With frequent and reliable flights throughout South America, luxury travellers are now taking full advantage of everything that South America has to offer, and combining multiple destinations in one comprehensive vacation. One of the most in demand trips combines the highlights of Ecuador and Peru, to create a once-in-a-life-time Machu Picchu Galapagos vacation.
There are many great attractions in South America, but two of the best have to be the lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the natural wonder that is the Galapagos Islands. With both attractions located in the north-west of the continent, the two can easily be linked together with a short 2 hour flight from Quito to Lima, making them an ideal pair to match.
About the destinations
Machu Picchu, considered the best preserved Inca citadel attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Located in a remote region of the Vilcanota Jungle on the eastern slopes of the Andes, the archaeological sanctuary truly is a breath-taking sight. Perched high upon a mountain ridge several hundred feet above the valley floor, Machu Picchu was one of the last bastions of the Inca Empire before the Spanish finally conquered the country in 1535.
Straddling the equator, the Galapagos Islands are a chain of living and breathing islands of extraordinary nature, home to some of the strangest creatures found on the planet. Located 500 miles west of mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos was once an area relatively unexplored by mankind, home only to pirates and whalers. In 1835, when Charles Darwin arrived at the islands aboard the HMS Beagle, his profound discoveries would go on to drive new controversial discussions about the creation of the planet and the evolution of life upon it.
Luxury Machu Picchu Galapagos
Both Machu Picchu and the Galapagos are exceptionally developed for luxury travel, and the exclusive options that are available are simply mind-blowing. In 2013, a 12 days package, utilizing the very best hotels, services and cruise operator will set you back a minimum of US$ 7,000 per person, though moderate packages start from around US$ 5,500 per person.
Luxury travellers looking for the ultimate experience may consider including some of the following options. The elegant 18 passenger M/Y Grace, a luxury Camper & Nicholsons yacht named after her late owner the Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. The luxury yacht which features 9 oversized staterooms, inside & alfresco dining and an outdoor jacuzzi is one of the most exclusive yachts to sail the Galapagos waters. The Orient Express owned Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, is also another popular option. The world famous journey that includes a Champagne reception, gourmet meals, on-board guides and afternoon tea at the exclusive Sanctuary Lodge Hotel is the highlight of many Machu Picchu Galapagos packages.
Other popular combination packages include: Machu Picchu and the wine regions of Chile, Machu Picchu and Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil), Machu Picchu and Buenos Aires, and Machu Picchu and Rio de Janeiro.
Paul Jones is Managing Director of Totally Latin America.