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Home > TRAIN OF THE ANDES
Argentina, Bolivia, Peru

TRAIN OF THE ANDES
Argentina, Bolivia, Peru

For many of us, thinking of trains is reminiscent of our childhood dreams. But what about the Andes: their secrets and mysteries, their thousands of colors and their millennium of history; are they not just as fascinating? Why not combine these two pleasures in a unique journey; the train being the best way to discover South America!
Our adventure begins in the Northwest of Argentina. Starting in Salta there is a train that supposedly climbs to the clouds! This is the highest train in the World, taking us all the way to San Antonio de los Cobres, at an altitude of 4200 meters. We travel through the heart of the Great Cordillera of the Andes, and its startling scenery that the pace of the ride allows us to appreciate in the best conditions possible.
We then enter Bolivia and cross it entirely. The Altiplano unrolls under our eyes... From the pleasant town of Tupiza, the railroad tracks lead us to the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt desert. The scenery is surreal... We then head for La Paz, the most typical Andean city with its colorful markets and its narrow and steep streets.
Further north, we come upon Lake Titicaca, cradle of the great civilizations of the Altiplano and natural frontier between Bolivia and Peru. From Copacabana and the Island of the Sun otherwise known as la “Isla del Sol” (where, according to the legend, Manco Capac, the first Inca, was born), we head to Puno where we take the train to Cusco. Other marvels are waiting there for us such as the citadel of Machu Picchu dramatically perched in the mountains. This site is only attainable on foot, following a steep path, or... by train ! Jump in !

Map

Itinerary

  • Day 2: Salta Airport - Salta - City Tour Salta
  • Day 3: Salta - Quebrada de Escoipe - Cachi
  • Day 4: Cachi - Molinos - Cafayate
  • Day 5: Cafayate - Quebrada de las Conchas - Salta
  • Day 6: Salta - San Antonio de los Cobres - Salinas Grandes - Purmamarca
  • Day 7: Purmamarca - Tilcara - Huamahuaca - La Quiaca - Villazon - Tupiza - Uyuni - Tupiza - Uyuni
  • Day 8: Paso Hito Cajon - Uyuni - Jirira
  • Day 9: Uyuni - Jirira - Uyuni - Oruro - Uyuni
  • Day 10: Jirira - Uyuni - Oruro - La Paz
  • Day 11: La Paz
  • Day 12: La Paz - Copacabana - Challa - Copacabana - Challa
  • Day 13: Challa - Copacabana - Kasani - Copacabana - Kasani - Puno
  • Day 14: Puno - Cusco - Puno - Cusco
  • Day 15: Cusco - Tambomachay - Puca Pucara - Q'enqo - Sacsayhuaman - Cusco
  • Day 16: Cusco - Pisac - Maras - Ollantaytambo - Sacred Valley
  • Day 17: Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco - Ollantaytambo - Cusco
  • Day 18: Cusco - Lima - Cusco - Lima
  • Day 19: Lima

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 2:


Domestic flight Buenos Aires* - Salta.


*National o international airport depending on time schedule and availability.


Included : domestic flight, airport tax

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 2: Salta Airport - Salta - City Tour Salta

Welcoming at Salta's Airport and transfer to the hotel in private vehicle.

Transfer with an Engish-speaking guide.



Half day (morning or afternoon) dedicated to the visit of the city with an english speaking guide in a private vehicle.


Salta is the capital city of the province of the same name and it is located at 1,187 masl, at the foot of Mount San Bernardo. The city was founded on April 16th 1582 by Hernando de Lerma. Both colonial-style houses and modern buildings coexist harmoniously.


Out of all the historical buildings, you visit the cathedral, built in the nineteenth century, the San Bernardo convent and the Cabildo, which houses the picturesque historical museum of the northern region of Argentina.


Visit to the very recent and interesting MAAM museum (Museo Archeologia de Alta Montaña or High Mountain Archaeological Museum) which exhibits several mummies discovered at an altitude of over 6,000 meters.


Note: MAAM closed on mondays.



Included : transfer arrival, reception with english-speaking guide, english speaking guide, entrance fees, private transport

Day 3: Salta - Quebrada de Escoipe - Cachi

Departure to Cachi, located at 2200masl, at 157km from Salta.


