Views 23 Nov Tour Argentina on the Train to the Clouds!
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations

In the remote northwest of the Republic of Argentina in the province of Salta, travelers will have the opportunity of experiencing one of the highest and most fascinating railway services in the world, one where you get to literally ride the clouds reaching altitudes of over 4200 m. (13,846 feet) during its 217 km. (135 miles) itinerary.

The ‘train to the clouds’ departs from the city of Salta, and as it picks its way through the vast Andes Mountain range at a ‘staggering’ speed of 35 km/h, the scenery will transform by the minute passing striking rock formations and mountainsides clad with enormous mineral deposits. While the snow-capped mountaintops will grow before your eyes, slowly but with a breathtaking magnificence, you will lose the sense of location and enter a domain where solitude embraces the entire horizon.

Tour Argentina on the Train to the Clouds!

The extraordinary journey lasts approximately 16 hours and passes through 21 tunnels and over 29 bridges and 13 viaducts. These colossal works of art demonstrate the amazing potentials of engineering, with various ingenious systems where the railway overpasses itself through spiral loops and zigzags to allow the train to make up for the terrain’s unevenness, while you unconsciously are pressing your nose against the window gazing at overwhelmingly beautiful panoramas.

There are two stops throughout the trip, one at San Antonio de los Cobres station, where you will be greeted by local villagers selling charming handicrafts, snacks and warm clothes, and the other one at the famous La Polvorilla viaduct, where the ‘tren a las nubes’ really earns its name to fame. No one can but be astounded to be on top of a construction with a height of 63 meters and a length of 224 meters without upper railings and resting on huge metal pillars, all while the arid winds of the alitplano run clouds under the railway bridges over the deep hollow below. 

Tour Argentina on the Train to the Clouds!

The convoy of the train to the clouds comprises of a diesel locomotive pulling 10 wagons including a bar and a restaurant. There are medical assistants onboard for those passengers suffering from the lack of oxygen caused by the altitude and bilingual guides that do a wonderful job explaining everything about the area and even provide for karaoke entertainment on the long haul back to Salta after dawn.

Departures: Weekly from March to November. In summer the service remains suspended due to the rainy season (although it is possible to make eventual trips in summer under favorable climate conditions). Feel free to contact the office of Dos Manos travel agency in Argentina for more information and to reserve a place on South America’s greatest roundtrip by rail! 

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8 Responses

  1. 1

    The pictures show an amazing landscape. I never had to chance to visit Salta as we were in a bit of hurry but next time around I really want to explore that part of Argentina…and I think I can include it on the route to Chile visiting the geysers at San Pedro de Atacam

  2. 2
    Speedy G 

    I heard that it is also possible to do a similar excursion by car? kind regards

  3. 3
    Dos Manos Travel Specialist - Argentina 

    Hello Speedy! You are right..we also offer a 4×4 expedition that follows the railroad tracks through the “Quebrada del Toro” (Bull’s Gorge) to San Antonio de los Cobres en route to the Jujuy salt lakes. More info here: This is a multiple day tour including all the well known attractions and some of the beaten track ones as well!

  4. 4
    Dos Manos Travel Specialist - Argentina 

    We also offer a daytrip in an offroad vehicle taking you through the Lerma Valley, Cuesta del Obispo, National park “Los Cordones” to the charming town of Cachi. Details of the excursion from Salta can be found here:

  5. 5
    Sleeping under the stars 

    Out of all the regions of the Andes altiplano I mostly like the Argentinean site…nature doesnt present itself in a more impressive form than in northwest Argentina!

  6. 6

    Is it possible to go end of February?

  7. 7
    Dos Manos Travel Specialist - Argentina 

    Hola Efrain. There are occasional departures in february too, however due to the rainy season they are scarse. however please call in or send us a message if you like us to look into a reservation:

  8. 8

    I Loved Salta, one of the most beautiful landscapes that I’ve ever seen. All those colours, and people’s culture there… is completely different from everything I know. I recommend you to go to Cachi, and then to Purmamarca, Tilcara, in Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy. From Salta there are lot of buses to all of the nicest places in the area. I will come back some day, for sure.

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