Month

November 2021

An Overview of Machu Picchu

A 1911 research exposed an astonishing art of architecture amidst the Andes, now known as Machu Picchu. In the Quechua Indian language, “Machu Picchu” means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain. An enigmatic place that sheds light on how the pre-Columbian empire of the Incas lived. Solarly aligned buildings, roads, artificial farming areas and complex irrigation systems are among the marvels that can be traced from Machu Picchu.

Geography of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located in the district of Aguas Calientes, province of Urubamba, department of Cusco in Peru. Its privileged location sitting between the Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountains, elevates this mythical place to 2,430 m above sea-level. This rich geography led Machu Picchu to be one of the 7 Wonders of the World, as recognised by UNESCO as a historic sanctuary.

Photo by Sergei A from Pexels

Weather in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu has a pleasantly warm weather during the day, but its temperature goes down at night, ranging between 50 and 75 Fahrenheit degrees (12 degrees Celsius). More than temperature, Machu Picchu is distinguished more by its dry and wet seasons.

To avoid the tourist crowds during the peak dry season and muddy conditions during the low rainy season, consider the benefits of visiting during pleasant climate and warm-to-cool temperatures; these are called shoulder months such as April, May, September, October, and November, months in which temperatures sit comfortably between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Machu Picchu Maps and Sectors

If you are planning to embark on a trip to exploring “the lost city” of Machu Picchu, you may benefit from understanding before hand that the city is organised in different areas with different historical meaning and misteries.

There are 4 main areas that archeologists and scholars have mapped off of Machu Picchu:

Inca Trail also known as Machu Picchu Hiking Trail

This trail is a popular route among tourists, extending itself over 40 kilometers and can easily take you 4 days to complete the trek. That includes 1 day visiting the archaeological Park of Machu Picchu. Moreover, during your hiking experience, you will be surrounded by wonderful nature and breathtaking views of the mountains.

There is a shorter trail that takes about 2 days to complete, for those who don’t have much time to embark on the lengthier journey. Through this trail you will be able to experience a variety of birds and plants such as orchids. This shorter path is hidden among the Andean mountains with constructions high up in the mountains.

Agricultural Sector

The Incas surrounded Machu Picchu with terraces to stabilize the slope and build their infrastructure. They carefully laid different layers of gravel and stone, and a flat layer of fine soil that cannot be washed away with the rush of water coming down the slope. All this provided the conditions for the Incas to grow their agriculture, occupying a large part of Machu Picchu in this area.

Photo by Beto Huaman Moreano from Pexels

All the tiered grass field was the Incas solution to the food supply challenges they faced by building this misterious city at Machu Picchu. Not only they needed to engineer complex irrigation systems to satisfy the urban water supply needs, but they also had to ensure the streams of water downhill would not flood the city and temples they had built. By creating this tiered fields downhill, they solved both problems in one shot. Pretty clever!

The Urban Sector and Sanctuaries at Machu Picchu

Despite of the sanctuary found and the belief that Machu Picchu was a religious place, there are over 140 houses ruins that attest that a population of over 500 people lived there once, with other than religious motives.

Some still believe that it is an imperial residence, until the Spanish foreign invaded it and turned it into an impregnable military bastion. The Inca mummies were transferred to Lima, since according to chroniclers this city was burned. But I’ll leave these theories to the scholars to figure out and test.

The skills and strength the Incas must had been as impressive as their legacy, given the widespread belief that they did not know the wheel, and that the temples and ceremonial buildings have spectacular astronomical and architectural precisions. For example, there is a building with curved walls, aligning a groove on the wall with the sunlight during the winter solscite, the shortest day of the year.

Train Service in Machu Picchu

There are rail roads to Machu Picchu currently being serviced and operated by 2 train companies, Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Both train companies have a variety of services offered to tourists who desire to explore the tracks to Machu Picchu.

Both companies have a website from where you can buy your tickets, just make sure you buy your tickets as soon as you know your trip date and departure details since they are in high demand always and there is a slight variation in departure locations depending the company you choose to buy the train tickets from.

Machu Picchu Tours

Machu Picchu is, no wonder, one of the new 7 marvels of the world. It is no wonder since its architectural and artistic work mixes with nature in an unseemingly way.

