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Trip Report INCAS DEL PERU

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We took their 4 day tour from Lima to Huancayo on "the Historical Highest Train in the World" in October, 2013. It was a fantastic trip. Day 1 is a train ride over the Andes (nearly 16,000 feet high); days 2 and 3 are tours of the Mantara Valley around Huancayo; and day 4 is a return train to Lima.

The train was quite an adventure. The line was built at the end of the 19'th century and only recently refurbished, so everything is very old and prone to breakdown. It is also SLOW, in many places painfully so. We took 15 hours to cover 332 km (206 miles), so this is an average of under 14 mph. But the scenery is spectacular, and well worth the time. My only suggestion would be to consider combining this so as to avoid the trip back to Lima, as it is much less interesting the second time. In Huancayo we spent day 2 on an "Artisan Circuit", visiting many out-of-the-way craft shops and seeing how souvenirs are actually made, in many cases on original, antique equipment. Day 3, the "Historic Circuit" included visits to local archeological ruins, some requiring considerable hiking to reach. Both days included lunch at a local farm. Our "group" consisted of only 3 people (us and 1 other), so we had excellent personalized service from both guides. We also each received a dinner coupon in Huancayo; it was so substantial that my suggestion would be for two people to split a single dinner, and then go back again the second night.

The return train trip started out relatively boring but fortunately we both had ample reading material. However, after an hour or so the engine broke down, and there were no more spare locomotives. (We had gone through at least 3 on the out-bound trip.) We were stranded for three or four hours, before they finally procured busses and escorted us all off the train. It was afternoon before we were finally underway. Fortunately the highway paralleled the railroad track, so we followed the same route back. We could even count the switchbacks and tunnels from the bus, much as we had done while riding the train 3 days earlier. And, even though we sat in the train nearly 4 hours, the bus was so much faster that we arrived back in Lima at roughly the same time as we would have had the train run the entire distance.

In the confusion of the switch to busses several people had mentioned that we should be entitled to some refund; perhaps the difference between the train fare and the bus fare. I was unable to determine anything on board as almost no one spoke English, so after arriving home I started on the emails. I was quite surprised to receive over $100 a few months later; roughly double what I was expecting or felt we were entitled to.

If you are visiting Peru and can work this into your schedule, I highly recommend this tour. The train only runs once a month, so careful planning is required. Apparently the trip can be booked directly through the railroad; Incas del Peru is only one option, but we enjoyed their other services as well.

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