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mlgb Jul 4th, 2012 07:21 PM

The High Altitude Train to Huancayo
For those with extra time and a love of trains, high altitude scenery, and cultural tourism, I recommend the Ferrocarril Central Andino Train from Lima to Huancayo.

It runs somewhat on a somewhat irregular schedule from now through mid-November. I was able3 to buy the ticket online, but it took weeks to process the credit card, and the same would be true for any refund. There may be better options to purchase them in Lima at one of the supermarkets.

it is a full day, though spectacular scenery, and at one time the highest train service in the world. As you reach the highest elevations, there is a nurse on board who has medication and oxygen available (she actually goes through the cars and checks on people who are getting drowsy, an early sign), I went to Cusco to acclimatize for the train!

Huancayo itself is not particularly developed for tourism, although there are group tours as well as private tours available to outlying communities, probably best arranged in advance since there are only a few operators. There are some links on the FCCA website. I stayed at a guest house that I won't recommend to the typical Fodorite, but it was bookable on short notice through hostelbookers. Actually it was comfortable enough, other than tons of barking dogs and a somewhat sketchy neighborhood.

I wound up visiting the Huancayo Sunday market for an hour (mostly it is commercial goods, but a few interesting photo ops. Really the highlight was going to the Cochas communities and by sheer luck stumbling into a traditional dance performance of the Chonguinada. There is regular bus transport to this town as well as taxis, or you can possibly book a tour, but it's likely to be highly market up.

Good food in the market for breakfast, and there is a cafe in the mall (yes) that is not bad.

Photos to tempt you onto the train

Huentetu Jul 5th, 2012 03:17 PM

Great photos! I have done the train a couple of times and the drive several times. Huancayo is a great destination for an off the beaten track visit. There is a mall?!

mlgb Jul 5th, 2012 06:38 PM

Haha, yes a 2-story one at that, a Real Plaza with food court, kid play area, supermercado, atms, restrooms, taxi stand, etc. I think everyone in Huancayo was there shopping with or for their mothers. I had a sandwich and some dessert at Coqui Cafe (good) and tried Norkys (not as good but ok). However Neither measured up to that 2 soles breakfast pictured in my blog.

crellston Jul 6th, 2012 11:45 PM

Excellent photos. Looks like our sort of trip! Thanks for posting

mlgb Jul 7th, 2012 11:00 AM

Thanks crellston, your trip reports have certainly helped me with my SA travels so glad you enjoyed.

It really was worthwhile, and I had debated taking the bus back but the train is great for taking photos, especially from the open bar car in the back.

I will be following your research and reports on Ecuador and Columbia, they are on my maybe list.

crellston Dec 19th, 2012 02:31 AM

Mlgb Just bookmarking this for our next trip. Could you enlighten me as to the difference between the "touristic" and "classic" fares? Also, does the train run year round? We will probably be arriving in Peru from Ecuador in early June

mlgb Dec 19th, 2012 08:34 AM

Hi Crellston, the fares and schedule are posted on the link

Service is intermittent and only during the dry season. It looks like there is a train from Lima to Huancayo on 29 June. Nothing is shown for April or May which surprised me. Maybe they are doing maintenance this year.

There are also busses which run Lima to Huancayo and go over more or less the same route, and are much faster, but I liked the train.

Tourist class is 235 soles one way and 350 round trip. Basic ("classic") is 120 soles/195 round trip.

mlgb Dec 19th, 2012 08:36 AM

Also, I advise not buying your tickets in advance on the internet. Changes are too difficult. I think you can buy them at some of the supermarkets in Lima.

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