From roads that extent through thousands of miles to floating, hanging and hydro dam bridges connecting the glorious city hidden in the sky. This enables travel agencies and tour operators to provide a plethora of tours in Machu Picchu.

Vacations Land is a travel agency and tour operator that enables people and organizations from around the world, especially in North America, to plan and experience their dreamed vacations.

Macchu pichu

PERU AND BOLIVIA MACCHU PICCHU -DEATH ROAD-UYUNI SALT FLATS

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Cusco

PERU: Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, The Rainbow Mountain & Nazca: THE LAND OF UFOs

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Golden Treasure

Peru Golden Treasures

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An Overview of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands is a group of islands and rocks formation known as an archipelago consisting of 13 large islands with a surface area greater than 10 km², 6 medium islands with an area of 1 km² to 10 km² and another 215 small islets as well as rocky promontories of a few square meters distributed around the line of the Earth’s equator. Located 1000 kilometers west of continental Ecuador, the archipelago is administered as a province of Ecuador.

Image credits: Screenshot taken from Google Earth

Galapagos Islands’ International Recognition

The islands are considered one of the most important natural reserves in the world, in fact, it is considered a world heritage by UNESCO and currently it’s known to be expanding its marine reserve and joining efforts with other countries to protect it.

In July 2010, the World Heritage Committee agreed to remove the Galápagos Islands from its list of precious sites endangered by environmental threats or overuse.

The geophysical and biological ecosystems found in Galapagos make this archipelago a natural laboratory for scientific research.

Geophysical Qualities of the Galapagos

The arid landscape of the islands at Galapagos is due to its volcanic historical dynamics which formed the archipielago of lava piles, accounting for active volcanic activity currently ongoing. In the last 11 years alone, four of its volcanoes have erupted (Sierra Negra, 2005; Cerro Azul, 2008; Fernandina, 2009; and, Wolf Volcano, 2015) thus, the Galapagos archipelago is considered one of the most volcanically active areas in the world.

Studies collecting satellite images from the Galapagos volcanoes between 1992 and 1999 led experts to believe that the slightest change in volcanic shape, as a change in magma levels in the calderas, can indicate eruption threats. This is how experts predicted volcanic activity which resulted in Sierra Negra’s eruption in October of 2005.

Photo Credits: Galapagos National Park on Twitter

Biodiversity in Galapagos Islands

A quick Google search of the Galapagos fauna can show sea lions, giant tortoises and marine iguanas as representative of its biodiversity. Nonetheless, the richness and variety of the species at the Galapagos greatly exceeds that described by any online portrayal of the flora and fauna of these wonderful islands. The naturalist Charles Darwin himself was so stunned by the biodiversity of this place that he wrote:

These islands seem to be a little world within themselves, a perennial source of new things.

1835 journal entry (Clark and Clark, 1999)

The admiration of the world is focused on the fauna of the Galapagos Islands, due to the conditions of endemism (82% of mammals, 80% of land birds, 26% of seabirds and 95% of reptiles are endemic to the islands). Endemic species include petrels, cormorants, the Galapagos hawk, penguins, land and marine iguanas, and many more.

Initially there were 14 species of turtles, giant tortoises, which give the archipelago its name, 3 of which have gone extint due to human predation, and the constant eruptions of the volcanoes.

Penguins, giant tortoises, flightless cormorants, marine and land iguanas, are on the list of the more than 2000 endemic species that inhabit the Galapagos Islands. In fact, the World Wildlife organization stated:

The Galapagos ecoregion holds many native endemic snails, plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Due to its young age and level of isolation associated with being an island archipelago, the ecoregion has a low number of species. The ecoregion does, however, remain high on the list of areas for conservation due to high endemism and low disturbance. Most species here are endemic which is unusual even for the most species rich ecoregions. The endemic concentration is elevated when subspecies are brought into consideration. Most endemic species in the Galapagos archipelago have at least two subspecies due to the divergence of the species to better adapt to each island.

Visiting the Galapagos National Park

The “Archipelago of Columbus”, also known as the Galapagos Islands offers tourists the possibility to explore its magnificient landscapes and biodiversity through the Galapagos National Park in a safe and comfortable way.

Flying from either Quito or Guayaquil airports are the only form of access due to inspection of the Agency for Regulation and Control of Biosafety.

