Riding the rails …

Peru 2013 795
The Andean Explorer rests halfway through the journey between Cusco and Puno. Pic Sarah Nicholson

FROM The Orient Express to the Rocky Mountaineer, the romance of train journeys has long captured the imaginations of travellers the world over.

We’ve chosen the top 10 rail experiences that will bring out the explorer in you.

1. Peru’s Andean Explorer takes 10 hours to rattle from Cuzco to Puno, making for a leisurely journey between the wonders of the Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca, and vintage carriages are furnished in the Pullman style of the 1920s, with armchairs offering a comfy place to gaze at Andean peaks and mountain villages.

2. Vietnam’s North-South Railway – or Reunification Express – was built by the country’s colonial rulers early last century and today carries travellers 1726km between Hanoi and Saigon with the lengthy ride, which takes between 29 and 40 hours to complete, done in less than luxurious accommodations.

3. Pay $10 and complete the 30km journey from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the heart of this Chinese city in just eight minutes on board the Shanghai Maglev train, a wonder of modern technology that uses “magnetic levitation” to reach top speeds of 430km/h.

4. The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world’s longest rail line – 9289km of track laid in the early 1900s to connect Moscow with Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East – with today’s adventurers taking a detour to Beijing and completing the epic expedition in around two weeks depending on stops made along the way.

5. New Zealand’s Coastal Pacific  chugs between Christchurch and Picton on the South Island – the track snakes through the Waipara Valley, Marlborough vineyards, past snow-capped summits, and beside rugged east coast beaches . And while the hop takes five hours, many passengers break the trip with a stay in Kaikoura to go whale watching, with tours operating year-round.

New Zealand's Coast Pacific. Picture: Tourism New Zealand
New Zealand’s Coastal Pacific. Pic Tourism New Zealand

6. The seven-hour journey on the Bergen Railway carries travellers between Oslo and Bergen, crossing Norway from the capital to the west coast over Hardangervidda, which is one of Europe’s highest mountain plateaus, with the option to breaking the trip in Myrdal and riding 20km on the Flam Railway to Aurlandsfjord.

7. The Eastern & Oriental Express drifts between Bangkok and Singapore – it’s a three-night ride south and a two-night trip north – with the itinerary that takes in three South-East Asian countries. It includes stops to explore Penang in Malaysia and Thailand’s River Kwai and fine-dining experiences in vintage restaurant cars.

E&O bridge
The Eastern & Oriental Express. Pic Belmond

8. The Rocky Mountaineer carries two million passengers every year and travellers are offered five rail routes around the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, with the Journey through the Clouds an overnight itinerary that leaves Vancouver after dinner and arrives in Jasper the following afternoon.

9. Australia’s Indian Pacific dashes across the continent, ferrying passengers 4352km between Perth and Sydney on a passage that takes four days, with guests enjoying fine food and wine as they peer at a landscape that’s constantly changing between the Blue Mountains and Nullarbor Plain.

10. Spend five days and four nights on the Royal Scotsman completing a grand loop of Scotland – the journey starts and finishes in Edinburgh and crosses the heart of the country as well as visiting destinations on the east, north and west coasts – with stops to explor lochs, national parks, and castles. The five-star train is restricted to a maximum of 36 passengers.

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THE STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN ESCAPE ON SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2015

PressDisplay.com - Escape - 12 Apr 2015 - Page #28 PressDisplay.com - Escape - 12 Apr 2015 - Page #29Click here to see the story online

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