You leave the hotel early for the station at Riobamba. This is a real highlight of the journey, since this short section is hauled by steam power [Baldwin Consolidation N°53 2-8-0]. At Colta there's a visit to the small chapel of Balbanera, one of Ecuador's earliest.
Continue by rail to Guamote, to visit the city and the renowned indian market. After lunch at the station, board the train for Alausí. This is where, twenty years ago the line divided. Southwards, a spur carried on to Cuenca, Ecuador's third city; whilst the track to Guayaquil turned westwards and plunged into the lowlands. Only a tiny section of the Cuenca spur is scheduled for rebuilding, and so it is at Alausí that we begin the most spectacular part of the journey and, from an engineering point of view, the most ambitious section of track to be built between Quito and Guayaquil. This is the Devil's Nose (Nariz del Diablo).
The track descends 800m of a steep wall of rock by a series of switchbacks. At the bottom, beyond Sibambe station, there's a brief stop to contemplate the view of the track you have just descended.
Back on board once more to continue down the river valley. It's a spectacular route that drops from high sierra [2,347m] into Andean lowlands at Bucay [294m]. The climate, and so both natural and cultivated vegetation, changes dramatically in the 56km journey - from temperate to tropical. Here we disembark to spend the night.