Airlines that flight to the Galapagos are:

Entrance Fees to the Galapagos National Park: An entry tax will be levied on protected areas in Galapagos as an entry tax, the prices of which are detailed below:

CATEGORY FEE TO BE PAID
Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador over 12 years old US $100
Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador under 12 years of age US $50
Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador, over 12 years old, nationals of one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur US $50
Foreign tourists not resident in Ecuador under 12 years of age, nationals of one of the countries belonging to the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur US $25
National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, over 12 years old US $6
National or foreign tourists residing in Ecuador, under 12 years of age US $3
Tourists, foreign students not residing in Ecuador who are enrolled in national educational institutions US $25
Children under 2 years of age who are nationals or foreigners are exempt from paying this tax.
Source: Galapagos National Park

Travelers Requirement Visiting Galapagos

  • All travelers age 2 and older must present a complete vaccination card, with at least 14 days of validity or a negative RT-PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to boarding the aircraft to the Galapagos, counting from the time the sample was taken; and
  • All travelers to the Galapagos Islands also need a “transit control card” issued by the Government of Galapagos.  Contact your tour operator for more information on this requirement. For more information visit the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador site

What to Pack for Your Galapagos Trip

  • Waterproof camera or dry bag for electronics.
  • Binoculars.
  • Swimsuit.
  • Snorkel mask, snorkel fins and a wetsuit: Tours usually provide them for snorkeling, but you don’t want to miss a marine-life spotting because you’re fiddling with ill-fitting gear. The best we’ve found have advanced-fit technology, which means a better seal and Shot FX fins (a spring-loaded foot strap that makes for an adjustment-free fit).  
  • Sun hat, sunscreen (SPF30 or higher), sunglasses.
  • Light back pack or fanny pack: This is where you will keep such Galapagos necessities as your camera – unless you have a camera bag – sunscreen, glasses, windbreaker and other similar objects during your walks & hikes.
  • A long-sleeved shirt with UPF: Wear it when you’re hiking or even snorkeling for extra sun protection.
  • Refillable water bottle to reduce plastic waste.
  • Motion sickness medication for boat tours.
  • Quick-dry clothing: Try breathable, odor-resistant Merino wool material like the briefs, socks, and T-shirts.
  • Rain gear: Consider a waterproof jacket and umbrella and/or head gear (it protects from sun as well as rain!)
  • Hiking shoes for uneven, dried lava terrain.
  • Insect Repellent.
  • Biodegradeable shampoos. Remember this is a water-based excursion.

Suggested Activities in Galapagos

  • Wildlife watching: Watching the galápagos penguins, eagle rays, sea lions, sea turtles, blue footy boobies, among other things is something you cannot miss, whether you are on land or in the sea.
  • Scuba Diving: Hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, eagle rays, large schools of jack fish and much more marine animals are among the diverse marine fauna landscape when sailing the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
  • Snorkeling: No matter which island you’re snorkeling off of, you’ll likely be swimming alongside sea lions and Pacific sea turtles or even watch marine iguanas feeding on algae.
  • Surfing: You can rent surfing boards in port towns such as Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.
  • Kayaking. You can rent kayaks without a guide at Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz.
  • Hiking. Trek over dried lava beds along the rim of one of the archipelago’s active volcanoes or into the highlands to see a variety of vegetation.
  • Volunteering. You’ll find opportunities that can include working on a farm or helping with habitat restoration through National Park Sustainable Development and the Charles Darwin Foundation

Galapagos Island Vacation Packages

If you are looking to have an accompanied experience that includes transport, accommodation and tour guidance, altogether, to the Galapagos Islands you can choose to hire a travel agency with all inclusive travel packages to the Galapagos Islands.

Some important questions to consider before you hire a travel agency for your Galapagos Islands Vacations are:

  • What kind of experience(s) do you expect from this trip?
  • What activities do you enjoy the most when vacationing?
  • How many islands do you wish to explore?

Answering questions like these can help you choose the best vacation deal for your traveling plans, budget, activities included on your guided tour when selecting the vacation package and time you need to spare for completing the trip with all of its activities comprised.

Here’s a handful selection of package deals that Vacations Land can offer:

Galapagos

SANTA CRUZ – ISABELA – SANTA FE – SAN CRISTOBAL

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San Cristobal

QUITO -ISLA SAN CRISTOBAL-GUAYAQUIL

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Galapagos

Galápagos San Cristóbal Island

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