Peru Train Travel
Peru has a very limited train network: Only three rail lines exist, shuttling tourists to several of the country’s most popular destinations. Train travel in Peru may be rustic by international standards, but the stark natural beauty of the Andes Mountains that surround these remote routes makes the experience markedly more exhilarating.
Machu Picchu by Train
PeruRail is a privately owned subsidiary of the Orient Express and its primary train service runs between the highland city of Cusco and the immensely popular Machu Picchu ruins to the north. The train departs from the outlying town of Ollantaytambo, hugging the banks of the Urubamba River for four hours before arriving in Aguas Calientes at the base of the Machu Picchu sanctuary. PeruRail offers three classes of trains along this route. The Backpacker Train is the budget option. The Vistadome Train runs slightly faster and features first-class service. The Hiram Bingham Train is the premier luxury line, reserved for big spenders.
Lake Titicaca by Train
PeruRail also offers a second train line connecting Cusco to the southern city of Puno. Puno sits alongside Lake Titicaca, operating as a base for regional excursions. PeruRail’s Andean Explorer Train makes the scenic journey across the Altiplano highlands, running for approximately 10 hours one way. This line provides a convenient option for tourists looking to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu while stopping off at Lake Titicaca for a tour of the highest navigable body of water in South America.
Huancayo by Train
Besides the well-known PeruRail lines, there is also the obscure Ferrocarril Central Andino line, which connects the capital of Lima to the mountain town of Huancayo. This route cuts through the heart of the Andes and ranks as the highest passenger line in the world, according to Frommer’s. Whereas PeruRail lines run almost every day, the Ferrocarril Central Andino only runs once a month between July and November. Round-trip tickets generally span three days, allowing one day in the middle for sightseeing in Huancayo before returning to Lima.
Weather in Peru
Peru features three climatic zones, but only the mountain climate applies to the country’s three train lines. The lofty Andes region has a wet season and a dry season. Heavy rainfall prevails from December to March, and dry weather takes hold from June to August. Tourists can travel with PeruRail throughout the year, but the wet season often produces mudslides that cover parts of the rail line and limit accessibility. Ferrocarril Central Andino offers services exclusively during the dry months to avoid this problem. Travel to the highlands is easiest to plan between May and August when the weather is at its most pleasant
Luggage theft is a common problem on trains in Peru. Keep all valuable possessions on your person. Larger bags may be checked in luggage compartments, but it’s advisable to bring bags on board and stow them as near as possible to deter theft.