Riobamba

Travel Guide South America Ecuador Riobamba

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Introduction

Riobamba is the capital of Chimborazo Province in central Ecuador in the Andean highlands. It is the third largest city in Ecuador and is known locally as the "Sultan of the Andes". Riobamba sits in a valley surrounded by several large hills and snowcapped mountains. It's perhaps best known as the former starting point of the train ride to Nariz del Diablo, which now leaves from Alausi.

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Sights and Activities

On a clear day don't miss the view of the surrounding mountains. The best views in the city are from Parque 21 de Abril, close to the train station.

  • Hike Chimborazo. Riobamba is the nearest city to Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain at just about 6,263 metres. The mountain's peak is Earth's further point from its center, kilometers farther than the Everest's. This is because the Earth is not a perfect sphere but an oblate spheroid, i.e. it is a little bit "thicker" near the equator. To climb to the top of Chimborazo you will need a guide and equipment. There are several tourist agencies in Riobamba where you can get both of these services for a price of about $180 per person for a group of two or more. Climbing solo with a guide will cost closer to $250. Climbs leave at about 01:0/ in order to summit at sunrise and make the descent by late morning. A round trip should take about 9-10 hr. Even if you're not a mountain climber or on a budget, you can still visit Chimborazo: buy a ticket from Riobamba's bus station to Guaranda (1 hour, $2.5, every 30 minutes). Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the Chimborazo entrance (free but you need to register) at 4,300 metres. Then either hike till the first refuge (3 hours if you follow the road, 1:30 hr if you go straight) at 4,800 metres or share a taxi ($15). From there you can hike to the second refuge (Whymper at 5000 metres,) and finally to the (very) small lake at 5,100 metres. You are not allowed to go further without a guide. There are very good chances to see vicuñas (same family as the llamas - nicknamed the "Andes damsels") between the entrance and the first refuge, so it can be a good idea to go back by foot).
  • Tours in Chiva Express Train to Devil's Nose. Metropolitan Touring's Chiva Express is a typical, old-fashioned Latin American bus, with plenty of room on the roof for bags of grain, bananas and the odd chicken. In Quito, these buses have taken on a new lease of life as party vehicles with adapted, high-sided roofs. The Chiva idea had been adapted to the historic train ride from Quito to Guayaquil. Passengers will enjoy an exclusive and unique trip through the Andean countryside and the coastal lowlands visiting the Devil's Nose track on board of Chiva Express.
  • Riobamba is close to Sangay National Park, which contains several mountains and volcanoes including Tungurahua, Sangay and El Altar.

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Weather

Like many cities in Ecuador, Riobamba has a near constant temperature year-round, with a wet and dry season. Its altitude and closeness to Chimborazo give the city a cool climate year-round, with temperatures averaging between 23 °C and 14 °C.

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Getting There

By Train

There are no regular scheduled passenger to Riobamba, however Tren Ecuador runs excursion trains from Quito and Guayaquil. The Naríz del Diablo train no longer runs from Riobamba. The railway station Estación Riobamba is centrally located at Av Daniel León Borja.

By Bus

There are connections to most major destinations in Ecuador, including Quito (3 hours), Guayaquil (4 hours) and Banos (1½ hours).

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Getting Around

A bus costs 25 cents. Taxis are plentiful; most trips within town should be $1.50.

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Eat

Riobamba does not lack for restaurants. No matter what your tastes, check out Calle 10 de Agosto/Calle Daniel Leon Borja (Riobamba's main avenue) for all your dining needs. Lunch costs around $2-5, and dinner is normally from $3-6.

  • Cake at the Cafeteria Londres on Garcí a Moreno between 10 de Agosto and Primera Constituyente.
  • El VIP - A great restaurant-bar on Pichincha street between 10 de Agosto and Primera Constituyente (open Monday-Saturday 12:00-15:00 & 17:00-24:00). Nice music, some books, free WiFi, and some nights there is Karaoke or live music. This is where the hip and beautiful hang out. There are several house cocktails - Sex on the Montañas is a must. Also good food ranging between $1.50-4, Chicken in Chapiñones dressing recommended. A very recommended dessert is Creppes de nutella y guineo.
  • D’Baggio (Miguel A León y 10 de Agosto) Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in Ecuador knows how delicious the pizza is. Even better than the United States. D’Baggios is one of the best places around to get pizza. Being small restaurant, its attempt to look like a quaint Italian eatery may not be spot on, but its endearing. The pizzas are completely homemade in an area in the front of the restaurant. As you sit and wait for you meal you can watch the chef flipping the dough in the air, and whipping pizzas in and out of the wood oven. The delicious pizzas, all made with fresh ingredients, will run you between $2.60 and $5. The restaurant also has a selection of pastas.
  • San Valentin, a pizza place on 10 de Agosto, is a local gringo hotspot and a good place to grab some pizza or fries and chat with other travelers. Prices are fairly standard, $4-5 for a dinner.
  • La Andalucia, at Uruguay and Calle 10 de Agosto, is a sandwich place that sells great ham and makes tasty lunches and dinners. Prices are about $4 for a sandwich and Coke. Try the Andalucia.
  • Pollo Ejecutivo, located on Calle Daniel Leon Borja across from Parque Guayaquil, is the best of the myriad fried chicken places in town. It's greasy, crispy, and delicious. Meals cost from $2-$3.

