RAW TRAVEL KICKS OFF SEASON EIGHT WITH NEW EPISODES
– Nation’s Leading Travel Show Offers Escape for Viewers –
NEW YORK, NY: October 16th, 2020– AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that Raw Travel® is kicking off the first of 20 original brand-new episodes for an eighth consecutive season this weekend, October 17th & 18th. The first-run, syndicated T.V. series’ Season Eight will be exhibited in over 173 cities representing 95% of the USA.
Thanks to a busy shooting schedule pre-pandemic, Raw Travel will be rolling out an entire season of original, first-run content. After a 7th consecutive season of audience and distribution growth, the show has defied the broader-based television industry trends. Home-bound travel fans are craving elusive, safe travel experiences months after the pandemic first hit U.S. shores, and the travel TV genre is perhaps more popular than ever.
Kicking things off this weekend has Raw Travel host and producer Robert G. Rose embarking on a solo, urban exploration of the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta, Indonesia. Forthcoming episodes include visits to Lithuania, Ukraine, Turkey, Colombia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, the country of Georgia, andsome limited, domestic U.S. travel.
As in past seasons, the show continues with sub-themes of “Going Solo” and “Buddy Road Trips,” as well as more traditional, authentic travel. “Voluntourism” (giving back) and “Ecotourism,” as well as authentic cultural experiences, will also continue to be the show’s recurring, over-arching themes.
“While our goal is to inspire viewers to travel, I am in hopes that we can offer a bit of escape and hope until travelers can safely again visit the neighbors,” says Producer Robert G. Rose. “The travel industry has been hit especially hard by this epidemic. People are suffering. But I also believe this is an opportunity to re-set and address problems such as over-tourism and environmental sustainability issues so that the industry can come back smarter. We want to be at the forefront of that effort,” Rose added.
The show currently airs each weekend in the USA on over 200 broadcast affiliates such as WNYW Fox 5 & WWOR My9 in New York, KCBS 2 & KCAL 9 in Los Angeles, WFLD Fox 32 & WPWR 50 in Chicago, etc., with multiple airings each week in most major markets.
In addition to domestic growth, Raw Travel continues to expand its international footprint on various outlets worldwide. Raw Travel is also exhibited on several In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) offerings on airlines such as American, Delta, Air Canada, Virgin America, and more.
WATCH RAW TRAVEL SEASON-ONE ON-DEMAND & HELP FEED HUNGRY IN COLOMBIA & GUATEMALA
As tough as the economic toll of this pandemic has been on the USA, it’s been devastatingly worse in many developing countries where the poorest of the poor live day-to-day. These folks, who struggle mightily in the best of times, have been unable to work to garner their daily meals due to lockdown restrictions.
The governments of these countries do not have much if any, social net to speak of. Only private individuals, companies, or NGOs are able to help and they are now struggling as well. The United Nations has issued dire warnings of hunger of biblical proportions is something isn’t done. So what can we do?
We can each do something big or small (a little goes a long way in developing countries) to help trusted and vetted partners address their communities’ hunger.
If you remember my pal Andres Ocampo from Medellin Colombia (Los Suziox lead singer, Raw Travel theme song composer & El Sub music venue owner) from Raw Travel Episode 706 – “Going Solo: Medellin Rocks”? Andres has turned lemons into lemon aid (pun intended). His venue, El Sub is unable to host any events or concerts during the lockdown, so Andres has turned the space into a repository for donated food & toiletry items for the poorest of the poor in El Castilla and surrounding working-class and poor neighborhoods in Medellin, Colombia.
People who are unable to feed themselves let their needs be known by placing a red flag outside of their home. As you can see by the photos and videos, there are lots of donated items, but there are lots of red flags outside of homes as well.
GUATEMALA: Our old friends at the orphanage of Casa Guatemala are doing something similar in rural Guatemala, collecting funds for their neighbors who are locked in and unable to work and thus feed themselves. Casa Guatemala is a much-respected resource in their rural area of Guatemala near Belize, and they understand that their neighbors are suffering.
