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Everyone who visits the iconic ruins at Machu Picchu has to travel from the main regional city of Cusco, Peru, to Aguas Calientes (the town closest to the site). Some may take several days to make the trip — exploring the Sacred Valley and getting acclimated to the altitude — while others want to make it to the mountain as quickly as possible. For those clients who are looking to savor the journey to or from Machu Picchu, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train is the ultimate way to go.
Named after Hiram Bingham, the American academic and explorer who publicized Machu Picchu to the world in 1911, the train captures the romance and old-world luxury of train travel in the 1920s. The decor features gleaming wood-paneled interiors with brass finishes, while the dining car has crisp-white linens and deep, cozy booths. There’s a bar car and observatory car with special windows that allow passengers to take in the views, and there’s often live traditional music offered in the bar car, as well.
On a recent visit to Machu Picchu (part of an Abercrombie & Kent itinerary), I took the train back to Cusco. The luxury experience began before boarding: Travelers who book a return trip on the Belmond Hiram Bingham also get to enjoy afternoon tea at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu before taking a private bus to the train depot in Aguas Calientes. In addition, once at the train station, passengers had their own lounge where we could relax and enjoy a glass of champagne and a snack.
I recommend taking the twilight train back to Cusco because you can watch night fall over the Sacred Valley as you enjoy a delicious multicourse dinner. My meal featured local trout, seasonal veggies and, of course, quinoa (a Peruvian staple). It was accompanied by great South American wines and a Pisco sour (or two). It was the perfect way to reflect on a day spent exploring the ruins and the ideal finish to a bucket-list adventure.
Note: Poroy train station in Cusco is a short drive from the tourist center of town, so clients will need to arrange a ride or take a taxi once they get off the train. Also, there is no baggage car, so guests are encouraged to only travel with a day bag. If your clients are visiting Machu Picchu with a tour operator, they will most likely handle all these logistics.
A visit to Machu Picchu is something that all travelers will cherish. But adding on the Belmond Hiram Bingham train gives clients that extra touch of luxury that takes the experience to the next level.