It has been named one of the world’s most beautiful train rides and rightfully so. The journey from Cusco to Puno on the Andean Explorer is worth every penny. Not only is the scenery breathtaking, but the experience is unforgettable.
If your budget permits, this 10 hour train trip is a truly unique experience. At $210, it doesn’t come cheap, but I loved every minute of it (well at least the first 6 – 7 hours and then I started to get antsy).
Riding this train makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Red roses adorn the tables and a three course lunch, as well as afternoon tea, are served during the trip. The service is immaculate and staff take pride in their jobs. The Andean Explorer has a bar car serving the infamous Pisco Sours and an observatory car, where you can sit and watch the world go by.
The train departs at 8 a.m. from the city of Cusco and arrives in Puno around dinner time. Be prepared for a serious temperature change though, as Puno, home to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, can get pretty chilly at times (think sweater, jacket and a hat at night).
There’s very little to do on the journey, expect sit back, relax and watch the world go by. On a trip where you’re going non-stop, this can be a welcome change. The train travels hundreds of kilometers through what it at times is a desolate, barren landscape. Herds of llamas and alpacas roam the vast fields and the train rumbles through the small towns, that feel as though they could be a set for a country and western film.
I was in awe of the women, hard at work out in the fields. Interestingly, it seemed to be predominantly women toiling away outdoors. This did not look like an easy life and it made me feel extremely grateful to be taking this train ride.
Stops were made throughout the trip and we were able to disembark at one point. Locals from nearby villages had brought their colourful sweaters, hats and scarves to market stalls near the train stop. I bought a soft alpaca scarf, which helped to keep me warm in Puno.
We passed the hours sipping coffee, pisco sours and local beer and enjoying the hot sun out on the observatory car – it was one of the most relaxing experiences of the entire trip.
If you’re planning on visiting Puno, there are obviously other transportation options, but if time and money permit, a trip on the Andean Explorer is a day well spent.