Published on June 14th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
All Aboard! 4 Great Train Rides in South America
This month, Belmond announced the launch of what it calls South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer in Peru. But that’s far from the only option for travelers looking to explore South America by rail.
I still wish I could travel back in time to the days when you could board any of countless overnight trains around the Americas on exciting vacations that you could imagine taking place in a movie. But not all is lost. Here are some of the top choices for your next South America vacation (and you can also check out my roundup of three great train trips in Mexico and Central America).
Belmond Andean Explorer
Launching in 2017, this new train will travel along one of the highest rail routes in the world, along the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa. Four different itineraries will be available, including “Peruvian Highlands,” a two-night trip departing from Cusco that will include visits to remote villages and floating islands in Peru. The train accommodates 68 guests with two double cabins, 20 twin cabins and 12 bunkbed cabins. Prices start at $462 per person for the one-night “Spirit of the Andes” trip, including meals, an open bar and guided tours. Belmont also operates the Hiram Bingham, a luxury rail service to Machu Picchu.
PERU TRAVEL TIPS: 15 Things To Do in Barranco, the Hippest Hood in Lima
This Peru train company offers a variety of levels of service to Machu Picchu, from Premium Economy, which provides scenic-yet-economical rail service from the town of Ollantaytambo, to Presidential Class, a chartered service that provides an entire carriage just for you and your friends for a trip to Machu Picchu, complete with a welcome bottle of champagne, open bar and tasting menu.
If you’re a rail fan looking to explore Ecuador‘s striking terrain on your next vacation, this is the way to go. A combination of modern, electric-diesel and restored antique steam locomotives pulling two Colonial and Republican-style passenger cars carrying 50 passengers, the Tren Crucero runs between Quito and Guayaquil. The train has a staff of guides and bartenders, with some meals served on board. A three-night Quito-Guayaquil run costs $1,450 per person, including a ride along the legendary Devil’s Nose pass.
DON’T MISS: 3 Amazingly Scenic Train Trips in Mexico and South America
There are lots of interesting things to do in Bogota, Colombia, and one of the most interesting involves leaving town for a while. Long ago, the rail line between Bogotá and Zipaquirá served the workers of the salt mines. It still serves the mines, but today it’s really a tourist venture, allowing for scenic and easy weekend day trips aboard a 19th-century steam train for people interested in visiting a cute little town and also exploring the otherworldly Catedral de Sal, the Salt Cathedral.