How to take a luxury train journey – for less
Then there’s all the delicious iconography. Look past the glowing blue of the train’s gleaming exterior and you’ll see the chakana cross, a three-step symbol from Inca times that represents the heavens, earth, and mortal hells.
It’s emblazoned, literally, everywhere you look on this train: the stewards’ uniforms, the pretty towels, the tables, and even the fluffy bathrobes in your marble bathrooms. Elsewhere, understated chic rules the palette. The dining cars – Llama and Muña – are bright and elegant; the lounge car is a cheerful mix of old and new, with a quaint little bar and a grand piano designed for pisco-fueled midnight carols. There is even a spa on board.
You wouldn’t think it, but admiring all that scenery from the lavish observation car whets the appetite – thankfully, as Executive Chef Diego Muñoz ensures passengers are quickly introduced to Peru’s gastronomic delights. When dinner arrives, expect everything from freshwater prawns to hearty filet mignons on a menu designed to the tunes of ancient Inca feasts.
But Belmond saves the best for last. At Lake Saracocha, passengers are treated to a beautiful sunrise, then taken to Sumbay Cave, filled with incredible Paleolithic paintings. Then the train begins to twist and loop back through the desert and lowland grasslands, then on to Arequipa. It’s a trip you won’t forget.
The Andean Explorer, a Belmond train (0845 077 2222; belmond.com) offers sleeper cabins from £1,100 pp. The price includes 24-hour steward service, all meals on board, canapes and drinks, on-board entertainment and excursions.
Four more ways to do it
The Rocky Mountaineer
After a day or two of pampering yourself without remorse as you ride the deep blue shores of Vancouver to Banff, you’ll find there’s really only one way to sum up a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer. : total luxury. The interiors are sleek and minimalist, the seats spacious, the windows enormous – and the views from the huge viewing platforms are nothing short of epic.
Everything is very upscale but not at all stuffy, with a relaxed North American comfort ethos trumping any millennial modcons (no Wi-Fi here).
As far as Mother Nature is concerned, you are in for a treat. Expect gigantic grassy plains that branch out into the ice-capped mountains of avalanche country, meandering turquoise rivers that turn into wild cascading rapids in the blink of an eye, and if you look really hard, the occasional grizzly – the train stops if the conductor or your host spots one – and moose along the way. Meals include an array of local classics, from Alberta’s finest cuts of beef to seared snappers sourced along the road. You won’t actually sleep on board, but rather spend the night in Kamloops, Banff, and Jasper, where accommodation comes in the form of rustic alpine-chic or cozy ski-centric retreats.
The Rocky Mountaineer (0800 195 01950; rockymountaineer.com) offers two-night trips from £1,050 pp, based on two sharing, including meals, drinks, snacks, service and guided tours .