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Train Cuzco to Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham Deluxe Train
 

At around noon, on July 23, 1911, an explorer named Hiram Bingham climbed up a steep hill andTrain from Cuzco to Machu Picchu - Hiram Bingham Deluxe Class stumbled onto Machu Picchu, uncovering what had been up until that moment, the Incas best kept secret. The World was stunned by his discovery. PeruRail's luxury train service between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, is named after the American explorer who discovered the stunning ruins of the ancient citadel.

The train leaves from Cuzco in the morning taking a spectacular journey through a changing landscape while guests enjoy breakfast. After the steep climb out of Cuzco, the train descends into the Sacred Valley, passing lush fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes.

From there, the journey is highlighted by wonderful vistas of the mountains and the beautiful Urubamba River which runs through the Sacred Valley. On arrival in the town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu, guests are taken by bus to Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge for lunch, which overlooks the ancient citadel. A private guided tour of the citadel follows before the return transfer to the station in the early evening. A sumptuous dinner is served on the train during the 3½ hour journey back to Cuzco.

For many visitors, the journey to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Taking the Hiram Bingham means passengers can focus their attention and energy on what matters most, content in the knowledge that the logistical details of the day's trip have been taken care of by PeruRail.

Life on Board

The distinctive blue and gold carriages of the Hiram Bingham are warm and inviting with elegant interior upholstery. The train, consisting of 2 dining cars, a bar car and a kitchen car, can carry up to 84 passengers. The general style of the carriages is in line with those on PeruRail's Andean Explorer train, which operates between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru, and reflect the luxury of the 1920s Pullman era.

The Hiram Bingham departs Cuzco at 9 am which gives a more leisurely start to the day than the traditional 6 am departures of other services. Brunch is served on board the train whilst travelers enjoy the spectacular scenery unfolding before them from the large windows. The arrival at Machu Picchu at 12.30pm gives passengers the advantage of entering the Sanctuary at an hour when the majority of the visitors are already beginning to leave for their journey back to Cuzco. This not only gives the opportunity to experience the ancient citadel at Machu Picchu in relative solitude, but also with a longer period of time there, and passengers only return to the train as the sun goes down.

Once back on board for a 6.30pm departure, pre-dinner cocktails are served in the bar accompanied by live entertainment before passengers enjoy a 4-course, à la carte dinner, in the dining cars. The train pulls into Poroy station in Cuzco at 10pm.

JOURNEY

The train leaves from Poroy in the morning, taking a spectacular journey through a changing landscape while guests enjoy breakfast. After departing Poroy and going through Cachimayo, the train descends to the plateau of Anta, a patchwork landscape of typical Andean crops and passes lush fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes.

Far to the left, just below the horizon, the massive agricultural terraces of Jaquijahuana can be seen, close to the village of Zurite. Sadly, these great terraces are all that remain today of what was once a major Inca city, lost forever during the first years after the Spanish conquest.

Beyond the town of Huarocondo the great plain narrows dramatically as the track enters a deep gorge carved by the rushing Pomatales River down which the railway, too, is funneled until it meets the Urubamba River, which runs through the beautiful Sacred Valley.

The train passes through extensive areas of terracing dotted with the ruins of Inca fortresses. Bisecting this are still-visible sections of an ancient, long-abandoned highway adopted by the muleteers of the late 19th century, who used it to travel between Cuzco and the rubber plantations of the Amazon lowlands.

Five kilometers beyond Pachar, is the village of Ollantaytambo where farmers work with the same patience and skill that their ancestors must have employed to shape and then move the huge blocks of stone with which they built both their homes and the temples in which they worshipped.

As the train leaves Ollantaytambo to begin the last part of its journey to Machu Picchu, the temple complex known as The Fortress, dedicated sometime in the 15th century to the many deities of the Inca pantheon, can be seen to the right above the earthwork ramp once used to drag its monolithic blocks up from the valley floor.

The railway follows the river into the Urubamba Gorge. At Coriwaynachina, known simply to the generations of hikers who have begun the Inca Trail there as Km 88, a fine staircase carved into the rock leads to a series of ruined buildings where once, it is said, Inca artisans took advantage of the constant wind that rises from the valley floor to smelt gold.

Emerging from a short tunnel, a series of beautiful agricultural terraces marks the ruins of Qente, which in Quechua means hummingbird. In this fertile microclimate fed by a nearby waterfall, giant hummingbirds are indeed a common sight in the early morning and bright flowers bloom all year round.

Surrounded by tall ceibos and rocky outcrops hung with orchids and bromeliads, the train passes Km 104 at Chachabamba, from where the one-day trek to Machu Picchu via the magnificent ruins of Wiñay Wayna begins.

At just two km from Machu Picchu, the train arrives at Aguas Calientes. Surrounded by the high, green mountains that cradle the famous lost city, as well as myriad other Inca remains, this small town, which is well known for its thermal baths, has blossomed into a popular overnight destination for travelers to Machu Picchu.

Guests disembark at Aguas Calientes and are taken by bus to Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, overlooking the ancient citadel, for lunch. A private guided tour of the sanctuary follows before the return transfer to the station in the early evening. A sumptuous dinner is served on the 3 ½ hour journey back to Cuzco.

WHAT'S INCLUDED
On-board meals with Peruvian wine, cusqueña Beer, soft drinks and hot drinks (brunch on outward journey, dinner on return), on-board entertainment, guides, bus transfers, entrance to the Machu Picchu sanctuary and afternoon tea at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, pre-dinner cocktails.

DEPARTURES
The Hiram Bingham does not run on Sundays.

Passengers have to be at the train station 30 minutes before departure.

ITINERARIES, FARES AND RESERVES ONLINE

Hiram Bingham
Routes Map

Source: PeruRail - Orient Express Peru 2012

 

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Machu Picchu Travel Guide - See also: