With autumn comes the beautiful rich colours of the season. What better way to experience these than by train. There are so many wonderful special train trips but it is simply a great way to travel. It is often a much cheaper way of travelling and my favourite mode of transport. You can spend the day going from A to B, stopping along the way for sightseeing and lunch.
Here a few of my personal experiences. Zermatt, Switzerland gives plenty of interesting day rail options. Firstly there is shuttle train you board to come up the Mountain to the picturesque (and car free) village of Zermatt.
From here you can spend a wonderful day going up the Matterhorn aboard the Matterhorn train stopping at some breathtaking spots. The next day board Europe's highest open air cog railway to Gornergat; have a drink while looking back to the iconic Matterhorn. My sister and I opted to then walk a few stations down the Mountain though the alpine meadows. It was one of my top 10 travel memories, it was so peaceful and pretty broken only by the complete sound track to the Sound of Music which we sang and skipped as we went. Lucky it was only us on the track!
Another very popular train day trip is the Flam railway in Norway. A trip on the Flam Railway provides a panorama of some of the wildest and most magnificent mountain scenery in Norway at any time of the year. You will see rivers carving their way through deep gorges, waterfalls leaping off steep mountainsides with snow-covered mountain peaks, as well as mountain farms clinging tenaciously to steep slopes. Down at the bottom, you can enjoy the scenic cultural landscape of the Flam Valley and admire the beautiful Aurlandsfjord, a branch of Sognefjord, the world's longest fjord. Many of the cruises offer this as an excursion.
The Koblenz to Mainz is often done by river boat but the Rhine Valley also has a train line that follows the river. Get a seat on the river side take a stopping all stations train sit back and enjoy the view as part of a longer journey or while in Frankfurt.
While in America, get up very early and go to Penn Station New York, all aboard to Washington DC. In just 3.5 hours you are in the centre of DC; right where some of the tours pick up from, or connect straight on to the underground.
My favourite trip without doubt the rocky mountaineer from Jaspar to Vancouver. The train is superb and the views stunning. In October the salmon had spawned and unfortunately for them they then die of exhaustion, fortunately for us every species of birdlife was taking advantage of the rich pickings. Eagles, sparrows and everything in between flying together down the river beside the train, awesome moment. It’s not just me that loves train travel; keep reading to hear about the girls in the office’s experiences and tips.
Lisa Explores Machu Pichu By Rail
I recently travelled to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. You catch the IncaRail up to Machu Picchu then a bus to the top. We caught “the 360” from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu – it took about an hour and 20 minutes. The train has an open outdoor observation carriage where you can stand, lean on the rails and take in the landscape. The seating is comfortable and in groups of 4 with a table in the middle, wide windows and clear window panels on the roof. There is very limited luggage space but behind each seat you can fit a backpack or small (carry on size) suitcase. A meal (lunch) and drinks are served at your seat and included in the price.
On the return trip we caught the Voyager. There was only 1 carriage as it was the last train out of Machu Picchu, it doesn’t have an observation carriage and although it is a very comfortable train seems older than the 360. Seats are in groups of 4 again with a table in the middle, windows big and small panels on the roof not as wide as the 360. Drinks and a very light snack are served and included in the cost. It is a bit longer about an hour 40 minutes.
Silvana Tips for Italian Train Travel
Pst! We’ve got a secret: The best way to get around Italy is by train. The Italian rail network connects just about every major city in Italy, runs like clockwork, and often includes spectacular views of the countryside.
Driving in Italy, particularly in Italian cities, can be confusing, chaotic, stressful and, for the uninitiated, even dangerous. Between the cost of car rental and gas it’s often cheaper to go by rail. Meanwhile, with all of the hassles of flying and the time required to get out to the airport, a flight often winds up taking as long, or longer, than the train — and, again, is often more expensive.
Italy is a joy to travel by train — the views of the countryside are amazing, the rail system is efficient, and booking tickets is easier than ever. Furthermore, Italy has a highly-developed high-speed rail network that quickly connects all major cities and slower local trains connect most of the small towns. It’s simply the best way to travel around Italy.
My top 5 tips for making the most of your Italian Rail experience are:
Pre-book your ticket, and get a seat reservation. You can take advantage of early bird prices, and make a great saving;
If you are travelling with luggage, pay the extra cost to go First, Executive or Business Class. This will give you space to put your luggage and more space to relax;
Avoid airports by starting and finishing your journey in the centre of your city or town;
North of Rome has more fast trains, making covering larger distances quick and easy. South of Rome you will get both fast and local trains, stopping at small stations, however this can be a wonderful way to spend your day, hopping on and off the train as your desire takes you;
Finally most Italian trains have Wi-Fi connections, making it a perfect time to communicate with family and friends.