We didn’t want to simply call attention, we wanted to come up with a way that our affiliates, vendors, advertisers, and viewers could help, either big or small.
Between now and May 15th, 2020, donate $50 or more to either Casa Guatemala HERE:
or for El Sub’s Relief for Medellin, Colombia HERE: and we will donate the money directly to the organization.
Then simply send us an email of your donation receipt to RawTravel@aimtvgroup.com and we’ll forward you a pass for a free rental pass for Raw Travel – Season 1 good for all 19x episodes of Season One HERE
If $50 is too much to ask for this vulnerable time, we have smaller increments and rewards:
2) Between $6 and $49 donation will get you access to all three of Season One’s Colombia and Guatemala themed episodes:
Or if you prefer to rent any individual Colombia themed (#105 & #105) and/or Guatemala themed (#116) episodes between now and May 15th, the $1.99 entire rental will be donated and split between both organizations.
I know these are tough times, so we are trying to do our best to give you an avenue to help in a small or big way depending on your situation and hopefully at the same time help you remain entertained while at home.
But please if you are suffering economically yourself, do not donate. But if you are like me, feeling blessed at having a fairly secure job and outlook economically I thought this could be a good way to help.
As always, thank you all. God bless and stay safe… and sane. I know, I know… easier said than done.
* Please note this offer to view episodes is limited to viewers in the US only. Sorry Canada and others, it’s a territorial rights issue. But please do feel free to donate if you so desire and still send me an email and we’ll work out a way for you to be rewarded as well.
UPDATE MAY 17th, 2020 : Thanks to the following contributors who helped Casa Guatemala raise several thousand dollars and our pals at Justice for Andres in Colombia raise hundreds of dollars to help feed their neighbors in during the Covid 19 crisis. Special thanks to:
Stacey Pryor – Casa Guatemala
Laura-Lee Gosa.- Casa Guatemala
Rosalba Gordon – Colombia
Judy Smith – Colombia
Heather Pauli – Colombia
Brian Eubanks – Colombia
Lauren Wheat – Colombia
While our fundraiser is no longer active, if you do wish to donate, please feel free to do so at the links above and we will make sure the money gets to the right place as hunger, as you know, doesn’t take a holiday!
The life changing possibility of travel is by far my favorite thing about my favorite activity. The way travel flips things on their head or side, or more accurately I suppose, how it flips me, the traveler and changes my perspective… forever. My brain expands to proportions from which I’m sure it will never return. Travel, I firmly believe, prevents brain (and heart) shrinkage.
Until this most recent trip to the Western Frontier of the United States (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming & South Dakota), I was convinced that in order to create that atmosphere where mind and body are stimulated to a point of dramatic change, a potent dose of culture shock was in order, the kind I most often get from entering another sovereign territory’s borders.
I figured one had to dust off (or obtain) that little blue book (for Americans), the passport, and immerse one’s self into a totally foreign environment for maximum shock value. This gets the brain waves to flow in different directions than the day to day routine conditions which often dictate our lives.
While I still believe that international travel is by far the best, quickest and most rewarding way to get quick use of that other 90% of our brain that is just sitting there waiting to be tapped – you know that part that helps us realize we’re all connected – I must now, ever so slightly, amend my thinking.
Yes, a trip within the U.S. has changed my thinking on the very subject of travel and change. Not the last bit of irony this trip would uncover.
I’ll be the first to say that I had mixed feelings about taking this particular trip within the borders of my own country, to areas some of which, I’d even briefly visited before (albeit for extremely short visits and all solely dedicated to “business”).
But almost immediately upon arrival to New Mexico, I felt a familiar and welcoming feeling creep upon me. Upon the drive to visit the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuaryin a very rural, remote and beautiful part of New Mexico the realization hit me that this particular trip was going to trigger some of those very reactions in my brain, heart and soul that I regularly receive when abroad. There were amazing things to see right here in this country, beginning with rescued wild life. Wolves are amazing creatures it turns out and you put 70 or so together, howling in unison… it’s an amazing experience.