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Drink

La 10 de Agosto is the teens favorite spot to relax and de-stress from the week's work. Parties start around sundown and go from El Parque Infantil all the way to El Estación del Tren. And if you're lucky to be around Las Fiestas del Abril, or Riobamba's independence day week, they hold a lot of activities and parades all that week just to celebrate another year of freedom.

Drinking in Rio (as the natives call Riobamba) isn't so hard to do. There are many places where you can go and enjoy a good drink. There is the bar El Tentadero and for the younger generation, Las Pipas. Both are across Plaza de Toros on 10 de Agosto.

  • Urban Gourmet, Loja y 12 de Octubre. If you are looking from a break from the usual bar and reggaeton, you might want to check out this place though it's a bit of a walk (through safe neigborhoods) from the center. The place attracts an international crowd and quite a few travellers have contributed to the interior design of the place. Beer $2, snacks $3.

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Sleep

  • Hotel Metro, Av. León Borja y Lavalle, 03-961-714. Next to the train station. Basic rooms have a tiny private bathroom. The shower takes ages to warm up, if at all. Rooms at the front are noisy, especially in weekends. Price: $5 per person.
  • Hotel Imperial, Rocafuerte 22-15 (corner of 10 de Agosto), ☎ +593 3 2960 429. One of the cheapest decent hotels in town. Most rooms are shared bathrooms, balconies and large windows. $5.
  • Hostal Rincon de Castilla, Av. Leon Borja y Pasaje El Espectador. This hostel has different sizes of rooms depending on the number of guests. Hot water. Cable TV. Across the street from the train station. Mirelia (an older woman who works there from 12p-7p)is gringo friendly and willing to help any tourist find their way through the city. $5/night.
  • Hotel Tren Dorado, Carabobo 22-35 (half a block from the train station), ☎ +593 3 2964890. Modern hotel with a variety of different rooms. Most of cable TV. Good hot water. Nice beds. Wi-Fi. On-site veggie-optional restaurant offers early breakfasts for those catching the train. $12/night.
  • Hotel Boutique San Pedro de Riobamba, Av. Daniel León Borja 29-50 (Across the street from the railway station), ☎ +593 3-294-0586. Small boutique hotel located in an renovated 19th century house, includes a very nice courtyard with restaurant.
  • Hotel Glamour, 1ra Constituyente 37-85 y Brasil (near the bus terminal), ☎ +593 3 2944406, +593 3 2944407. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. More than 40 bedrooms, a restaurant, lobby and conference hall, internet, free breakfast, cable tv, bilingual front desk, online booking, hot water. Somewhat rundown and loud. From $15.
  • Hotel el Zesus sometimes hosts celebrities and athletes. On 10 de Agosto after the bus terminal and before el Parque Infantil. Rooms start from $40 a night.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free wifi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Ecuador is 593. The general emergency number is 911, but there are special ones of police (101) and fire (102).

The centre of most towns, cities and villages have telephone 'shops', advertised in the street as 'cabinas'. Go in, ask for a free phone booth and call. There is usually a digital display giving the cost (per second) of your call, whether local, national or international. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin.

Some mobile phone SIM cards of various networks have problems working in Ecuador - you can purchase a local network SIM (for an unlocked phone) for a few dollars in local mobile phone shops. The costs of calling are higher though at around $0.45 an hour.

Post

Correos del Ecuador is the national postal service of Ecuador. It's fairly reliable to send postcards and letters to other countries, though count on at least 5 days up to weeks for it to arrive. In general, postal services to North America are much faster than to other western countries. Prices start at around $1 (up to 20 grams), but rise steeply after that. You can get stamps at post offices or small shops/kiosks. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays, although there are slight variations throughout the country. If you are going to send heavier post or post which has more value, it might be better to contact private courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, which are generally about the same price and much faster!

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Accommodation in Riobamba

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This is version 9. Last edited at 7:55 on Feb 20, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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