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Home First Posted Nov 27, 2007
Aug 24, 2014

Machu Picchu and Galapagos

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About Machu Picchu

Known throughout the world for its amazing ruins and stunning location high in the mountains, Machu Picchu was accidentally discovered in 1911 by the American archaeologist, Hiram Bingham. The beauty of its location and the genius construction make Machu Picchu "lost city of the Incas" the archaeological jewel of South America. Machu Picchu's remains are comparatively well preserved because the Spaniards never reached the city. It was buried in the jungle for centuries, and even after its 1911 rediscovery, the city remained inaccessible until the 1940's, when an archaeological expedition working at the site discovered the Inca Trail cutting through the valley below. While most visitors spend only a few hours here, Husband and I stayed overnight and had ample time to absorb the mystery and beauty of this amazing, not-to-be-missed site!

A word of caution. Many people get altitude sickness. My husband was bothered by it. You can get a prescription from your doctor to help with this problem. I chewed the cocoa leaves and drank the cocoa tea provided at the hotels. I did not have a problem with altitude sickness on this trip, but did in Lech, Austria in the Alps. So, one never knows about these things. The cocoa tea and cocoa leaves do give you a buzz. The native Indian population chew it all the time. It made me a bit woozy. Also, another word of caution. Many people get sick in Peru from the food and water. Be vigilant! Drink only bottled water. Do not use ice in your water because it is not frozen from bottled water and will make you sick. Do not eat the vegetables or fruit unless they are peeled. Make sure that your meat is cooked well. Eat only in places that are reputable. Even doing all this, you are at risk. I suggest you take antibiotics with you in case you get ill. Medical care is questionable in some of the remote areas.

About Galapagos Islands

The enchanting Galapagos Islands are a magical place like no other on earth! Charles Darwin turned these fascinating isles into a unique living laboratory to study evolutionary changes that led to a new understanding of life on earth. In order to protect the ecological balance, the number of visitors to the islands is limited. You are privileged to visit the islands and get to know a wide variety of exotic wildlife unique to this archipelago! Get close to animals less fearful of humans than those found elsewhere. This is a once in a lifetime adventure! Bill and I loved it.

Day 1: Depart USA. Begin this expedition to Peru and Ecuador in the evening. Depart on an overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrive Lima (Peru). Early morning arrival in Lima, Peru's diverse capital. Check into your hotel. This afternoon enjoy a tour of both colonial and modern Lima, founded in 1535 and later dominated by the Inca nation. See the historical center and the San Francisco Church as well as Plaza de Armas and the Government Palace. Later, see the fashionable districts of San Isidro and Miraflores with their beautiful parks and elegant residences facing the ocean. Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores Hotel

Day 3: Lima/Cuzco. Take a short morning flight to Cuzco, the fabled capital of the Inca Empire, perched at 11,000 feet above sea level. On a guided afternoon tour visit the main Inca and Colonial monuments. See the Plaza de Armas, center of the Inca Empire and the impressive 16th century cathedral, built on the ruins of the Inca Palace. In the old town view magnificently restored colonial buildings. Hotel Novotel is superbly located in the heart of the old town. Novotel Hotel.

Day 4: Cuzco is a vibrant town, dotted with archaeological sites. Venture this morning to the outskirts of Cuzco to visit the amazing ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an Inca architectural masterpiece. From this fortress enjoy fabulous views of the city below. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 5: Cuzco/Machu Picchu. Embark on a two-day expedition to Machu Picchu. Ride aboard the VistaDome train through the lush Urubamba Valley passing through stunning scenery. Arrive at "The Lost City Of the Incas" rediscovered in 1911. The beauty of its location and the genius construction make Machu Picchu the jewel of all Inca settlements. Have an expert guide lead you through the ruins to absorb the mystery and beauty of this amazing site. While most visitors leave Machu Picchu in the afternoon you may stay in the area overnight. Inti Inn Hotel.

Day 6: Machu Picchu/Cuzco. Return to Machu Picchu to explore the mystical ruins further. To this day nobody can explain how the Incas managed to transport the huge blocks of limestone for the city's construction onto the mountain top. Visit quaint Aguas Caliente before your afternoon train ride back to Cuzco. Novotel Hotel.

