IN FOCUS | SOUTH AMERICA
Orient-Express Hiram Bingham
takes clients to Machu Picchu in
luxury and style
BY MARK EDWARD HARRIS
WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING TO the ancient Inca
city of Machu Picchu, Peru, the usual jumping-off
point is the colonial Peruvian town of Cuzco. The
Inca Empire’s former capital, located at an elevation
of 11,200 feet, is the oldest continuously inhabited
city in South America.
From Cuzco, one of the most luxurious ways to
reach Machu Picchu is onboard Orient-Express’s
Hiram Bingham train, named after the Yale University archeologist/explorer credited for discovering the “Lost City of the Incas” in 1911. This year
marks the centennial of that historic event.
The Hiram Bingham winds past mountain peaks
and along the serpentine Urubamba River to the village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, home to
an ancient temple complex called the Fortress. Some
passengers disembark here to spend a night or two
before continuing on to Machu Picchu. The Sol & Luna
Lodge & Spa and the Hotel Rio Sagrado are world-class properties with spas located in the area.
Several high-end tour operators such as R. Crusoe & Son offer packages that explore the Sacred
Valley by bus and, then, have their clients board the
Orient-Express Hiram Bingham in Ollantaytambo
for Machu Picchu. They later return to Cuzco by train.
The blue and gold interiors of the Hiram Bingham
train cars highlight its elegant 1920’s-era decor. Two
dining cars, each with a capacity of 42-seated passengers, have tables set with fine cutlery and crystal. The
onboard chef creates regional cuisine accompanied
by South American wines — Chile and Argentina
The view from the Orient-Express Hiram Bigham
continue to impress the wine world with
In the observation bar, a pisco sour is
the cocktail of choice. With live Peruvian
music in the background, the bartenders
invite passengers to learn how to make
this traditional drink.
Machu Picchu is perched 2,000 feet above the Urubamba River in one of the most spectacular settings
in the world. Seeing the ancient city at anytime of the
day is thrilling but, at sunrise, it becomes magical. R.
Crusoe & Son suggests that clients spend the night
at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (at an elevation of 8,200 feet), situated at the entrance of the site,
so they can have exclusive access to Machu Picchu
before other visitors arrive. Those in good shape and
with decent hiking shoes can reach vantage points
for dramatic picture taking.
After a morning of on-site exploration, followed
by lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, it’s time
to descend the 2,000 feet to the train
station and board the Orient-Express
Hiram Bingham for Cuzco.
To see Machu Picchu
in a series of photographs, visit www.
MARK EDWARD HARRIS
South & South & Central Central America America
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