We drive through spectacular landscapes such as those offered by the Piedra del Molino mountain pass at 3,600 meters, the Quebrada de Escoipe, a deep gorge where the green of the woods contrasts with the ochre of the soil on the bare mountains of “Cuesta del Obispo” and Los Cardones National Park composed of stark expanses scattered with candelabrum-shaped cacti…


Cachi is a tranquil Andean native village featuring low-whitewashed houses and the San José Church with its sculpted roof of cactus-wood dating back to the eighteenth century. We visit the small archaeological museum which has a wonderful collection of pre-Inca and Inca ceramics, especially those pertaining to the Santa María culture.


We head to La Paya Ruins. It is an important site, with many ring walls, circular stone tombs and the place known as the Casa Morada del Inca, a separate building from the rest, apparently built as a transit station in the Inca Trail.


We return to Cachi.



Night at the El Cortijo Boutique Hotel in standard room.


Included : english speaking guide, guide expenses, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 4: Cachi - Molinos - Cafayate

Departure by private vehicle to reach the small town of Molinos, dating from 1659; there is a church, probably erected in the late eighteenth century, by the last royal governor of Salta, Don Nicolás Severo of Isasmendi, buried there. Around this chapel, the town of Molinos grew.


You cross the majestic "Quebrada de las Flechas" surrounded by a mysterious moonscape.


White dunes announce the nearness of Cafayate, the largest city in the valley of Calchaquies, whose economy relies on the wine industry. Wine tasting in the evening.



Night at the Killa Cafayate in standard room.


Included : english speaking guide, guide expenses, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 5: Cafayate - Quebrada de las Conchas - Salta

This morning, we travel to Salta through the “Quebrada de las Conchas” which undoubtedly offers the visitor one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Northwest of Argentina, with its imposing semi-desert mountains featuring multi-colored rock formations sculpted by erosion.


A century-old sight conceived by nature for our benefit!



Included : english speaking guide, guide expenses, private transport

Day 6: Salta - San Antonio de los Cobres - Salinas Grandes - Purmamarca

We ride in a private vehicle along the railway tracks of the famous “Tren de las Nubes” and head first for Salinas Grandes and then for Purmamarca.


We leave Salta (1,200 masl) and after a 166km (104mi) ride, we arrive in San Antonio de los Cobres at 3,774 masl. Before we stop to visit Santa Rosa de Tastil (3,200 masl) and the pre-Inca site which dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries AD (a half-hour walk, approximately).


Later, we stop in San Antonio de los Cobres. Surrounded by mountains with virtually no vegetation, this wind swept village and its low buildings give an impression of remoteness. We visit the small museum dedicated to the highest railway-track in the world. Countless pictures describe its construction in the 1930s: what a saga!


As we follow our road, we reach a vast white expanse of land which contrasts against the pure blue of the sky. We are now in the very midst of one of the largest salt deserts in Argentina (1,200 sq. km), Salinas Grandes.


As we drive along a winding dirt track for a few miles, we reach the Lipán Mountain Pass, located at 4,170 masl and later the last stop of the day’s tour: Purmamarca, “the Holy Land” in Aymara language. This little town is renowned for its seven-colored mountain, “Cerro de los Siete Colores”, a mineral rainbow.


Note 1: a 347km (216mi) trip with some delicate mountain tracks lasting approximately 6h30 min.


Note 2: during the rainy season, between November and March, the access to the Salinas Grandes might become virtually impossible.



Night at Los Colorados Cabanas Boutique in Superior Bungalow.


Included : english speaking guide, guide expenses, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 7: Purmamarca - Tilcara - Huamahuaca - La Quiaca

A quiet day-start to enjoy the "Cerro de los 7 colores" and the village of Purmamarca.


Departure by private vehicle to hit the Andean road, arrive after twenty kilometres to Pucará Tilcara, a pre-Hispanic Omaguaca village founded over 900 years ago. We visit the village and the remarkable collection housed in its museum including mummies, funeral vases, jewellery and other objects found in archaeological sites in the Northwest of Argentina.


We continue north to Humahuaca, located at 2940masl, one of the most important trade centres in times of the Vice Regency of Peru.


We pass through Abra Pampa and reach finally La Quiaca, next to the Argentine – Bolivian border.


233 km – 3 hours


Included : english speaking guide, guide expenses, private transport

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 7: Villazon - Tupiza - Uyuni

We meet our driver at the Argentinean – Bolivia border. Transfer to the pleasant town of Tupiza (3 hours on a dirt road).

Train Tupiza - Uyuni : 7.15pm - 1.15am

Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.
Included : private transport, train ticket, room & breakfast

Day 8: Paso Hito Cajon - Uyuni - Jirira

We meet our Bolivian driver at the border post of Hito Cajón, entry gate to the South Lipez area. Today we will ride around 355 km (6 hours) in our private jeep, to reach Uyuni, a small town at the shores of the Uyuni salt flat, 3650 m.a.s.l. On the road, we will cross diverse landscapes, at altitudes between 4200 and 4750 m.a.sl.

