of Chimborazo province, central Ecuador, near Chimborazo volcano, in a
high basin of the Andes. Riobamba is an important road junction on the
main railroad from Quito to Guayaquil.
From Ambato, 52km to the north, the Panamericana
climbs over a 3600m pass that affords great views of the Chimborazo
(63l0m) and Carihuairazo (5020m) volcanoes, before dropping to
Riobamba at 2750m. An even more spectacular route is the dirt road
arriving from Guaranda.
Riobamba is the main departure point for the
spectacular train ride to Sibambe and the city's proximity to
Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak, has made the city a hub of
climbing activity and an excellent place to hire climbing guides.
Agencies in town, as well as most hotels, can also arrange day trips
to refuges on Chimborazo for non climbers who wish to take in the
spectacular views from the shoulder of the peak.
Deemed the 'Sultan of the Andes' the city itself is
sedate yet handsome, built in a regular chessboard pattern with wide
avenues and imposing l8th- and l9th-century stone buildings.
It is set
on a large plain surrounded by several snowcapped peaks, which are
visible from the city on clear days. An important commercial center
for the central highlands, it's always alive with activity, and
indigenous people pour in, especially on Saturdays, to buy and sell
along the streets and in the markets. Manufactured products include
textiles, handicrafts, leather goods, beer, and dairy products.
Riobamba has theaters, various auditoriums and it's
known for its large folk dance and music groups. Associations of
artists work in different areas like visual arts, music, folk dance,
handcrafts and literature. The city is is home of two important
universities: "Universidad Nacional del Chimborazo" of liberal arts
and a university level polytechnic school ESPOCH (1969).
Nariz del Diablo train
Devil's Nose (Nariz del Diablo) is one of the most recognized and
compulsory tourist routes in Ecuador, as it mixes adventure with
Andean landscape. It begins in Riobamba and cross various small
villages, until arriving in Alausi, the last stop until the ravine,
where the train will zigzag downwards.
This route was known as the
"most difficult railway in the world" when it was built between 1860
and 1874. The ride takes you through every climate zone in the land,
starting in the cool high lands, going through the cloud forest, and
ending in the hot coastal jungle. The train remarkably descends
caboose first and mounts the cliffs by means of switchbacks with
thrilling twists and turns, offering spectacular views of Chimborazo