pictures of “Devil’s Nose”. The mountain looks to some like the pointed part of the nose of a person laying down. To me, not so much.

The second stop has a modern covered pavillion, cafe, and museum where the indigenous people perform dances, sell crafts, feed you, and explain some of their culture. Although their actual work day is fairly short (2 performances of maybe 30 minutes each), they walk 2 hours per day TO work and 2 1/2 hours back home. That’s dedication!

You can view videos of their dancing here.

One of the men spoke fairly good English and he explained a number of things about their culture. Their hats and women’s colored necklaces indicated that the person is married although there was one of his friends there without her colored bead necklace on and he couldn’t explain why since she is married (and divorce is not part of their culture).

This tool is hooked over the neck of two oxen or other animals. If they are equally strong, it is placed symmetrically over their necks however if one is stronger than the other, they can vary where on the tool it is placed to make the pulling equal between the two animals.

When the tool is shaken, it makes a noise., kind of like a tambourine.

The animals are trained to auditory signals using this tool. They shake it with different noises to indicate whether the animal should start or stop.

Sugar cane stalk goes through the two horizontal pieces of wood above the piece of tin and the juice is rung out like in the old-fashioned washing machines.

This is a press to get the juice out of sugar cane.

The entire tour took 2 1/2 hours and was $22 each for seniors or $33 each for other adults. Very affordable and worth it in our book.

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