The Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu are two of the finest attractions that South America has to offer. Here, we will outline a bit of a guide for visiting these two amazing locations.
Both attractions have their own unique draws. Machu Picchu is an archeologist’s dream; this extensive citadel, built by the Incas in around the mid-1400’s, is a fantastic maze of stone passageways, houses and temples, all combining to create one of the best-known pictures on the planet.
Part of the mystery surrounding Machu Picchu is that it is still not known what the purpose of this city actually was. Some suggest it was a royal retreat, while others opine that it was a sacred place of worship.
But the main draw of Machu Picchu is the sheer beauty of the place. This is largely derived from the way that the ruins blend into the natural environment where they are built, on a ridge between two mountains at the point where the green and verdant high rainforest meets the dramatic Andes mountains. Many parts of the Inca architecture were designed to reflect the surrounding hills, making this a site of endless intrigue for adventurous travelers to explore.
The Galapagos Islands, meanwhile, are a naturalist’s paradise. This group of islands is home to a unique and vibrant collection of wildlife, and the various species of birds, reptiles, sea life and mammals found here cannot be witnessed anywhere else on Earth.
Yet it is the bizarre appearance of these species which is particularly compelling; the wildlife takes on all manner of colors, shapes and forms, a terrific sight alongside the natural, rugged landscape of the islands, which are far into the Pacific ocean off the coast of Ecuador.
There is important history to the Galapagos islands as well; when Charles Darwin first visited the islands in the mid 19th century he was taken aback by the sheer volume and diversity of previously unknown species on the archipelago, and this led him to believe that the wildlife here was different because it had developed in a unique environment. His now renowned “theory of evolution” was published in the work “Origin of Species” and was groundbreaking in that it challenged the widely held belief that life had been designed by a higher power.
As such, the mysterious and enchanting allure of Machu Picchu and the natural uniqueness of the Galapagos make these two equally exciting destinations in South America, both with their own unique draws for travelers. As such, it is no surprise that many travelers are eager to take the opportunity to visit both attractions while visiting South America.
So how does one go about combining both into a single trip?
You would want to set aside at least a couple of weeks for this undertaking. Firstly head to Machu Picchu, which is accessible from the Peruvian city of Cusco. Cusco can be reached by air via Peru’s capital city of Lima.
You would want to spend a couple of days in Cusco, which as the previous capital of the Inca empire is a vibrant and exciting historic city, before heading to the nearby Sacred Valley to relax in a stunning environment for a couple of days. It is from the Sacred Valley that trains run to Machu Picchu, where you should aim to spend at least one night.
After returning from Machu Picchu to Cusco take an afternoon flight to Lima and spend the night. The following morning take a flight to the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, from where you can fly to the Galapagos Islands.
The best way to experience the islands is on a multi day cruise; though there are shorter cruises available, you would want to spend around 7 or 8 nights here. The Islands are much more extensive than you might expect, and if you’re travelling all this way you will want to make the most of it.
After your cruise you can fly back to Guayaguil or Quito where there are connecting flights to Lima, or international flights home.