Ferrocarril Central Andino
Ferrocarril Central Andino Review
The Central Highlands' Ferrocarril Central Andino once laid claim to being the world's highest rail route. With the 2006 opening of China's Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the Peru route was knocked down to second place. No matter, though: this is one of the country's most scenic areas, and tracks cut through the mountains and plains all the way from Lima to Huancayo. The line these days is a shadow of what it once was, and trains ply the route only once or twice a month between May and November, requiring some careful planning if you want the journey to be a centerpiece of your visit to Peru. (The railway's website lists departure dates, with Lima-Huancayo service operating mostly every other Friday. Trains depart the capital's Desamparados train station at 7 am for the 12-hour journey to Huancayo. Return trips to Lima usually take place the following Sunday. The 335-km (207-mile) route twists through the Andes at an elevation of 4,782 meters (15,685 feet). The engine chugs its way up a slim thread of rails that hugss the slopes, speeding over 59 bridges, around endless hairpin curves, and through 66 tunnels—including the 1,175-meter- (3,854-foot-) long Galera Tunnel, which, at an altitude of 4,758 meters (15,606 feet) is its highest point. Snacks, lunch, and soft drinks are included in the price (S/19578-S/35024 round-trip). You can request oxygen if you get short of breath over the high passes, and the mate de coca is poured freely. The decades-old Clásico cars are okay in a pinch, but the newer Turístico cars are much more comfortable with reclining seats and access to the observation and bar car.