Day 7: Pisac & Sacred Valley Excursion. Today, embark on a full day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas with its amazing landscapes of fertile land, mystical ruins and indigenous villages. Visit the colorful Indian market in Pisac where many beautiful crafts are traded. Continue to Ollantaytambo and visit the splendid ruins of this massive ancient fortress. The village below is a fine example of the Incas incredible urban planning skills. Return to Cuzco later in the afternoon.

Day 8: Cuzco/Quito (Ecuador). Today fly to Quito, the colonial capital of Ecuador. This attractive city, located just 15 miles from the equator, is surrounded by ice-capped volcanoes. Dann Carlton Hotel.

Bill and I booked a day excursion, privately, by horseback. We were picked up at our hotel by Gabrielle, owner of Hacienda La Alegria. We rode to the cloud forests 1,400 feet high. I might mention, here, that it was difficult to breath at that altitude. The horses were use to it, but not Bill and me. Gabrielle escorted us to the cloud forests and made our day a very special one--never to be forgotten. After the ride he treated us to a wonderful meal in his beautiful home. It could not have been more perfect! He then drove us all around Quito explaining the sites to us. It was just wonderful. Hacienda Alegria and The Volcano Ride.


Day 9: Otavalo Excursion. Visit the Ecuadorian countryside, visit the small town of Calderon where miniature bread figurines are made. Descend into spectacular Guayllabamba Gorge before arriving at Otavalo, a sprawling Indian market. Here, you'll find unique handicrafts made by the indigenous locals. Visit the small town of Cotacachi, Ecuador's center of leatherworks. Return to Quito in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Quito/Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal Island. Over the next four days cruise along and visit the enchanted Galapagos Islands, where you'll see a variety of exotic wildlife. This morning, fly from Quito to San Cristobal, the easternmost gateway to the islands. Board a first class cruise boat, your base while exploring the islands. (MV Galapagos Explorer) This afternoon a naturalist guide will lead you on a short walk to Ochoa Beach, an excellent spot to view pelicans, sea birds and anemones. Observe the thick vegetation and mangrove trees. Free time to walk on the beach, snorkel or swim before returning to the boat. MV Galapagos Explorer.

Day 11: Galapagos Cruise: Española Island. Upon landing at Suarez Point on Española Island, the southernmost in the archipelago, learn about lava terrain while crossing inactive lava fields. Aside from the sea lion colonies, this is a great site for bird watching. You may spot marine iguanas, lava lizards and colorful Sally Light Foot Crabs. You may also encounter a large colony of Waved Albatross. Later, visit the famous blowhole, where water shoots high into the air. Arrive in Gardner Bay situated on the opposite side of Espanola Island. The beach here is one of the most magnificent in the Galapagos and is home to many sea lion colonies.

Day 12: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz Island/ Rabida Island. This morning arrive in Santa Cruz Island where you'll visit the fascinating Darwin Station and learn about the research conducted on the island. The station is a breeding and rearing center where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats. Later sail to Rabida Island, a small island covered with dry coastal vegetation. This is a beautiful island with stunning contrast between the red-tinted sand of its beaches and the vivid green of its mangroves. It is home to sea lions, blue-footed boobies and pelicans. Enjoy a short walk to the top of the trail where you may take photos of the clear waters and the volcanic peaks.

Day 13: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz Island/Quito. Arrive at Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island where you may observe bodysurfing sea lions, marine iguanas and sea turtles. Swim or stroll along the white-sanded beach. Later, disembark and fly back to Quito. Dann Carlton Hotel.

Day 14: On a guided tour of Quito learn about its colonial past, history and culture. Visit the old town and see the Church of San Francisco, the first religious building constructed in South America by the Spanish. See La Compania, the city's most ornate church. Admire the spectacular views of the Valley of Tumbaco. On a clear day see the impressive volcanoes surrounding the city. Chill out this afternoon.

Day 15: Quito/USA. Final morning at leisure for independent pursuits. Later, board your return flight. Your memorable journey ends as you arrive the USA later this evening.

This itinerary was mostly taken from our trip itinerary by Smartours.