The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru

It is early when we set off for Poroy train station, which is about 20 minutes by car from Novotel Cusco. Our taxi has a crack in the windshield and the driver seems far more bothered about finding a good radio station than watching the road ahead of us.

As we enter Poroy train station we hear music and then we see two dancers wearing masks. We follow the sound of the music towards a family, dressed in traditional clothing. One of the drummers is a little girl, probably around two years old.

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The Hiram Bingham train has arrived and we are shown to the platform. We are greeted with champagne and the musicians and dancers follows us. As the train pulls of they wave and we settle down for the four hour journey to Aguascalientes.

We watch the scenery change as we leave Poroy behind and travel through fields where farmers plow the ground with oxen. A young boy is working and he stops to wave when he sees the train pass by. Nearby children are helping themselves to ears of corn from a field.

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A band is playing in the observation car as we cross the Urubamba river and journey on towards Ollantaytambo. We stop for the remaining passengers to join us at Ollantaytambo station and a group of women come towards the back observation car with their crafts; hand painted rugs, bags and hats.

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During lunch we pass the remains of an Incan bridge across the Urubamba river and begin to see more Incan agricultural terraces and remains of Incan structures. A group of rafters see our train and pose for photos. Later we see porters taking a group up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  The trek can take between two and seven days, depending on where the group starts.

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Four hours after leaving Poroy train station we arrive at Aguascalientes. We are in a valley and on either side of us are huge, green mountains. We are taken to awaiting minibuses, which will take us up to one of the peaks. There are no roads in the town of Aguascalientes and no cars. These minibuses, which run a shuttle service up to Machu Picchu and back, have all been brought here by train.

We board a minibus and settle down for the 20 minute drive. The driver negotiates hairpin bend after hairpin bend as we watch the train shrink to a tiny dot below us. Our guide distracts us from the sheer drop by the side of the road by telling us about the floods in 2010 that washed away part of the train tracks and trapped over 2,000 tourists in the town of Aguascalientes.

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The final leg of our journey must be done by foot and we set off up the steps that lead us to the lost city. Sooner than we expect we find ourselves at a viewpoint overlooking Machu Picchu and the view is absolutely breath-taking. We are standing 2,430 metres above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest and looking down on the most amazing urban creations of the Incan Empire.

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The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru

by Uncover Travel time to read: 2 min
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