Belmond Andean Explorer | Peru Luxury Travel
Expedition & Adventure, Honeymoon, Plan South America | Argentina Brazil Peru | 21.04.24

A Second Golden Age of Train Travel in South America

The romance of rail travel can still be rekindled in certain corners of South America.

Thanks to preservation societies and governments dedicated to the maintenance of vintage railcars, travellers to South America can still enjoy the glory days of train travel – a time epitomised by elegant carriages, sumptuously decorated roomettes and martinis in the dining cart.

Those embarking on an adventure to South America with a little more time should consider trading airports for the romance and relaxed rhythms of the railroad.

Opportunities for train travel in the region include luxurious overnight journeys, as well as day-long excursions. Here are a few of our favourites to pique your curiosity.

Peru

The Belmond Andean Explorer

Leading the pack of luxury train travel expeditions in South America is Peru’s Belmond Andean Explorer a 35-cabin sleeper train that carries passengers through the wonders of the Peruvian altiplano on magnificent two and three-day journeys between Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and Arequipa. The Andean Explorer is unrivalled in the region for its elegance, service, and old-world glamour. Expect roomy suites adorned with local textiles, a grand piano and first rate guides.

The Belmond Hiram Bingham

For a shorter but no less impressive train journey through Peru, hop aboard the Belmond Hiram Bingham. This train carries passengers between Cusco and Machu Picchu, invoking a similar ambience as the Andean Explorer with its timeless appeal and refined lounge cars. En route, visit the cocktail bar for a pisco sour, while gazing at the enchanting landscapes of the Sacred Valley. Live music aboard sets the scene to transport passengers into the ancient realm of the Incan Empire. Expect as similar mix of wonder and entertainment on your 3-4 hour journey back to Cusco after exploring the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu.

Argentine Patagonia

Old Patagonian Express & Tren Patagonico

The Tren Patagonico is a comfortable light rail train that covers the Northern Patagonian province of Rio Negro, from the Atlantic shores of Viedma to the rugged cordillera of San Carlos de Bariloche. Part of your railway journey through this region may include a stretch aboard the famed “Old Patagonian Express” (also known as “La Trochita”). This classic steam engine locomotive has traversed Patagonian horizons for nearly 100 years, maintaining the original character of its wood-paneled interiors and the nostalgia of 20th Century train travel. Argentine snacks such as choripanes (sausage sandwiches) and alfajores are served aboard as you view the beauty of Patagonia’s national parks.

Tren del Fin Del Mundo

Aptly named the Tren del Fin Del Mundo, or “Train of the End of the World,” this steam engine locomotive in Ushuaia is the southernmost functioning railway on the planet. Today, the train offers a relaxing way for passengers to experience the magnificence of Tierra del Fuego National Park, meandering through the pristine Pico Valley and climbing to staggering panoramic view points. First class passengers can keep cosy with a bowl of warm cazuela and a glass or two of champagne.

Northern Argentina

Tren a Las Nubes

Climbing to a dizzying 4,220 metres above sea level, Salta’s Tren a Las Nubes lives up to its name, taking passengers straight “to the clouds” since its first service in 1972. This day-long train excursion is an emblematic attraction for those visiting Salta and its surrounding regions, and for those wishing to experience the thrill of boarding one of the highest train routes in the world. From San Antonio de los Cobres, passengers travel into the Andes mountains to flirt with the Chilean border, passing over bridges and under several tunnels, through deep gorges and passed remote villages. We recommend riding the train on the way up and returning by car for a change in perspective.

Brazil

Serra Verde Express

One of the greatest and lesser-known ways to experience Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest is by boarding the Serra Verde Express: a luxury train that takes passengers on an impressive day-long journey between the historic cities of Curitaba and Moretes. Just outside the train’s polished wooden interiors adorned with tiny chandeliers is a boundless green biome, thick with diverse flora and tropical mountain views. Passengers glide by waterfalls, over rivers, and around verdant precipices, all home to hundreds of different plant and animal species. The option to pair a glass of wine with an aperitivo aboard this elegant carriage, whose origins date to the late 1800s, captures the essence of train travel’s gilded age.

 

Those intrigued by the railway or simply wishing to take the scenic route should consider indulging in the old-world charm of train travel. Get in touch with our travel designers to talk about weaving one or more of these unforgettable railway adventures into your South American itinerary.

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