The Devil’s Nose Railway (Ecuador):
Reaching an altitude of 3604 metres at its highest point, Ecuador’s Devil’s Nose Train (La Nariz del Diablo) has often been referred to as “the most difficult train in the world”. It is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments of railway engineering of the early 20th century. Today the train runs from Riobamba, Ecuador’s third largest city, to Sibambe and takes about five hours. Near Alausi, a quiet mountain town, is the location of the “devil’s nose”, a mountain wall with an almost 45 degree decline, the steepest railway descent in the world which the train can only overcome on switchbacks. The views of Ecuador’s Chimborazo Volcano are magnificent. Only 40 seats are available on this train, so it’s important to buy tickets ahead of time.
The Venice Simplon Orient Express (London, Venice, Paris and various other destinations):
The Orient Express conjures up romantic images of early train travel and has long been one of the most iconic train trips in the world. Operation began in 1883 by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, and stopped in 2009. Today, a private company called the Venice-Simplon Orient Express continues to offer luxury train travels from London through Central Europe into the Balkans. Route offerings include London – Venice, Paris – Budapest – Bucharest – Istanbul, Venice – Krakow – Dresden – London, Venice – Prague – London, Venice – Budapest – London, Venice – Vienna – London, and Paris – Venice. The company’s rolling stock consists of beautifully restored original luxury sleeper cars from the 1920s and 1930s and the trains offer a truly luxurious travel experience, including 5-star dining. Various packages are offered, some of which include overnight luxury hotel accommodation in different cities along the route. Today’s version of the Orient Express does not come cheap: in 2012, prices range from about $1,500 to just under $15,000, depending on the route and duration chosen.
The Andean Explorer Train (Peru):
This 10-hour luxury tourist train service takes you from Cuzco in the High Andes of Peru to Puno, a historic city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Travellers can relax and enjoy stunning vistas in 1920 Pullman cars; during the first few hours they will see the dramatic High Andes, followed by a stop at La Raya, at a mind-boggling altitude of 4,321 metres. Fortunately the train is equipped with oxygen in case some of the travellers experience altitude sickness. An exquisite lunch follows while the mountain scenery gives way to the Peruvian Highlands where alpacas and vicuñas roam the landscape.