5 of the world's most famous long & winding train rides
You're sure to want to add one of these epic rail journeys to your bucket list
1. CALIFORNIA BOUND
Trains: Lake Shore Limited and California Zephyr.
Route: New York to Chicago then Chicago to San Francisco. 5,440km.
The ride across the US follows much of the historical transcontinental railroad and is one of the finest rail journeys on Earth, picking its way past the Great Lakes to Chicago, then up and over the Rockies and into California.
The trip takes 76 hours including a short layover in Chicago. Fares can be as low $232 one way in an airline-style seat - spend the extra on a roomette for the two-day haul over the Rockies. See amtrak.com and seat61.com/UnitedStates
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2. OVER THE RUSSIAN STEPPES
Train: Trans-Siberian Express.
Route: Moscow to Vladivostok. 9,289km.
This is the big daddy of long-distance trains, riding the rails that Tsar Alexander III commissioned in 1891. The journey takes eight days through eight time zones. Expect to share a spalny wagon (carriage) with a mix of tourists and local people, all heavily marinated in vodka. See seat61.com/Trans-Siberian.
3. ACROSS AFRICA
Train: Pride of Africa.
Route: Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. 5,800km.
Colonial engineers balked at building a railway from Zambia to Dar es Salaam, saying it would be too difficult and too costly. So Chinese engineers did it, building the 1,860km Uhuru Railway in just four years. This is just part of the journey Rovos Rail's luxury train covers a few times a year on a 15-day safari.
You can also do part of it on the cheap, aboard the twice-weekly Kilimanjaro Express from New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar es Salaam. See seat61.com/zambia.
4. ICE AND BEARS IN CANADA
Train: The Winnipeg-Churchill train.
Route: Winnipeg to Churchill. 1,710km.
The two trains each way per week are the only land connection between Winnipeg and Canada's "polar bear capital" on the shores of Hudson Bay. It's a 45-hour journey through achingly remote, austere country. See viarail.ca.
5. HIGH ON THE LINE TO LHASA
Train: Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Route: Beijing, China, to Lhasa, Tibet. 3,717km.
China built the railway to Tibet to bind the kingdom closer to Beijing, so you may wish to consider that before travelling. That has not stopped thousands of tourists from boarding the daily train to Lhasa to travel on what, with a maximum altitude of 5,076m, is the highest railway in the world...