Night at the Doña Lupe accommodation*.
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 9: Uyuni - Jirira - Uyuni - Oruro

Today we will discover the world’s largest salt desert! At 9 a.m. we leave the hotel with our jeeps to the Salar de Uyuni (el. 3650 m.a.s.l.). After an half an hour ride, we stop in the village of Colchani to visit its salt exploitation and salt hotel (closed since 2001). We will then ride 73 km on the salt desert (around an hour and a half) to reach the Island of Incahuasi. This surprising island lost in the middle of the salar, offers an incredible view over the salt desert and the several volcanoes that surround it. Of volcanic origin, it is covered with stromatolites and giant cacti (stromatolites are fossilized bacterial colonies, first traces of life on earth). In the afternoon, we will keep riding 46 km on the white desert (around half an hour) to reach its northern extremity. Here, on the feet of the Tunupa volcano (5432 m.a.s.l.) we will spend the night in the small village of Jirira. Before arriving, we will stop in the neighbor village of Coquesa, famous for its “chullpas”: mummies of the Chipaya culture.

Night at the Tambo Aymara hotel***.
Wednesdays and Saturdays, departure of the train Expreso del Sur for Oruro at midnight. Hotel available until your departure from Uyuni. Arrival in Oruro the next day at 7 a.m.
Included : lunch (no drinks), dinner (no drinks), entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast, train ticket

Day 10: Jirira - Uyuni - Oruro - La Paz

Partial ascent - no technical difficulties - good physical condition required
We start the day early to climb up the volcano Tunupa, a colorful mountain located only few kilometers from the salar. Tunupa is the name of the pre-Inca god of volcanoes and thunderstorms.
Our jeep drops us off at the end of the track above the village, at an elevation of 3850 m.a.s.l. We will then trek 3 to 4 hours to the mirador (el. 4700 m.a.s.l.). What an exceptional panorama! It almost seems like we are above the clouds or the sea, but it’s the world’s largest salt flat we are looking at! The summit (el. 5432 m.a.s.l.) cannot be attempted since the path is too dangerous.
We will walk back to Jirira in the afternoon and from there drive to Uyuni, where we will arrive at the end of the afternoon after a 2.5 h ride (140 km). We will stop on the road to visit a salt hotel and a salt exploitation.
Trekking time: 4h
Elevation gain: +850m/-850m
Reception at the train station and private tranport to La Paz.

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : lunch (no drinks), private transport, guide (hiking), room & breakfast

Day 11: La Paz

Our private driver will pick us up in the hotel lobby at 09:00 am for a half-day tour around the best points of view over the city and into the Moon Valley. La Paz, world’s highest capital elected in 2014 as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities, is surrounded by the high picks of the Andes. From many parts of the city we can admire the white summits of the Cordillera Real and the imposing Illimani, protector of the city. From the K’Illi K’Illi mirador and the Laykakota Park we will enjoy a panoramic view over the capital. The Montículo, in the bohemian Sopocachi is the classical meeting point of lovers and newlyweds for romantic pictures. Since 2014 La Paz is proud of its new gondolas. From the sky the panorama over the city and the mountains is unique and we can get an impression of the social gaps while flying over different neighborhood. We will then drive to the south, cross the rich "Zona Sur" and get out of the city to enter the Moon Valley. Here we can enjoy the quietness and walk among the lunar rock formations during an hour.
NOTE: The K’Illi K’Illi mirador and the Laykakota Park are closed on Mondays.
Spanish speaking local guide

Night at the Rosario hotel***.
Included : entrance fees, private transport, local spanish-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 12: La Paz - Copacabana - Challa

Departure from the hotel at 9 a.m. with a private transport. We will follow the Lake Titicaca and the Cordillera Real until Copacabana (3 ½ hours).
In the morning, a motorboat will take us to the Northern end of the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) (2 to 3-hour trip depending on the weather conditions). Visit of the Inca site of Chincana and of the Sacred Rock of the Incas where the Viracocha God gave birth to his son Manco Capac, the first Inca. Short hike on the island to the village of Challapampa, and visit of the museum of Marka Pampa.
The boat will then take us to Challa where we will spend the night.
Note: During 2 days, a boat will be at our disposal to transport the group as well as the bags during the walks.


