Known for its incredible mix of polar and tropical species, the Galapagos Islands - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is a place where you can dive into the water and see penguins and tropical fish swimming side by side.
Composed almost exclusively of volcanic rock, the archipelago lies around 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and consists of around 13 primary islands, five smaller islands and numerous islets and rock formations, Several oceanic currents meet in this region, resulting in a mixed temperature range and producing an abundance of marine life, from tropical to temperate fish species. Diving is therefore a popular pastime and the absence of commercial fishing means the waters are teeming with marine life, Reef fish, stingrays, morays, garden eels, turtles, marine iguanas, white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, penguins and whale sharks are just some of the species divers can spot. The islands have never been connected to the South American continent, meaning that many of the reptiles and plants living here are not found anywhere else.
Machu Picchu means `old mountain´ in Quechua. It is a 550 year old citadel constructed by the most ahead of time (and last)pre Columbian society in the wonderful setting between two forest-adorned Andean summits that have been maintained to be observable as a city. It is high, 7,973ft above sea level. It is also big: the relics are the size of the village, and linked with neighboring forest and wilderness park, the `historical sanctuary´, according to UNESCO covers more than 116 square miles. It is also enigmatic, it’s functions were part residential and part religious, but no one fully knows the meaning and value of Machu Picchu to the Incas.
Machu Picchu is positioned in humid semitropical forest, which provides a protected habitat for flora and fauna and various endangered species, prominently the spectacled bear. There are swirling clouds, llamas grazing on the plateau.
The Incas started building Machu Picchu at around 1430AD, but was deserted 100 years later as an official site, at the time of the Spanish Conquest.
In 1911 an 11 year old boy guided Yale professor Hiram Bingham, who was actually looking for Vilcabamba, the last Incan hideout, up a steep mountainside where he first caught sight of the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu and made it in to the history books. The purpose of Machu Picchu is still a mystery, though the main theory is that it was used as a retreat for Incan rulers. It is believed that no more than 750 people lived there at a time, and less so in the rainy season. It was so well hidden that the Spanish conquistadors completely missed it though the locals always knew of its existence. In September 2007, Peru and Yale University came to an arrangement concerning the return of the relics which Hiram Bingham had taken from the site.
If this will be your first trip to Ecuador and Peru. Galapagos and Machu Picchu are practically obligatory. The question is "What else?" and the answer depends on how much time you have, and what your interests are.
You can combine Machu Picchu and Galapagos with a number of other Andean attractions, Inca Trail, the Amazon rain forest, or Inca archaelogical sites.
Discover the natural wonders of the Galapagos and the magnificent cultural treasures of Peru. Explore the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Hike the Inca Trail, and witness the sunrise on magical Machu Picchu
Day 01: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Day 02: Guayaquil/ Galapagos
Day 03 - 08: Exploring Galapagos Islands
Day 09: Galapagos/ Guayaquil
Day 10: Lima, Peru
Day 11: Cusco
Day 12: Sacred Valley of the Incas
Day 13 -15: Hike to Inca Trail
Day 16: Hiking to Machu Picchu
Day 17: Cusco
Day 18: Departure day or best option to continue your adventure in Peru