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“Good service”

PeruRail - Expedition
Ranked #31 of 888 Tours in Cusco
Certificate of Excellence
Type: Rail Tours, Tours
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: For the adventure traveller who enjoys discovering every destiny at his own pace, the Expedition is the best option to Machu Picchu, in which the trip transforms into a journey that begins even before reaching its destiny with the best quality and comfort at the best price.
United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Good service”
Reviewed December 6, 2012 via mobile

I travelled to Machu Picchu on the expedition and came back on the vistadome. The only real difference is the vistadome has leather seats and a little more leg room.

If your on a budget, then you can't go wrong with the expedition class. It was comfy, spacious (I'm 6ft) and the onboard service was good.

The best thing about the journey were the views.

1 Thank foxwales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PeruRail, Community Manager at PeruRail - Expedition, responded to this review, December 27, 2012
Dear Mr. / Mrs. foxwales,

We want to thank you for your comments and for taking the time to share them with the Trip Advisor community. We are glad you had a positive experience aboard the Vistadome train and that you enjoyed the views. We are always trying to offer the best possible service so our passengers can have a pleasant ride. Once again, thank you for choosing PeruRail and we hope we can see you back again aboard our trains.

The ExpeditionTeam
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Worthless customer service”
Reviewed October 20, 2012

After seeing machu picchu, we returned to aguas caliente. Our guide booked us tickets to return to cusco, but made them for 930pm, leaving us 8 hrs to kill. We went to the train terminal to see if we could get on an earlier train.

While in line, a man behind me asked if I was trying to change my reservation. When I confirmed, he said good luck, he had tried earlier and they wouldn't let him. Not only that, they told him they didn't have any space on another train. He went back to his hotel, went online and easily bought 2 tickets to the train he wanted. Now he has 4 tickets, 2 for a train that he is not going on and they will not refund him.
After my pointless attempt to change my train, we noticed the tickets that the man werent using, were for a train that we could use. We both go to the ticket counter and explain that he is not using his tickets, there will be 2 empty available seats, and we would like to exchange. No dice. The workers are worthless.
They can't make any changes within 24 hrs of the departure. They just get their money and have no customer service, making people make double purchases and leaving open, paid for, seats.

4 Thank Taylor F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newark, Delaware
Level 6 Contributor
117 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
“We liked PeruRail”
Reviewed September 26, 2012

We took PeruRail from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. We took Inca Rail from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. On both you are not allowed to bring luggage. Only an overnight bag that has to weigh less than 11 lbs. We took the Vistadome train. On board they served a snack, I think it was a small serving of pasta salad and corn bread with a small drink, and had a small fashion show. They cranked up the music, the type of flute mucic we heard in many places in Peru, and had somebody dressed in some kind of costume that maybe was an Incan medicine man or something. They had a couple of crew members model alpaca clothing and offered them for sale. We did not get this on the Inca Rail train. This did make the time go by faster but I certainly would not make my decision to take PeruRail just to see this show. In my opinion the scenery was nice but not fantastic but you have no choice if you want to get to Machu Picchu without hiking the Inca Trail. I would give a slight edge to PeruRail over Inca Rail but it is so small that I would probably go with the train that I could save the most money on these overpriced rides.

Visited September 2012
Thank Bryan E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
464 reviews
168 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 639 helpful votes
“NO BIG SUITCASES! Booking problems. Altitude strategies.”
Reviewed September 3, 2012

Based on my recent trip to Peru, I have divided my comments and thoughts about Perurail into various topics below. I hope this is helpful!

At some point, I’m sure I was told that we wouldn’t be able to bring our big suitcases on the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu). Unfortunately, I had forgotten that little detail, and we had to scramble at the last-minute to repack our luggage and move clothes and gear for 2 days into our day-packs.

We booked an evening train, and during the day we had a private guide taking us around the Sacred Valley. He dropped us off at the train station in the evening, and that’s when he told us we couldn’t take the big suitcases. He said that after dropping us off at the train, he was going to take our big suitcases to the hotel in Cusco where we would be going in a couple days. That worked out fine, and a couple of days later when we eventually got to Cusco, our luggage was there, as planned.

I’m not sure what you are supposed to do if you don’t have someone to take your luggage for you. Anyway, it was a big pain and caused us some last-minute stress, but it all worked out. Interestingly, I met several other people who also “didn’t get the memo”, and had to scramble at the last minute. (And see the end of this review for a funny story.)

