“All Aboard!” There it was! The Vistadome–a long strand of painted blue metal sitting heavily on the tracks at the Ollanta Station, waiting zealously for us to climb aboard, eager to carry us from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, a small village at the foot of Machu Picchu.
Never in my life had I ever ridden on a train before, so getting to ride one in Peru was an absolute thrill! Our train twisted for more than an hour on a snake-like railroad track up the side of a mountain and revealed to us a stunning panoramic of the Peruvian countryside.
Photo by Grace K
The view from the many windows lining the walls of the train was
spectacularly picturesque. We traveled past Peruvian farms where
hut-like homes stood lopsided on a landscape of
green-and-brown-squared, grass-laden fields that reminded me of a
colossal checkerboard. Tireless, hardworking farmers (both men and
women) tilled their fields and tended livestock, with their small
children nearby. Something that always caught my eye were the numerous
clotheslines pinned up in many of the dirt-paved yards with colorful
garments hanging on them, gently swaying in the breeze.
Photo by Dewey
Our train trailed across lofty bridges overlooking breathtaking
waterfalls, shimmering and splashing in a mist of white foam; over and
around mountains soaring into wispy clouds stretched over the cavernous
sapphire sky above; through vegetation growing in thick, green masses
by the tracks; and more–much more.
Photo by McKenna
We even traversed through dark,
gloomy, twisting tunnels that sent exhilarating, sharp chills down our
On the return train trip, our train attendants even entertained us with
a Peruvian fashion show down the aisle! They would quickly change into
festive shirts in the bathroom, and then would strut down the aisle,
showing off their fancy attire (which was all for sale). One attendant
even dressed from head to toe in a bright, flamboyant costume with a
white, fluffy alpaca puppet over his hand and arm, and danced down the
aisle to festive Peruvian music. Three kids from our group slipped on
bright, elaborate masks they had earlier bought at a local market and
danced down the aisle with him!
The experience of riding on a Peruvian train was amazing, and the
landscapes were like ones most of us have never seen before.
Photo by Elliot
There were also things about the ride that created a lot of laughs!
Every time we saw a striking landscape or interesting view out of the
windows, which was very often, we (and most of our parents) all jumped
to our feet and raced past rows of train seats, trying to get the best
shots possible with our new cameras. The only problem, though, was that
the ride was pretty bumpy! Often, when we would leap out of our seats
and bolt to peer out of the windows, the train would seem to bounce
over a bump in the tracks or whiz around a sharp turn and cause us to
have to catch our balance. I tripped over my own feet several times! It
was pretty funny, actually, watching people stumble down the aisle,
grab hold of the backs of chairs, try to keep their balance AND take a
picture at the same time! But I think what was even funnier, was the
portrait of people nearly climbing over one another to get near a
window for a good camera angle view of outside.
We crammed close
together like sardines in a tin can and pointed our camera lenses in
every direction. At one point, someone even pulled out a bird guide and
lots of us gathered to see what kinds of birds we might spot along the
banks of the Vilcanota River.
Photo by McKenna
I know we must have been a funny sight.
At times it was even tempting to hang our bodies out the windows for a
closer view. But I’m not sure any of us were actually brave enough–or
crazy enough–to do that!
Photo by Grace K