In this blog I will tell you what I did think of Alausí, and things to do in Alausí, close to Riobamba, Ecuador. Of course you can take the famous train here in Ecuador. But more about that train in my other blog!
Alausí is really small, don’t expect a big city here 🙂 But that is the beauty of it really! Don’t stay here for too long. Two or three days is Alausí is quite alright. Despite the famous Devils Nose Train there aren’t much tourist here. I think most tourists only come one day here to take the train. But that makes it the perfect place to get in touch with the locals and experience local life. Make sure, if you have a choice, to be here on Sunday! Please read along to know why.
The Puente Negro in Alausí is one bridge that they are very proud of. Have to say… this will not be the highlight of your day 😉 But it makes a good goal for a walk around the town. When it was built in the 1903 it was quite impressive to built this kind of bridge for a train. So keep in mind the history of this spot when you visit it. It really is a symbolic point in this town of Alausí, Ecuador. Look at maps.me for ‘Puente Negro’.
If you have read any of my blogs, you know that I LOVE markets. This one in Alausí… is amazing. Why: because it is 100% local and authentic. We were literally the only tourists here. Not the only non-Alausí people though, a lot of – beautifully dressed! – indigenous people from the tiny villages in the Ecuadorian Highlands come to Alausí on Sunday to sell and buy products. The market is really all over the town! So this is a day that you can fully explore all the streets of Alausí. A lot of produce, meat (alive and dead… Guinea pigs…), clothes, bread, and everything else you think you might ever need. Just wander around and explore.
Make sure to wake up a bit early 😉 Going to the market at 10 o’clock will still be OK, but don’t expect the market to last till late in the afternoon. People in the Highlands in Ecuador tend to live quite early due to the cooler climate, they get up early and have breakfast and lunch (almuerzo) very early too (11:30). Try to adapt to this a bit, if you are looking for any lunch to be left 😉
You will definitely go to the train station when you take the train of course, but it’s also nice to explore when you are not in a hurry. Take some pictures with the trains and walk along the train tracks through the town. Also I really recommend drinking a coffee at the train station. The restaurant here is quite nice and touristy-expensive but still very much OK! Coffee is just 1 US$. They also sell craft beer here that comes from Alausí. If you like beer this is worth a try!
Next to the stunning outside Sunday market, there is also a regular Mercado Central in Alausí. This inside market has two floors and sells produce, meat and some clothing downstairs. At the second floor is the food court! This was really our go-to place for lunch and dinner. The Mercado is located at one square between the streets Chile, Villavla, Garcia Moreno and Pedro de Loza.
At the second floor of the Mercado Central you can find food! The typical almuerzo is a set menu with soup, a main dish and a juice. There are no signs with prices or dishes here, but that is because only locals come here I guess. The set menus will be around 2,50 US$ (yes they pay in US$ here 🙂). Just ask for ‘almuerzo’ and they will show you what they have. Or if you are not that picky, just say you want to have ‘almuerzo’ and sit down. You can also ask around for the llapingachos! They are available in the price of the set menu too. We really love them, this are a kind of potato patties served with meat, rice and vegetables. There are also women who sell roasted pork called ‘hornado’, this is often not sold as a set menu, but just one plate of pork with corn (not the usual but really big and tasty corn) and salad. Most women here are so kind and if they ask if you want a liiiiittle bit more juice, they will just give you a whole new glass of juice for free. So much kindness.