Night at the hostel Qhumpuri (basic comfort).
Included : private transport, entrance fees, box lunch, local spanish-speaking guide, boat ticket, room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

Day 13: Challa - Copacabana - Kasani

Nice hike in the morning across the cultivated terraces covering the slopes of the island, to the village of Yumani (2-hour hike – option to link Yumani and the Fountain of the Inca by boat). The view over the lake is superb. We will then descend the beautiful stone staircase to the Fountain of the Inca (Fuente del Inca), where we will find the boat (around 500 steps!).
After the temple of Pilkokaina, will will cross to the Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon) to visit the temple of the “Ñustas”, temple of the virgins.

Departure with our private vehicle (or taxi) to the border post of Kasani (15 minutes).
Included : private transport

TRAVEL BOOK

Day 13: Kasani - Puno

Private transport Kasani - Puno. visit of the aymara villages of Chucuito, Juli and Pomata.
Night at the hotel Intiqa.
Included : local guide, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 14: Puno - Cusco

Transfer from the hotel to the bus station.
In the morning, transfer to the Puno train station. Departure for the long journey to Cuzco, aboard the Orient Express train. We admire wonderful landscapes along the road. Lunch included (on board).
Note 1: the train operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from November to March. From April to October, it also operates on Fridays. It makes no stops. As for the tourist bus, it does operate every day and stops on several occasions to allow visits.
Note 2: visitors are not accompanied by a guide on this train journey.
Note 3: journey in first class, around 6-hour travel time.

Reception at Cusco's train station and transfert to the hotel.
Night at the hotel Encantada.
Included : transfer departure, lunch (no drinks), train ticket, private transport, reception with english-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 15: Cusco - Tambomachay - Puca Pucara - Q'enqo - Sacsayhuaman - Cusco

Departure at 8:00 am in the morning for a day spent visiting Cuzco and the surrounding areas. In the morning, visit of the archaeological sites overlooking the city: Tambomachay, Q’enko, Pukapucara and Sacsayhuaman. We then walk down to the San Blas district (the artists’ district). We pass by the famous 12 angles stone and continue to the San Pedro market to familiarize ourselves with local products. In the afternoon, visits of the Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) and of the Cathedral where some paintings from the Cuzco School are displayed as well as many gold and silversmithery pieces and precious stone treasures. Return to the hotel at the end of the afternoon.


Night at the hotel Encantada.
Included : entrance fees, private transport, room & breakfast

Day 16: Cusco - Pisac - Maras - Ollantaytambo - Sacred Valley

Departure at 7am in a private vehicle on a day-trip exploring the Sacred Valley. The first stop will be at the ruins of Pisac, one of the main Inca sites, where the different areas (administrative, religious, military) are scattered on the mountainside. Also observable are the large terraces that were used for agriculture but also protected from the effects of erosion. Then we will take a walk around the colorful handicraft market before taking to the road again, this time in the direction of the salt flats of Maras that, since Inca times, have collected salt water from a local source. This is then transformed into salt through the evaporative effect of the sun. We then walk down to the Urumbamba River where the vehicle awaits to take us on to Ollantaytambo, the last Inca architecture village to still be inhabited. Visit of the monumental stone fortress.
Transfer and check-in to the hotel at the end of the afternoon.
Night at the hotel Villa Urubamba.
Included : private transport, guide expenses, english speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 17: Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco

Transfer in private vehicule to Ollantaytambo's train station.
Departure by Ejecutive train for a two hours journey to Aguas Calientes.
In the early morning, direct connection to the shuttle service that will drive you to the citadel of Machu Picchu.
Arrival to Machu Picchu, wonder of the world.

Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city of the fifteenth century in Peru. Abandoned during the collapse of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu sacred city, forgotten for centuries, is considered as a masterpiece of Inca architecture. It was unveiled in 1911 by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham.

Together with your english speaking guide, you will start to discover the archaeological complex, still covered by the morning mist, built on top of a ridge and surrounded by precipices. A stunning view that evolves with the progression of the sun! After the guided tour (around 3 hours for the visit), you have the opportunity to discover on your own.

Train back to Ollantaytambo.
Reception at the train station and transfer to the hotel in Cusco.
Night at the hotel Encantada.
Included : private transport, train ticket, guide expenses, bus ticket, entrance fees, english speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 18: Cusco - Lima

Transfer to Cusco's airport.


English speaking assistance from your hotel to the airport.

Flight with destination Lima.


Reception at the airport and transfer to the hotel.
Night at the Casa Andina Classic Miraflores Centro.
Included : private transport, departure transfer with english speaking guide, domestic flight, airport tax, transfer arrival, room & breakfast

Day 19: Lima

Three hours before take-off, transfer to Jorge Chavez airport in Lima. Connection with the international return flight.

