Six Great Railway Journeys

By Lola Augustine Brown

Travelling by rail holds a romantic and old-fashioned appeal that can’t be matched by flying or driving. By taking the slow route, you get to experience and interact with an area in a completely different way.

Six Great Railway Journeys
photo: Canada's Rocky Mountaineer by ISTOCK

1. The Rocky Mountaineer
Where Canada, from Vancouver to Banff, Jasper and Calgary.
When In June, which is springtime in the Rockies, complete with blooming flowers and abundant wildlife.
Duration Between two and eight days, travelling only in daylight, staying in deluxe hotels. Highlights Unparalleled views of the Rocky Mountains, incredible luxury at every stage of the trip, traditional native storytelling, wine classes and natural history workshops.

2. The Chepe
Where Mexico. It begins its journey in the mountains of Chihuahua and finishes on the Sinaloa coast.
When In the rainy season, from June to October, you’ll get lush vegetation and blooming cacti, although mid-summer (July) temperatures can reach 44 °C.
Duration Doing the route straight through takes 14 hours, but you’ll want to stop off overnight and explore traditional towns along the way.
Highlights The train winds its way down through 656 km of the spectacular Copper Canyon (which is deeper than the Grand Canyon), over 37 precarious-looking bridges and through 86 tunnels. Local people sell crafts and foods along the route.

3. The Ghan
Australia, from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs.
When Going during the wet season (December, January) will allow you to see more wildlife and tropical splendour in the north, though peak season is usually the winter.
Duration Going straight through takes 52 hours. There are disembarkation points from which you can take tours.
Highlights Going through Australia’s Red Centre with cobalt-blue skies, red earth and not much else – a hauntingly beautiful and serene experience.

4. The Royal Scotsman
Where travels around the Scottish Highlands or all the way around Great Britain.
When Warmer weather and up to 20 hours of daylight in June makes it the perfect time to watch ospreys soaring over mirror-like lochs, or go in October for autumn colours and the rather vocal stag-rutting season.
Duration Trips can be as short as two days or as long as seven.
Highlights Possibly the most expensive train journey in the world. You’ll be treated like a member of the monarchy. Indulgent cuisine, fine wines and carriages that look like rooms at Balmoral Castle await those willing to part with a minimum of £2350 per person for a two-night trip.

5. The Blue Train
South Africa, from Pretoria to Cape Town, or to Hoedspruit and Kruger National Park.
When From May to August you’ll be more likely to observe big game if you go to a game reserve.
Duration 27 hours on the train, with several stops along the way.
Highlights You’ll be travelling through diverse African landscapes in the utmost style, with stays on game reserves optional.

6. Eastern and Oriental Express
Where From Thailand, through Malaysia, to Singapore.
When April and May, for the least humid weather.
Duration Trips vary from two to eight days.
Highlights You’ll travel through the heart of Southeast Asia. From golden temples and paddy fields to cosmopolitan cities, this luxurious train showcases the best of the countries it passes through.

Grab your copy of Reader's Digest magazine for more inspiring travel adventures...


Latest from travel

Featured Articles
10 Small But Significant Romantic Gestures That Can Improve Any Relationship Almost Immediately Magazine
10 Small But Significant Romantic Gestures That Can Improve Any Relationship Almost Immediately
Expensive jewellery and trips to Paris? Nope. Ten women explain why the small, romantic gestures matter more.
The 15 Best Superfoods for Diabetics Health  
The 15 Best Superfoods for Diabetics
Include these nutrition superstars in your diabetes diet to lower blood sugar, burn fat, reduce inflammation and gain more health benefits.
13 Mind-Blowing Facts That Make Watching Star Wars Even Better Magazine  
13 Mind-Blowing Facts That Make Watching Star Wars Even Better
Which Star Wars character was gender-swapped, which was almost a monkey, and how George Lucas made the most expensive bet of his life.
Why Do Americans and Brits Drive on Different Sides of the Road? Travel
Why Do Americans and Brits Drive on Different Sides of the Road?
The British custom of driving on the left side of the road isn't a sign of eccentricity – there's actually a very sensible reason for it.