Producing is not my first love, but it is my greatest love. I love to produce and am able to produce largely because I’ve been able to do the other things associated with business (distribution, marketing, sales, etc.) to such a degree that I can, for the most part, call my own shots, and produce how I see fit. It is a rare advantage of being an independent producer in an increasingly non independent world.
Since I call my own shots, I had chosen this area of the U.S. Western Frontier as our next big trip for a few basic reasons.
1) I felt Raw Travel needed to broaden it’s message to folks who may, for whatever reason, be unable to embark on international journeys.
2) This was an area of the U.S. I was least familiar and I was curious.
3) I was charmed by the landscapes, recent history (the 1800’s are still very much celebrated here) and not so recent history (fossils & dinosaur digs abound) and by the people who live there
4) The still potent Native American culture & influence which has intrigued me since a child.
5) Let’s face it traveling in the U.S., theoretically at least, is easier. Less prep is needed and no language barriers.
Little did I know that this experience would have so many similarities to our international experiences in developing countries (i.e. working, adequate wi-fi was virtually non existent in a surprising number of brand name hotels we stayed in, my cell signal was at zero bars more often than not in the mountainous terrain and while most people spoke English of course, there were legitimately a few who still spoke their native dialect on the Indian reservations).
In short, I was in heaven…we would get our mind blown after all. This trip could be a mind bending, life altering adventure like all the rest. A couple of quick examples… ableit in the more negative column.
Just minutes after our first test flight (and crash) of our drone in Colorado, a very large and very live field rat was discovered in the glove box of our rental car. This somewhat cuddly (but scary when driving down the interstate at 70 MPH) creature had somehow made it’s way into our vehicle unbeknownst to my companion, cameraman & co-producer on this trip, Renzo. Renzo reached in said glove box to grab the rental agreement and instead let out a scream that would have made an 11 year old girl very proud. In all fairness, I joined in perfect, shrill harmony.
Then in Lander, Wyoming we unwittingly rented an animal excrement filled hotel room and promptly checked out just after checking in.
Also in Lander, a small charming town with a relaxed vibe, I couldn’t help but notice the proliferation of guns holstered on so many hips. Evidently a shoot out at the local burger joint could happen at any time. Come to think of it, the food orders were extremely accurate.
Ironically, the last time I saw such a blatant display of “freedom” was in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
But these examples are somewhat anomalies.
The kind of mind & heart expanding experiences I’m really talking about were more tame but just as powerfully etched in my brain. The interactions with everyday Americans in the height of vacation season was a wonderful opportunity to get to know locals and travelers from all over the U.S. in a totally different light.
Whether it was the family on vacation from Dallas taking their first hot air balloon ride (mine too) with Rainbow Ryders high above the town and terrain of Albuquerque, New Mexico…
or the Philadelphia businessman on vacation with his wife and young kids at the legendary (some say haunted but I say lovely) Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming…
or the young adventure seekers in Utah and Colorado who came to pursue adventure sports like Base Jumping (jumping off a clip in a wing suit), paragliding, rock climbing, etc. and seemed hell bent on seeing if they could get a pansy, not-so-well-known travel host to throw up…
or the Wyoming rancher who, instead of throwing us off his land, pulled over in his big pick up to tell us where we could get an even more picturesque “picture” for our cameras.
No, I couldn’t help but happily notice that Americans ARE indeed a very friendly bunch.
Sure, you can easily find a cranky, grumpy person anywhere, usually quiet easily. But you have to look extra hard in places like Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota.. to find one single impatient, non hospitable jerk.
With or without the cameras, people were cooperative, easy going and amazingly friendly and laid back.
In fact in Salt Lake City even the dreaded airport security personnel were super friendly.
Whatever is going on at the TSC in SLC I say bring on more of that to JFK please.
But I digress.
