Peru is not only known as the homeland of the potato. It is in this mountainous country that one of the most outstanding 19th century railway designers, engineer Ernest Malinowski, built the world's most elevated railway line, owned by Peru Rail. The record was beaten by the line opened in Tibet in 2006. The Peru railways are characterised by unique picturesque routes and increasing tourist traffic.
In July 1911 Hiram Bingham, archaeologist, Yale University professor, discovered Machu Picchu, the mysterious city of the Incas. A luxury train being a joint property of Orient-Express Hotels was named after the explorer. Hiram Bingham carries tourists from Cusco to Machu Picchu. A blue locomotive with a yellow inscription Peru Rail pulls five Pullman carriages built according to canons of the 1920s. 84 passengers can make use of their own compartments, a bar carriage (with an open-air porch outside), to which meals are supplied from the kitchen carriage. The predominant material inside the carriages is polished wood and brass and superior quality fabrics and upholstery. The luxury travelling conditions form a decent background for feasting your eyes on the views outside the wraparound windows.
Machu Picchu can be reached from Cusco e.g. by bus but a journey on Hiram Bingham is the most comfortable alternative. The train departs from Poroy station at 9 AM (three hours after the start of the bus journey). The train staff serves breakfast and the route leads through fields with picturesquely scattered Indian villages. The crop field terraces on the slopes of the Andes, gorges sculpted for centuries by water or ruins of the former fortresses of the Incas linked by stone roads are unforgettable views. The ruins of Quente (meaning a humming-bird) covered in flowers with myriads of humming-birds flying around are equally impressive. After more than three hours the train arrives in Aguas Calientes - a town surrounded by tall green mountains. There passengers take a bus to Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge where they can enjoy their lunch in charming scenery. A guided tour of the ruins starts after lunch (at that time the coaches depart).
The prospect of having a few hours of free time in Machu Picchu is very attractive. During that time one can drink tea at sunset, and re-board the train at 6.50 PM. The train bar serves cocktails and guests join in revelry with live music. A four-course dinner is then served accompanied by tastings of wines and beers of Peru and of various non-alcoholic beverages. During the journey it is worth venturing outside on the porch (or the platforms of the locomotives) to admire the unusually clear starry sky. The train reaches Poroy station at about 10 PM. Afterwards, passengers are transported back to their hotel. This journey leaves unforgettable memories of the beauty of the Andean landscape and the excellent service of Peru Rail - certainly worth the money spent.