Traveling by train is a romanticized notion often associated with Europe. But there are other places in the world where you can take a train ride to see the sites and experience life in remote parts of a country. Ecuador comes to mind which offers an incredible train tour of the country from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Tren Crucero luxury train experience. During my time in Ecuador, I decided to take a ride on Tren Crucero’s Colonial-style, electric-diesel and steam locomotives in order to see the side of the country most people don’t get to experience.
The train itself is beautiful and really fits the bill when it comes to luxury. It consists of two seating cars with comfortable chairs and nice tables, a dining car with gift shop and bar, two lounge cars with large windows for viewing, and an open-air car. Throughout your train ride you can enjoy fresh tropical fruits such as passion fruit and papaya, delicious prepared foods, alcoholic beverages, and coffee. The flavors and the train itself are accentuated by the beautiful country side, mountains, volcanoes, village life, and the people waving as you pass by. In fact, Tren Crucero is a source of national pride. Each time you pass through a village, people will wave enthusiastically and greet you with love and pride.
Add to this the excellent guides accompanying you on your journey across Ecuador and you have the perfect combination for luxury and adventure. The guides are extremely knowledgeable about the train itself, the areas you pass through, Ecuador’s topography and volcanoes, local people and customs, and Ecuadorian history. They can usually answer any question you have and if they can’t, they’ll find someone who will. The train staff, including the conductor, technicians, mechanics, and bar staff, are all super friendly as well. They are all for interaction and will help you with whatever you might need. The guides and the staff are one of my favorite aspects of the Tren Crucero experience. It would not have been the same trip were it not for the quality of the staff.
When it comes to views and adventures, Tren Crucero offers excellent opportunities for semi-immersive experiences. Whether you are hiking through a beautiful forest, gazing at magnificent volcanoes, learning about Ecuador’s agriculture, shopping at an indigenous marketplace, or tasting delicious wine at a winery, you are sure to never be bored and feel amazed time and time again. The excursion takes 4 days to complete and is filled with exciting moments.
All of this, comes at a fairly affordable cost of $1650US. That might seem like quite a bit of money but you have to consider what you are getting in exchange. For this price, you are getting an inclusive and immersive experience. Your meals, lodging, beverages (except alcohol on the train), guides, and passage from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean are included. You’ll travel from Quito to Guayaquil (or vice versa) over the course of 4 days and 4 nights and see parts of the world most tourists do not get to see aboard a luxury train. Traveling through the Andes Mountains, into the Cloud Forests, and finally across the Coastal Plains is quite the experience. All of this while experiencing local cultures and making memories to last a lifetime.
It’s totally worth it! If you decide to take Tren Crucero across Ecuador, here are a few things to keep in mind…
1) It’s A Luxury Train
Tren Crucero prides itself on being a luxury train offering a high-quality service not often found in Latin America. Their goal is to make you happy while showing you aspects of Ecuador often overlooked by tourists. For instance, I mentioned I would like to try an Ecuadorian drink called Colada Morada to our guide. It was just a comment but she took it upon herself to make sure we all tried this traditional beverage. if you aren’t accustomed to luxury, this is definitely the opportunity to splurge.
2) Plenty of Company
Tren Crucero limits its passenger numbers to 50 people to create a more intimate atmosphere. There are more than enough people to meet and hang out with and you should definitely put in the effort. You are likely to meet people from all over the world. But you can also take some of this time and spend it with yourself. Use it to reflect…and get to know yourself a bit more.
3) Local Experiences
Whether you’re hanging out in a market place where local indigenous people shop and sale things or standing at the base of a volcano, Tren Crucero makes many stops to offer you the most local experience possible. You’ll interact with local people, eat local foods, and experience local customs. All of this makes for some excellent photographic opportunities!
Each night, Tren Crucero puts guests up in the best hotels found in the area of your stop. One night we stayed in the Swissotel and another we stayed in a beautiful hacienda-style hotel. Your accommodations will be the highest quality with a bit of local charm.
5) Never Forget
A Tren Crucero excursion is definitely for those seeking something different than your typical tourist attractions. It’s an adventure filled with incredible experiences with a luxurious twist. You are bound to make plenty of memories during the train ride regardless of whether you are a single-traveler or traveling in a group.
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