The Andean Explorer: How much fun can a long train journey be?


The Andean Explorer is one of the world’s most incredible train journeys. During the 10-hour trip you’ll be treated to stunning views with a first class service.

Although I’ve previously been on other long train journeys such as The Ghan in Australia and various overnight trains in Europe, The Andean Explorer is truly in a league of its own.

You can start the journey in either Cusco (tourist central) or Puno (Lake Titicaca), although you might think what on earth am I going to do for 10 hours, believe me you will not be bored!

Leaving Puno
Bye bye Puno…


When I first saw the train, due to the colours I felt like I was in Ukraine (due to the blue and yellow colours…check out my Ukraine article).

In the UK, if you travel first class you can expect to pay a fortune for the privilege, thankfully in Peru the Andean Explorer, although expensive, is well worth the outlay.

With a classic design, the Pullman carriages are spacious and incredibly clean. I loved how comfortable the seats were, on such a long journey it was a relief!

My favourite part in the design of the train was the outdoor observatory car with a bar in it, enabling you to get the best possible view of Peru from both sides and above your head. Simply stunning.

There’s something rather romantic about a long journey (just don’t think about Murder on the Orient Express). However when you first leave Puno you’ll notice that even the tuk tuk’s on the street next to you are travelling faster than the train, but this is simply due to conditions of the rails.

During my trip to Peru I was travelling in an adventure tour group, I remember hearing a couple of them say they’d decided not to take the train because it was “10 hours and this is too long to be on a train, it’s also too expensive”.

True, the train isn’t cheap, however the experience is one of the best you can have as a tourist. You’ll meet people from all over the world, thankfully several of my group decided to take the train and we had a fantastic experience with a great bunch of newly made friends.

Cheers to new friends in Peru (Photo: Susan Walker)

The Andean Explorer isn’t just any old normal train journey, it’s a First Class experience.

As you leave Puno, you’ll see markets lining the sides of the railways tracks, some of the sellers place their books on the track. It was amazing to watch from the end carriage once the train had passed, life returns to normal and sellers once again will take over the railway tracks with their items.

Puno Market…across the railway tracks!
Puno Market…across the railway tracks!

At roughly the halfway point of the journey you’ll be given half an hour to get off the train and go enjoy the market, make sure you use this opportunity to bargain for locally produced goods.

So far on my journey through Peru I hadn’t bought any souvenirs, so for me the La Raya stop enabled me to purchase a local product…an alpaca wool jumper (sweater for my U.S readers). I love it, it’s so soft, warm, comfy and reminds me of my travels to Peru.

La Raya market stop

What’s a trip to South America without hearing some pan pipes! On the train you’ll be treated to a band playing traditional music accompanied by some funny dance moves, which later you may get dragged into joining…SO BEWARE!

Also if you do the journey, please make sure you check out the toilets (that's all I'll say…but it isn't bad)
Also if you do the journey, please make sure you check out the toilets (that’s all I’ll say…but it isn’t bad)

Trains don’t exactly have the best reputation for serving food, in the UK we often have to buy expensive tasteless rubbish from buffet cars. Not in Peru though, when I boarded the Andean Explorer we were offered a three course lunch with a variety of choices whilst later in the journey we were given afternoon tea.

The quality of the food however, for me was the best part.

I’m a fan of trying out local alcohol wherever I go, before I visited Peru I’d never heard of Pisco Sour. By the end of the trip I couldn’t get enough of them. It’s an unusual taste, but you soon get used to it and before you know it you’ll be a bit merry.

You’ll have plenty of time to try out some of the cocktails on the train and you may even be selected to take part in a cocktail making demonstration.

Machu Picchu cocktails
Machu Picchu cocktails…they weren’t all mine!

When I arrived in Cusco I was really sad because I realised that the train journey was over, it was so fun, relaxing and indulging. I just wanted to do it all over again, but it was then time to go explore Cusco!

The Andean Explorer
…time to go explore Cusco (Well in the morning)!

Further Information

If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

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