Puno to Cusco: Andean Explorer train or bus?

Old Jan 31st, 2012, 04:07 PM
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Puno to Cusco: Andean Explorer train or bus?

I am trying to determine which would be a better way to travel from Puno to Cusco for my family (includes kids 11, 11 and 5) this February. I have read at several places that this train journey ranks at the top 10 train journeys in the world. On the other hand, I have also read that it is no great shakes and that travel by bus is quite cool too with its stops and such.

I am aware of a significant price difference, but I am willing to overlook that if the train journey is indeed that cool. We have been to many countries and have had many train journeys as well. As such, merely a train experience is not something that we crave for - however, not knowing if or when we would ever return back to Peru, this is not something that I want to miss if this is indeed impressive.

I am curious to see if we have any members on this forum that have done both and have comments.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 02:22 AM
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When we were on the train from Machu Picchu to Cusco, two different families raved about the Andean Explorer. one family had a 20ish son, who seemed to have liked it and the other had younger kids who also loved it. apparently the food was great, the scenery beautiful, and the chairs a lot more comfortable than theVistadome we were in that day.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 04:17 AM
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Have done both doubt you will find anyone else here who has.
Andean Explorer second biggest train rip off in the world
after "Hiram Bigham" #1 scam by perurail.com custom designed to shaft clueless newbie tourists.Long boring fake tourist shows expensive drinks bad food locals ride for 95% less. Always try to say something positive so the coach is nice

Better The Route of The Sun www.inkaexpressbus.com
Lunch Touristic stops 80% cheaper you see and do WAY more..

With a crowd I might hire a driver guide usually through the
Hotel to save from $100 usually private xport very best for me
it is a nice ride with many touristic stops.
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Old Feb 1st, 2012, 08:25 PM
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I see your point, and agree that with the proliferation of tourism around the world, the indegenous innocence has been lost in many places.
We try to stay away from "candyfloss" tourism, and often pity the impressed tourists sitting and sipping wine as local artists "perform" pseudo-cultural shows.
Somehow, I am beginning to re-think the train. I don't care about the expense as much, if it indeed is one of the top train journeys of the world. But I get really put off by the fake displays of the so-called local culture.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 12:42 AM
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We chose the Inka Express, partly because of the cost but mainly through speaking with other travellers who all seem less than impressed with the train. The bus follows more or less the same route across the altiplano where there is a LOT to see along the way. The bus stops at various places of interest along the way all o which were well worth seeing.

The one downside was the incessant commentary from the over enthusiastic guide which got more than a little wearing on the 8 hour trip! (take an iPod).

There are a few photos of the trip on our blog:

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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 05:10 AM
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I've heard people rave about the Andean Explorer, too, saying it's far better than the train to Machu Picchu. I've seen their photos and it looks fabulous.

Yes, the journey is cheaper but far less comfortable by bus, but in the grand scehem of things I doubt the extra cost of the train over the bus will put that much of a dent in a total trip budget once flights hotels and everything else are added.

You can book the train direct with the operator at www.perurail.com
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:21 AM
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Crellston's comment about the guide Is interesting as our guide barely said a word. And when he did he spoke in such a quiet tone I couldn't hear him.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:34 AM
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We took the Inka Express last year and were extremely happy, the drive across the antiplano was gorgeous, with stops at some delightful little places. Yes, it makes for a long day, but the bus is comfortable. And luckily for us our guide know when to let us be!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2012, 08:59 AM
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Bring an MP3 player for long bus/train rides. You never know which guide or fellow passenger will be annoying rather than entertaining.

Can't help on th question you asked though. As qwo said, I doubt anyone else has actually done both. People have a tendency to justify their choice as best, no matter what it is!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:21 PM
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I got back and did end up taking the Andean Explorer from Puno to Cusco. As expected, there was some of pseudo cultural experience on board (fashion-show, local music performance on the train, pisco making etc.).
But it was easy to ignore when it got too much because of the vistadome (last carriage of the train), which was also an open carriage with just a rail as tha barricade between the carriage and the tracks below. Not dangerous in any way since the train moves at a liesurely pace.
However, we did spend hours in the vistadome carriage just marvelling at some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen in my visit to 24 countries. Although the bus route runs close to the train at several places, it is difficult for me to understand how can you get the view sitting at a bus seat.
Although pricey (average ticket price is close to average monthly income for a Peruvian), we thought it was one of the most memorable part of the trip.
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