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The most adventurous railway journeys in the world
Posted on 22/09/2015 , Modified on 13/01/2016

TransportCanada

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From mountain ranges to deserts, these railways traverse some of the most inpsiring and exciting terrain in the world.

1. The Denali Star railway, Alaska:

1. The Denali Star railway, Alaska:
Wikimedia

The Denali Star railway, Alaska: The Denali star is the train that takes passengers across the Alaskan wilderness and alongside the highest mountain in Northern America - Mount McKinley, or "Denali" in Athabaskan, which means "High One". Although the train provides the opportunity of seeing spectacular views, it is also a means of practically and safely crossing the area in such cold, snowy conditions. The luxurious, friendly atmosphere on board the Denali star makes travelling by rail exceptionally easy. Whether you're looking to do the whole journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks passing the famous Denali national park or just a few stops, the travel company provides options for endless activities in the Alaskan surroundings, including hikes, fjord cruises and guided exploration of the glacial arctic. This stunning train journey is thrilling and shows nature at its purist.
Visa: Required to enter USA
Duration: Recommended 7 days
Price range: Reasonable/High

2. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada & USA

2. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada & USA
flickr

The most famous railway route in the whole of North America has to be the railway tracks through the Rockies, arguably one of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the world. With their glass domes and double decker carriages to maximise viewing space, the Rocky mountaineer trains have style and can take you where no car is able to travel; alongside the mountains themselves and straight through isolated valleys seemingly untouched by human activity. Snow or shine, the atmosphere is incredible and full of countless views that you could never forget - from brightly coloured furry trees and charming fauna to crystal blue lakes and sharp peaks.
Visa: Required to enter Canada/USA
Duration: Recommended 10 days
Price range: Reasonable

3. Desert Express, Namibia

3. Desert Express, Namibia
Wikimedia

One of the warmest train journeys that will inspire a sense of adventure and exploration, luckily the trains have air conditioning! The Desert Express trains bustle through the scorching desert from Windhoek to Swakopmund twice a week, offering sensational views of dunes and white sand rolling off into dust clouds. As the sun sets in the evening while you taste some of the most delicious South African wines over a scrumptious dinner, the orange rays beam down and the colours are truly a vision. If the idea of overnight train travel does not hugely excite you, this train journey is short enough to enjoy the evening and the experience as it is only a two day affair. The original line stretching the 383 km from Windhoek to Swakopmund was constructed by the Germans in 1902 and later became linked to South African rail systems so it is an historical form of travelling across Namibia and one of the most unique views you could ever see out of a carriage window.
Visa: Not required
Duration: 2 days
Price Range: Reasonable

4. Trans-Siberian Express, Russia

4. Trans-Siberian Express, Russia
Wikimedia

The train journey progresses from Russia's imperial capital of St Petersburg through other large, typically cold, industrial cities where you can see the emergence of modern Soviet creativity and enthusiasm for science. The trip reaches its final destination in the current, energetic capital of Moscow. The journey up to the very northern point of Russia not only shows you the diversity of the country's land and vastness, but also the diversity of people who all make up such a large country. The highlight of the trip is being able to travel through such a mysterious, bitterly cold country in the comfort of a beautiful train and finally reaching the views of the unforgettable Northern Lights. There are other classic trips along the Trans-Siberian railway which are also incredible, surging through Russia's countryside from one coast to the other showing you the true extent of such a fascinating country.
Visa: Required to enter Russia
Duration: 12 days (for specific route)
Price range: High

5. Berrina Express, from Davos, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy

5. Berrina Express, from Davos, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy
Wikipedia

The journey is slow and steady but that is the way you will be glad for it to remain as you meander through the tall valleys of the Alps and cross over 196 bridges. The engineering skills that managed to successfully route a path for the trains at such altitude and over such terrain are so impressive that they have been honoured by becoming a UNESCO heritage site. The one-way journey may only last for four hours but it is worth every penny to experience one of the most breath-taking Alpine crossings. Passing awe-inspiring landmarks such as the Landwasser viaduct and the Montebello curve will earn your respect for European landscapes.
Visa: Not required for EU members
Duration: 3-4 hours depending on your departure location
Price range: Low/Reasonable

6. Qinghai-Tibetan railway:

6. Qinghai-Tibetan railway:
Wikipedia

You will reach such altitude along this famous railway that the toilet water has to be heated when you reach certain temperatures! If that does not give you an indication of the snowy, glacial views that you could be seeing, perhaps the proposition of travelling from Beijing to the foot of Mount Everest will do it. The journeys that the Tibetan travel and tours company offer comprise the perfect combination of exploring China's illusive city centres with incredibly exotic temples and ornate architecture, while also sipping some green tea in a comfortable seat surging through the white-capped mountains. There will be views you never thought existed as the trains plough through the frosty Chinese countryside. Furthermore, the train journey is a manageable way to see such an interesting and rich country.
Visa: Required to enter China, and strict immigration forms for Tibet- including medical checks.
Duration: From 8 - 15 days depending on your route
Price range: High

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