Cusco – Machu Picchu – Cusco
The 3 1/4 hour journey takes you through a changing landscape. First there is a steep climb out of Cusco into the surrounding hillside, by means of a series of switchback turns known locally as “the zig zag”. Soon the train stops at the beautiful village of Poroy, and then descends again along some switchbacks into the Sacred Valley, passing by lush, green fields and colourful villages in the foothills of the Andes. From here on, there are wonderful vistas of the mountains and, deep in its dramatic canyon, the beautiful Urubamba River running through the Sacred Valley. For optimum views of the Andes, windows have been installed into the carriage ceilings. Also, a newly enhanced food-and-drink service, plus individual slip-down tables have been added.
There are three types of train service for the Cusco-Machu Picchu route:
Hiram Bingham Service.
This is the most luxurious and comfortable train service to Machu Picchu. Included in the trip are gourmet on-board meals accompanied with wine, entertainment, guides, afternoon tea, entrance to Machu Picchu, and bus transfers. The Hiram Bingham service departs 4 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat) in the Low Season (1st Nov-31st Mar), and 6 days a week (no departure on Tues) in the High Season (1st April – 31st Oct) departing from and returning to Poroy Station.
This service offers roomy seats and panoramic windows that allow you to see the Andes on the way to Machu Picchu. Included in this service are snacks as well as hot and cold refreshments. Entertainment will be offered on the return ride to Cusco. Frecuencies: Daily departures from San Pedro and from Ollantaytambo Stations for Vistadome Service.
This is the most basic train service available to tourists. No extra services on board. Seats have been reupholstered for added comfort. Frequencies: Daily departures from San Pedro and Ollantaytambo Stations for Backpacker Service.
Cusco – Puno – Cusco
First Class on the Andean Explorer:
This service includes luxury coaches, open-air observation bar car, and prices include three course lunch and coffee in observation car. Entertainment is offered during the trip. Frequencies: Bi-directional on Mondays / Wednesday / Saturdays.
The spectacular rail journey begins at Cusco and runs south to the historic city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Travellers are advised that this train leaves from a different station in Cusco, Wanchaq Station. Also, you should be aware that on its journey it ascends to a cooler climate. The gentle climb is breathtaking. The first half of the journey is dominated by magnificent Andean mountains, towering over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuña and alpaca are often seen. Sightseeing while on board the train is now easier than ever, thanks to the new glass-walled observation car. Excellent dining is served which includes a three-course lunch, followed by coffee served in the observation car. The journey is broken by a scenic stop at La Raya, which is also the highest point on the route. A small exhibition of local crafts has been arranged by PeruRail at this juncture.
Lima – Huancayo – Lima
The world’s one time highest railway, running from Callao and Lima to Huancayo, Peru is up again on a regular basis and will cellebrate its 100th anniversary in late 2008. (The recently constructed Pan-Himalayan line in Tibet is now higher only by a few hundred meters). The 100th anniversary trip departure is on September 24th, 2008.
Frequencies are 1 or 2 times a month, mainly on Friday for the stretch from Lima to Huancayo (one departure every month from January to March, and two from April to November. Please ask us for exact dates. The train is divided in two classes: Tourist (in fact the first class version) with dining cars and a panoramic car with bar, air conditioning, and Classic (in fact the normal tourist service), both including breakfast and lunch, oxygen and medical attention, accidents insurance.
It’s among the most notable railways of the world and is unequalled in the technical difficulties overcome (specially in the Infiernillo section, where the train enters a row of tunnels and bridges in a unique spiral to climb a narrow and very steep rock walls gorge) and the high elevation reached in its construction to climbing over the divide of the Andes from Callao to Huancayo in the department of Junín in just about 11 hours.
It’s the only railway in South America that tops the tremendous altitude of 4820m. In fact the highest point at La Cima is 4,835m above sea level. To reach this altitude, the train crosses 41 bridges, 60 tunnels and around 13 switch-backs, taking approximately 8 hours up-hill to reach the Galera tunnel. From there it descends on the opposite side of the Andes, following the Yauli River which is on the Atlantic slope, to La Oroya. Then it follows the course of the Mantaro River, crossing it to reach Tambo station, passing through the centre of the valley and beautiful towns such as Jauja, Apata, Matahuasi, Concepcion and finally, Huancayo.