Earth : South America : Ecuador : Andean Highlands (Ecuador) : Riobamba
Riobamba is a city in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. It's the starting point of the train ride to Nariz del Diablo. Most tourists flock in the evening before the train departure. | image=Chimborazo, Riobamba
Riobamba is the terminus for the most famous train route in Ecuador, and that is run almost exclusively as a tourist attraction. It is part of the former Quito-Guayaquil railway that is gradually being restored. The passengers used to ride on the roof of the train from Riobamba to the Nariz del Diablo (Devil's nose). However, this is now prohibited due to recent deaths but is still allowed on special tourist trains. The scenery along the way is amazing; the best views are supposed to be at the right side. Some people have complained of the soot from the engine and so perhaps the best carriage to be on is the one in the middle, as the engine is moved from the front to the rear for the return journey. As the passengers are almost entirely tourists, expect children begging for candies along the track, and correspondingly a candyseller on the train.
The train will make a stop in Guamote and Alausi before heading down the switchbacks to Sibambe. There will be a small break to take some photos before heading back to Alausi and Riobamba. Most people choose to get off at Alausi and take a bus to Cuenca or back to Riobamba. The price is $11 for a ride from Riobamba down the Devil's nose and back to Alausi and $3.50 more to go all the way back to Riobamba.
The train departs Riobamba at 6:30-7:00 a.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tickets go on sale on the day prior to departure and the ticket office hours are "usually" between 3 and 6 p.m. (Read: This is not 100% reliable). Tickets are quickly sold out, so be there early, preferably when the office opens. A safer way to ensure a ticket is to book through a travel agency in Quito, or book in advance two or three days in advance. If tickets are sold out in Riobamba, it's possible some may still be available in Alausi.
Ecuatorian Railways has a website: http://www.efe.gov.ec/
A bus costs 25 cents. Taxis are plentiful; most trips within town should be $1.
On a clear day don't miss the view of the surrounding mountains. The best views in the city are from parque 21 de abril, close to the train station.
Riobamba is the nearest city to Chimborazo_(volcano). Even if you're not a mountain climber, it could still be worth a visit: take a coach to the Whymper Lodge, stretch your legs, and boast that you've been further from the Earth's centre than the summit of Everest.
On Saturdays there is a small artesan market. It seems to be mainly aimed at locals rather than tourists, and is certainly more authentic than Otavalo. Between Pinchincha street and España you can find the best boutiques for people of any age. Or if you like malls, check out El Mall Del Centro locate on Leon Borjaand la circumbalacion by La Plaza de Toros
Riobamba does not lack for restaurants. If you like pizza, or fried chicken or whatever it is, check out la 10 de agosto (Riobamba's main avenue) for all your tasty needs. Lunch starts at $1.Cake at the Cafeteria Londres on Garcí a Moreno between 10 de Agosto and Primera Constituyente.
Drinking in Rio. (As the natives call Riobamba) isn't so hard to do. There are many places where you can go and enjoy a good drink. There is the bar "El Tentadero" and for the younger generation, "Las Pipas" Both are located across La Plaza de Toros on la 10 de Agosto.