After countless miles of turns and switchbacks through the dramatic Southern Sierra, the town of Alausí appears. Often overlooked, this quiet village is a welcome rest stop while exploring this region.

Southern Sierra, Ecuador, South America

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Surrounded by a patchwork of cultivated hills, Alausí is composed of a colorful group of buildings, a small green plaza and and a modest church. The town is best known as the starting point of the Nariz Del Diablo (Devil’s Nose), a famous stretch of railway where trains zigzag down precipitous hillsides. A ride along this section of the railway is an exciting and photogenic experience, but is best left to travelers who aren’t afraid of heights.

A walk along Alausí’s cobblestone streets may help to calm the nerves after a hair-raising train ride. The empty streets can feel a bit eerie at first, however the predominantly native Quechua residents are warm and friendly. The town’s multicolored buildings are filled with artisanal shops, restaurants and bakeries. Exploring Alausí’s Sunday market is a fun way to get a sense for the culture of this region.

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