Tren a las Nubes
The “Tren a las Nubes” is one of the world’s most amazing train journeys. The train travels for 217 km from Salta in northwestern Argentina to “Polvorilla Viaduct”, often reaching clouds at 4,200 m (13,846 ft.) above sea level. The train’s name refers to the clouds that often cover the bases of high bridges, which are visible as the train climbs breathtaking mountain slopes and crosses turbulent rivers.
It is one of three railroads that cross the high Andes in this region. From Salta, the railroad crosses the Lerma valley and enters the Quebrada del Toro to reach the Puna region, the arid, high plateau shared by Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The railroad used to run from Polvorilla Viaduct to Antofagasta on Chile’s Pacific Coast, but the train journey now ends near the Chilean border.
The project’s architect, U.S. engineer Richard Maury, chose to shun the use of mechanical assistance to help the train overcome the large differences in altitude. There are no cogwheels, even on the steepest parts. The “Tren a las Nubes” is a pure adhesion railway that features a large number of spectacular spiral tunnels, zigzags, viaducts, and other rail windings. The breathtaking scenery and the railroad’s engineering marvels makes this journey unique.
The departure point at Salta is 1,187 m above sea level. Polvorilla Viaduct, at 4220 m, is the highlight of the trip.
The train leaves from Salta at 7.05 a.m. and reaches Polvorilla Viaduct at 4 p,m., and returns to Salta at 9 p.m. The train has a capacity of 468 single-class passengers and runs at a maximum of 35 km/h. We recommend that you take a one-way train to Polvorilla Viaduct and return by bus from San Andres de Cobres to Salta.