When you think of Latin America you might think of the snow-capped Andes, rugged canyons, wild jungles, exotic wildlife and ancient civilisations. But Latin America is also home to some of the best train trips on the planet, providing a perfect way to see the beautiful scenery from the comfort of a carriage.
As the longest-running Latin America travel business in Australia, Contours Travel has released a list of the top five train trips in South and Central America.
- Copper Canyon, Mexico
Mexico only has one passenger train but what it lacks in company it certainly makes up for in quality. Known as ‘El Chepe’ by locals, the Copper Canyon Railway takes passengers from the desert to the Pacific Coast in north-west Mexico, passing sheer canyon walls, waterfalls and plains along the way. The railway stretches over 650km from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the coast via 36 bridges and 87 tunnels and has been running for over 50 years.
The Copper Canyon rail trip is included in this 11-day tour:
- Tren Crucero, Ecuador
This luxury, vintage train has just four carriages – two dining cars and two lounge cars – ensuring passengers have an intimate experience as they journey from Ecuador‘s capital, Quito, through the Andes over snow-capped mountains and past volcanoes before arriving in the bustling coastal city of Guayaquil. The most memorable section of the route is a steep descent through wild mountain scenery known as the ‘Devil’s Nose’, which sees the track drop 500m in elevation over the course of only 12km. A unique way to experience Ecuador’s diverse natural beauty.
Australians can travel on Tren Crucero with this seven-day package: www.contourstravel.com.au/tours/highlands-by-rail-tren-crucero/
- Old Patagonia Express, Argentina
The Old Patagonia Express is the southern-most railway in the world. It is also the only long-distance narrow-gauge steam engine still operating today. The train takes passengers on a return journey from Esquel along the foothills of Andes to the tiny village of Nahuel Pan. This heritage train journey gives passengers a taste of yesteryear as they explore the wild, southern Argentinian countryside.
- Machu Picchu, Peru
Considered one of the most beautiful routes in the world, this trip takes passengers from Cuzco to the base of world-famous Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes. The route follows the river along a narrow valley, passing small communities, farms, snow-capped mountains and lush forest. Carriages range from the Explorer – perfect for those on a budget – to the Hiram Bingham Deluxe – one of the most luxurious carriages in the world.
The journey and a visit to Machu Picchu are included in this 13-day escorted tour: www.contourstravel.com.au/tours/heritage-trail-sacred-valley
- Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
Launching in May 2017, the Belmond Andean Explorer is a new rail journey, set to be among the highest train trips on Earth, reaching heights of 4800m, or over the twice the height of Mt Kosciuszko. It is also South America’s first luxury sleeper train, taking pampered passengers from Cusco – the ancient capital of the Inca Empire – through the Andean plains to beautiful Lake Titcaca, the largest lake in South America and the highest in the world . The train will also journey to the vast Colca Canyon and the city of Arequipa, a world heritage site.