So, my obvious recommendation is to plan ahead, and gracefully solve your luggage problem before the last minute!! DON’T FORGET: The trains just have a couple little shelves that will hold everyone’s little day-packs. There’s no room for big suitcases.

Another challenge we faced was making the reservation and buying the tickets. The Peru Rail website looks easy, but it’s not! The site isn’t set up very well, and it doesn’t work very well. It also requires information like passport numbers, which usually aren’t handy. The worst part is that I would finally get all the way through this very long process of entering all the information, and on the final screen my credit card would not be accepted! AAAAHHHRRRGGG!!! I was pulling my hair out.

I tried several cards. I believe the official explanation is that they only accept cards with “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard SecureCode”. However, I couldn’t make any of my cards work, including one that were a “Verified by Visa” card. (Later I heard other people had the same problem.)

This was a HUGE pain, and I spent a ton of time screwing around with that website, trying to make it work. At one point, it wasn’t clear to me whether or not my transaction had gone through, which was even worse, since I didn’t want to end up buying two sets of tickets accidentally! Finally, my wife actually called them up on the phone, and she was able to get it done. She speaks Spanish, so this was a reasonable approach, except for the high cost of the long international call.

In hindsight, I should have just let our tour company book the train tickets. I figured I would save a few bucks by doing it myself, but in this case that was a big mistake!! For this vacation, I booked some things myself, but I used the Peru For Less tour company to book other things which would be harder for me to do (e.g. private tours). In general, I liked doing some of the bookings myself, and that probably saved me a little money. However, I should have let the tour company book the Peru Rail tickets. Trying to book it myself was a nightmare! The tour company offered to book the train for me, but I foolishly declined. Live and learn.

Booking the train through a tour company has the added advantage that they should help you deal with your extra luggage (e.g. take it to your future hotel for storage). We got lucky in the sense that even though the tour company didn’t book the train tickets, we did have them drop us off at the train station after taking us on a private all-day tour around the Sacred Valley. So, the tour company was involved with getting us to the train station, and they helped us handle the luggage issue. I don’t know what we would have done if we had gotten to the train station on our own.

Anyway, use a tour company to book your Peru Rail tickets! We used Peru For Less for quite a few things on our trip, and we were always very happy with their service, guides, and arrangements. I can definitely recommend Peru For Less because I had such a good experience with them, but I’m sure there are countless other good tour companies, too.

The only way to get to Aguas Calientes (the town by Machu Picchu) is by train, so in that sense you don’t have a choice. However, you do have a choice with respect to which train you take. There are cheaper options like the Expedition, more expensive options like the Vistadome, and insanely expensive options like the Hiram Bingam. There are also different package options which include various things like meals.

The Hiram Bingam package not only includes meals, but also the Machu Picchu tickets, guides, and entertainment. I believe that option is for people who just want to go to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu for the day, and don’t want to worry about any arrangements. Personally, that seems like a waste of money because it’s really expensive. Also, I think try to do Machu Picchu as a day trip from the Sacred Valley would be too rushed.

Another option that I can’t recommend is to get a package that includes a buffet lunch at the Sanctuary lodge. We had the buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge (although not part of a train package), and in our opinion it was not worth the cost. The food was not that good, and it’s pretty expensive. There are snack-bar options nearby which would have been just fine, and would certainly have been a better value.

In our case, we picked the cheapest Expedition train, primarily because of the schedule. The seats were comfortable, and the ride was fine. I’m not sure it would have been worth more money for a “nicer” train. The ride was bumpy at times, so it’s possible that a different train might have had a smoother ride, but I don’t know. And I’m not sure I would have paid more for a smoother ride anyway. Both the ride and the view on the Expedition were fine.

If you can select your seats, consider that most of the time the tracks follow the river, which is on the left side going to Aguas Calientes, and the right side coming back. Our train was configured with groups of 4 seats around a table, so half the people were riding backwards, which is another consideration.

We did this:
Tuesday day: Sacred Valley tour
Tuesday evening: Train to Aguas Calientes
Wednesday day: Sunrise at Machu Picchu, and all day exploring the ruins
Wednesday evening: hot springs and nice dinner in Aguas Calientes
Thursday morning: Train back to Sacred Valley

We wanted to go to Aguas Calientes in the evening, so we could do Machu Picchu at sunrise. That worked out great, and I would recommend this approach. The ruins get more and more crowded during the day, and by afternoon there were hundreds of people everywhere. The first hours of the morning were the best.

