It’s no secret that Machu Picchu is what travel bucket list dreams are made of. Standing at 7,710 feet above sea level, the ancient Incan site is situated in a tropical mountain forest. Shrouded in mystery, the dwellings and temples are believed to have been constructed in the mid-14th century and managed to escape detection by the Spaniard conquistadors who invaded Peru. It wasn’t until 1911, when Yale professor Hiram Bingham unearthed the ruins that the outside world became aware of Machu Picchu and tourists from all corners of the globe began visiting.
Nowadays it’s a lot easier to visit Machu Picchu than it was in Bingham’s day—simply hop a flight to Cuzco and take the 3.5-hour train ride on the Belmond Hiram Bingham Express. The journey is one of the world’s most scenic train rides, winding past the Urubamba River through lush valleys, fields, and mountains in Peru’s wild countryside. From the train’s terminus, passengers can take a bus the rest of the way or avid adventurers can hike the Inca Trail. For many of the millions of tourists who visit the sacred site each year, it’s a once in a lifetime journey.