Famous for the snow-capped Andes, wild jungles and ancient civilisations, Latin America is also home to some of the best train trips on the planet. And what better way to see all this beautiful scenery than from the comfort of a rail carriage? Our team of travel specialists here at Contours Travel have released their top seven train trips in Latin America.
1. Copper Canyon, Mexico
Mexico only has one passenger train but what a magnificent train it is! Known as ‘El Chepe’ by locals, the Copper Canyon Railway takes passengers from the desert to the Pacific Coast in north-west Mexico. You’ll pass sheer canyon walls, waterfalls and plains along the way. In fact, the railway stretches over 650km from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the coast via 36 bridges and 87 tunnels! And this engineering marvel has been running for over 50 years.
2. Panama Canal Railway, Panama
This historic railway links the city of Colon on the Atlantic Coast and Panama City on the Pacific. And offers some truly spectacular views of the famous canal and surrounding rainforest. Why not relive the heyday of luxury train travel and see one of the world’s man made wonders all in one day? Plus you will get to see some of Panama’s densely forest interior, abundant with wildlife.
3. Tren Crucero, Ecuador
This luxury and vintage train has just four carriages – two dining cars and two lounge cars. So passengers enjoy an intimate experience as they journey from Ecuador’s capital, Quito, to the bustling coastal city of Guayaquil. Along the way you’ll have views of the snowcapped Andes and volcanoes before descending to the tropical lowlands. Without a doubt, the most memorable section of the route is a steep descent through wild mountain scenery known as the ‘Devil’s Nose’. This section of rail sees the track drop 500m in elevation over the course of only 12km. Indeed, this is a thrilling way to experience Ecuador’s incredible diversity!
4. Tren a Las Nubes, Argentina
Regularly ranked among the world’s top rail adventures, the ‘Train to the Clouds,’ reaches heights of 4200 metres. Perhaps the most impressive part of the journey is passing over the Viaducto La Polvorilla. The 64m-high, 232m-long viaduct is the most photographed part of the ‘Train to the Clouds’. Watch as locals and tourists alike stick their bodies out the windows for a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot. The only downside to this magical journey is the somewhat unreliable nature of the schedules! But together with our in-country partners, we will find a way to make this dream a reality for our clients!
5. End of the World Train, Argentina
Considered the southernmost operating railway in the world, the ‘End of the World’ train ride takes travellers through Tierra del Fuego National Park. The heritage railway follows the historic convict train route through some of the world’s most stunning landscapes. As guests admire the breathtaking views onboard, a commentary provides insight into the rich history of the railway and the region.
6. Machu Picchu, Peru
Considered one of the most beautiful rail routes in the world, this trip takes passengers from Cuzco to the world-famous Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The route follows the river through a narrow valley, passing small communities, farms, snow-capped mountains and lush forest. Budget conscious travellers can choose the Explorer, the most moderately priced option. And for those looking to splurge, the luxury Belmond Hiram Bingham is the ultimate way to finish your Machu Picchu experience.
7. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
The award-winning Belmond Andean Explorer is the first sleeper train to operate in all of South America. And reaching heights of 4,300m it is one of the highest train trips on Earth! The luxury train takes pampered passengers from Cuzco – the ancient capital of the Inca Empire – across the Andean plains to beautiful Lake Titicaca. From here you can opt to continue the journey to the city of Arequipa, a World Heritage site. A warning to some of our taller clients – although the cabins are very comfortable, they are not really suitable for anyone over 6 foot!!
Contours Travel founder Ted Dziadkiewicz has been offering tailor-made South American holidays since 1975. Our team of travel specialists have all travelled extensively across the continent to research amazing destinations and experiences to share with you. To book or make enquiries click here.