Central & South America / Chronological / Destinations

Adventures on the Orient Express Train to Machu Picchu

“Good Morning! Would you like champagne, orange juice, or a mimosa?” asks the formally attired attendant on the Hiram Bingham, the Oriental Express train to Machu Picchu in Peru. The welcome drink is just the beginning of a luxurious day discovering one of the great wonders of the world.

At Poroy Station in Cusco, Peru, colorful folkloric dancers welcome guests boarding the Orient Express Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu
At Poroy Station in Cusco, Peru, colorful folkloric dancers welcome guests boarding the Orient Express Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu

While sipping the welcome drink at the modern Poroy Station exclusive to the Hiram Bingham, guests get acquainted. To the sound of Andean pipes, folkloric dancers swirl and twirl in a kaleidoscope of reds, blues, yellows and oranges. On board the blue and gold carriage, an online version of the New York Times is waiting on our reserved table, which is replete with white linen and crystal. The train consists of two dining cars, an observation bar car, and a kitchen car, and reflects the sumptuous luxury of the 1920s Pullman era.

The Hiram Bingham leaves from the Poroy Station at the civilized hour of 9 a.m., a 20-minute ride from the historic city Cusco high in the Andes Mountains. The Backpacker and Vistadome trains depart at 6 a.m. from Cusco and travel the switchback portion, which some may find interesting.

With the magical and mystical scenery sliding by, Hiram Bingham guests enjoy a five-star brunch. The gourmet menu may begin with olive-corn tamales, asparagus pudding, and roasted alpaca loin with elderberry compote served with a choice of international wines; be followed by an artichoke and Andean cheese cannelloni; and end with white chocolate ginger sorbet.

During the journey there is plenty of time to sit in the observation car, which can be filled with people enjoying live music and marveling at the views of the Andes and the Sacred Valley. A viewing platform on the last car offers another viewing option. The train closely follows the path traveled by Hiram Bingham in 1911 that led to his discovery of Machu Picchu.

The train pulls into the small town of Aguas Calientes before noon. Guests can do a bit of shopping at the crafts market before making the short walk across the bridge to waiting buses for the ride up the serpentine road to Machu Picchu. The hair-raising ride is part of the adventure with its precipitous views – for those who dare to look – of the green valley far below.

Arrival at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary is timed for 12:30 when the majority of the morning train visitors are preparing to leave, giving Hiram Bingham passengers the advantage of exploring the ancient citadel in relative solitude. An experienced guide leads the Hiram Bingham guests around the spectacular site. Regardless of the weather, which can be misty or rainy, the experience is unforgettable.

Guests gather for late afternoon tea at the Orient Express-owned Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. Just steps from the ancient citadel, the lodge offers overnight guests the chance to experience the sunset and sunrise, and to explore the ruins in the morning before the busloads of tourists arrive.

On the bus ride down to the waiting train, a young Andean lad races straight down a path and appears at all the hairpin turns waving and shouting, “Adios!” The Hiram Bingham Orient Express departs at 6 p.m. and pulls into Poroy station around 9.30 p.m. so there is little daylight time left to enjoy the scenery on the return trip.

Pre-dinner Pisco Sour cocktails are served in the bar along with other libations accompanied by live entertainment. The relaxing four-course à la carte dinner includes pumpkin cream soup scented with star anise followed by salmon trout with champagne pink pepper sauce accompanied by Peru’s own Tacama wines. Special dietary requests are no problem.

The Hiram Bingham Orient Express Train, especially when coupled with stays at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge and Cusco’s charming, elegant Monasterio Hotel, a former monastery built in 1592, makes for a once in a lifetime experience.


Orient Express


Monasterio Hotel


Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge


All trains to Machu Picchu



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