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Tren de las Nubes, anyone?

Tren de las Nubes, anyone?

Old Aug 31, 09, 12:04 pm
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Tren de las Nubes, anyone?

Just wondering if anyone has made it up to Salta and ridden the Tren de Las Nubes?


http://www.trenalasnubes.com.ar/
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Old Aug 31, 09, 3:57 pm
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Heard some good things about it from the wife - never done it myself though. Must admit It's more expensive than I thought although probably worth it if you're into trains.
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Old Aug 31, 09, 4:50 pm
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I did this a long time ago, approx 10 years or so... and the trip is well worth it. Dont know what they have done to the service to make it expensive, it wasnt costly back then... but the scenery if you have a sunny day is amazing....
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Old Sep 16, 09, 5:14 pm
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Just check and double-check that it's really running. Part of the year they close it, I think because it's rainy season. And if money gets tight it shuts down altogether as it did for a few years until last year.
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Old Sep 18, 09, 5:57 am
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Took it last month and it was disappointing. The main thing to know is that the route is a freight line serving mining operations, not the pretty trip on a charming old train on a passenger line passing through villages we expected. I don't know if it was unusual, but the cloud belt over the mountains was very thick, meaning there was little to see for a large part of the journey. Some of the scenery was indeed impressive, but in a desolate kind of way and not exceptionally so.

The train itself - and no, I am not a trainspotter! - is bland, like a modern, suburban commuter train, with better seating. Neither does it actually go anywhere: it just goes to a viaduct, which is not the end of the line, and turns back, which seems an anticlimax after a very long journey. There are a couple of stops en route, but little to see at those apart from local people selling nick-nacks.

The Tren would have been fine for a couple of hours, but took us a whopping 17 hours! We left at 07.00 and returned to Salta at midnight. During that time, we were off the train for maybe 30 mins at most and felt very cooped-up. It is a very long day and we were thoroughly over the whole thing by 18.00 at the latest. It is uncomfortable and tedious for such a long time.

The food was OK and there is entertainment, consisting of a band, singalong and magician, which was a nice diversion. The staff was very friendly and there was a good atmosphere, although boredom certainly set in later.

In my view, this one is really for train line and civil engineering fans: it's quite an undertaking, with little for the casual tourist. Salta and its environs are great but we thought we'd have spent our time better and enjoyed it more by hiring a car and driving around on our own.

Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Just wondering if anyone has made it up to Salta and ridden the Tren de Las Nubes?


http://www.trenalasnubes.com.ar/
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Old Sep 18, 09, 10:46 am
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I do realise the line is for a mine operated in the last century, the day is long and the train just does an out and back, so the only thing going for it is the scenery.

I guess an overcast day didn't make for good scenery so I am wondering that if the day is good, whether it would have been worth it or not.

Dakota, was the train full the day you rode it? We may well decide on the spur of the moment while we are there whether to go or not.
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Old Sep 19, 09, 4:58 am
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Hi YVR -

To clarify, it wasn't overcast that day. It's just that the cloud line over the mountains was heavy, so we spent quite a while in it. It is called Tren a las Nubes (Clouds) for a reason! These things are entirely subjective, but for us, neither the scenery nor the experience justified the time spent, the very early start, the discomfort and the cabin fever.

You will not see anything outside at all for two hours or more into and out of Salta: they close all the shutters as a precaution against people throwing rocks at the passengers! That's pretty weird and frustrating.

Seriously, think of sitting on a commuter train for 17 hours, several of those with the shutters down, with two stops of roughly 15 mins each. The payback would have to be spectacular and, for us - both fans of long train journeys - it was not.

The train was very busy but there were probably a couple of seats left. You could chance it. Hope that helps.
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Old Sep 21, 09, 7:48 pm
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Thanks again. The trip sounds pretty grisly so I think we'll just spend the day driving around Salta instead. 'tis a pity that the windows are shut for 2 hours each way. I'm a bit surprised given how pleasant my visits to Argentina have been in the past.

This travel article doesn't mention any of the downsides.

Looks like we might also replicate some of the rail route. There's a link to such in the Cafayate thread.
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Old Sep 28, 09, 3:13 pm
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Many of the tour companies in Salta (there are seemingly hundreds in downtown) offer routes that partially mirror the Tren's route. We took that and were very happy with it -- lots of stops for pictures and not nearly as long of a day.
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Old Sep 28, 09, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by bizco View Post
Many of the tour companies in Salta (there are seemingly hundreds in downtown) offer routes that partially mirror the Tren's route. We took that and were very happy with it -- lots of stops for pictures and not nearly as long of a day.
We just checked out out on google maps this weekend. Yes, one car follow a lot of the route by car (which is what made the rail line obsolete).
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Old Sep 28, 09, 3:19 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
We just checked out out on google maps this weekend. Yes, one car follow a lot of the route by car (which is what made the rail line obsolete).
If you were excited about the Tren de las Nubes but discouraged by the negatives, I'd recommend going with a tour company or renting a car. Our friends rented a car and had no problems except for some bumpy roads at the beginning.
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Old Sep 28, 09, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by bizco View Post
If you were excited about the Tren de las Nubes but discouraged by the negatives, I'd recommend going with a tour company or renting a car. Our friends rented a car and had no problems except for some bumpy roads at the beginning.
We were going to rent a car for a tour around SLA anyway (covering Salta, Jujuy and Tucuman provinces). So not taking the train saves us USD 240, taxi to and from the train station (in case we didn't want to park there) and time. Now to get a good road map......
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Old Dec 9, 09, 11:30 am
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Just back. We eliminated the Tren de las Nubes partly due to Dakota's comments and also the timing. Anyway, we did our own self-driving tour which also got in the salinas grandes salt lake at well as the spectacular climb out of Purmamaca to the altiplano (will need to find a map as we left ours at Peninsula Valdes). Only thing is that the dirt roads can be treacherous after it rains (it did the day before our drive) with pockets of deep wind-blown sand as well as mud. Ruta 40 is also very sparsely travelled between salinas grandes and San Antonio de los Cobres (gave quite a few rides that day - the first being to a woman and child with a broken-down motorcycle - the husband stayed with his bike). Road signage in Argentina isn't exactly outstanding and we had a few issues trying to get through San Antonio de los Cobres to find our way to the viaducto.

We did go to the train station in Salta on our last day (the day there was a train ride) and had a look at one of the spare cars from a distance. The shutters appear to be between the window panes so I doubt they're anti-rock screens but more like something to help Argentineans sleep (given the ungodly-hour-for-latin-americans departure time) or hide the seedy part of Salta that the train would go through (which we had an unplanned drive through trying to avoid going through downtown Salta to get to the toney suburb of San Lorenzo).
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