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Meeting the last ice merchant: a magical train experience to the Chimborazo

Visiting the Chimborazo by Train | Start Living Ecuador

The rehabilitated railway in Ecuador, gives travelers a chance to visit touristic sites on board of one of its magical trains. Train Trips

The rehabilitated railway in Ecuador, gives travelers a chance to visit touristic sites on board of one of its magical trains. Along one of the existing routes, you can meet the last ice merchant at the foothills of the Chimborazo volcano, the closest place to the sun if measured from the center of the Earth.

“Tren Ecuador”, the railway public enterprise in Ecuador, operates with heritage tourist trains and offers a unique way to discover Ecuador. Although the train started its construction back in 1873 from the coast and reached Quito in 1905, it was in April 2008 that the rehabilitation activities began along the Ecuadorian Railway.

Along its current 500 kilometers of railroad tracks, you can take advantage of a one-day trip expedition to one of the main touristic sites Ecuador has to offer. However, if you feel like one day is too short, you can take the “Tren Crucero”. This train offers an impressive ride on a first-class train from Quito to Guayaquil in a 4-day all-inclusive trip. The Tren Crucero has been recognized as one of the top 10 touristic trains in the world and has been recognized multiple times for its excellence in the quality of its service.

 Visit the Tren del Hielo

There are approximately eleven 1-day train trip adventures to choose from; however, one that we want to tell you about is the “Tren del Hielo” (The Ice Train). The Tren del Hielo offers two route options; you can start your journey either from Riobamba (Trip I – starting from the south) or from Ambato (Trip II – starting from the north) and head your way up the paramo to the Urbina Train Station located over 3600 meters above sea level, on the foothills of the Chimborazo volcano. Here, Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of the Chimborazo and custodian of this ancient craft, will be waiting for you as well as the comfortable facilities and local delicacies the community has to offer. Besides, at the Urbina station you can enjoy “helado de paila” (ice cream made in a copper paila) while listening to Baltazar’s magical adventures.

At the Urbina Station, Baltazar will tell you about his journey when visiting the Taita (father) Chimborazo at least once a week by himself, regardless of the weather, rain, snow or shine, just to collect some of the ice. For over 50 years Baltazar has harvested the glacial ice of Mount Chimborazo. His brothers, parents and other community members raised as ice merchants, retired a long time ago from this occupation. He will then continue on describing how he brings the blocks of ice wrapped with hay on top of mules, all the way to the city market, now used for juices and ice creams.

You can take a look at a video made about the last ice merchant of the Chimborazo in the following link. And don’t forget there are other train tours you can discover, departing from different cities along the country. Give yourself the opportunity to visit Ecuador, a country full of surprises (culture, gastronomy, landscapes, and more) no matter where you go.


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Here in Start Living you will find all kind of information you need for traveling around Ecuador. We invite you to visit and discover this wonderful country and live ...

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