Another Great Peruvian Railway Journey
Note: This article was first written and published in February 2002 in my Sri Lanka Railway site. Given the passage of ten years, it needs to be read as a historical document.
This is another rather 'touristy' but nevertheless a spectacular and enjoyable rail journey.
The railway line from Cusco ascends through a series of switchbacks and then descends to follow the course of the Urubamba River through The Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The train used to run to Villacabamba but a massive earthslip put a stop to that.
The train now terminates at Agua Calientes - the stop for Macchu Picchu for the lazy non-backpack classes!
The author took this train to Aguas Calientes (and back the next day) on the 17th of Jan 2002.
The railway is no longer state-owned. The coaches and the Autovagen still sport the Orange and Gold livery but the locos sport the dark blue livery.
Remarkably, for a railway line at this elevation, there are only a few short tunnels and these are at the Aguas Calientes end.
The one-way journey takes approx three-and-a-half hours
The trains set off from the San Pedro station in Cusco.
The first train is the Autovagen, a push-pull arrangement which sets off at 0630 hrs.
The train ascends through the poorer suburbs of Cusco through a series of switchbacks which involves the train coming to a complete stop and one of the trainmen setting the points.
|Engine man sets points for the zig-zag|
Passengers in seats 1 and 2 get a driver's eye view of the track but constant views of the train narrowly missing cows, sheep and humans is enough to cause permanent straightening of one's hair!
The driver sits in a cubicle to the right of the passengers in seats 1 & 2.
American female tourists mistake this for the toilet!
Soon the train reaches a summit of approx 12000ft with spectacular picture postcard views of Cusco and then descends along the Urubamba River.
|Vendors at Ollantaytambo|
At Ollantaytambo local vendors surround the train.
Backpackers hoping to hike the Inca Trail get off at Kilometer 88 or Qorihuayrachina
This leaves the 'real tourists' who get off at Agua Calientes.