Riding the Andean Explorer Train Through The Andes

Riding the Andean Explorer Train Through The Andes

Peru Rail Andean Explorer going through Puno in Peru, South America

After a night of heavy rains, Bob and I departed Puno aboard PeruRail’s Andean Explorer headed through the Andes Mountains for Cusco.  Our early-morning departure soon left behind the very wet world of the village of Puno.

Stone houses along the Peru Rail train track in Puno, Peru, South America

Stone fences along the Peru Rail train track in Puno, Peru, South America

On the outskirts of Puno, we began to see thatched adobe buildings and also the use of stones in building fences.

Lake Titicaca shoreline near Puno, Peru, South America

Our final view of Puno was a landscape of water, hills and wetlands, all in pastoral shades of blue, green, and brown.

PeruRail Andean Explorer passes Juliaca Market in Peru, South America

photograph of a street market on the railway tracks in Juliaca, Peru.

Alongside the train tracks, entrepreneurs were busy selling everything imaginable.

PeruRail Andean Explorer train travels across the Altiplano in Peru, South America

One of the two reasons Bob and I wanted to ride on the PeruRail – Andean Explorer is that it is the second highest railway in the world.  The only other railway at a higher elevation, and one that we hope to travel on someday, is the Qinghai – Tibet Railway in Tibet.

Bob aboard the Peru Rail Andean Explorer in Peru, South America

Our second reason for wanting to travel aboard the Andean Explorer is that the operators of the famous Orient Express have 50-percent ownership of it.  Although only a ten-hour ride, the Andean Explorer lived up to the reputation of that famous connection.

Jean aboard the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

Comfy armchairs next to the train windows gave us both a chance to take in the beautiful scenery as the Andean Explorer chugged across the altiplano (high plain).  We decided to foot the bill for First Class seats on our run from Puno to Cuzco; it was very much worth the layout of cash.  The interior of the First Class coaches provided us with comfortable seating, and we had a lovely 3-course meal in the dining car.

Jean sitting in the PeruRail Andean Explorer open-air observation car in Peru, South America

The open-air observation car at the end of the train afforded the perfect location from which to film and take pictures.

Shamon conducts the traditional Andean ceremony called Pago a la Tierra aboard the Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

During the early part of our train trip, a local shaman on board the train presided over a traditional Andean ceremony called Pago a la Tierra (payment to Mother Earth).  The shaman carried out his traditional rites, which included the placement of coca leaves over a fire to generate wafts of smoke, and then ‘blessing’ our train for a safe passage through the Andes Mountains.  This blessing is no small deal.  In 1988, both the wife of the Mayor of Jersey City, USA, and the wife of the Mayor of Cuzco were killed together when their PeruRail train derailed and fell off an embankment near the city of Cuzco.  Having a local shaman take his time at the beginning of our train trip, to hopefully give us an extra chance at a safe passage, was greatly appreciated.

Lllamas on the Peruvian altiplano seen from inside the Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

The altiplano (high plain) is home to both alpacas and vicunas.

PeruRail Andean Explorer train crossing the altiplano in Peru, South America

As we climbed ever higher into the Andes Mountains, we observed that the whole plateau area has abundant water as was evidenced by the lush vegetation thriving on the mountain slopes as well as in the fields.

Children wave to the PeruRail Andean Explorer as it crosses the altiplano in Peru, South America

In rare instances, farms were grouped within sight of one another.  All the farms appeared prosperous with thriving crops, and as we passed by, the local children would run out to give us a quick wave.  In many instances, we could see that the locals continue to employ time-tested practices such as building new structures out of adobe bricks.

PeruRail Andean Explorer train stopped at La Raya in Peru, South AmericaSouth America

The PeruRail Andean Explorer train reached its highest point, 4,313 meters or 14,150 feet, at the La Raya Pass that marks the boundary between Cuzco and Puno.

PeruRail Andean Explorer stops at La Raya in Peru, South America

A 10-minute stop was provided to enable us to get off the train,

PeruRail Andean Explorer stops at the market La Raya in Peru, South America

 do some quick shopping, take a few pictures,

Quechua lady with a Llama at the market at La Raya in Peru, South America

and also to meet a few of the locals.

As the Andean Explorer climbed higher into the hillside, we were treated to lunch and a fashion show.

Fashion show aboard the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

Along with a terrific meal and other services, the PeruRail Andean Explorer did a marvelous job of providing live entertainment aboard the train at different times throughout the day.

Fashion show aboard the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

I found this lady in a traditional orange dress marvelous to watch as she completed intricate footwork during her dance.

Peruvian band on board the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

Aboard the Andean Explorer, some of the entertainment included music played by a Peruvian band.  The instruments they played are as follows:  on the left, the musician is playing a Bamboo Zampona Pan;

Musician plays a Bamboo Zampona Pan on board the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

on the far right, the musician is playing a Bamboo Zampona Zanga along with a drum;

Musician plays a charango guitar on board the PeruRail Andean Explorer train in Peru, South America

and this musician is playing a wooden charango guitar.

PeruRail Andean Explorer train crossing the altiplano in Peru, South America

The nearer the train drew to Cuzco, the mountain slopes became peppered with trees, the predominant ones being eucalyptus, and dwellings became more frequent.

Cuzco rooftops and distant hills, Peru, South America

After a wonderful day of traveling aboard the Andean Explorer, it was a thrill to find ourselves in the ancient Inca city of Cuzco.

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3 comments

  • Beautiful photos of the countryside. I’m amazed that folks set up little tables of sale goods on the train tracks!

    • Hi Michelle, Peru had many beautiful photographic moments, and the people, like those at the end of our train seemed very happy with life. An amazing place!

    • In the mountains of Peru, flat, dry land is a rare commodity, so the locals use any that is available to good use. I thought their use of the railway tracks was quite clever. Thanks for your comment.