Day 12: Nariz del Diabolo Train Ride and Ingapirca Inka Ruins
Today we were leaving Riobamba very early and had to get up at 4:30 already. Reason behind was that we had to catch our special train leaving Alausi to Nariz del Diabolo (“the devil’s nose”) – a special track of the Ecuadorian railway connecting Guayaquil and Quito right in the middle of the Andeans. The mountain sadly received its name due to the guest workers that died during the heavy construction carving a zig zag track into the rock allowing the train to pass the immense height differences.
The ride through the valley is quite evening though was certainly much more thrilling in “the old days” when it was possible to sit in the roof of the train wagons. This was unfortunately stopped 7 years ago so the whole thing of riding 45 min down, taking an hours brake at the station Sibambe (with a small museum and some rural dancing) and riding 30 minutes back felt a little bit pimped up for tourists and could form my perspective have been skipped.
Interesting though was what we learned about the economical importance of the railway. I the old days the 450km long way between Guayaquil and Quito took minimum 3 weeks. It’s had prevented almost all inner trade. As the railway is the steepest slope operated without gears the Ecuadorian president Moreno was actually declared mentally sick when he began the project that was finalized by his successor. As no local company was educated in such special building a U.S. company was engaged due to their experience gained in the Wild West. The construction finalized with completion of the part between a Alausi and Sibambe in 1908.
Our journey continued with a three hours ride to Ingapica – Ecuador’s most important Inka site. Although the specific purpose of the town is still uncertain, there is clear proof that the Inka emperor has been residing at this place for some time. Also you can whiteness the perfectionism of building houses without any cement due to the rocks formed seamlessly – same precision as at Ingapirca’s sun temple is only found in Cusco in Peru…