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"Tren de las Nubes": A Breathtaking Journey Above the Clouds in Argentina

"Tren a las Nubes" is a captivating experience for anyone seeking adventure and breathtaking scenery. So, if you find yourself in Argentina, don't miss the chance to embark on this unforgettable train journey and truly reach for the clouds.

May 7, 2024

Soaring through the rugged peaks of the Andes Mountains, "Tren de las Nubes" (The Train to the Clouds) offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for travelers. This iconic Argentinian train boasts the highest altitude railway in the world, taking passengers on a breathtaking journey through the Puna de Atacama, a vast high-altitude plateau.

A Dream Realized: The History of "Tren de las Nubes"

The brainchild of Argentine president Hipólito Irigoyen, El Tren a las Nubes was conceived in the late 19th century.  President Irigoyen envisioned a railway connecting Salta, Argentina with Antofagasta, Chile, fostering trade and integration between the two nations.  Construction began in 1905, led by the renowned engineer Richard Maury.  However, due to challenging terrain and political disputes, the project wasn't completed until 1949. While the original goal of connecting Argentina and Chile wasn't achieved,  "Tren de las Nubes" became a renowned tourist attraction, showcasing the raw beauty of the Andes.

Reaching for the Sky: Engineering Marvels and Breathtaking Views

"Tren a las Nubes" departs from the city of Salta, nestled in Argentina's northwest. The 482-kilometer journey takes passengers on a spectacular ascent, climbing a staggering 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) above sea level.  This remarkable feat wouldn't be possible without the ingenuity of the engineers. The railway features 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts (elevated sections of track), 2 spirals (looping sections to gain altitude) and 2 zigzags (switchbacks that navigate steep inclines).

Fun Facts and Unforgettable Moments

Traveling at a leisurely pace of 35 kilometers per hour (22 mph), El Tren a las Nubes allows passengers to fully soak in the breathtaking panorama.  As the train ascends, the landscape transforms from lush valleys to a stark, yet majestic, high-altitude desert.  Passengers may even spot vicuñas, graceful camelids native to the Andes, grazing on the sparse vegetation.

A major highlight of the journey is reaching the Polvorilla Viaduct, standing at a staggering 4,220 meters (13,845 feet) above sea level. Here, the train stops for passengers to disembark and marvel at the panoramic vistas. Stepping off the train can be a surreal experience, with the clouds seemingly within reach.

Beyond the Scenery: A Cultural Experience

El Tren a las Nubes isn't just about the breathtaking scenery.  The journey offers a glimpse into the rich culture of the region.  Passengers can enjoy traditional music and dance performances, and even sample regional delicacies on board.  Several stops along the way allow you to explore local villages and experience the warm hospitality of the Andean people.


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