It wasn’t just the people that impressed. The landscapes of each of these incredible states simply stunned me on an almost minute by minute basis. I mean, I expected to get blown away (and even melt) in the high desert of Moab, Utah. The photos just don’t do the place justice. It’s surreal.
But I didn’t expect to try and look for ugliness in Colorado and be unable to find it. Every curve or corner turned into an “oh wow” moment it seemed.
BTW, Boulder…yep, I think I’m in love with you. It’s like the whole town is one big Whole Foods supermarket. In addition to eating healthy, organic, local, etc. Boulder folks can Kayak or Fly Fish right in the middle of town and they bike.. EVERYWHERE.
Colorado, unlike say Wyoming, has loads of people but they are ALL, it seems, outside all the time.
I discovered a side of Denver I never knew existed and despite the ruckus about legalizing marijuana, I saw very little evidence that this place is obsessed with this nearly as much as the national news media. I know it’s not as sexy, but if you ask me, Colorado’s mountain towns and mountain music are what people are high on. Marijuana, as I was to learn, is just a natural plant that’s been grown for centuries in North America and used legally for most of that time, for everything from clothing to medicine.
But the most mind blowing part of the entire journey was in South Dakota. No, not Mt. Rushmore (we didn’t even visit) but the Oglala Lakota Sioux Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge South Dakota where we ended our journey and spent, ironically enough, the July 4th Independence Day Holiday by celebrating with the 1st Americans at a local pow wow.
If you don’t know about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation I invite you to simply google it. As we followed the trail first blazed by journalist Diane Sawyer, we too found all the sad facts… poorest county in the United States…. rife with substance abuse…some of the most prevalent rates of teen (and even more tragically pre-teen) suicide rates in the U.S., etc. ,etc. Online folks will go on and on about how this area is a third world country within the U.S. borders, and they wouldn’t be exaggerating that much. It is poor and there are problems that are fairly well documented.
But what you will also find and what is much less documented (and we therefore plan to showcase), are the many positive things happening on the reservation.
Organizations like Re-Memberand Native American musicians like Sequoia Crosswhite & Scatter Their Own are working hard to turn the messaging about this place around. They are grabbing control of their shared destiny and helping others help themselves.
Other positive things like Thunder Valley sustainable housing, the Skate Board Park recently constructed and for me at least, most excitingly, the travel and tourism industry is beginning to grab hold and help offer valuable income opportunities for many.
Key to this and most importantly (and not surprisingly) to me, Pine Ridge has some of the nicest, humblest, soulful people I’ve met on this earth. They are rightly proud of their heritage, culture and spirituality that I think we as a nation need much more of.
I firmly believe that the right kind of sustainable, respectful tourism can help the folks at Pine Ridge turn over a century of tragedy and heartache into something positive economically while allowing and encouraging them to continue their proud heritage.
We conversed at length with proud descendants of famous leaders such as Red Cloud, Dull Knife and Black Elk and I found the reservation to be as fascinating as any international destinations I’ve ever visited.
I’ll admit, I have a thing, a good thing, for the indigenous peoples of the world and in particular Native American culture here in North & South America. They touch my heart and soul in a way that few other people do.
I’m very excited by what I hope you are going to see on Raw Travel – Season 3 this fall. I firmly believe it will be the Western Frontier as never or rarely experienced on television before. But I’m most excited about our time with the Native American peoples, especially at Pine Ridge and the opportunity to do some good.
I hope with our special episode profiling this wonderful place, that we can make real progress in some small way helping these proud and friendly people grasp the opportunity before them and that we can, in some minor way, help young people create a more optimistic outlook for themselves.
Yes, it’s official. I love Americans all over again…all of them… including the very first ones.
That’s a surprising gift and it’s one worth remembering.
“RAW TRAVEL” SEASON TWO PREMIERES WITH BIG GROWTH SPURT
– Successful Debut Season Leads to Big Growth & Proves Popular Among Variety of Viewers –
NEW YORK, NY: October 1st, 2014 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that the syndicated television series Raw Travel® will debut its 2nd season this weekend in over 113 cities representing 85% of the U.S. and almost 100 million homes signifying a big growth spurt for the series.
