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 a few times a year; tickets
are easy to come by, but you will have to plan around the infrequent departures 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 just a handful of dates between April and November. Trains depart the capital's Desamparados train station for the 12-hour journey to Huancayo. 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 hugs the slopes, speeding over 59 bridges, around endless hairpin curves, and through 66 tunnels—including the 1,175-meter-long (3,854-foot) 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. 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.