The Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu hold a unique allure, beckoning travelers from all corners of the globe to embark on a journey that transcends ordinary tourism. These extraordinary destinations captivate the adventurous spirit with their blend of ecological wonders and ancient cultural legacies. A sojourn to the Galapagos offers an intimate encounter with wildlife that defies fear, a place that inspired Charles Darwin's groundbreaking theories on evolution. Meanwhile, Machu Picchu stands as a testament to Inca ingenuity and offers a glimpse into a bygone era of remarkable civilization. The question arises: why should you consider a combined expedition to these two remarkable destinations, both of which have found their place on many a traveler's bucket list?
In the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are an enigma of evolution. This chain of volcanic islands, straddling the equator, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a sanctuary for an astonishing array of wildlife. The Galapagos' unique charm lies in its wildlife diversity and ecosystems, closely regulated by the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Here are the aspects that make the Galapagos Islands an essential destination for any nature enthusiast:
The Galapagos boast an incredible wealth of biodiversity, with species that you won't find anywhere else on Earth. It's a place where giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and the famed bluefooted boobies coexist. To set foot on the Galapagos is to step into a world that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. Observing these creatures in their natural habitat is a rare privilege, as they remain unafraid of human presence.
Approximately 98% of the Galapagos Islands are protected as a National Park and Marine Reserve. This dedication to conservation is integral to maintaining the unique ecosystems and habitats. Visitors to the Galapagos are expected to adhere to stringent regulations designed to minimize the human impact on this pristine environment. The Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve serve as a global model for environmental preservation.
The traditional Galapagos Islands trip has long been synonymous with embarking on a naturalist cruise aboard a small yacht. These cruises are meticulously designed to allow visitors to explore a number of islands, offering the opportunity to go ashore twice a day at different sites, all while accompanied by a knowledgeable naturalist guide. The daily excursions include leisurely nature walks, panga (small boat) rides along the stunning coastline, and captivating snorkeling
excursions in crystal-clear waters.
A more recent addition to the Galapagos experience is the island hopping journey. This type of adventure takes a different approach by providing accommodations in hotels on several of the four inhabited islands, with day trips to nearby sites. This way, travelers can immerse themselves in the local communities, culture, and unique ecosystems of each island.
Another exciting variation is the Galapagos multisport adventure. This alternative approach combines island-based accommodations with an array of adventurous activities. In addition to the traditional excursions, you'll also have the chance to hike, kayak, snorkel, and bike your way through the archipelago's breathtaking landscapes. It's a dynamic and engaging way to observe the iconic Galapagos wildlife.
The Inca Trail: This is a renowned 1, 4, or 5-day hiking adventure, requiring permits issued by the Government of Peru. It's a remarkable journey through diverse landscapes that leads you to the mesmerizing Gate of the Sun (Inti Punku). The Inca Trail allows you to reach Machu Picchu on foot, providing an intimate and immersive experience. Permits for this trail are highly sought after and can sell out months in advance.
The Train Journey: Many visitors opt for a more leisurely route. They take a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly known as Aguas Calientes) and then embark on a short bus trip that ascends the mountain to Machu Picchu. This approach is convenient and comfortable, especially if you prefer to conserve energy for the exploration of the site itself.
A recent development is the introduction of separate permits for the Royal Inca Trail, a one-day trek that covers the final segment of the traditional Inca Trail. This option allows you to reach Machu Picchu on foot via Inti Punku. It's worth noting that these permits are easier to obtain, making it an attractive alternative for those who want to include some hiking in their itinerary.
One question that often arises is whether to embark on two separate trips for each destination or to combine them into one remarkable adventure. the good news is that it's entirely possible to seamlessly blend your exploration of the galapagos and machu picchu into a single, unforgettable journey. here's how to make it happen:
When planning your journey to these enchanting destinations, it's crucial to consider the timing of your visit:
Generally, the ideal period to explore the Machu Picchu region in Peru is from April or May to November. During these months, you'll encounter pleasant weather with minimal rainfall. The rainy season typically commences in late November or early December and persists into March, with January and February being the wettest months. As a result, visiting during these times may expose you to occasional rain. Importantly, the Inca Trail is closed for trekking in February.
The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination, and there is no "bad" time to visit. However, the islands experience two primary seasons. The period from June to December is characterized by rougher seas, overcast skies, and cooler temperatures. During these months, it's advisable to wear a wetsuit for snorkeling if you intend to spend extended periods in the water. In contrast, from mid-December to June, the islands enjoy hot weather with occasional brief showers and calmer seas. A wetsuit may not be necessary for snorkeling during this time. Keep in mind that September tends to have the roughest seas.
March and late December are the busiest times for tourism in the Galapagos Islands, followed by the northern summer vacation months of June, July, and August. Consequently, these dates can sell out in advance, with December holiday trips often booked more than a year ahead on certain vessels.
To ensure the best experience during a combination trip to both the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, plan your visit between April and November. This timeframe allows you to avoid the rainy season in Peru, making it an ideal window for exploration. While combination trips are possible year-round, it's advisable to steer clear of February, as it's the rainiest month in Peru, and road washouts due to floods can make travel challenging. It's worth noting that the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance throughout February.
Navigating your way to and around these incredible destinations requires a strategic approach. Here are some key details to consider:
International flights to Ecuador arrive and depart from either Quito or Guayaquil. These cities also serve as the departure points for flights to and from the Galapagos Islands. To reach the Galapagos, you'll need to catch a flight from either Quito or Guayaquil on the first morning of your Galapagos journey. Flights generally depart between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. To ensure you make your flight, plan to arrive in mainland Ecuador at least the night before your Galapagos adventure begins. If you're traveling from Peru, you can connect to Ecuador, preferably through Guayaquil, on the same day you depart from Cusco.
International flights to Peru typically transit through Lima. Therefore, you'll need to fly into Lima and then catch a connecting flight to Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu. There are frequent flights between Lima and Cusco, with the journey taking approximately one hour. For hassle-free flight arrangements, consult with a reputable travel agency. If you're commencing your adventure in the Galapagos Islands, consider connecting to Lima and spending the night at an airport hotel before departing for Peru.
To link your Galapagos and Machu Picchu adventures, you'll require a flight that connects Lima, Peru, with either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. This flight usually lasts only a few hours, enabling you to traverse from one country to the other on the same day you depart either Cusco or the Galapagos Islands.
International and domestic flights are typically not included in your trip's cost, except for specific flights between the Galapagos Islands. While we do not sell airfare, we collaborate closely with Exito Travel, a company specializing in flights to and within the Americas. They can efficiently manage all your flight needs, matching your itinerary with suitable flights for a hassle-free process.
If you prefer to book your flights independently, websites like Kayak.com or LAN.com are valuable resources for comparing and selecting the most convenient options.
Depending on the starting point of your journey, you may need accommodations in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as you transition from Peru to Ecuador, or a hotel in Lima, Peru, as you conclude your Galapagos adventure and head to the airport. These stays are generally included in the cost of a set Galapagos and Machu Picchu package trip. Whether you need a hotel in Peru or Ecuador, it's a seamless process that can be efficiently arranged as you plan your adventure. You will also need at least one night's hotel in either Quito or Guayaquil before the trip commences. While this portion of the journey is not included in the trip price, we can assist in making these arrangements for you. We highly recommend not purchasing international or Galapagos flights until you've confirmed your trip details to ensure everything aligns smoothly.
Peru, like Ecuador, generally does not require a visa for most visitors. It's advisable to double-check the visa requirements well in advance. Ensure your passport maintains validity for at least six.