Warning to Visitors

Some of the information below may be out of date as a result of changing timetables and services. Please double check the accuracy of all information before travelling.

The booking forms should be up to date however, so if tickets for a particular service are available, then the service should be operational.

Salta - La Polvorilla (Tren a las Nubes / Train to the Clouds)

Rail

The Journey

One of the most spectacular train journeys in South America is the 'Train to the Clouds' in Argentina. Starting low in Salta, at an altitude of 1187m above sea level, the 217km journey rises to a maximum height of 4200m above sea level.

The route includes a huge number of spirals, switchbacks and zig zags owing to the height difference along the route. By including these design elements, the route avoids the need for cogs or other measures for steep slopes.

On-board, the train offers meals and translator services, as well as a doctor on-hand to deal with any altitude related illnesses. The return trip lasts around 16 hours, although passengers can choose to leave the train at San Antonio de los Cobres on the return journey in order to take in some of the other sites in the vicinity, such as the salt flats (a taxi ride away). Some passengers recommend getting off in order to avoid the journey down, as it can become a bit tiring.

The train fare includes breakfast and an afternoon snack, and a full bar and restaurant service is available. The food is average and expensive. You may wish to buy food in Salta before boarding the train (although strictly speaking this isn't permitted), or pay for dinner on-board the train in the evening (expensive). 


Tren a las Nubes

The Tren a las Nubes (Tren de las Nubes), which translates to Train to/of the Clouds is an Argentinian train service which connects the country with the Chilean border. 

During operation, the service crosses 29 bridges, travels through 21 tunnels, over 13 viaducts, goes around 2 spirals and 2 zigzags. 

There is only one class of accommodation on-board the service. All seats are comfortable, although the on-board entertainment can limit the opportunities for passengers to doze off! 

Passengers are advised to sit on the left hand side of the train when they board in Salta. At the summit, the train reverses, so you will get the same view on both the outbound and return journeys, but the left hand side is generally the better view.

Small luggage racks are available above the seats, but space is otherwise limited, so try not to bring too much with you.

Food & Drink

The operator asks passengers not to bring food or dink on-board, but most passengers (particularly the Argentinians) tend to bring picnics with them. Various reports suggest that the food available on-board is not particularly good. Neverthless, for most passengers it is included within the ticket price. Breakast consists of coffee and sweet croissants. Lunch is a hot meal, generally rice and meat, with a pudding. The on-board bar sells a range of drinks, including Mate de Coca, said to help altitude sickness. A restaurant carriage also provides more substantial meal choices, but these are expensive (75 Argentinian Pesos)

Entertainment

Tour guides are provided on the service, providing information primarily in Argentinain and English, although German printed guides are also available. 

Timetable

There is only one return service per day, twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday). On the day of departure, passengers should arrive at Salta station by 06.15am.

Passengers get 20mins at the summit of the route to stretch their legs, take photos etc.

Station Station 
Salta07.05La Polvorilla15.30
El Alisal09.09San Antonio de los Cobres16.52
Chorrillos09.43Chorrillos21.21
Mina Concordia15.00El Alisal21.56
La Polvorilla15.10Salta23.48

The train does not run during the rainy season (January - February), and only starts operating from the end of March. The final service operates duirng the first weeks of december. During the months of operation, the service generally runs between one and two times a week (generlly on Fridays). During July, service frequency increases to between three and five services per week.

The schedule for 2012 can be found here.

Price

There aren't many special offers or discounts offered on this route. If you happen to live in Salta, you are entitled to a 57% discount. Children under the age of 13 get a discount, and those aged two and under travel for free (as long as they don't need their own seat).

Booking the train can be done online directly through the provider, or at the train station in Salta. Travel agents in Salta are often unable to book the service directly, and may try to persuade you not to take the journey (don't listen to them!). 

If you need help with the online booking form, follow these instructions.

All fares are for the full return journey.

SeasonFare
Tourist Rate - AdultUS$185 / €147
Tourist Rate - Child (4-13)US$138 / €110

Prices in US Dollars may be subject to currency fluctuations.

To book tickets, please visit the operators website.

Tips, Questions & Comments