It's no secret that given a choice between digital and analog, we're inclined to choose the more traditional option. So goes it for travel. Rickety single chair over high speed gondola, soulful classic car over something new and glitzy, and sleeper car over stuffy air travel, especially when the route winds through beautiful countryside.
The luxury travel company Belmond, whose first foray into hospitality began with the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, has created South America's first luxury sleeper train. The Andean Explorer, equipped with 34 tastefully designed cabins, two dining cars, and an open air observation car, was built in the first half of the 20th century in Australia and imported to Peru. It's been through a major renovation, but retains much of its original charm.
Winding through the Andes at 15,000 feet, the Andean Explorer travels from Cusco to Arequipa, with stops at must-see destinations like Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon. Trips last between 1-3 nights, and can be customized to maximize time in the highlands or along the Lake.
Fly into Lima and take a quick jumper to Cusco, where you'll meet the train. We recommend tacking on a few extra days in Cusco with a stay at the Hotel Monsterio, another Belmond property. Located in a national historic landmark, this sixteenth century former seminary boasts comfortable rooms and a large collection of 18th century colonial religious art, with rooms grouped around a romantic central courtyard.
Back on the train, relax with a pisco sour before dinner in the lounge and watch the mountains whir by. Dining onboard is not an afterthought. Creative, five-star cuisine is available in two restaurants.
The train makes frequent stops for guests to explore the countryside, visit archaeological sites and ruins, and venture out on traditional boats to remote islands.
If Peru isn't your cup of tea, Belmond has a number of other luxury sleeper trains in service from Scotland to Southeast Asia. Needless to say, we're hoping luxury train travel makes a strong comeback.