Once you’ve visited Machu Picchu, explored the depths of the Colca Canyon, and foraged through the Amazon Rainforest around Iquitos, you may be wondering: What’s next on my Peru travel adventure? A great place to visit during a trip to Peru-and a place often overlooked by international tourists-is the highland town of Huancayo.
Huancayo is located in the Peruvian altiplano. Looking at a map of Peru, simply draw your eyes to the East and you’ll find it. Only a seven hour bus ride from Lima, the capital city of Peru, you can visit Huancayo during a weekend trip from Lima, if desired. However, for many people, the voyage to Huancayo is the real adventure. A very popular alternative to bus travel is the high altitude train trip on Ferrocarril Central. Although the trip via train takes nearly twice as long (12 hours one way) than the bus, it can be an experience of a lifetime.
The train that runs from Lima to Huancayo is the second-highest train journey in the world, and the highest in the Americas. You’ll soar at 15,689 feet above sea level, travel under 69 tunnels, race over 58 bridges, and experience 6 switchbacks. The highest point of the journey is called the Galera Tunnel. The train only runs a couple times a month, so it is important to plan ahead. You can purchase tickets online, but it is recommended to either call or visit their office in Lima’s district of San Isidro to make sure your tickets are securely purchased.
You can choose between two classes of tickets: tourist and classic. In 2017, tourist roundtrip tickets cost 350 soles (or about 130 US dollars). Classic roundtrip tickets cost 195 soles (or about 70 US dollars). If you’d like to enjoy the scenery one way, but make up time going the other, you can choose a one-way ticket from 235 or 120 soles, depending on class (85 or 45 US dollars), and purchase a one-way bus ticket. Lime to Huancayo bus tickets cost around 50 soles (18 US dollars).
Once you make it to Huancayo, be sure to sample some of the traditional dishes, as this region has some of the best restaurants in Peru outside of Lima. The town has several attractions, but many people head to the outskirts to visit the smaller surrounding villages to get a taste of rural Peruvian life. Another option is visiting Huarivilca, a Wari temple.