On again, off again
Aboard these multi-day luxury rail journeys, passengers spend their days winding through the mountainous Andean landscape or wildlife spotting in the Canadian Rockies before disembarking to spend the night at the most luxurious hotels along the way.
By Katie Milton
On a Rocky Mountaineer journey through Western Canada the driver will slow as the train passes bald eagles, bears and mountain goats, allowing guests to capture the perfect shot of Canadian Rockies wildlife. In operation since 1990, these luxury rail journeys through British Columbia and Alberta are a grand tourist experience. With over 65 vacation packages ranging from two days to over two weeks, the day train travel is complemented by night stopovers at a range of luxury partner hotels along the way. The First Passage to the West Discovery Drive is a six-day rail journey that passes through Banff, Lake Louise and Calgary. Gold Leaf guests will stay in a number of Fairmont properties as well as Sheraton, Delta Hotels and Resorts, and Four Seasons Hotels. There are options for one way or round-trip journeys as well as packages that include an Alaskan cruise. Gold Leaf prices start at A$3,958 per person for a four day journey, inclusive of a three night hotel stay.
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains
Golden Eagle Luxury Trains are synonymous with long distance luxury rail journeys. Inside the deluxe interiors of their fleet, the Prestige Continental Express, the Golden Eagle and the Golden Eagle Danube Express, passengers are transported throughout Europe, from Venice to Istanbul, Moscow to St Petersburg and everywhere in-between. Alternately, the Shangri-La Express travels exclusively on the Silk Road route between Beijing and the Chinese border. While on board all guests have a personal cabin attendant service and are free to roam between restaurant carriages, bar and lounge cabins and private ensuite sleeping cabins. Each journey is accompanied by an off-train excursion program and fine dining experiences. On the Treasures of Eastern Europe voyage passengers will begin the tour with a two-night stay at the five-star Hotel Danieli in Venice and complete the journey with a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest. Prices for a Gold Class 12-day journey from St Petersburg to Moscow start at USD $13, 995 (about A$19,032) per person, twin share.
The Tren Crucero, a restored steam locomotive winds through the mountainous Andean landscape on one of the three remaining sections of the original Trans-Andean railways. The journey, from Guayaquil to Quito takes four days and three nights and is touted as the flagship luxury journey through Ecuador. The cruise train can carry up to 54 passengers and is comprised of four air-conditioned First Class, Ecuadorian style carriages as well as dining and bar carriages and an observation car with lounges and an open viewing platform. On board guests can enjoy a range of drinks and local tapas with an off train itinerary inclusive of guided excursions to natural and cultural attractions. Overnight stays occur at Hosteria D’Franco in Bucay, Hosteria La Andaluza or Hacienda Abraspungo in Riobamba, and Swissotel Quito. Prices start from USD $1,450 (about A$2,014) per person, twin share.