As American travel writer Paul Theroux once wrote: “Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night's sleep, and strangers' monologues framed like Russian short stories.” Part of the beauty of rail travel lies in slowing down and taking in the sights. Have your camera ready, for these scenic train rides promise some seriously stunning panoramas.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Often referred to as the ‘Toy Train’, this two-hour journey takes passengers on a return trip from Darjeeling to Ghum, and offers unparalleled views of both the mountains as well as local life. Running on the narrow tracks and steep gradients, the Toy Train has provided a rail link across the mountainous terrain since the 1880s, and it has been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage status. Don’t miss the view when the train circles around a manicured garden in Batasia — the view of Darjeeling town and the snowcapped peaks of Mount Kanchenjunga are truly breathtaking.
photo credit - railplus.com.au
The Ghan Expedition
Venture deep into the heart of Australia on The Ghan Expedition. Lauded as one of the world’s greatest train journeys, the four-day journey takes passengers from Darwin to Adelaide, across stunning and diverse landscapes that span green rolling hills, dusty deserts and hard to reach indigenous towns. The service onboard is five-star, and off train excursions include an outback bonfire and a cruise down the Nitmiluk Gorge.
Experience the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer, an award-winning train that offers first-class travel across Canada’s magnificent ranges and stunning valleys. Their most popular route is the historic First Passage to the West, which is celebrated for connecting Canada’s east and west. Perfect for history buffs, this two-day journey promises spectacular mountains, canyons and glacial lakes. Keep your eyes opened for the Canadian wildlife — you may get lucky enough to spot a bear!
photo credit - belmond.com
Belmond Hiram Bingham Orient-Express
Named after the famous American explorer who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911, this train runs return journeys linking Poroy and Aguas Calientes, the latter a town from which Machu Picchu can be accessed by bus. A one-way journey takes just under four hours, and transports you across some of Peru’s most inspiring landscapes during its winding journey through the Urubamba River Valley — think dramatic gorges and rugged mountains, all set across a backdrop of verdant green. There’s live traditional music to entertain, and good food. Enjoy brunch on outbound journey, or dinner on the return.
Napa Valley Wine Train
One for the scenery as well as the wine, the Wine Train is a three-hour return journey from Napa to St. Helena. The route cuts through the beautiful wine country, past sun-kissed vineyards and iconic wineries. School your tastebuds while you take in the sights. Check out their award-winning list of local wines, many from wineries on the train route itself, or taste your way through wine flights in the lounge cars.