A brief review of railway travel and a compilation of some of the most iconic train journeys around the world.
The beginning of a new era
When the first steam locomotive was built in 1804, it became an important milestone in the timeline of rail history. From transportation of people to goods and cattle, the railways became engines of change. Over time, rail routes and journeys became much more than modes of transport. As trains chuffed through diverse terrains over centuries, they began challenging the way travel is done. So much so, that train journeys have occupied a unique space in laid back travel across lands and cultures, with spectacular scenery as the biggest draw.
Rail journeys: Timeless travel for incredible experiences
Whether you like your wide leg-room and bespoke service in luxurious carriages, or love the romance of laid back journeys with views to die for, travelling aboard a railway carriage has its own charms. Each train journey is unique with fine dining, platform views, or even stopovers along the way. Routes traverse rugged terrains offering spectacular scenery on-the-move. Trains offer luxurious downtime with personalised service and choice of engines, tracks or ancient classicism. Trips are crafted for the ultimate rail journey experience – with comfort, incredible vistas and social encounters with a like-minded traveller community. So let us chuff along to explore the most iconic train journeys across the world.
1. A Russian odyssey
The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian takes pride of place among the most classic epic train journeys. The route is a 15 day sojourn amidst Tsar-like luxury with en suites, heating and fine dining. Crossing eight time zones and spanning a length of 9288 kilometers across Russia, this is easily world’s longest rail route. As the train chuffs from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Far East coast, you can expect the most memorable train journey of your lifetime.
2. Passage to Africa
If you want to discover Africa in style and luxury, book yourself on the Rovos Rail. It is a journey fashioned to perfection with first class rail service. The wood-panelled coaches from a bygone era complement the air-conditioned elegance of en suite rooms and observation cars. Sweeping vistas take you past the Victoria Falls for unrivalled views Take a detour with a bespoke safari or go hunting, experience this rail journey with a difference. Old world charm, gorgeous views, and fine dining – what more could you ask of a train travel?
3. Up-close with Australia
Rolling through the countryside with high quality rail service, is The Ghan; Australia’s train marathons. Traversing 1,851 miles across Australia, this 26 coaches train rolls through the backyards of interior Australia. The train windows are designed for unrivalled views of the terrain, flora and fauna. From Adelaide to Darwin, travel through rustic deserts, outback towns and Aboriginal sites. Or board the train mid-way, take time out for whistle tours, get up-close with camels and kangaroos, and see Australia at its natural historic best.
4. Rocky Mountaineer in Canada
For spectacular views of glacial lakes, gushing rivers and green forests of the Canadian Rockies, book the “Gold Leaf” ticket aboard The Rocky Mountaineer. This 2 day train journey is an unforgettable experience, with the most incredible of views through a constantly changing mountain landscape. It is a slow paced journey amidst the most lush greenery and wildlife, with dome cars and observation balconies to for thrilling views of an extreme adventure.
5. Dallying with clouds in Argentina
The Tren a las Nubes train journey is not for the faint hearted. The train climbs 13,800 ft over seven hours making it the highest train journey in the world without a rack and pinion system. Dramatic scenery, wide windows and the thrill of a dangerous steep climb, are the highlights of this rail journey. The circuit includes departure by road from the city of Salta, with stops at La Polvorilla and San Antonio de los Cobres, to get you acclimatised to the steep climb!
6. Journeying the Scottish Highlands
With just 36 passengers on board, The Royal Scotsman is the best choice for travellers who seek deep one-to-one engagements with fellow travellers aboard a laidback railway journey. The pace is slow averaging 20 mph, snaking through Scotland’s famous lochs, highlands and cliffs with stopovers at Scottish villages. World class cuisine with some Scottish flavours thrown in, castles, and golfing, a feel of true British aristocracy is what you can expect.
7. The Silk Route By Rail
Retrace the ancient trading routes along The Silk Route aboard the Shangri la Express. Travel 21 days in style and elegance, spanning 5 countries and amazing cultures. Take the East Bound train from Moscow to Beijing, or the West Bound, or a shorter 13 day journey from Moscow to Almaty aboard the flagship luxurious Golden Eagle train.
8. Travelling the Grand Canyon
9. Scaling The Bernina Pass
From Chur to St. Moritz, the narrow gauge Bernina Express Line climbs over the Bernina Pass at 7000 ft. The route cuts across miles and miles of spectacular scenery, through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges of alpine landscape, craggy Alps and ravines. With panoramic windows fitted on the roof to soak in the views, this train journey is an unforgettable experience. This is truly an alpine rail experience at its most spectacular, with the chance to explore the Swiss Alps in style.
10. The ultimate Andean adventure
The Belmond Hiram Bingham train journey is a must-do for all rail travel aficionados. Rugged mountain scenery, vast step farms cut into the mountainside and the ruins of Machu Picchu beckoning you; this rail journey is a once-in-a-lifetime Andean adventure. The swanky vintage train has an observation car with an open deck for incredible views of the varied geography.With five routes on offer, the Belmond train from Poroy to Machu Picchu is easily the best, with a series of switchbacks on the steep climb up to Cusco before descending into the Sacred Valley of the Incas.