The pristine, midnight blue and ivory Belmond Andean Explorer chugged onto the platform on Arequipa’s moody, misty, film-set of a station. Even the carriages have a story to tell, coming all the way from the other side of the world – Australia. In true Belmond style, the company had them shipped across the Pacific and installed a signature old-world meets contemporary interior design, by creative geniuses Muza Lab.
As we boarded the Belmond Andean Explorer with a glass of champagne in hand, the stuff we were told to pack into a modest holdall was whisked to our cabins and our luggage carried away by uniformed porters to the train’s stowage. Thee exquisitely designed train is a modern homage to slow travel, while a young Peruvian gentleman tickled a baby-grand’s ivories, and another beside him poured more champagne, careful not to spill any on his pristine white gloves. Another glided along the carriage, gracefully avoiding the gratuitous furniture, with a platinum tray of canapés, a taster of the exquisite four-course, silver-service meals that we were to enjoy on our journey by executive (and celebrity) Peruvian chef, Diego Muñoz. We knew this was going to be one special adventure.
Our cabin on the Belmond Andean Explorer was rather bijou – not the suite that we had seen on the website, but instead a convertible desk-and-sofa combo by day and two single beds by night. So for the ultimate luxury, ensure to enquire and discuss accommodation types. Alas, we weren’t going to spend much time in it anyway and besides, we quite liked it. Albeit it not being the best room on the train, there is a spirit of adventure about it all, that added to the experience, including an en suite bathroom that was no bigger than one in an airplane, but offered all the facilities we needed.
The icing on the cake of the trip was an excursion on Lake Titicaca. The serene body of water as big as a sea, thousands of meters above sea level, holds some fantastic stories. Like that of the Uros people who built man-made islands from Totora reeds to create floating villages on the water. These resilient people were once enslaved by the Incans and then by the conquistadors after them. They survived by heading to the harshest of environments at the highest elevations and miles out on the lake to escape