Alausi is a railway town at the top of the famous Nariz del Diablo's section of Ecuador's train line.
Constructed in the 19th century, this section of train line was one of the most difficult railway constructions in the world due to the sheer rock wall known as the Nariz del Diablo, below the town.
Alausi is a pretty little town, watched over by a large statue of Saint Peter.
There are attractive old houses, many of original adobe construction which line the steep streets.
Alausi is good to visit all year long, but it is recommended to see it mostly during the dryer months from June to December.
Be sure to bring warm clothes for the train rides and for the night. The town has an altitude of over 2,340 meters.
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Clinging to the hillside, the town centers around a main street with a small fruit market at one end, and a huge statue of Saint Peter standing on a hilltop. The famous train line travels right through town.
Many tourists enjoy sitting on the hilltop by the Saint Peter statue just to observe the wonderful view that opens up below them.
The short walk up to the statue is enjoyable. People can walk by the train tracks and then climb the hill from the backside. One can stroll down a path near the tracks below the town as well to get a good look of the valley beneath.
Alausi is famous for the train ride around the so called Devil's Nose. This ride is part of the old train line between the country's two major cities, Quito and Guayaquil.
The train goes from Riobamba to Alausi, down the steep valley sides, and is fascinating due to the many forks on the line. The train will switch tracks and travel backwards to get to its destination.
For those with a desire to be more adventurous, they can sit on the roof of the train as it travels through the gorgeous highland landscapes.
One or two days is probably enough time to visit the town. It is a pleasant place to relax and wander, the people charming and sweet.
Plans for the construction started in 1874, but work only began in 1899 on the coast in Guayaquil City and the train track zigzagged up to Alausi in 1902.
The Devil's Nose is so steep that the train has to reverse up alternate bits of track up the zigzag in order to climb around 800 meters up to the town at a gradient of 1 in 18.
This was considered almost impossible in railway engineering at that time.
The railway line continued through Riobamba City and reached Quito Capital City in 1908, more than a century ago.
June 25th, 2008 marked one hundred years of the arrival of the first steam train to Quito.
It was an event that completely changed Ecuador's economy and politics, and played a substantial role in the development and integration of our country.
The Devil's Nose train uses a relatively modern engine to pull the beautiful old carriages.
Sometimes, the train is replaced by one of two "autoferros", which are basically a bus body mounted on train wheels.
The train or autoferro leaves Alausi every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at around 11 am to go down the Devil's Nose and back. You'll be back in town at around 1 pm.
The rail track will offer you spectacular views and is a popular journey among tourists.
The traditional Ecuador Holiday of Carnival is celebrated in town with a special parade, in which the neighborhoods of the city and special invitees participate.
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Bullfightings and other traditional festivals are also celebrated here during February.
There are also the San Pedro celebrations that go from June 22 to July 2, and have been celebrated since the Spanish colonial era.