Machu Picchu is one of the top places to visit in of South America, followed very closely by the Galapagos Islands. A journey to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands is a trip that every traveler should take once in their lives. So, when is the best time to visit Galapagos and Machu Picchu? Typically Spring (April-June) and Fall (Sep-Nov) is the best time to visit, as the weather is mild and pleasant in both countries. Let me share my experience traveling to Machu Picchu and Galapagos during the Spring (April), and you will understand why....
Day 1: Welcome to Cusco!
Day 2: Today we woke up early to visit the hills above Cusco, and the Sacred Valley on our way to Machu Picchu. The weather was perfect, 60 degrees with lots of sunshine and clouds (I was glad I packed layers to put on when the sun went behind the clouds). First we went horseback riding, stopped at a weavers market, and ate lunch at a Mama’s house. We went horseback riding in the hills above Cusco, stopping at some local ruins along the way. In the afternoon we took the train the Aguas Calientes where we spent the night before visiting Machu Picchu in the morning.
Day 3: Early this morning we were up for breakfast at 5am before catching the early morning bus to Machu Picchu. The bus ride to the top is a scenic 20 minute ride to the top, where we were able to watch the beautiful sunrise come up behind Machu Picchu - and it was absolutely STUNNING! For anyone going to visit Machu Picchu, be sure that you visit in the morning (before the tourists and clouds roll in).
Day 4: This little town of Ollantaytambo is one of my favorite villages in Peru. We spent the morning exploring the village and the local ruins. Ollantaytambo (followed closely by Pisac) is one of my favorite cities in Peru. From the markets, to the ruins, to the charming little streets – you could spend weeks in this charming little village. We also had the opportunity to visit Maras & Moray, the gigantic salt mines located right outside the Sacred Valley.
Day 5: While there are so many things to do and see in Peru, some of the most treasured experiences can’t be planned for. Today was a very special day as we were invited to participate in a llama (or alpaca) Blessing festival in one of the villages outside of Ollantaytambo. After breakfast we traveled through the mountains to the Latis Valley (on the other side of the sacred valley) on a scenic journey through the tiny villages fringing the mountainsides. After about 1 hour of driving we reached the first main village, where we were introduced to the local people and observe through our bus windows how they live their day to day lives. We continued on another hour or so until we reached the mountain highlands where the majority of Peruvian llamas live. As we hopped out of the vehicle, Juan and his family were there to greet us with big hugs, and in the distance I could see all the llamas gathered together for the blessing.
The blessing is very special, as the people believe it brings good luck and heath to their animals, which are an important part of the livelihood in Peru. First all the llamas are gathered together, and the youngest are brought forth to the front of the herd. Our baby llamas were just 2 weeks old. Cocoa leaves, incense, feathers, and other items are gathered up in a pouch and burned. Special water is thrown over the tops of the llama heard, and the baby llamas are decorated with flowers & natural colors as prayers are spoken. At the end of the ceremony the people dance around the heard with flags, and colorful clothing until all the llamas are released back into the mountains. In the late afternoon we continued onwards to Juan’s village for a traditional Pachamama lunch. And then continued onwards to Pisac, to visit the local markets and buy traditional Peruvian textiles & ceramics (two of the best souvenirs you can bring back from Peru). Such a great day!
Day 6: Today we spent a full day exploring the Cusco City, visiting the Cathedral, the market streets, and even had the opportunity to observe a festival (that usually happen on Saturdays and Sundays in the cities). We had free time for lunch before returning to our hotel for a relaxing evening (or continuing to shop for souvenirs). In the afternoon we were met by our chef for or cooking class and farewell dinner. We proceeded to the market where our bed shopped for the ingredients that we were to use to prepare our dishes. We learned how to prepare so many delicious dishes! Our last night in Peru couldn't have been more beautiful than enjoying a wonderful meal with new local friends. This trip will be an experience to remember.
Day 7: After a delicious breakfast we were headed onwards on flight onwards to Ecuador (for the start of our Galapagos trip). Flights normally route via Lima, arriving in Guayaquil in the later afternoon. Flying over Ecuador was beautiful, as I saw all the beautiful waterways and jungles beneath me! I was greeted at the hotel by the hotel driver, who helped me with my bags and gave me a little city tour on the way to our hotel in the city center. Our hotel is located right by the Malecon & Iguana Park (as the city center is only 10-15 minutes from the airport). I had a free evening to explore, grab dinner, and enjoy a leisure evening before I depart for the Galapagos Islands in the morning! I am so excited for the next adventure, and I can't wait to explore the Galapagos!
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