Four Great Train Trips

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Ascending high above Zermatt on the Gornergrat cogwheel train.

Four Great Train Trips

Train Journeys in Canada, Switzerland, India, and Australia.

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The Ghan train travels through the Australian Outback.

Have fun while you're traveling.
There’s an irrefutable romance about seeing the world by train – one in which “the mode of travel is the journey,” says Eleanor Flagler Hardy, a Virtuoso travel agency co-owner and rail-travel specialist from Louisville, Kentucky. “You’re not just going from one point to another hoping to have fun when you arrive,” Hardy adds. “You’re having fun while you’re traveling.”
 
Here are four great train journeys around the world.


Train travel allows you to see the landscape up close.

CANADA

The Route:
Vancouver, British Columbia, to Jasper, Alberta, Canada.
The Train: The Rocky Mountaineer, which, according to Hardy, features “some of the best rail cars in the world.” Daylight-only travel (with overnight hotel stays) ensures guests don’t miss a peak.
The Highlights: White-water rapids gushing through Hell’s Gate
in Fraser Canyon; 12,972-foot-high Mount Robson, the highest in the Canadian Rockies; Pyramid Falls; and the ascent over Yellowhead Pass into Jasper National Park – and across the Continental Divide.
The Views: White-topped ranges and winding river canyons, lush green fields and lodgepole pine forests, rocky shoreline and desertlike landscapes.
Advisor Tip: Have your advisor book GoldLeaf Service: “You’ll love the fabulous food in the downstairs restaurant car,” says Hardy, “not to mention your assigned seat in the dome car upstairs. Best of all is the open-air deck – only for Gold- Leaf passengers.”
The Details: Rocky Mountaineer’s eight-day Western Explorer package (including two days aboard the train) between Vancouver and Calgary with visits to Jasper, Lake Louise, and Banff. Departures: Multiple dates August 1 to October 13, 2016, and April 17 to October 12, 2017.

AUSTRALIA

The Route:
Alice Springs to Adelaide (The Ghan) and Adelaide to Sydney (Indian Pacific), Australia.
The Trains: The Ghan and Indian Pacific, both considered among the world’s best. Look for ornate, old-world stylings, along with regionally sourced, native fare (including kangaroo and salt- bush) served with Barossa Valley wines.
The Highlights: “This is a fantastic journey to some of the most gorgeous places across Australia’s Outback and Blue Mountains,” says Hardy, highlighted by stops in remote Marla and art-filled Broken Hill.
The Views: Vast expanses of ever- changing hues across the Red Centre, abandoned homesteads dotting the barren Nullarbor, rolling pastoral lands and the rugged Flinders Ranges, and the clear desert sky broken by an occasional Australian wedge-tailed eagle.
THE DETAILS: Swain Destinations' 17-day Australia rail journey (including two overnights aboard the trains) between Cairns and Sydney. Departures: Multiple dates August 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

SWITZERLAND

The Routes:
Zermatt to Gornergrat (Gornergrat cogwheel train), Zermatt to Saint Moritz (Glacier Express), and Saint Moritz to Poschiavo (Bernina Express), Switzerland.
The Trains: The Gornergrat cogwheel train, Europe’s highest; the Bernina Express, which Hardy calls “one of my all-time favorites – an amazing route for its engineering”; and the storied Glacier Express, with its sky-high windows to admire all 291 bridges and 91 tunnels along the journey.
The Highlights: Ascending high above Zermatt on a cogwheel train; crossing every last bridge on the legendary Glacier Express route to Saint Moritz; climbing the Bernina Pass to Ospizio Bernina, the highest point (7,578 feet) on the Bernina Railway; and getting a glimpse of Italian-speaking Switzerland.
The Views: Expect a constant pro- cession of skyscraping peaks, glaciers, and alpine lakes, and up-close perspectives of the Matterhorn and Gorner Glacier, one of the topmost viewpoints in the entire Alps.
The Details: National Geographic Expeditions ten-day Swiss Trains and the Italian Lake District trip (between Zürich, Switzerland, and Milan, Italy) includes three partial- to full-day trips aboard the trains and two full days at Lake Como. Departures: Multiple dates June 19 to September 18, 2017.

INDIA

The Route: Mumbai to Mumbai, India.
The Train: “Distances are vast in India, and the Deccan Odyssey takes passengers to its most famous sites in comfort and style,” says Hardy. “Service on board is excellent.” Each coach is inspired by a different period of Maharashtra state history.
The Highlights: Glimpses of Asiatic lions in Gir National Park, the hill fortress of UNESCO-designated Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, and hundreds of Jain temples in Palitana.
The Views: Nighttime travel brings freshly prepared delicacies served by stewards in traditional attire, lively conversations in the comfortable lounge, and fine wines in the atmospheric bar.
Advisor Tip: “Treat yourself to a massage in the spa car or a shampoo in the onboard salon,” advises Hardy. Also: “Opt for the spacious Presidential Suite, and you’ll enjoy all sightseeing by private car and guide.”
The Details: Cox & Kings 11-day private journey through Gujarat state (including seven overnights aboard the train), traveling round-trip from Mumbai. Departures: Multiple dates October 6 to December 1, 2016, plus March 2 and 23, 2017.

Originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.

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