Travel South America by Train 2023

Written by Peter Lauffer
March 1, 2023

Train travel in South America in 2023 is sure to be a truly remarkable experience! With its spectacular landscape, diverse culture, and rich history, South America is the perfect destination for those seeking an unforgettable journey.

Trains take you to the most incredible destinations, from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon rainforest. You can explore vast landscapes, beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, and much more. Train travel in South America is a convenient and cost-effective way to get around. You can quickly reach where you want to go with trains connecting cities, villages, mountains, and jungles. The trains are also more comfortable than buses.

If you want to take your train travel to the next level, you can opt for a luxury train tour. These tours are the ultimate way to explore the continent in style with fine dining, entertainment, and even spa treatments. Whether you book a train tour or go it alone, you will have an incredible time!

Trains in Peru

Railway Map Peru

South America train tours are an absolute pleasure; indeed, there are few better ways to see the continent. Several of the best train trips in South America are in Peru. The most famous of these—and probably the most famous of all South American train journeys—is the train to Machu Picchu, but Peru has several other excellent routes as well, including a three-day journey on a Belmond train that runs from Cusco to Arequipa by Lake Titicaca. 

Carrion Viaduct on the Lima - Huancayo Railway Line, Peru

South American train travel varies from the luxurious to the more basic. One relatively basic train adventure in Peru is the breathtaking route from Lima to Huancayo. This train climbs from sea level up to the second-highest railway station in the world at 4,781 meters (15,781 ft) above sea level in just 6-7 hours. 

Regretfully, the Lima-Huancayo train has yet to determine the timetables for 2023. We are optimistic that the second-highest railway in the World will resume soon, and we will keep you informed of future departures.

Trains in Bolivia

Bolivia Railway Map

In Bolivia, the railways are mainly used by the local population. Tourists, however, can enjoy an authentic journey via the train to a variety of destinations, such as the Uyuni Salt Flat in the Andes and the Chiquitania region with its Jesuit Missions in the east.

Currently, a weekly train service called the Ferrobus runs between Oruro and Villazon. However, the "Wara Wara Express" and "Expreso del Sur" trains are unavailable. Those who plan to use the train on the Bolivian Altiplano should be aware of possible last-minute timetable changes.

Wara Wara Express in Villazon waiting for departure

Trains in Brazil

Brazil Railway Map

Train travel in South America is rarely more beautiful than the journey through the Atlantic Rainforest from Curitiba to Morretes in Brazil. Other railway journeys in tropical surroundings can be found in the Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo areas. The historical cities of Ouro Preto, Sao Joao del Rei, and Tiradentes, all of which are not far from Belo Horizonte, are full of railway history.

A lesser known destination for train travel is the Brazilian Hill Resort Campos do Jordao, where an historic electrical railway connects various villages throughout the valley. Campos do Jordao can be easily reached from Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro by car. 

The Corcovado Rack Railway is a famous mountain rail line in Rio de Janeiro, which stretches from Cosme Velho to the summit of Corcovado at a height of 710 meters. The top of the Corcovado is well known for its enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer and its stunning views of the city and nearby beaches.

Train Sao Joao del Rei - Tiradentes

Trains in Argentina

Argentina Railway Map

Argentina is home to some fantastic railway trips. One of the most famous is the steam train journey "La Trochita" from Esquel to Nahuel Pan in Patagonia. Those looking for an adventure can take a train from Buenos Aires to Patagonia. Overnight trips with sleeping cabins are available from Buenos Aires to Bahia Blanca and Viedma to Bariloche. You have to travel the 280km between Bahia Blanca and Viedma by bus.

La Trochita near Esquel

From Cordoba, a beautiful train ride leads to the Andes and the station of Valle Hermoso. Furthermore, the iconic "Tren a las Nubes" operates only on the last few kilometers from San Antonio de los Cobres to the Polvorilla Viaduct. Our trip from Buenos Aires to Lima includes the excursion on the "Tren a las Nubes."

Trains in Ecuador

Ecuador Railway Map

Previously, Ecuador was another excellent destination for those who wished to travel by train in South America. The train journey from Quito to Guayaquil through the Andes was a breathtaking trip. Unfortunately, the Ecuadorian Railway company went bankrupt during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is not clear yet whether a private investor can be found to reopen the rail services anytime soon. 

Stream Locomotive 53 at the Duran Railway Depot, Ecuador
You can find fantastic ideas on train travel in South America by consulting the information on the tours we offer. Every trip we host is designed to bring about the most incredible adventure, and we include trains in our itineraries because they always add a special touch of majesty and excitement to a trip. We also are diligent to keep your comfort in mind, so a certain level of reliability and comfort on the trains is mandatory for our tours. 
Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
Liked this post? Share this post with your friends on social media!