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Train Quito Machachi

May 2, 2014 Ecuador Train, Travel to Ecuador No Comments

Machachi Festivo 1

Train Route: Machachi Festivo

The Machachi Festivo train is one of the mew mini-routes offered by Tren Ecuador, Ecuador’s new, revamped rail system. The route runs from Quito to the town of Machachi and back. The trip is 40 kilometers long, and if you do the whole-day trip, it will take you about eight hours. This day trip is a popular one with people from Quito, for the obvious reason that it begins and ends at the city’s renovated Chimbacalle station.

A Trip through the Heartland

avenida volcanes

The train route from Quito to Machachi takes you through the rolling hills of Ecuador’s heartland. As the train chugs around each bend, the visitor is greeted with a series of pastoral scenes that have not changed since the track was first laid a hundred years ago. Local children wave excitedly at the train as it goes by and cows and pigs look up in puzzlement at the steel dragon rumbling past. Fields of grain and potatoes stretch out acre after acre. In the distance, the rocky peaks of the mighty Andes dominate the horizon. The Quito-Machachi route does not have the hair-raising switchbacks of the Devil’s Nose or the hand-carved tunnels of the Liberty Train, but it does pass through some of the most lovely, peaceful scenery to be found in western South America.

Tren Crucero 2013

A Traditional Route

Quito and Guayaquil were linked by rail in 1906, when the final rails were laid and President Eloy Alfaro’s vision was fulfilled. Machachi and Tambillo were two stops along the long rail line linking the two cities. Ecuador’s rail system thrived in the middle of the twentieth century, but by the 1990’s, good roads had been built and most cargo and passengers traveled by bus or truck. The rail system swiftly deteriorated and entire sections of track were abandoned. The Quito-Machachi-Boliche route, however, was one of the few that remained open. This was probably due to the fact that the route was very popular with foreign tourists, who were allowed to ride on the top of the train as it made its way near the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano.

Tren Crucero 2013

Renovation and Restoration

In 2008, the decision was made to renovate Ecuador’s rail system and link Quito and Guayaquil once more. Although the Quito-Machachi-El Boliche route had remained open, the tracks, train cars, engines and stations were in deplorable state. This section of train was restored and repaired just like other sections had been. The stations at Chimbacalle, Tambillo and Machachi were fixed up and modernized. Although visitors aren’t allowed to ride on the top of the trains any more, the improved safety, cleanliness and overall quality of the trip more than compensate.

Trip Details

machachi festivo

The Festive Machachi train chugs out of the Chimbacalle station at 8:15 a.m. every Thursday through Sunday (and occasional holidays as well). It reaches the Tambillo station not long after, where it stops briefly. It gets into Machachi around ten o’clock. Visitors to Machachi are greeted by friendly, brightly clothed dancers who perform the “Chagra Dance” and the “Hat Dance,” two local traditions. If you’ve taken the “Festive Machachi” train, you’ll get off here and you’ll need to kill a couple of hours in the town of Machachi until the train comes back through: there are a couple of restaurant/hotels nearby who will be happy to make you a fine lunch. Others will re-board the train and continue to the El Boliche station near Cotopaxi, where the train waits a while before turning around and returning to Quito.


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