The Hiram Bingham is one of Belmond‘s luxury train services in Peru. It travels the route from the railway station at Aguas Calientes as the base of Machu Picchu, through Ollyantaytambo (where most of the other trains stop), further along the valley to the Belmond Rio Sagrado Hotel. If you’re staying at the hotel there, then you get alight directly into the property, or if you’re continuing onwards to Cusco as we were, there’s an inclusive minibus.
However let me rewind to the start of the journey. We booked the train tickets via a travel agent who was a member of the Belmond Bellini Club, a preferred travel agent scheme. The cost of the journey is around $350 per person, one way.
The train is timed from Cusco to depart in the mornings, to allow a full day in Machu Picchu service breakfast, and then returning in the evening serving dinner. We opted to take a regular Peru Rail train in on the outward journey, however travelling back on the Hiram Bingham service for dinner.
For the journey back, we arrived at the station at Aguas Calientes to be greeted with a large queue of people checking in, however to the right side of the gate there was an sign for Hiram Bingham guests. On production of our tickets we were ushered immediately through, to be greeted by the next rather welcome sign.
After all, who doesn’t like a VIP lounge? We were greeted with glasses of champagne and cold towels to cool off with with our luggage taken care of by the team of porters.
There was a band playing music who would also be on the train later, providing after-dinner entertainment.
I wandered along the train, taking a few photos.
For the railway geeks, you’ll notice that it’s a narrow gauge railway (3 feet / 914mm).
We were then invited to board and shown to our seats which is when the fun really began.
We were shown to the table and perused the menu, making our dinner choices and the invited to the bar in order to enjoy an aperitif and mingle with the other guests.
I was travelling with a good friend of mine (also gay), and it transpired that there were a number of other couples amongst our travelling companions.
After enjoying the obligatory Pisco Sour (well two), we returned to our table to enjoy dinner. The house red and white wines were included and actually were rather lovely. There were other wines available by the bottle, however didn’t end up sampling them.
After a rather enjoyable dinner, we once again retired to the bar, where the live music had again started and mingled with the other guests. Digestifs were on offer, also included in the tickets, so rounded the evening off with a Glenlivet.
The three hour journey was suddenly over far too quickly, and we arrived at the Belmond Rio Sagrado hotel. Disembarkation was swift and there was a fleet of minibuses to take us onwards to Cusco and to our hotels.
From there it was around a ninety minute drive back to Cusco where we we dropped off directly at the Palacio del Inka.
Overall it was a fantastic evening that I can’t recommend enough. Whilst pricey, everything was included, the food was excellent and it was the complete end-to-end experience. Definitely a must do when in Peru, and budget allows.