Thanks to a successful debut season that saw the show quickly become one of the most watched authentic travel & lifestyle shows on commercial television, the series added an additional 40 markets to its affiliate list including Washington DC (CW), Cleveland (NBC), San Diego (CW), Dayton (CBS), Baltimore (Fox), Richmond (ABC), and Honolulu (My) among several others.
In addition to over 50% growth in the number of cities served, the show received station and time period upgrades in a variety of markets such as Houston (NBC), Philadelphia (My), Tulsa (Fox), Knoxville (NBC) and more, giving viewers more access to Raw Travel than ever before. Viewers can visit www.RawTravel.tv/wheretowatch for a complete listing of cities, affiliates and time slots.
One of the keys to Raw Travel’s growth was the show’s demonstrated ability to reach traditional broadcast audiences while simultaneously attracting new, young and hard to reach viewers like the sought after 18 to 34 year old demographic and millennials, a rare feat in broadcast television.
Raw Travel’s upcoming fall episodes will showcase authentic and alternative sides of popular destinations such as such as Krakow, Poland; Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary and Brooklyn, NYC. The show will also continue its specialty of shining the spotlight on less traveled, more “raw” and off-the-beaten-path destinations like Slovakia, Serbia, Romania & Bulgaria. While filming Executive Producer & Host, Robert G. Rose, and crew traveled like typical budget travelers, and continued their theme that travel is not just for the wealthy or famous, travel is for everyone.
“Raw Travel’s touchstones of respectful and authentic travel combined with adventure sports, underground music, social responsibility and environmental sustainability really connected with viewers, especially young people, many of whom seem to share my personal and idealistic view of the world. We’re helping shred the myth that young viewers won’t tune in to broadcast programming.” Rose says. “I couldn’t be more humbled and inspired from the reaction of passionate viewers of all ages. Besides, my mom says Raw Travel is ‘awesome’, so there you go.” Rose continues.
Raw Travel’s Season Two spring episodes will also feature treks to burgeoning travel locations in Southeast Asia and North American destinations such as Utah, Louisiana Cajun Country and more.
Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the rapidly growing wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of ecotourism, voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a way unique to U.S. television. More information can be found at www.RawTravel.tv and viewers can visit www.RawTravelTrailer.com for a short video preview of the upcoming episodes from the fall episodes.
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ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP
AIM TV is an independent content, production and distribution company founded by media executive and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. AIM TV aspires to produce and distribute positive, compelling content that reflects its mission of presenting Media That Matters. Visit www.AIMTVGroup.com and www.RawTravel.tv for more information.
– Successful 1st Season Leads to Big Growth Spurt for Syndication’s Only Authentic Travel Show
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 2nd, 2014 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that their latest production “Raw Travel®” is cleared for a 2nd season of syndication this fall. The show’s 2nd season will debut via broadcast stations in over 100 markets nationwide, representing over 90 million homes and over 80% of the U.S. homes this coming October.
In addition to several mid-season additions in Season 1, Raw Travel added 30 new markets for its record setting 2nd Season, including Cleveland (NBC), San Diego (CW), Richmond (ABC), Baltimore (My), Grand Rapids (Fox), Memphis (ABC/CW), New Orleans (ABC), Little Rock (Fox / CW), Albany (CBS/CW), to name a few. Additionally, Raw Travel upgraded stations and time periods in key markets including Top 10 markets Philadelphia (My) & Houston (NBC). The additional markets represent a growth spurt of over 40% from the series’ debut last fall.
Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism, volun-tourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a way unique to television.
The show’s first (and current) season saw Raw Travel pulling audience increases in major demographics in key markets across the country. Particularly impressive was the show’s wide appeal in both male & female demographics and its ability to attract younger viewers to broadcast TV while maintaining and often growing older demographic lead-ins. Raw Travel also ranked #1 or #2 in key time-slots in several markets consistently.