So, we went to Aguas Calientes on Tuesday evening, did the ruins first thing Wednesday morning with our Peru For Less guide, and stayed at the ruins most of the day. Then we spent Wednesday night in Aguas Calientes, and took the train back mid-morning on Thursday. This worked out perfectly for us. It was nice to have the entire day to enjoy the ruins without doing any traveling on that same day, and we went to the hot springs and had a nice dinner Wednesday evening after the long day hiking around the ruins.

Note that taking the train to Aguas Calientes in the evening meant that it was dark. That turned out to be fine. We got to see the sights on the way back.

This is one aspect of our trip that I would have done differently. We flew from Lima to Cusco, and then immediately went down to Urubamba, which is much lower that Cusco. (It’s better to go up in altitude gradually over several days.) However, Urubamba is still very high compared to Lima, so we were a little bothered by the altitude.

I had the right idea by immediately heading lower from Cusco, but I didn’t realize when I was planning the trip that Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are actually lower than Urubamba. It would have been better to go directly to Aguas Calientes, and do the Sacred Valley sights after Machu Picchu.

Here’s what I wish we had done:
Monday morning: fly to Cusco
Monday afternoon: train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes
Tuesday: Machu Picchu
Wednesday: train to Ollantaytambo, and begin Sacred Valley sightseeing
After touring Sacred Valley, continue to Cusco (higher) and then Puno/Lake Titicaca (highest).

This itinerary has the added advantage that you get to take the train down from Cusco into the Sacred Valley, which is supposed to be a very scenic trip with switchbacks, etc.

When you are looking at train schedules, keep in mind that the Cusco train station is called Poroy. I read somewhere that it is about a half hour taxi ride from the Cusco airport, but I would allow plenty of time in case of flight delay or traffic.

When you arrive in Ollantaytambo, there is a nice little pizza place on the right immediately after you exit the train station gate. This is a tasty and efficient option. Also, if you are going to the Ollantaytambo ruins, they are pretty close to the train station. It would be a reasonable walk.

In the Sacred Valley, I would highly recommend the Maras salt ponds, Awana Kancha Llama/Alpaca farm, and the Pisac market. The Pisac market was the best shopping we found on our whole trip. Allow half a day, at least. Feel free to skip the Pisac ruins if you are tight on time. After Machu Picchu, they might be very unremarkable.

As I said before, you need to pack a small day-pack or overnight bag for your train trip to Aguas Calientes. We had to scramble at the last minute to re-pack our luggage and extract what we thought we would need. In our haste, we successfully got most of what we needed, but we missed a few things. We remembered all the clothes, hiking gear, hats, sunscreen, cameras, toiletries, tickets/passports/etc. However, we forgot our bathing suits for the hot springs, and mosquito repellant. (Yes, there were some mosquitos at Machu Picchu.)

We were chatting with other travelers about the fact that you can’t take your big luggage on the train, and a guy named Brian told us his funny story. Brian was with a large tour group that was traveling around for many days by bus with a guide. All the arrangements were part of the tour, so he didn’t worry about the details.

The night before they caught the train to Aguas Calientes, they stayed in a hotel in Ollantaytambo. Brian remembered the guide telling them something about leaving their luggage at the hotel the following morning when they took the train, but he didn’t really hear all the detailed instructions. So, the next morning, he left all his luggage in his room, grabbed his camera and headed out the door for a nice day trip to Machu Picchu.

As it turned out, he had missed the part of the instructions about packing an overnight bag for the overnight trip to Aguas Calientes. Not a day trip! Oops! So, here he was spending the night in Aguas Calientes, and literally all he brought with him was his camera. No change of clothes, no pajamas, and no toothbrush. I felt bad for him, but he was laughing about it. At least it made a good story to talk about later!

Visited June 2012
3 Thank Jim_and_Barbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“PeruRail Expedition - nice service at the lowest fare category”
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Our family of 4 (2 adults and 2 teens) used the Expedition from Ollantaytambo and then from Aquas Calientes back. On time service and courteous personnel. Seats were clean and comfortable and freshments (coffee, tea, soda, water, a small snack like chocolate/candy and small package of dried beans/nuts of some sort) were served. Readng that this was once referred to as the backpacker class, we were concerned about the comfort level especially travelig during the high season and were thinking of going on a different class. We were glad we didn't spend the money as the Expedition was plenty comfortable for us. Seat assigments were somewhat random, but it worked out ok as most folks are willing to switch seats so you and your travel companions may sit together.

Visited July 2012
1 Thank HoustonTravelFolks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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