Take the Legendary Hiram Bingham Train!

Written by Peter Lauffer
February 9, 2023

Are you curious about the legendary Hiram Bingham Train? Hiram Bingham is a name that almost everyone who has heard of Machu Picchu knows. The American explorer rediscovered the lost Inca city in 1911 after stumbled upon it while on an expedition to find the legendary "lost city of gold." As such, Hiram Bingham has been hailed as one of the most important explorers. It is no wonder why the luxurious train to Machu Picchu is named after him. Read on for more information about this particular train and how you can take it from Cusco to Machu Picchu, traveling in style.

Map Hiram Bingham Train

The history of the Hiram Bingham Train

In 2003, "Orient Express Hotel Ltd" launched the Orient Express Machu Picchu Train, which took passengers in a luxurious style from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Later, the train was renamed "Hiram Bingham Train," honoring the American explorer who rediscovered the Machu Picchu site. The train's atmosphere was designed to evoke the excitement of early exploration but with extra sophistication. A company in South Africa constructed the train's chassis, and the French firm "Compagnie Internationales des Wagons-Lits" crafted the carriages. In 2014, the company "Orient Express Hotel Ltd" changed its name to Belmond. In April 2019, Belmond became part of the exclusive LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand.

Bar Lounge on the Hiram Bingham Train

Who was Hiram Bingham?

Hiram Bingham was the son of missionaries from Honolulu, Hawaii, who became an early explorer of the Andes. He earned a B.A. degree from Yale College in 1898, a degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1900, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1905. After losing his father early, Hiram Bingham turned to a life of adventure and exploration.

Hiram Bingham

In 1911, he explored the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for the first time. The following year, he returned with a group of explorers from Yale and the National Geographic Society to find more artifacts. Bingham successfully discovered artifacts hidden in ruins for hundreds of years. Bingham died in Washington D.C., on March 23, 1956.

Ferrocarrill Santa Ana: The Hiram Bingham Railroad

The Hiram Bingham Train runs on the narrow gauge railroad named "Ferrocarril Santa Ana." Ferrocarriles Peru built the railroad to transport supplies and personnel between Quillabamba KM 148 and Cusco KM 0. Today, the railroad goes from the Hydroelectric Power Plant "Machu Picchu II" KM 122 via Aguas Calientes KM 110 and Ollantaytambo KM 67 to Cusco San Pedro Station KM 0.

Hiram Bingham Train in Aguas Caliente

As the train departs from Poroy, it starts its descent towards Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley. It makes a switchback, heading down, before reaching the Pachar station. Pachar is where the railway from Cusco merges with the sideline from Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Every train that goes to Aguas Calientes takes a stop at Ollantaytambo. The railroad then follows the shores of the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes. Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo) can be accessed only by train (there are no proper roads leading to it). Aguas Calientes is the small town where buses leave for the Machu Picchu citadel.

Hiram Bingham Train: An Overview

The Hiram Bingham Train is a luxury train in the Andes Mountains in southern Peru. Belmond designed the train to emulate the British Pullman carriages from the 1920s, featuring finely upholstered seats and period-style woodwork. Belmond wanted to make the journey to Machu Picchu a luxurious experience. It takes about 4 hours to complete the trip between Poroy and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo.)

Interior Hiram Bingham Train

The Hiram Bingham has an Observation car at the back, providing an open area to enjoy the breathtaking views of Peru. The carriage has dark wooden furniture, shiny brass fixtures, and plush seats, making it a perfect spot to chill out and marvel at the Urubamba Valley and Cusco scenery. The two dining carriages accommodate up to 42 people each, and the tables are decorated with sparkling crystal and shiny cutlery. During the trip to Machu Picchu, a three-course brunch with sparkling wine and freshly squeezed orange juice is served. On the journey from Machu Picchu to Poroy, a four-course menu with Pisco Sour and other Peruvian delicacies is served. The bar car is the ideal place to savor a Pisco Sour and enjoy some Peruvian music provided by the onboard band. 

Where can you take the Hiram Bingham train?

From May 1. to January 1. (High Season)

The Hiram Bingham train runs from the Poroy Railway Station outside Cusco to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo).

From January 2. - April 30. (Rainy Season)

The Hiram Bingham train runs from the Belmond Rio Sagrado Hotel in the Sacred Valley to the Machu Picchu Pueblo Station. Belmond transports the Passengers between Cusco and the Rio Sagrado Hotel on a bus. (Bi-Modal Service)

Hiram Bingham Train near Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham train itinerary

You will be picked up early morning by a private car from your hotel and then transferred to the train station in Poroy. After boarding the train, the maître will invite you to brunch. You can observe the breathtaking scenery from the observatory car on the train. After midday, you will arrive at the Aguas Calientes train station, where you will be transferred by a private bus to Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham Train in Ollantaytambo

The visit to the citadel of Machu Picchu takes about 2 hours. After the guided visit, you will enjoy afternoon tea at the Sanctuary Lodge, one of Peru's most outstanding hotels, just across from the Machu Picchu entrance. Back in Aguas Calientes, you board the Hiram Bingham Train for your journey back to Poroy. On the way back, dinner is served, and you can have a drink at the bar of the observation car, where live music is played.

A private vehicle will drive you from the Poroy Station back to your hotel in Cusco.

Citadel of Machu Picchu
Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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