Tren Ecuador rail vacation

“Watch the Ecuadorian landscape unfold from a luxury train between the Andes and Pacific, hopping off for hacienda stays, hikes and market visits.”

Highlights

Quito | Otavalo | steam train excursion | ride the Tren Crucero | Urbina and Riobamba | meet the last ice merchant | Colta | Guamote indigenous market | Devil’s Nose pass | Bucay | Guayaquil

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Tren Ecuador rail vacation

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

At the company location in the UK there are fifteen staff members. Of these, four work from home (no commuting), one who cycles twenty miles a day to & from work, and another cycles ten miles a day (in summer). The new office that was recently built is very energy efficient. It is well-insulated, the roof is shaded by trees which helps with the building not overheating during the summer months and therefore air-conditioning is not a daily requirement, and it has lots of natural light to reduce electric light usage whenever possible.

The company is located on a former farm and the directors grow fruit and vegetables which are shared with the team (apples, pears, blackcurrants, broad beans, lettuce, mint, courgettes, squashes etc!), so we keep our own footprint low. In addition, there are other members of staff that have home grown products that are available to their team members. As a company, we look to buy energy-efficient computers, and believe in recycling, so the latest computers bought have been both energy efficient and re-conditioned.

As part of our commitment to the environment we have a programme to plant trees in Tanzania, Malawi, Peru etc. through the company’s foundation. This was set up to help alleviate poverty, conserve endangered wildlife, and protect earth’s environmental diversity for the benefit of us all. All the projects have a link with tourism in some way, and many benefit the wider world as well as local people, through conserving areas of natural beauty. We don’t just look overseas when considering the environment, even at the office the team planted tress in the fields surrounding the buildings to celebrate the company’s 21st birthday in 2019.

As a company we think about our partners overseas carefully. Whereas it is not always possible for them, due to their locations in remote areas, the company ethos is to use properties around the globe that have a similar ethical stance to ourselves. If they can use local suppliers for their provisions, be it food or furnishings then they do, and all offer a variety of menus including vegetarian and vegan/plant-based options. Our partners support the use of solar/renewable energies, and many are looking at ways of switching their current supplies to more eco-friendly options in order to be more efficient. The use of solar, water and air are options in use or being explored, as well as grey water run offs. Energy efficient appliances and practices, card operated in room lighting, low energy bulbs, and a change in laundry practices, are all in operation, and show just a few of the initiatives used. Our partners also use local staff within their properties. Many live on-site in seasonal properties for example reducing the travel emissions of the company, many come from the local villages and communities surrounding the properties. This includes everyone from house keeping to management and the guides that are from the locale.

Due to the nature of the vacations provided by the company, it is impossible to eliminate all flights but where possible we use the minimum flight hours an itinerary can operate with. The packages we have on offer include rail portions in some areas, which keep emissions low, many walking options and shared transportation.

Environment

Tren Ecuador has, in fact, turned luxury train travel on its head, the usual model being to cocoon the rail travelers in a well oiled, well fed comfort zone as they make their way across dramatic landscapes giving no more than a wave to local communities, or sticking their heads out of the window from time to time to take a photo.

Taking the train is a comparatively low carbon and low impact way to explore a country, the slow way.

With Tren Ecuador, a state enterprise with an inspirational inclusive vision, you still have a beautiful cocoon, with elegant carriages and superb service but, in addition, you spend the night at high end haciendas, eat at superb local restaurants, snack at one of 23 locally run station cafes, visit one of 14 artisan squares and take part in myriad cultural and natural activities.

Get off the train and go hiking in the rainforest with a local guide? You got it. Take a few hours to explore a local Quichua community, Tren Ecuador has just the ticket.

For every person that travels with the company, it plants trees through The Travel Forest initiative. Depending on where they plant and the requirement of the specific area, they plant either indigenous trees or a mix of indigenous and non-native species. Planting non-native seedlings may seem counter-intuitive but doing this can often help any remaining indigenous forest from being cut down (e.g. for fuel) as some non-native trees grow much more quickly than indigenous types. They particularly aim to save ancient or older indigenous forest, through offering an alternative option for fuel requirements of local communities. In addition to this benefit, their Travel Forest initiative helps with such things as planting for water-course retention, soil erosion, shade and even food – all depending on what is planted and where. They have planted almost 100,000 trees to date in various degraded locations including the Andean mountains in Peru, northern Tanzania and Malawi. This has always been done in conjunction with the local communities who plant and then tend the seedlings. Trees are far more important to the health of this planet (and us) than many people imagine. This global Travel Forest initiative can and does make a big difference.

Community

In fact, the decision to turn this cocoon inside out, and spill out the benefits to everyone means that Tren Ecuador's luxury trips now sustain 5,000 livelihoods for people living in remote rural communities along the tracks.

Together with the license-holders of our 23 station-cafes, 14 artisanal squares, 13 local museums, 2 lodges, 9 folklore and historical recreation groups and several community-based tourism operations, Tren Ecuador’s big family of workers and strategic allies allows tourists to experience first- hand the rich natural and cultural heritage of Ecuador while creating value for local communities.

You will get off the train each day to eat and sleep, and do some exploring meeting musicians and painters, and woodcarvers as you go as well as sampling fresh local produce from plantations producing rice, sugar cane, pineapples, bananas ... and chocolate
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As well as that, all the associated enterprises are fully licensed and receive technical support, training and contracts based on fair-trade principles as suppliers. Because there is no such thing as tunnel vision in Ecuador. They prefer to see the light at the end of the tunnel instead, a vision that is keeping all of us, visitors, train lovers and local people, very happy.

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