Tren a las Nubes
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Tren a las Nubes information
The 'Train to the Clouds,' Argentina’s most famous rail trip, heads from Salta down the Lerma Valley before ascending multicolored Quebrada del Toro, continuing past Tastil ruins and San Antonio de los Cobres, before reaching a stunning viaduct spanning a desert canyon at La Polvorilla (altitude 4220m).
It's an incredible feat of engineering but a notoriously unreliable service. The trip, way overpriced, is a touristy one (a tourist trap, in many ways) with piped music, and Spanish and English commentary. It’s a long day – leaving Salta at 7am and getting back into town (the return is by bus) at 9pm. The train stops twice, at the viaduct and at San Antonio. The return bus trip stops at the Tastil museum (no ruins visit).
The price includes mediocre snacks; there's a buffet car and dining car for fuller meals. You're not encouraged to take food on board. Medical staff are on hand for altitude sickness.
The train runs Saturdays from April to mid-December. Book tickets online, at the office or at travel agents. Look out for discount vouchers around town.
Salta tour operators run trips along the road paralleling the tracks: also a spectacular ascent. Only some include the viaduct. You could also get the bus to San Antonio de los Cobres, explore the town and get a cab to La Polvorilla from there.