Jo Talks Japan Rail Passes
Train travel in Japan is really easy. Language is hardly ever a problem, stations have signs and departure boards in English as well as Japanese. Japan has an extensive and very efficient rail network; you can be confident that trains go almost everywhere you want to visit. Japanese trains are clean, comfortable and unbelievably punctual. The average delay to a high-speed shinkansen train is measured in seconds.
Should you get a Japan Rail Pass (JR Rail Pass)? Is it worth it? Will it save you money? And if you want one, where can you buy it? Obviously, saving money is the main reason to buy a Japan Rail Pass, but the advantages don’t stop there. The pass is very easy to us and we can organise the pass for you prior to travel ( you cannot buy the pass in Japan). Once you arrive in Japan and are ready to start you train journey, you just need to go to the nearest train station and have your pass validated and you pass starts from this date and must be used on consecutive days and includes seat reservations.
It is valid on all JR lines and covers the shinkansen (bullet train). With the pass, you don’t have to worry about buying tickets and fishing for change in your pocket/wallet each time you take a trip: you just show the pass to the attendant at the turnstiles and you board the next available train. Just keep in mind that the pass does not cover the Nozomi shinkansen (the very fastest class of bullet train) but it covers the Hikari shinkansen, which is nearly as fast. The speed difference between these trains is minimal: usually just a few minutes for the trip between Tokyo and Kyoto.
The Jr Rail Pass is not only great for long distance trains and the short metro routes, it’s also valid for buses around the country as well as ferry service from Hiroshima to the island of Miyajima. So even if there’s no train service to a particular region, you might be entitled to use it in another mode of transportation.
So if you are thinking of travelling to Japan and want to be a little more independent and really experience the country like a local, the JR Rail Pass could be a great option for you.
If you do just one high-end rail trip in your life, make it Rovos Rail’s Ultimate Luxury Trek, Cape Town-Dar es Salaam. Rovos Rail runs one of the world’s ultimate luxury rail trips between Cape Town and Dar es Salaam several times annually. The experience is unforgettable. I have only done part of the journey (Cape Town to Pretoria) but it is one of my best travel experiences.
The Ultimate Luxury Trek is a 15-day private rail tour aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa and stretches across South Africa and Botswana, touches Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, and crosses Zambia to Tanzania.
From Cape Town to Pretoria the scenery was some of the most amazing I have experienced; brilliant sunsets, passing a lake full of Flamingo’s to the wide open spaces of the plains of Africa. The train stops along the journey, for you to experience like the Big Hole in Kimberly.
Rovos Rail, Africa’s answer to the Orient Express, is a luxury steam train company that offers a series of epic journeys across the spectacular scenery of South(ern) Africa. The trains – which may be hauled by diesel or electric locomotives – carry a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites with ensuite bathrooms. With friendly service, five-star cuisine and a selection of South Africa’s finest wines, Rovos Rail harks back to a simpler, more elegant era encompassing the timeless grace and high romance of African exploration.
Choose from the outdoor viewing platform at the rear of the train, the library or the bar to pass the time, and watch the scenery fly by. As you know from my experiences on Scenic, I love the added luxury of a butler, and the service and cabin attendants on Rovos Rail do not disappoint.
Morocco Rail & Duoro Sail!
From the endless Saharan dunes to the glistening peaks of the High Atlas, Morocco was tailor-made for intrepid explorers. As thrilling as a magic carpet ride, this Aladdin-like wonderland offers an abundance of exotic sights, sounds, smells and tastes - but only if you know where to look - and that's why you should experience Morocco on a guided tour.
One such tour that we highly recommend is Travelmarvel's Morocco Rail Adventure with Douro Discovery. Not only do you get to explore the thrills of exotic Morocco, it includes a rail journey and a Duoro River Cruise! Let's take a look at the journey:
This 23 day journey takes you through three countries, Morocco, Spain & Portugal, with expert local guides and a Travelmarvel Cruise Director.
From Lisbon, travel travel by coach to Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal where you’ll board your premium river ship for a luxury, seven night Duoro river cruise.
The adventure begins in the vibrant Spanish city of Barcelona with the RAIL portion of your journey. Meet your Great Rail Journeys Tour Escort and travel to Seville by train.
From Spain, cross the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco. Breathe in the spicy aromas and delicious flavours. Continue travelling by train to Casablanca, Fez & Marrakesh.