Train To The Clouds in Salta Review – Adventure of A Lifetime!
The train to the clouds or Tren a Las Nubes as the locals call it is one of those things to do in Argentina that is a great one to say you have done it and you been on one of the world’s highest railways in the process.
Starting from the town of Salta, the lowest elevation on the route, the train climbs to over 4200 meters above sea level by the time it reaches the halfway point and takes the trip back home. The trip itself is a round-trip 217 km odyssey that travels over the Corolillera de los Andes allowing for sweeping views and beautiful though varied scenery. The train to the clouds has long been one of the Argentina tourist attractions that people from all over the world want to participate in. Although you don’t actually ‘do’ anything, you are witness to so much through the windows of the train, from towering cacti to picturesque villages as you ascend along the track.
The train to the clouds only travels at a leisurely pace of 35 km/hr. and the trip takes 15 hours, give or take. The track itself is specifically built with a variety of bridges, tunnels, spirals and zigzags, to keep the train on the track, using a train that was engineered without the use of a cogwheel. Usually when going this high by train, the railway would be funicular, like those that grace the mountains of Switzerland, but not here.
The train to the clouds is one of the three largest railways in the world. Construction started on it in 1921 and was finished in 1932, however it took until the late 1970’s before it was used as a tourist attraction. Today it is included in several Argentina travel packages and, if you can handle the high altitudes along the way it is a trip of a lifetime. Some of the bridges the train goes over in the course of the trip are so high that clouds form under them, making for incredible photos of some incredible natural beauty along the way.
Meals and medical attention are offered right on board, or you can bring your own food for the trip. Medical attention is sometimes needed for those suffering from altitude sickness where the treatment is oxygen therapy. The train to the clouds makes two stops, one at San Antonio de los Cobres station and the other at the halfway point of La Polvorilla Viaduct. Many townspeople are around to chat and sell their homemade wares which make for poignant reminders of your trip.
The train makes its trips on Thursdays and Sundays with the ‘all aboard’ call going out at 7am. April-November are the only months the train is in service, once the rainy season has ended, making the trip more memorable for all. As your train leaves the Salta station, close to many Salta hotels it makes that early morning departure time all the more doable!