South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, is scheduled to launch May, 2017, and the tickets are already flying out the door.
Running along one of the world’s highest rail routes, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and on to Arequipa, the new Belmond Andean Explorer will explore natural wonders and ancient kingdoms on one- and two-night journeys.
The train is intimate — a maximum of 48 guests in 34 all en-suite cabins — and includes an open-air observation platform, two dining cars serving fresh, locally-sourced delicacies, a lounge car with grand piano and bar, and a full spa car with treatment rooms.
“This truly is some of the most breathtaking and inspiring scenery in the world — traveling across the Peruvian Altiplano with the Andes in the background. It is astonishing,” says IRT’s President, Eleanor Flagler Hardy.
“Our guests already enjoy PeruRail’s Andean Explorer day train. It is one of our World’s Top 25 Trains® already – and has been for years. The 10-hour trip between Cusco and Puno was such a blast; but it wasn’t long enough.
“Enjoying the journey all the way from Cusco to Puno and on to Arequipe is an amazing new route. And combining with the Belmond Hiram Bingham to see Machu Picchu will be a fascinating itinerary. Bravo to Belmond for planning this!”
On our trip, guests will have the option to explore Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, at the end of the journey. And we will organize an optional visit to the Colca Canyon for those who wish it.
The reverse itinerary, from Arequipa to Cusco, will also be possible, Belmond says.
Travelers should be aware that journey involves high altitudes. Check with your doctor before booking. Bottled oxygen will be available in hotels, on the trains and in vehicles.
Up to 48 guests will reside in en-suite cabins, according to an article in the Telegraph, with two double cabins; 20 twin cabins; and 12 bunk-bed cabins.
Cabins will be available in suite/double, twin and bunk bed configurations. Each will have its own en-suite toilet and shower.
The fare in the two restaurant cars will be fresh, colorful and seasonal, Belmond says. Dishes will incorporate locally sourced ingredients from the Peruvian Andes. The menus will be designed by chefs from the Belmond Hotel Monasterio in Cusco.
Belmond says the lounge car will include a baby grand piano, comfortable seating and picture windows through which guests can gaze at the majestic vistas drifting past. The lounge also will include a full bar.
The rear observation car, meanwhile, will be the place to unwind, meet new friends and enjoy the views while sipping Pisco Sours from the bar. The car will include an open-air deck — one of the IRT Society’s favorite extras — where travelers can breathe in the bracing Andean air.
Peruvian Highlands: Cusco-Lake Titicaca-Arequipa City (2 nights, 3 days)
The longest trip departs from Cusco, capital of the ancient Inca Empire, across the Altiplano towards Puno and the reflective beauty of Lake Titicaca. Guests will visit Sumbay Caves, where the Peruvian highlands’ first humans created their rock art, before reaching the volcanic ‘White City’ of Arequipa.
Andean Plains and Islands of Discovery: Arequipa City-Lake Titicaca-Cusco (2 nights, 2 days)
This trip departs as the sun sets on the baroque architecture of Arequipa. The train travels overnight towards Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It continues through deep valleys and over high mountains, where South American camelids graze on the wide-open plains and through the ‘big sky’ country of the Peruvian Altiplano.
Spirit of the Water: Cusco-Puno (1 night, 1 day)
Belmond describes this journey as “an overnight escape aboard the stylish carriages of Belmond Andean Explorer,” departing from Cusco, crossing the giant peaks and wide-open spaces of the highest plains of the Andes and ending at Lake Titicaca, birthplace of the Incas.
Spirit of the Andes: Puno-Cusco (1 night, 1 day)
Guests on this trip travel along one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world, Belmond says, across the highest plains of the Andes from Puno to Cusco.
The Telegraph said “trips will cost from $462 (£320) per person for the one-night Spirit of the Andes journey, inclusive of all meals, an open bar and scheduled excursions,” although IRT could not immediately confirm this with Belmond.
The train’s cars began their “luxury life” in Australia. Operating over Queensland Rail tracks, the Great South Pacific Express began running in 1996 before ceasing operations in 2003, according to a story dated Feb. 25 of this year in the Queensland Times. The equipment was shipped to Peru in May for refurbishment.to top