10 Best Railroad Journeys in South America – #1 The Train Lima to Huancayo

February 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

Train Lima to Huancayo

Train Lima to Huancayo

The highest railroad in the America’s and the second highest railway in the world is the train journey from Lima to Huancayo. This 12 hour journey takes you through central Peru traveling from sea level to over a staggering 15,869 feet (4,782 meters) in elevation passing through 69 tunnels, over 58 bridges and 21 switchbacks.

In 1851 Polish engineer Ernest Malinowski (the same engineer who built The Devil’s Nose in Ecuador) began plans to build the railway line. While Malinowski was choosing the route, American railroad builder Henry Meiggs was given 6 years to complete the job. Construction began in January of 1870, it is estimated that it took 10,000 men and 40 years to complete the route. While neither man would live to see the completed work the railway line known as the Railroad In The Clouds was an incredible feat of engineering and stood as the highest railway ever built until the construction of the Qingzang railway in Tibet was completed in 2006.

The journey begins at the Patio Central in Callao and follows along the Rimac River until it reaches Chichan, then passes through the Galera Tunnel (the highest point on the route) then it continues down following the Yauli River until La Oroya and then the Mantaro River along the way the train passes through 6 climate zones.

Highlights of the trip include

  • 21 zigzag switchbacks
  • The Infiernillo Bridge at 10,820 feet elevation spanning a canyon with two vast rock tunnels at each end
  • The Bridge over the Verrugas Canyon at a height of 253 feet and 574 feet in length is one of the biggest in the world
  • The Balta Tunnel which travels ¾ of a mile underground
  • The Galera Tunnel which was bore at the route’s highest point
  • 11 special turntables allowing the train to change directions

As well as beautiful scenery including breathtaking rock cliffs of the Andes Mountains to accompany you along the way.

It is incredible to think about the creative effort to design this route or the amount of effort to build the railway line over 100 years ago without the aid of any modern day equipment. The railroad journey from Lima to Huancayo is the highest railroad in the western hemisphere and is the #1 Best Railroad Journey in South America.

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