With its wealth of exotic wildlife, historic sights and stunning scenery, deciding where exactly to go in South America to go can be a tricky task. However, by combining a tour of the Galapagos Islands with trekking the Inca Trail, you can get a fascinating insight into this stunning continent.
Indeed, taking a Peru and Galapagos tour allows you to experience two of the region’s most iconic attractions in a single trip.
Your starting point will be in Peru, where you will be able to traverse the historic Inca Trail on your way to Machu Picchu. Voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, this iconic citadel is a great place to gain a deep understanding of the ancient Inca civilisation.
The Inca Trail is just 28 miles long; however, the high altitude that you are walking at means it will take four days to complete and require you to acclimatise.
However, there are plenty of wonderful sights to take in before you get to Machu Picchu, especially those to be found in the nearby city of Cusco.
A popular destination for many of those about to embark on the Inca Trail, here you can see a wealth of historic buildings – such as the Church of la Compania de Jesus – as you adjust to the altitude.
After a few days, you should be ready to visit Ollantaytambo, the starting point of the route, where you’ll be able to see ancient Inca architecture prior to setting off for Machu Picchu.
Steadily climbing upwards, you can see beautiful fauna and flora as you pass through the cloudforest; however, it is perhaps the stunning mountain scenery that really captivates you.
This is particularly likely to be the case at Dead Woman’s Pass – which at 4,215 m above sea level is the highest point of the trail. The panoramic views here are nothing short of stunning, so make sure you have your camera on you in order to capture the natural splendour.
From here you’ll start to descend gently, with the ancient Inca site of Winaywayna one of the many highlights of the trek. However, this is unlikely to compare with the sight of Machu Picchu. Upon arriving at the Sun Gate, you will be able to look down at the citadel in its entire glory and see the sun cast long shadows over the buildings.
Head down into the complex and you’ll be able to explore the landmarks up close before taking a guided tour to learn more about their history.
Once you have seen the landmark you can return to Cusco via train. However, your adventure holiday will only be at the halfway stage and from the city you can take a transfer to Ecuador.
The country is known the world over for being home to the biological haven that is the Galapagos Islands; however, you will initially spend some time on the mainland, exploring the sights of the capital Quito, including its renovated colonial centre.
After a day or so exploring, you can take a plane to the archipelago – which lies some 600 miles west of the rest of Ecuador.
Here, Charles Darwin conducted much of the research that would inform his work on evolution and, in taking a Galapagos cruise, you can follow in his footsteps in observing a range of exotic creatures.
On the island of Floreana you will be able to see flamingos, while in the sea you can spot hammerhead sharks and sea lions – among other animals – before heading to the beautiful Devil’s Crown crater for a spot of snorkelling.
Santa Cruz is home to giant tortoises and marine iguanas, as well as several beautiful beaches.
Across the Galapagos Islands you’ll also find blue-footed boobies and cormorants, so seeing at least one fascinating creature during your trip shouldn’t be too hard.