South America’s first luxury sleeper train has its maiden voyage on Thursday May 4 2017. Operated by Belmond, owners of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Belmond Royal Scotsman, the Belmond Andean Explorer will follow one of the world’s highest railway routes – along the Peruvian Andes, taking in Cusco, the old capital of the Inca empire and now a Unesco World Heritage city, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa, also a Unesco site.
There are four routes to choose between – the longest is the three-day Peruvian Highlands journey (from $1,436 per person), which departs from Cusco, travels across the highest plains of the Andes to 4,800m, then on to Puno, where passengers can visit the remote villages and floating islands on Lake Titicaca, and ends in the city of Arequipa. There will also be an opportunity to explore the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and the home of the Andean condor.
The other three journeys are Spirit of the Andes (from $462 per person), which traverses the Altiplano from Lake Titicaca to Cusco, making an exciting overnight escape; Spirit of Water (from $554 per person), which takes in Puno and Cusco; and Andean Plains and Islands of Discovery (from $1,283 per person), which offers time at Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake navigable by commercial vessels.
The Belmond Andean Explorer accommodates just 68 guests in elegant en-suite cabins, including two double cabins, 20 twin cabins and 12 bunk-bed cabins for two people. The interiors were designed by London-based Inge Moore of The Gallery HBA, and are, Moore says, inspired by the texture of Peru’s hand-woven fabrics and the soft tones of alpaca wool, blended with Andean slate greys – giving both a sense of calm and a resolutely Peruvian feel.
Local menus, using seasonal Peruvian ingredients, have been created by the chefs at the Belmond Hotel Monasterio in Cusco and will be served in the two dining cars. The open deck observation car is perhaps the best spot to enjoy the dramatic views and refreshing drinks (pisco sour, anyone?), while the lounge car provides a comfortable setting to relax after the day’s adventures. Meals, an open bar and scheduled excursions are all included.
Air fares are not included, and Belmond recommends flying to Lima then booking a domestic transfer to Alejandro Velasco Astete International, Cusco’s airport. From there, a Belmond private car can (for $20 per person) drive guests to the railway station or – for an overnight stay before departure – to one of its Cusco addresses: the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas or the Belmond Hotel Monasterio.