The Andean Explorer run by PeruRail is currently classified as the highest in the world, having a scheduled passenger service, with a First Class service that makes the ten-hour journey a delight.
The first half of the journey from Cusco to Puno is dominated by the magnificent Andean mountains which tower over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuña and alpaca can be seen.
One of the best features of the Andean Explorer is the glass-walled observation car that provides the perfect platform for taking in the beautiful scenery.
The train stops where the track reaches its highest point, at the La Raya Pass, where the altitude is 4,313 m (14,150 ft). When the weather permits, travellers are welcomed by an exquisite view across the high plains to the snow-capped mountains and a beautiful old chapel, standing all alone in the middle of the Andean plateau.
Late in the afternoon, the train reaches Juliaca, a commercial railway junction town of around 150,000 inhabitants, whose rampant buying and selling often spills onto the tracks. When the market is active, traders move their wares off the track and then reset their stalls as the train passes. Children run after the train, grinning as they try to touch the observation car.