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Machu Picchu and the Galapagos: the Ultimate South America Combo

Marketing is often about offering the biggest “bang for your buck” and a core aspect of this marketing hook is the combo. You need to look no further than Mcdonald’s and their meal combos to see this. The combo is (dare I say it) a staple “meal” of their marketing and sales platform.

Combos are also a big part of travel. The more you add to an itinerary the cheaper it can become overall. There are a few key combo itineraries that come to mind when looking at Central and South America such as Belize and Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina with Iguassu Falls as the centrepiece, Argentina and Chile way down south in Patagonia, and Argentina and Chile with their amazing wine offerings.

Probably the most popular itinerary for South America and the one that takes in two of the region and world’s most popular sites would be the Machu Picchu and Galapagos combination trip.

The Citadel, Machu Picchu

What more can be said about Machu Picchu that hasn’t already been said? Not much, but it’s worth repeating. Machu Picchu was the purported “Lost City of the Incas” and the ruins are steeped in mystery, conjecture, and controversy. They’re also an immense beauty; the famous camping-based Inca Trail is but one way to visit the ruins. Trains ply the valley floor from the Sacred Valley to and from the ruins. There is also a shorter Baby Inca Trail, as well as the more circuitous route via the Salkantay route, where purpose-built lodges are used each night.

Geographically, Peru spans an immense portion of the South American continent and Machu Picchu sits amongst one of the country’s most prominent features: the Andes. The route to Machu Picchu follows the Urubamba River, which if you were to continue to follow past the ruins, you would find yourself in Brazil and on the Amazon river, just like Ed Stafford, who on the August 9th, 2010 became the first person to walk the length of the Amazon River in South America from the source in Peru to the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. He walked for 860 days. No one had ever done what he attempted.

Salkantay route

While the journey to and around the ruins today is much easier, even luxurious, than it was in the past, the spirit of adventure is still a part of the trip as is the mystery that confronted Bingham back when he first came upon the ruins. A full-day guided tour is highly recommended after you disembark from your train or end the Inca Trail. Learn the many theories of the ruin—the Incas left no written records, and in fact, never developed a written language—explore the many nooks and crannies of the ruins, walk to the Sun Gate or the Machu Picchu mountain lookout or the Inca Bridge. Pre-book a climb up to the peak of Huayna Picchu, the mountain top that is in the background of every photo of Machu Picchu, but that offers rarely-seen vistas of the ruins.

Be warned, or take it as a polite reminder, that Peru is much more than Machu Picchu and Goway’s customizable itineraries allow for further exploring around the country before heading off to the modern Garden of Eden: the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos Islands are an ideal playground for wildlife and for the Globetrotter in search of it. Blue footed boobies, frigate birds, and albatrosses are just a few of the native residents, and those are just the birds on land. The underwater viewing opportunities are just as abundant. Where else can you see penguins swimming alongside tropical fish?

The Galapagos is a year-round destination, but March offers perhaps the best wildlife viewing opportunities of the year, since water levels are at their highest. Land temperatures are also ideal, reaching the high 20s °C/high 80s °F, making the islands a great place to cut short a North American winter.

Sea Lions Galapagos
Sea Lions Galapagos

Since the Galapagos Islands sit right on the equator, it isn’t exactly springtime as you’d know it back home. Nonetheless, you’ll find many of the animals at their most (ahem!) active, as they embrace the season of rebirth and renewal. These include red-footed boobies, green sea turtles, marine and land iguanas, flightless cormorants, penguins, and greater flamingoes.

The exposure to wildlife in the Galapagos is unrivalled. Being able to sit a mere foot away from sleeping seals, or even come nose-to-nose, is an experience for a Globetrotter of any age. To walk among dozing blue-footed boobies and have them not even lift their heads in curiosity, let alone fear, only proves how unaffected the local wildlife is by the presence of people. To come upon albatross in the middle of their mating dance without them breaking stride is jaw-dropping (or possibly beak-smacking). To snorkel with sea turtles, penguins, parrot fish, sting rays, and sharks is part of what defines the Galapagos as a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Goway offers two options for this amazing combination of history, wildlife, culture, and adventure.

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos. This option is based around a small group tour in Peru and one of the more moderately-priced vessels in the Galapagos, allowing for a more budget-oriented trip in a small group environment, but being a touch restrictive as it is based on pre-set dates.

If you or your client is looking for more flexibility not only with dates but with itinerary, then look to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Your Way. This itinerary is designed to be pulled apart. Add more days, more activities, a wider choice of accommodation in Peru, and chose from a wider selection of vessels for the Galapagos. Goway offers more vessels in the Galapagos than most, but some of our most popular choices are the M/V Legend, and sister ships of M/V Coral I and M/V Coral II, or go for the ultimate experience and sail on the Silver Galapagos, which is a 5-star, fully all-inclusive with butler service, all meals, drinks, and tips, pre and post accommodation.

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Your Way are limited only by budget and imagination!

Goway is your one-stop shop for all customizable options for Central and South America. There’s no better example of our talent for customization than our Machu Picchu and Galapagos combination itineraries.

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General Manager, Central & South America - Born in Australia and raised in Canada and Papua New Guinea, Don took his first solo trip to Bali – aged just 13. Since then, Don’s travels have taken him to every continent. He’s been a backpacker in Asia, Europe and Egypt, an overland adventurer in East and Southern Africa, and an overland driver in South and Central America. He is especially fond of Peru, Patagonia and Namibia, though his longest adventure to date has been a London to Kathmandu run via the Middle East.

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