Travelling on the PeruRail Titicaca luxury train from Cusco to Puno is a great antidote to the stress of daily life. A journey on this luxury train requires us to slow down and enjoy this unique window on Peru. This is a slow and contemplative journey from the Andean peaks to the Altiplano in absolute comfort.
The cars are elegant and cozy. Large armchairs, tables covered with white tablecloths, dark brown panelled wood and copper finishes are inspired by “Pullman Style” decoration from the 1920’s. The staff is friendly and the service guarantees an excellent experience throughout the ride.
It is 8am at Wanchaq Station in Cusco when the train slowly moves along the first meters of the track towards Puno. The bell sounds and continues to do so for a good half hour as we make our way through Cusco’s early morning traffic. The contrast is all the more striking when we leave the chaotic city behind and head into the heart of the Andean countryside. The beauty of the surrounding mountains, mud-brick houses and busy silhouettes in the fields inspires us as we travel along the banks of the Vilcanota River.
The PeruRail Titicaca service has a bar car and an open-air observation car at the back of the train. This is the perfect place to sit with a coffee and enjoy the magic of this journey. There is a permanent sense of tranquility as the train keeps rolling, unhurried onwards. This rolling motion soothes me and my dreamers’ spirit is lost in the splendour of the scenery that unfolds to the sound of a charango and a flute.
Two groups perform during the journey to introduce us to the traditional music and dances of the Cusco and Puno regions. These are social moments that also allow us to meet some of our fellow travellers. ‘You feel totally immersed in the environment’, shared John, an Englishman living in Hong Kong who I chatted to over a cocktail. ‘An experience well beyond my expectations!’, he adds. I can only agree. Despite years of exploration in Peru, I am amazed by the spectacle of nature combined with the charms of the PeruRail Titicaca train.
By early afternoon, the train slows down, gasping for breath to reach the station of La Raya at 4300m (14,107 feet). This is the official border between the regions of Puno and Cusco where we make a stop and stretch our legs at a small market selling local textiles.
I take one last regretful look at the Andean peaks. Three hours later, I’ll be on the shores of Lake Titicaca enjoying other beautiful sights.
The PeruRail Titicaca train is definitely one of our Peruvian highlights and if you have the budget and the time, it is well worth it for a unique travel experience.
Belmond have also recently launched the luxury Belmond Andean Explorer for those of you looking to try South America’s first luxury sleeper train. It operates 2 day/1 night journeys between Cusco and Puno and longer 3 day/2 night journeys between Arequipa, Puno and Cusco and vice versa.
Best of Peru Recommends :
- We really enjoyed lounging in the observation and bar cars for the best view, fresh air and good (but expensive!) coffee.
- The chefs on board are acrobats. During our journey we were served a delicious gourmet meal of smoked trout with quinoa blinis to start followed by a tasty quinotto (risotto made form quinoa) with sautéed asparagus followed by their chocolate temptation dessert. A light afternoon tea was also served mid-afternoon.
- The stop at La Raya is also famous for appearing in the movie ‘The Big Blue’ In case you’re a selfie addict.