The train to the clouds is one of the highest tourist trains in the world. Are you going to miss it?
Travel on the Train to the clouds, Salta
Until not so long ago, the Train to the Clouds began in the city of Salta. It was a tour that lasted about 16 hours because the train moved slowly and there were very few stops.
Currently, the tour can be reached through the route that involves a bus that departs from Salta and a train from San Antonio de los Cobres.
On the bus you go with a guide who gives you the explanations of the places you are visiting and what you are seeing. For example, it made us pay attention and let us see how the landscape changes as it gains height.
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At first it looks like vashatic landscape; very green and leafy. As it rises, the vegetation begins to change and you see the first cactus or “cardones”( traditional name for this type of cactus in Argentina). And when you pass the three thousand and a half meters these begin to disappear too. It’s quite curious how nature tells you more or less what height you are.
To reach the train station of San Antonio de los Cobres we made a few stops. First we visited the old steam locomotive, where we saw some attractions such as Campo Quijano and Gobernador Solá. When we arrived in Alfarcito we had breakfast at about mid-morning.
It is a small village that lives off of tourism, especially from the Train to the Clouds as well as other people who travel for free and who approach this community. Here you can find local products made by the surrounding communities. There is a school that has 154 students and is very oriented to tourism. It is a very nice place where the hospitality of the people is amazing.
If you go on your own you are at 82.5km from the national route 51. Don’t forget to stop by this town so that we can all help the local communities. If you want to share the life of the hill, there is a community tourism venture here that you may be interested in, it is called Thuru Yacu.
San Antonio de los Cobres
After this visit we got back on track to go to San Antonio de los Cobres. A very picturesque village from where the famous train departs to the Viaduct of Polvorilla.
The route now runs through “La Quebrada de las Cuevas”.
When we arrived at San Antonio de los Cobres, the bus took us directly to the train station. There, we waited until we checked in and we got into our wagons, each of us with our assigned seats.
Once the train starts, we set out on our way to the Polvorilla viaduct; one of the greatest engineering works of the last century in Argentina. During the journey we can enjoy its stunning landscapes, the bar car, and a good drink. The good thing is that you can open the windows and take pictures of anything you want!
On the train there will also be a guide who will tell you about the history of the train, the villages we pass through, the flora and fauna of the region and the height at which you are.
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Here are some facts: the train is named after a movie that was shot in the ’60s before it became a tourist train. Its highest point is 4200 meters above sea level, so it is good to be used to the height, drink coca tea and, in case, bring pills for the stinging or altitude sickness.
Once you get to the Polvorilla Viaduct you’re going to want to take your head out the window and take pictures like a madman. The good thing is that if you are touched by the side where you can not see the curve, the train makes the route twice so that all the passengers can peek and take the photos. The guide told us at what time to move! I thought it was a detail!
After we got off the train, we were attended by a lot of artisans and vendors who offered us a wide variety of local products at a very good price, such as typical sweaters, shawls, souvenirs, hats, etc. We were left there for half an hour and then we got back on the train and headed for San Antonio de los Cobres again and there we ate lunch about three o’clock in the afternoon or so.
After taking a walk through the village, we returned to the bus to head to the city of Salta. On the way we made the last stop of the tour in Santa Rosa del Tastil; a village that is very important in this area due to the great influence that the Inca trail called Qhapaq ñan, has on it (it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO).
It is also the administrative center of the Quebrada del Toro and you can buy handicrafts and local products before arriving in Salta.
After this stop, most took a nap on the bus!
We arrived in Salta at about 8 in the afternoon, from there we went straight to the hotel and had dinner.
If you travel by your own in your car or in a rental one, there is also the option to do the train-only tour. What you have to do is get to San Antonio de los Cobres and you’re done. This ticket can be purchased online or at the train station, although I recommend buying it in advance, especially if you are traveling in high season.
Prepare Your Trip to Argentina
- How to Prevent Altitude Sickness
- Best Travel Insurance for your trips
- Itinerary 1 week in Salta province
- What to see in 2 day in the city of Salta
- 1-Day in Cafayate and its wines
- 4 days road trip to “Valles Calchaquíes”
Have you traveled on the Train to the Clouds? Can you tell me about your experience?
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