A truly unique and special trans-Andean experience awaits you aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer – South America’s first luxury sleeper train. This all-inclusive luxury train journey is a fantastic way to experience the incredible scenery, culture, and cuisine of the Peruvian Andes, along one of the highest railways in the world. It’s definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in Peru, so read on for details of what it was like on board, and why you should consider this as part of an incredible trip to Peru with Good Life Expeditions.
Belmond Andean Explorer: Routes and Destinations
The train runs between Cusco and Arequipa, starting at either end for a two-night journey. For a shorter trip of just one night, you can board or disembark in Puno, between the two on the shores of Lake Titicaca. For anyone heading to Colca Canyon, there’s also the option to disembark at a station just outside the canyon, instead of going all the way into Arequipa, which is what I did.
I chose the classic 2-night route from Cusco to Arequipa, aptly named Peruvian Highlands. From the time I arrived at the train station in Cusco, and was greeted by the Belmond staff, it was clear that a fantastic journey lay ahead. I couldn’t wait to get going!
On Board the Belmond Andean Explorer
Stepping on board is like walking into the finest 5-star luxury hotel. The train has 16 carriages, so the facilities for the 48 passengers are well spaced out. We were greeted in the lounge, given a quick welcome briefing and then taken to our cabins.
There are four different cabin configurations – a few offer double beds and most offer classic bunk configurations as you’d expect on a train. All have en-suite bathrooms, the option for oxygen to be pumped in for those suffering from the altitude, and the luxurious finishings and effortless style you’d expect from Belmond. Contemporary décor is matched with small Andean touches in the fabrics, adding warmth and a sense of place. I had a Junior Double Bed Cabin and was surprised by how spacious it was – I really was expecting less room aboard a train!
Of course, one of the first things I did was explore my moving home for the next two nights. In addition to the lounge car (which I can verify serves a delicious Pisco Sour to the sound of live piano music in the evenings), there are two dining cars and an open deck to breathe in the fresh mountain air. There’s even a spa car offering massages and other treatments and a small onboard library and boutique.
The cuisine is spectacular, with the onboard chefs showcasing the best of Andean local ingredients and dishes, executed with world-class flair. In addition to the exquisite breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they also serve a delightful afternoon tea – ensuring your taste buds are well looked after. I loved the food on board – guests with special dietary requirements were well looked after, and they even made me freshly baked bread without olives when they heard I didn’t like them. That’s the kind of service and attention to detail that Belmond delivers on board.
Belmond Andean Explorer Excursions and Activities
For visitors to Peru, the Belmond Andean Explorer offers a wonderful way to explore the Andes, especially for those who want a relaxing gently-paced journey. The route traverses some extremely remote parts of the Andes, taking you to places that are completely inaccessible otherwise.
There are stops in the middle of nowhere like at La Raya, the highest point in the journey – with no station or sign of civilization for miles, offering the chance to appreciate the tranquillity and beauty of the high Andean plains. The staff served hot drinks as we watched the sun set over the mountains, and it was a perfect moment I’ll never forget.
Other stops and excursions vary according to the itinerary you pick, but include ancient Inca archaeological sites, a boat ride to Uros and Taquile islands on Lake Titicaca, the Sumbay Caves – home to cave paintings that are over 8,000 years old and more. All are carefully planned to showcase the best of the breath-taking Andean scenery and authentic culture of the communities you pass through.
Experience the Belmond Andean Explorer with Good Life Expeditions
With the different routes available, the Belmond Andean Experience is a wonderful way to explore the Andes after a trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. It’s perfect for a special occasion with the chance to add extra touches like fresh flowers and champagne to surprise a loved one.
At Good Life Expeditions, we can include the Belmond Andean Explorer as an add on to a Service Learning Trip with MEDLIFE or as part of a special tailormade trip to Peru. Our expert travel team can advise on the best route and options for your trip and can take care of all the arrangements. Contact us today to start planning your memorable trip to Peru.