When the owners of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express took over passenger rail operations in Peru, they began offering services from backpacker to luxury. One of the latter is the narrow-gauge Belmond Hiram Bingham, aimed at high-end clients using luxurious hotels.
This gleaming blue-and-gold train makes the 3.5-hour trip between Cusco and Machu Picchu every day except Sunday. It leaves from Poroy Station, about 20 minutes outside Cusco, rather than downtown Cusco.
This allows Belmond Hiram Bingham clients to sleep in and leave at 9 a.m., a much later departure than the regular, “Vistadome” service, which leaves Poroy as well ––but at 6:00 a.m. Belmond Hiram Bingham clients also have a private send-off, with welcome pisco sours and a flurry of music and dancing.
Latest News: The new Belmond Andean Explorer, S. America’s first luxury sleeper train, began service the spring of 2017. It is the perfect companion to Belmond Hiram Bingham.
The train has two 42-seat dining cars serving excellent Peruvian specialties for brunch on the journey to Machu Picchu, and for dinner on the evening return to Cusco. There are tables for four and two persons. The overall ambiance is gorgeous, with large windows, beautiful china, silver and linens. Onboard meals include Peruvian wine and liquors. Imported wines and spirits are additional.
The train has a gorgeous bar/observation car. The inside bar has plenty of comfortable seating and a beautiful mirror. The car also has an outdoor platform where live music is sometimes played. It’s also a great place to photograph the steep climb out of Cusco and the descent into the Sacred Valley and the lush fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Pisco sours are served here. Just don’t drink too many.
The round trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu and back can be made in one day; however, IRT travelers highly recommend overnighting at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (or other Virtuoso properties in the area) for at least one night before heading back to Cusco. That way, you have Machu Picchu almost to yourself in the late afternoon, and you can be among the first the next morning to get ready for the sunrise—a mystical event.