When planning the Machu Picchu portion of our trip, I knew the time constraints we had with work commitments and annual leave therefore we couldn’t complete the 4 day hike to the great Incan Citadel. As our South American adventure was panning out to be quite an opulent affair, with the whole Belmond brand we felt there was no better way for us to experience Machu Picchu than a return trip on the Belmond Hiram Bingham train and a stay at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge hotel overnight.
This train is named after the US explorer who claimed to have discovered the remains of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in 1911, although there is some evidence of earlier expeditions by British and German missionaries, engineers and speculators.
It was a very early start from our base in Cusco. We were picked up from the Belmond Monasterio hotel and driven to Poroy, where the Hiram Bingham was gleaming on the platform. Poroy is 8 miles west of the ancient city of Cusco and then arouand it takes around 3 hours 15 minutes to Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes, the small town at the foot of Machu Picchu. There is a separate check-in lounge for all Belmond passengers where you can relax and grab a drink whilst waiting to board the train.
As we enjoyed an early morning coffee, our luggage was swiftly taken by our waiter and we were asked to make our way to the platform to watch a traditional Peruvian dance performance before being led inside the Hiram Bingham train. A quick tour of the amenities followed before we were seated at our private seats and chairs which were very comfortably positioned with a huge window to look at the Peruvian country side. I just adored the brass fixtures and fittings and the decadent mahogany panelling that you imagine from a bygone era of train journeys. I felt a bit like I was in one of those Agatha Christie Poirot movies! Yes weird, I know!!
Just a note on the baggage, you are only allowed to take on a small carry-on bag per person, as they don’t have the ability to accommodate large cases. A plush Belmond Hiram Bingham bag is provided for you to store your essentials. We had our larger cases stored at the Belmond Monasterio in Cusco, as we were heading back there the following evening. To be honest you don’t need much for the overnight trip and things are very casual so no need to take any smart clothes!
Once you’re all settled, the Maître D and your waiter will come and check that the menu is suitable for you and make any dietary adjustments required. The journey starts at 09:05 and you arrive and check into Machu Picchu around 13:00.
Our trip was planned on a two day itenary, as mentioned before with a stay at The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge:
Hiram Bingham departure from Poroy Station : 09:05 ● Hiram Bingham Train arrival Agues Calientes : 12:45 ● Arrive at The Belmond sanctuary Lodge Hotel (via private minibus from Aguas Calientes): 13:00 ● Machu Picchu closes at 17:30
Machu Picchu opens at 06:00 ● Bus leaves for Agues Calientes station ● Hiram Bingham train departs at 17:00 ● Hiram Bingham arrives at Poroy station at 21:15
Your waiter will bring your welcome drinks or aperitifs, following which brunch will be served to your table. After this you can relax and enjoy the Peruvian countryside, where you will see the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo).
The Hiram Bingham can host up to 84 guests, however there was probably less than half of this around the time of our trip providing a much personalised service. The carriages are timeless elegance, luxuriously painted in the Belmond distinctive blue and gold colours and are furnished in the style of the 1920’s Pullman carriages. Each carriage has been decorated in polished wooden panels and brass fixtures and fittings, with large chairs and plenty of space to stretch out.
At the back of the Hiram Bingham is the Observation car, offering an open space in which to truly appreciate the stunning Peruvian landscape. Observation cars are a great addition to any train and this one is furnished with dark wood, polished brass and large cushioned seats, thus making it the perfect place to sit, relax and watch the unfolding Peruvian landscape.
The two dining carriages offer a capacity of 42 seats each, with tables beautifully laid with gleaming crystal and polished cutlery. In the morning, on the way towards Machu Picchu you’ll enjoy a delectable three-course brunch, complete with a refreshing sparkling wine and freshly squeezed orange juice. In the evening, on the journey from Machu Picchu to Poroy, you will be served a luxurious four-course menu, complete with Pisco Sour and Peruvian delicacies.
The bar car is the perfect place to enjoy a Pisco Sour and experience live Peruvian music courtesy of the on board band. During the journey to Machu Picchu the barman invites passengers to learn how to make traditional Pisco Sour. I’d definitely urge you to try the Pisco Sours and even sit through the Pisco Sour making class!
Once you get to Aguas Calientes, private minibuses will take you on the 15 minute drive up to the gates of the citadel. At the entrance guests are free to go straight into the citadel with one of the Belmond guides for an orientation as tickets will have been pre-purchased.
After the guided tour, you are free to wander through the ancient site at your own pace or head back to the Belmond sanctuary Lodge for a pretty afternoon tea. Well, I’m sure after all the walking and climbing, you can imagine what we did?
Your day draws to an end as you’re either transported back to Aguas Calientes to catch the Hiram Bingham back to Poroy or as we did, you can head back to your room and relax before the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge activities commence for the night.
The Belmond Hiram Bingham return train journey and a stay at the Bemond Sanctuary Lodge is…
Sheer unadulterated perfection for:
Couples, families, honeymoons, and without a doubt, special occasions
We booked our overnight trip and stay to Machu Picchu through Laura Olds, our Travel Advisor at Latin America for Less.
Carretera Hiram Bingham • km 7.5 Machu Picchu • Cusco Peru • Tel: + 51 984 816 956
I would love to know if you’ve experienced the splendour of the Belmond Hiram Bingham train journey to Machu Picchu, please leave comments and we can reminisce together!
Read the next blog post in the South America Series:
PIN FOR LATER
Until the next time…