Riding the Rails
This recently restored 'Tren de la Libertad' route links Ibarra with the much lower village of Salinas, which feels like a ghost town – tumbleweeds wouldn't be out of place. Only 30km, the round-trip excursion takes six hours because the train chugs along slowly and in Salinas you're given time to visit the mildly interesting salt museum and watch an Afro-Ecuadorian dance troupe performing for passengers. A handful of private security officers on motorcycles follow along the entire way to ensure the train doesn't hit any cars, trucks or slow-moving livestock – it feels like you're part of a presidential motorcade. Tren Ecuador operates out of the renovated station in Ibarra. Departures are at 11:30am Thursday through Sunday.
The line between Otavalo and Ibarra began running in 2017 (8am Friday to Sunday), with an immediate snag: winter flooding and landslides moved the operation from Otavalo to nearby San Roque.