The “Train to the Clouds” is one of South America’s most spectacular rail journeys, an engineering masterpiece which cuts a dizzying trail high into the red-rock canyons and gorges of Argentina’s north-west altiplano above the town of Salta.
Rising at times above the clouds, hence its name, the railway was designed by the US engineer Richard Maury to open up the highlands and connect Argentina with Chile. It was completed in 1932 and covers 217km of track negotiating 29 bridges, 21 tunnels and 13 viaducts to finally reach La Polvorilla at a giddy height of 4220m above sea-level.
Long in a state of disrepair, the railway has since been revitalised and now offers tourists a full day excursion from Salta to La Polvorilla along the original route. There are weekly departures between April and November, (twice weekly in July and August).
The return loop journey takes 17 hours, leaving Salta at 7am and not getting back until close to midnight. For this reason, we highly recommend that you disembark at the top and return to Salta by vehicle (approx 1 hour), making the full day trip around 10 hours.
Sadly, the classic steam engines have long since gone replaced by a diesel locomotive which pulls 10 carriages and a maximum of 640 passengers.
On-board, the train includes a dining car, audio commentary, bilingual guides and even medical assistance for passengers affected by the altitude. The train stops once en route at San Antonio de los Cobres station for a visit to the town and handicraft market.
This is a classic rail journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. For more information on timetable/services, please contact your Oasis Travel consultant.