Patagonia, August 1 2014

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Old Patagonian Express 'La Trochita'

 

La Trochita near Nahuel PanThis excursion leaves from the city of Esquel.

After 10 years in which the service of the train was very short, at the end of 2003 La Trochita re opened its longest itinerary, that joins Esquel and Ingeniero Jacobacci in which has been named "the social train". It also will be exploited for tourism and makes the inhabitants of the region dream of thousands of passengers and the reactivation of the poor local economy.

It didn't seem real. The old residents of El Maitén couldn't believe it when they heard the whistle of the old Baldwin locomotive, kept as Internal view of the wooden wagonsnew thanks to the few employees who stayed in charge of the Railroad inheritance all this time. They proudly say: “We never let it die. The workshops kept working, the railways were kept in conditions, we always knew that the little train was going to be reborn…”

The wagons that follow are made of wood, each one with its own wood-burning salamander to face the freezing cold of the plateau, and little windows through which the eternal Patagonic landscape stirs away.

A magical environment, that makes the traveler think that he is on a time tunnel.

Up until now it only gave a short touristic run, ending at Nahuel Pan station. Now there will be 405 kms. and over 600 turns to go from Ingeniero Jacobacci, in the Nahuel Pan stationprovince of Rio Negro, to Esquel, in the province of Chubut, traveling at an average speed of 45 kms an hour. This is for sure the most famous narrow gauge train in the world, together with the Trans Siberian and the Orient Express.

The fans of trains and their history are a lot all around the world. A proof of this is, for example, that in 2002 a group of twenty English tourists paid 12.000 dollars to rent the train for a weekend and slowly do the tour, stopping whenever they needed to take pictures. And now, since the news of the re-opening were spread , requests came from all over the world asking for reservations. These tourists are as special as the train itself: they know the history of each machine, which the original wagons are and the stories of each railway line. That is why the emotion they feel when they are in front of the old locomotives, born at the beginnings of the past century, is unequaled.

But La Trochita is also special and unique for the inhabitants of El Maitén, where the workshops are, and for each and every one of the small towns and villages through The Old Patagonian Express where the train goes, some of them not even a dot on the map: Ojo de Agua, Futa Ruin, Mamuel Choique, Cerro Mesa, Chacay Huarraca, Fitalancao, Leleque, Lepá, Nahuel Pan.

As said before, the train also has a shorter run, for tourists, where you can get off at the first stop called Nahuel Pan, with a 36 km. itinerary.

Some of the inhabitants of this village are direct descendants of the Mapuche aborigines, that are totally dedicated to cattle raising, but that sporadically organize the sale of their crafts. Annually, in March, a religious Mapuche ceremony takes place in Camaruco, at the foot of the Cerro Nahuel Pan.

The locomotive of this picturesque train is a steam engine and the track width is barely 1 meter. It is a unique experience, in spite of its short run. Among valleys and plateaus the small train travels on the winding tracks in this mystic Patagonia. (For more information see: Trains in Patagonia).

The Trochita guarantees a unique experience of contact with natural environment



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