Travelling by TRAIN
The golden age of train travel may have been in the roaring 20s, but the art of journeying in style is still alive and well today, writes MICHELLE PRENDIVILLE.
The increasing trend of luxury train travel around the world has many advantages over travel on airplanes. During air travel the monotony of the journey is occasionally broken by the view of clouds through the plane’s window, however, a luxury ride on board trains provides ample opportunity for guests to witness the local environment, social and economic conditions and myriad of colours of the passing scenery. There are a number of reasons for the growing popularity of the luxury trains over air travel, which includes larger space, restaurants and bars, spacious and comfortable sleeping and seating area and even bathrooms. The Rocky Mountaineer train journey in Canada celebrated with Rail Plus New Zealand in January with healthy sales growth out of New Zealand, up 65 per cent in the last year. More and more New Zealanders are choosing to book train journeys around the world. Long-distance travel by rail is hardly the necessity it was back in the day, but the romance and adventure still remains. Trains can carve through wilderness that’s hard or impossible to access otherwise.
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, CANADA
Experience breathtaking scenery of glacier-fed lakes, majestic mountains and ferocious rivers in the Canadian Rockies. The world-class travel experience operates on not just one, but four different routes, through spectacular scenery with truly excellent on-board service. Rocky Mountaineer offers Western Canadian vacation packages that travel through British Columbia and Alberta. The two-day rail journey starts at Vancouver and ends at either Banff or Jasper. The
train overnights in the mining town of Kamloops, where passengers are treated to dinner and hotel accommodations. In the morning, one section of the train goes to Banff and the other goes to Jasper. Passengers come face to face with magnificent scenery with panoramic views through the oversized windows. Winding along canyons and climbing pine-covered slops, passengers will never miss the chance to take in all the views and even spotting of eagles, grizzly bears, big horn sheep and moose.
THE ANDEAN EXPLORER
There’s something refreshingly traditional about travelling by train and often the rail journey can be a destination in itself. What’s not to love about train travel – dining cars with full-service meals, uniformed wait staff, fascinating off-train excursions and more! A great example is in Peru where the ultimate way to get to Machu Picchu is aboard the luxury Belmond Hiram Bingham train. Back in Cusco, you can then take the Andean Explorer train which journeys across the Peruvian Andes to Lake Titicaca, arguably one of the most beautiful journeys in the world. Spectacular Andean scenery appears out of every window and you stop in some truly out-of-theway authentic places to interact with the locals and catch a glimpse of a still traditional life in the highlands. Both rail journeys are included in World Journeys’ 15 day Amazon, Andes and Altiplano itinerary through Peru – exceptional boutique accommodation includes an eco-lodge in the Amazon and a 16th century Conquistador’s mansion in Cusco, but the highlight will undoubtedly be the two luxury rail journeys.
Celebrating 100 years of the Trans-Siberian Railway, there has never been a better time to experience the world’s greatest railway journey between Moscow and Vladivostok. The TransSiberian Railway runs like a steel ribbon across mysterious Russia, connecting east and west from Moscow over the Urals, across the magnificent and endless steppe and alongside the shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake. With a length of 9,289km, it marks the longest railway line in the world. The line connects hundreds of large and small cities of the European and Asian parts of Russia, spanning across a record of seven time zones and takes eight days to complete the journey.
VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT EXPRESS, EUROPE
The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is one of the world’s most famous luxury trains. Step aboard and experience truly elegant travel, wrapped in timeless romance. The classic journeys take you to great European cities, including London, Paris, Venice, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. The most regular journey is London-ParisVenice and vice versa. It is a privately-run train of beautifullyrestored 1920s, 30s & 50s coaches, providing a five-star luxury train experience, running annually from March to November. Adventure and style are all intimately bound in journeys that crisscross Europe, rolling through sublime scenery to some of the continent’s most alluring cities. Delightful vintage cabins, gastronomic cuisine and lively onboard entertainment make a journey on this luxury train one of the world’s finest travel experiences.
GLACIER EXPRESS, SWITZERLAND
The Glacier Express is famous around the world for people to fall in love with. Travelling from Zermatt to Davos or St Moritz in Switzerland, passengers are awed by the scenic views of untouched mountain landscapes, deep gorges, delightful valleys, 91 tunnels and 291 impressive bridges, all experienced in around seven hours. The train is known for its extremely slow speed and that is because the train squeezes its way through the alps, narrow valleys and tight curves. Any time of year is great to experience this spectacular route, as long as the sky is clear enough to enjoy the views. In December to February, the special touch is the massive amounts of snow on the Oberalp Pass and mostly in the valleys too. However April to June offers the perfect combination of green valleys and snowy mountains.
Rocky Mountaineer passes glacierfed lakes, majestic mountains and rivers in the Canadian Rockies.
The Andean Explorer train journeys across the Peruvian Andes.