The unspoiled natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and the fascinating historic wonders of Machu Picchu in Peru are two of the most impressive attractions in South America. Seeing these incredible destinations will give you a glimpse into the amazing biodiversity of Ecuador and the rich and ancient Inca culture of Peru.
On our all inclusive luxury travel packages we will show you the best that these countries have to offer, ensuring that you enjoy the finest accommodation and the friendliest local guides along the way.
Machu Picchu and Peru
Machu Picchu is a site of ruins tucked away in the mountainous countryside near Cusco. It was constructed at the peak of the Inca Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries and it is made up of over 150 buildings including temples, houses, baths and sanctuaries. It is a stunning site, spreading over five miles and featuring more than 3,000 stone steps. What’s even more impressive is the setting – an emerald green mountain peak shrouded in mist.
On our luxurious tour experiences in Machu Picchu you will have the opportunity to wake up at sunrise and witness incredible views over this Lost Inca City while staying at the only high end accommodation that is located at the site itself.
Machu Picchu isn’t the only amazing sight in Peru – there are many other worthy destinations that are just as fascinating and beautiful. Colca Canyon is a stunning natural wonder that is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Hiking down the canyon takes you from small dry and dusty desert villages to a lush shady oasis with a river running through it, where you can pick ripe avocados from the trees and relax in a hammock.
While in Peru you can also take a trip to the Amazon Jungle. Peru has the second largest portion of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil and when you venture into this lush paradise you will find a dazzling array of wildlife and meet people from tribes that still follow their traditional way of life.
Visit the Sacred Valley of the Inca in Peru and you can step back in time to a land where ancestral traditions are still passed on. Explore the mysterious Ollantaytambo Ruins, hewn from massive stones and pulled up the mountain somehow without the use of wheels. Visit the market at Pisac and bring home some beautiful hand woven textiles, painted ceramics and multi-coloured beads.
Lake Titicaca is a site that is incredibly important in Inca culture, as it is believed that the god Viracocha arose from the lake after a great flood to create the world. The lake is considered the birthplace of the Incas and their spirits return there after death. Lake Titicaca is one of the largest, highest and deepest lakes in the world and this sacred place is a fascinating destination. You can visit the Uros Islands, floating islands made from reeds in the lake where the descendents of the Uros culture still live a simple, traditional life.
When to Go
The high altitude of Machu Picchu means that it is much cooler than the surrounding area and often surrounded by fog. The rainy season in Machu Picchu is November to April, although daily showers are common throughout the year. The trail is closed during the entire month of February because the rains make it potentially hazardous.
The dry season from July to August is the peak tourist season which brings the heaviest crowds. Many people visit in November and April to avoid the crowds yet still take advantage of the pleasant weather.
What to Do
In Machu Picchu the most obvious to-do is to witness the ancient ruins, whether or not you take the full Inca Trail to get there, the shorter version of the trail or simply ride the bus from Aguas Calientes. Make sure that you see some of the highlights of the ruins, including the Temple of the Condor, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Sun Gate. While you are in Aguas Calientes you can also visit the thermal hot springs that the town is named after.
You could hike Wayna Picchu, which is the peak that overlooks the ruins that can be seen in the backdrop of most photos of Machu Picchu. This is an exhilarating climb with a spectacular view, but if you want to do it make sure that you book in advance. Only 400 people per day are allowed to climb to the summit as it is limited to protect the delicate ecosystem.
Important Travel Information
Visitors from North America, the European Union, Australia and many other countries will not need a visa to visit Peru for up to 183 days.
Before you visit Machu Picchu you will need to buy an entrance permit. You’ll need to submit your passport number, full name, nationality and other information. You will also need to show your passport to get into Machu Picchu.
Health and Safety
It is highly recommended to spend at least two days in Cusco before travelling on to Machu Picchu, so that you can get a chance to acclimate to the high altitude. There are medications that can help you with altitude sickness, as well as local remedies such as coca tea or chewing coca leaves.
It is very important to stay hydrated at high altitude, so drink plenty of fluids to avoid altitude sickness. It can be very cold at night, so make sure that you bring layers. The higher you climb into the mountains, the colder it will be.