“Our hunch was this show would work simply because it’s very different than what viewers can get on either cable or broadcast but it blew away our expectations. With 113 million U.S. passports in circulation and growing, travel has ceased to be a niche. It’s mainstream, wildly popular and growing, plus its way under-served,” says Executive Producer and Host, Robert G. Rose. “I think Raw Travel proves that good, unique 1st run, weekend programming can help broadcasters salvage sagging weekend numbers and give them a point of differentiation, especially as viewers continue to cut cable’s chord.” Rose continues.
For Raw Travel’s second season, the show has spread its wings and begun production in parts of Eastern Europe and North America with plans to travel to Southeast Asia and to return to Latin America, which proved popular with viewers in Season 1. The show’s “authentic” theme, along with the message that “almost anyone can afford this type of travel,” stands out from the usual high end, luxury “fantasy travel” or the glut of gimmicky, “reality” formats showcased on cable or primetime television.
AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP ANNOUNCES “RAW TRAVEL” TV SERIES
– Indie Producer Announces a New Kind of Travel Series for Curious Travelers –
– AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV), the company that pioneered syndicated English language TV programming for U.S. born American Latinos, announced today their latest production “Raw Travel®”, a new kind of travel series showcasing the rapidly growing wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel.
The series incorporates eco-tourism, voluntourism (giving back) and adventure sports, with underground music and culture in a way, that is unique to television. The inspiration for the series occurred when AIM TV Founder Robert G. Rose was traveling abroad and discovered a trend among a growing number of socially conscious travelers who were striving for more authentic and rewarding experiences.
Rose collaborated on the project with his long-time production partner, Renzo Devia. The award winning duo rekindled their creative relationship and enlisted the help of other trusted associates from their many years in production to create four (4) complete, one hour episodes. The crew traveled to off the beaten path destinations which offered unique opportunities for authentic cultural, environmentally sustainable and socially aware travel experiences.
True to the title, the program illustrates the raw and, sometimes unglamorous, frustrating reality of independent travel while simultaneously showcasing how this type of travel is not only more affordable, but can spur the kind of growth and fulfillment that rewards and changes lives forever.
“Travel is the most powerful experience I know. It takes you through a wide range of emotions ranging from often irrational fear to almost always incredible fulfillment. We hope to demystify the concept of socially aware travel and, in the process, encourage people to get their passports and go meet the neighbors,” states Rose, Executive Producer and Host of the series. “Travel can spur empathy, deeper cultural understanding and personal spiritual growth. These are experiences that I believe everyone can and should have,” Rose continues.
The episodes currently produced include treks to Colombia, Argentina & Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago and Ecuador with additional episodes slated to begin production once distribution is secured. An 8 minute video trailer can be viewed at the show’s website www.RawTravel.tv along with more information on the show, links to the blog www.RawTravelBlog.com and more.
AIM TV will be attending the upcoming NATPE convention as well as Real Screen summit to screen the series for interested networks & media outlets.
ABOUT THE AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP
AIM TV is an independent content production and distribution company founded by media executive and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. AIM TV aspires to produce and distribute positive, compelling content that reflects their mission of presenting Media That Matters. Visit www.AIMTVGroup.com for more information.
After a stopover for lunch in Riobamba, we arrived in the small town of Alausí, about 4 hours by bus from Baños. The bus ride from Riobamba to Alausí was made much more entertaining when I made friends with Lupe, a little 4 year old Ecuadorian girl who was fascinated by my camera. I never saw her parents but she said her father was a few rows back.
I am still amazed by the independence little children in Ecuador seem to have. I can’t tell you how many times I saw young kids, sometimes as young as 4 or 5 walking by themselves by the side of a busy highway. Contrast that with the U.S. where I swear I’ve seen kids the same age being pushed in strollers in Manhattan!