Assistance by one of our representative for your check in and customs formalities.

Included : private transport, transfer departure, departure transfer with english speaking guide

El Cortijo Boutique Hotel   Cachi

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Enjoy a warm atmosphere, an exclusive Andean stile kitchen, an ideal site to contemplate art and nature and our personalized and kind service. The traditional family Bergesi´s villa became what today is a charming hotel, adding comfort and modern installations to the original building. The restaurant Catalino “chef author, wines and conserved food” is where the cook exhibits his style, adding to the regional kitchen his gourmet touch. The hotel rooms maintain the original architecture and materials like adobe, natural stones, wood and cane with old furnishing combined with regional paintings.

Killa Cafayate   Cafayate

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Killa Cafayate is a hotel de charme located in the heart of town. Developed after an old colonial house it is today a hotel with own character and a very particular style. It is a place to rest and encounter with ample guestrooms, fresh galleries and colorful gardens. Decorated with exclusive artisan designs, invites to enjoy its history and present with unique hospitality style.

Los Colorados Cabañas Boutique   Purmamarca

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Cabañas Los Colorados is a complex of bungalows, which are located in northwestern Argentina, in Jujuy Province. The Cabañas el Colorado are located in the "Quebrada de Humahuaca" declared "World Heritage" UNESCO 2003. Located at the foot of the seven color hills (western) within the magnificent tour of the "Paseo de los Colorados." At 500 meters of Purmamarca's main square.

Hotel Tambo Aymara   Uyuni

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Welcome to THE Ethno-Hotel of Uyuni with singles, twins and double rooms all with heating and private bathroom. The hotel has a restaurant, a charming Ethno-bar, a video library and a parking.

Lodging Doña Lupe   Jirira

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

Doña Lupe is pleased to welcome you in her little hostal, situated at the northern part of the Uyuni's Salt Flat, at the bottom of the Tunupa volcano. The scenic view over the Salt Lake is simply incredible.The comfort is basic.Its rooms with private bathrooms and toilets, are not heated and the hot water is not always available.

Hôtel Rosario   La Paz

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

The original house where now Hotel Rosario is located was built in 1928. It's first name was Residencial Rosario. In year 2001 Residencial Rosario changed to Hotel Rosario, because it met all the requirements to be categorized as an hotel with three stars.This hotel offers an excellent comfort and a great quality of services.

Hotel Qhumpuri   Challa

Level : 1*
Included : room & breakfast, dinner (no drinks)

The small hotel of Qhumphuri, is located in Challa, little village at the northern part of the Sun Island, on the Titicaca Lake. The welcoming is excellent and the food delicious. The hotel overhang the bay. Its rooms, equiped with private bathroom and toilets, offer stunning view over the lake.

Night in the hotel   Puno

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Located just a 5 minutes walk from the center of Puno, the Intiqa Hotel offers tastefully decorated rooms and equipped with free Wi-Fi. You may try and taste the regional flavours in the restaurant. The Intiqa Hotel offers comfortable rooms decorated with warm tones. They are equipped with cable TV and a private bathroom with shower. Every morning you may enjoy a full breakfast with regional products. Guests will also enjoy local specialties at the restaurant.

Night in the hotel Encantada.   Cusco

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

This charming hotel is located in the Arts District in San Blas, the heart of Cusco. The modern and elegant infrastructure offers a great comfort, surrounded by magnificent gardens where guests can relax in between various visits to Cusco and surrounding areas. Beyond the discovery of the Inca capital, the location is the ideal starting point to visit some of the most famous tourist attractions in South America such as the magnificent sanctuary of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley sites.

Hotel Villa Urubamba   Sacred Valley

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Villa Urubamba hotel is implanted in the heart of Sacred Valley in a country setting. Located along the Urubamba River, it offers comfortable rooms in a tranquil setting opening onto a lush garden. Located along the Urubamba River, it offers comfortable rooms in a tranquil setting opening onto a lush garden.

Night in the hotel   Lima

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

A modern & ideally located hotel in the heart of Miraflores, with 58 contemporary, well-equipped rooms on 6 floors. Perfect for value-seeking travelers keen to be in the midst of Lima’s greatest density of restaurants, shopping and nightlife. While Miraflores is a traditional, residential neighborhood, it has also become the most fashionable, upscale district of Peru’s cosmopolitan capital, renowned for its dynamic nightlife and gastronomic scene.

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