Before visiting Peru make sure that you are up to date with your vaccinations. The CDC recommends that you are vaccinated for Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies as well as your routine vaccines.
The currency of Peru is the sol, which is divided into 100 cents, called “centimos”. Peru is still very much a cash society and you’ll find that in many of the small local shops and restaurants you will need to pay in cash as credit card machines are not available.
Galapagos Islands and Ecuador
These 19 remote islands in the Pacific Ocean have been called a “living museum” because of their incredible biodiversity. They are located at the confluence of three ocean currents, an advantageous position that makes them one of the richest ecosystems in the world.
The extreme isolation of the islands led to the unique animal life development, which was what inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. The Galapagos Islands are a nature lover’s dream come true and they are home to a wide range of wildlife including sharks, penguins, sea lions, giant tortoises and much more.
There’s a lot more to see in Ecuador as well – this small country packs a lot of wonders. Visit the historic colonial city of Quito with its elegant 17th century buildings and ornate church spires surrounded by mountain peaks. Cuenca is also a vibrant UNESCO World Heritage city with a laid back vibe, plenty of great cafes and restaurants and lovely parks.
Take a drive south from Quito along the “Avenue of the Volcanos” and consider climbing the towering peak of Cotopaxi. Visit the crusted swirls of age-old lava at the San Salvador lava fields and take a dip in the natural mineral hot springs of Banos. Peer into the depths of the Quilotoa crater lake, which the locals say has no bottom.
Half of Ecuador is covered by tropical Amazon rainforest, so take the opportunity to venture into the jungle and experience the lush biodiversity here. On our tour experiences you will visit the rainforest with an experienced guide who will be able to teach you about the flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem and the traditions of the people who still live in harmony with it.
When to Go
The Galapagos Islands are beautiful all year round, so there is no best time of year to visit. Typically April and May and September and October are considered to be the low season months, so there will be fewer crowds. June to December is known as the dry season which is when sea mammals and land birds are most active.
The time between December and May is called the “warm season” and it is when the climate is more tropical with rain and cloudy skies and the ocean is warmer for snorkeling and swimming. However, there is a good chance of seeing wildlife no matter when you visit.
What to do
On the Galapagos Islands you will have a lot of options for things to see and do. Snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular on the islands as the sea life is diverse and spectacular. We can provide the equipment and can take you to the best diving spots. Keep in mind that some areas of the Galapagos are only suitable for skilled divers as there are strong currents and deep water. It is a great idea to bring a waterproof camera so that you can take some photos of the incredible underwater life while snorkeling.
Kayaking is a great way to see more of the water and have a better chance of spotting fish and sea turtles. Horseback riding can also be organized so that you can explore the highlands of the Galapagos at greater depths. Check out the amazing giant tortoise breeding program at the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz Island. These incredible creatures live for decades and can weigh up to 919 lbs.
Our packages are all inclusive, so every detail is taken care of and any experience you want to have on the Galapagos islands can be easily arranged – just let us know!
Important Travel Information
Citizens of nearly any country can enter Ecuador for a stay of 90 days or less with no need to obtain a visa in advance.
Health and Safety
This might seem obvious, but it is not permitted to touch or disturb any of the plant and animal life on the Galapagos Islands. Do not litter, do not pick any flowers, do not touch the animals and don’t attempt to feed them. Always follow the instructions of your guide in order to protect the wildlife and do not venture off the marked paths.
Avoid coming within two metres of the animals, so that you do not affect their natural behaviour. Smoking or making a campfire is strictly forbidden in the national park areas, as there is a risk of starting a fire.
The vaccinations that the CDC recommends for visiting Ecuador include Typhoid and Hepatitis A. You might also need to get vaccinated for Hepatitis B, Rabies and Yellow Fever depending on what you plan to do while you are in Ecuador.
The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar. You will be able to use both American and Ecuadorian coins and all paper money is the same as in the USA. ATMs are common in Ecuador, even in remote regions such as the Galapagos.