I didn’t complain when Lupe came up to share the ride with me. She was cute as a button and I taught her a few basic English words before she eventually got bored with me and my camera and she went over to our producer’s (Renzo) side of the bus, where she promptly fell asleep. She was still sleeping when we got off at Alausí, so I slipped a piece of candy in her little folded arms so that she’d have a sweet surprise when she woke up. I’m such a big old softy when it comes to kids, especially cute little Ecuadorian kids. Simply the cutest.
Alausí has a big indigenous influence and despite having the famous “Nariz del Diablo” or “Devil’s Nose Train” station it didn’t seem to have a lot of tourist infrastructure to speak of.
That being said, the people were friendly and the food at the local Chifa (Chinese restaurant) across the street from our hotel was good. You can get a good sense of Alausí in about 2 hours walking around town and if the altitude isn’t kicking your butt too bad, a great view of the city can be had from the lookout with the large San Pedro monument which towers over the town.
We woke up early to take the 1st Devil’s Nose Train which was scheduled to depart at 8AM and arrive back in town at 10:30AM. Since we didn’t have tickets (the ticket office was closed when we arrived the day before) , we had to wake up really early to buy our tickets at 7AM at the ticket office. Buying tickets was by far the worst part of the train trip, it took 45 minutes and we were the 2nd group of people in line. Maybe there “system was down”, but it killed any chance of us getting breakfast (and me, my much needed coffee fix) beforehand.
The Devil’s Nose Train is probably one of the most famous and infamous tourist sites in Ecuador. If you research on the web or guidebooks before you go, you’ll get an amazing amount of outdated, misinformation. This stems from the fact that the train used to depart from Riobamba for a much more grueling all day train ride and not that long ago, tourists could ride on top of the cars. Of course, this is dangerous and eventually someone died so that no longer is allowed. A round trip train ride from Alausí is only 2.5 hours and that includes a 50 minute stop in the town of Sibambe for lunch.
As of this writing, the train currently runs from Alausí 3 times a day (8A, 11A, 1PM) Tuesday-Sundays and the cost is $20 U.S. per adult. You can buy tickets at the ticket office in Alausí or at the old train station in Riobamba before you get there. Evidently weekends and holidays are pretty packed so you’re advised to get your tickets as early as possible.
You’ll also get mixed reviews about the train ride itself, some saying it’s a tourist trap and that the views are just as great by bus. Not so. The train ride overlooks cliffs and valleys in a way no bus ever could (or that you would want) and because the speed is slower (and the ride smoother) it’s much easier to get video or photos and appreciate the beautiful surrounding landscape.
The train was built in 1901 and many people died building it and when you take the ride you understand why. The terrain is precarious. I can’t imagine the amount of manpower needed to build around the mountains at that time. At times the train is so close to the side of a mountain that if you stick your hand outside the train car, you’ll lose it.
There are two types of train cars. Buses that are retrofitted to ride on train tracks and the kind we thankfully took, which are refurbished train cars from back in the heyday of the route when it was used for transportation and not just a diversion for tourists.
When we arrived in Sibambe we were welcomed with folkloric dancers and surprise, surprise you could buy souvenirs from the local artisans. We also toured the museum and had a light lunch before we headed back.
The train ride is not that adrenaline pumping excitement you’ll get in Baños from some of the adventure sports and I admit I was disappointed we couldn’t ride on the roof, but the views are stunning nonetheless and it’s really a good way to feel like what travel was like in these parts not that long ago. If you have the time and are in the area, I wholeheartedly recommend the ride.
We hopped on a bus to Cuenca (another 4 hours) and realized when we arrived that we had left our tripod (valued at $250 U.S.) on the train. Getting it back proved to be an adventure but Marcos the manager of the Train was so cool and eager to help us out. We wired him some fare money to put it on a bus to Cuenca and we got it back the next day. Big gracias to Jose Luis (our guide who found the tripod and turned it in) and Marcos for their help.
Below is a small video clip to give you some idea of what the train ride was like.