Take an unforgettable luxury train ride through the cloud-shrouded Andean peaks of Peru – a most fitting inclusion for your South America retirement bucket-list tour
There’s something utterly romantic about travelling through Peru on a classic, luxuriously appointed train. Belmond, renowned purveyors of exquisite rail journeys the world over, have introduced their little bit of travel-magic to the Peruvian Andes and we think their once-in-a-lifetime journeys make ideal retirement bucket-list experiences.
Because if not now…then when?
Introducing the Belmond Andean Explorer
Belmond still touts this as the world’s highest rail route on some of their advertising material and although it was overtaken by China’s Tibetan Plateau railway quite a while back, we’ll forgive them for hanging on to this tidbit of sentimentality. After all, this rail journey is all about old-world nostalgia.
Hop on a Belmond train in Peru and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped back in time. Feeling like the ancient explorer you (probably) always dreamed to be, you’ll slowly meander across the high peaks of the Central Andes from Arequipa all the way to Cusco (for that sweet side-visit to Machu Picchu aboard an equally luxurious train) and onwards, to the shores of resplendent Lake Titicaca, the legendary birthplace of the Inca civilization. The only aspects of this stunning journey that’ll jolt you from your languid slumber and bring you back to the 21st century are surely going to be the haute cuisine, the butler service (yes, you get a bell!) and the exclusive spa treatments. We very much doubt Hiram Bingham enjoyed a nightly deep-tissue oil massage, given by heavenly hands drenched in aromatic indigenous Amazonian ingredients.
But you can…
South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a bit of a scoop, to be honest, especially if your lifelong retirement dreams never really involved roughing it in a tent. The high Peruvian Andes are absolutely spectacular but the scenery and atmosphere do become more jaw-dropping the further away from civilization one gets. So unless you’d be willing to hike for days and camp out at high altitude in eyeball-freezing temps, there’s just no other way to really soak up the majestic landscapes. Or at least there wasn’t, before Belmond came along.
What we love most about the Belmond Andean Explorer is the fact that this is very much a short and sweet affair with trips lasting just one or two nights, offering an affordable luxury splurge for just about anyone heading to South America on a post-retirement journey. It’s also ideal for those who don’t necessarily love rail journeys, in general. Mind you, we challenge you to find anyone who wouldn’t love getting ‘stuck’ on a Belmond luxury train for days on end! With a gorgeous mix of on-train delights and side-trips along the way coupled with impeccable service and gourmet dining, a Belmond explorer train journey through Peru is retirement goals, done right.
The cuisine aboard the Belmond Explorer
Belmond nabbed Diego Muñoz (of Astrid y Gaston) as Executive Chef for their Andean Explorer train and given we’d ride llamas across the Atacama at the height of summer to taste any of his creations, we’d say the gastronomic delights are easily one of the journey’s top highlights. Meals are served in two elegant dining rooms, with expansive windows that allow for amazing sightseeing during your meal – which admittedly can be a bit challenging if you can’t manage to multitask. In this case, the Andes can wait – feast on that food!
Muñoz is renowned for his ability to literally bring the Peruvian wilderness to life on a plate, incorporating obscure native ingredients and creating sensationally tasty affairs that seem to celebrate Peruvian cuisine with every bite. You’ll have a great choice of wines at dinner and beverages at every meal, with lots of delicious canapés (and the all-important coca tea to beat the altitude) throughout the day. Meals and drinks are all included in your rail journey ticket price, which is a great little bonus.
What to see and do on the Belmond Explorer
To be honest, one could easily remain cosied up under an alpaca blanket on one of the comfy chaise lounges of the Piano Bar Carriage for the entire duration of the journey. Watching the splendid high Andes float before your eyes is undoubtedly the most rewarding activity of all, although Belmond does include a few side-trips each day, which aren’t to be discounted. Depending on the itinerary you choose (there are three) , you could take a full-day boat trip on Lake Titicaca exploring ancient islands and visiting indigenous communities, discover the incredible landscapes of the La Raya Mountains when boarding in Puno and, if boarding in Cusco, visiting the remote Inca archaeological site of Raqch’i, one of the least-known yet most impressive ancient sites in the whole country.
From Cusco, you can easily connect to the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train, the sister-train that can take you all the way to ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in incredible comfort.
Your time onboard the Belmond train will fly by in a jiffy yet if you can’t fit in a luscious spa treatment, stay up after dinner to enjoy the cultural entertainment or celebrate at least one ‘midnight’ watching the stars light the sky from the Observation Car’s outdoor terrace, then we’re sorry to say that you’ll have to go back and do it all over again.
Belmond Explorer Itineraries
The Belmond meanders along a stretch of PeruRail’s railway line, offering overnight trips between Puno and Cusco (both directions) and two-night trips that extend the aforementioned to Arequipa (both directions). Belmond also boast a few spectacular hotels throughout South America so if you’re crying inconsolably at the end of your journey, like we were, you can always drown your sorrows in a delicious Pisco Sour at one of their outstanding hotels. Like we did.
The Belmond Explorer sleeps only 68 guests which makes the whole experience feel cosy and intimate. Three cabin sizes allow you a range of budget options and although none are enormous by any means (you are on a train, after all) they’re all certainly comfortable and spacious enough. Plus, they’re just so beautifully appointed, with en-suite in every room, air-con to keep you nice and toasty and 24hr service bell, for that super indulgent night-cap.
Amazingly, the Belmond Explorer can also be chartered for private trips so if the kids start whining about all the inheritance this retirement trip of yours will cost them, you can always tell them to consider themselves lucky: you could just charter the whole train and take 66 of your closest friends along for the ride of a lifetime.
So what do you say? Ready to celebrate that retirement in style in the highest peaks of Peru?
Contact us here to know more about adding a Belmond Explorer train journey to your retirement trip of South America.
This Belmond Andean Explorer train journey is one of 7 Best Chimu Adventures for Retirement Bucket-List Journeys. Here are the other six:
- Antarctica Expedition Cruises
- Patagonia Outdoor Adventures
- Chiloé Island Explorations
- Galapagos Islands Cruises
- Amazon Jungle Adventures
- Arctic Polar Explorations
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”