The Best Train Trips Around the Planet

Chile: In the Shadow of the Andes
  |  Gorp.com

For example, the train known as the Ferrocarril del Estado travels 700 miles along the Andes from Santiago to Puerto Montt in Chile. When heading south, craggy, snow-covered peaks rise on your left into the clouds.

Symmetrical volcanic cones stand as solitary reminders of unseen tectonic forces still forming the majestic Andes. The track passes through a town settled by German immigrants five generations ago where the houses resemble the chalets of Bavaria. At the next stop, Temuco Indians approach your window to offer their crafts for sale.

Seats upholstered in brown velvet, carved oak furnishings, and hand-etched glass enable the 60-year-old coaches to retain at least a faded elegance. For a cozy berth with crisp linen, the overnight trip costs about $35.

Across the High Desert
In southern Peru, traveling east from the city of Arequipa, the train passes volcanic cones whose melting snow gives birth to the mighty Amazon River, ultimately sweetening the Atlantic Ocean 2,000 miles away.

In isolated shepherds' villages on the high desert, fur-wrapped children wave excitedly as the train passes.

Sturdy alpacas, spooked by the labored breathing of the near-antique engine, stretch their necks and flare their nostrils before loping away to safety.

The conductor sways down the aisle offering a black rubber balloon filled with oxygen to passengers unused to train travel at 14,000 feet. After hours filled with jagged, treeless ridges, foraging herds of llamas, and yellow desert blossoms, the train pulls into Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca, according to legend the birthplace of the first Inca.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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