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Machu Picchu vs. Galapagos Islands vs. "the beach"

Machu Picchu vs. Galapagos Islands vs. "the beach"

Old May 21, 17, 11:23 am
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Machu Picchu vs. Galapagos Islands vs. "the beach"

Fellow FTer’s…

Fairly well traveled, 3 RTWs, all planned myself…no tours, etc. But South America confounds me. My friend and I were discussing going to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands in the October-December timeframe for about two weeks. But, we decided that we’d like to have some relaxation time, i.e. at a beach and do Machu Picchu OR Galapagos Islands to allow for a few days of beach time. Traveling to either destination from the USA is not an issue in itself. In addition, as much as I’d like to hike into Machu Picchu, my friend is not quite on board with that plan.

If any of you have input into any of these statements/questions, I’d much appreciate it, as there is a tremendous amount of information on the web about both destinations.

Is Machu Picchu overhyped? I ask as I am glad to spend ½ day at ruins, but then I am done. As I will not be hiking on the Inca Trail, I am wondering if more than a day is going to be “too much” for me?

And are not sites like Machu Picchu that are less popular with tourists, but have the same "gist"?

With regards to Galapagos Islands, any quick thoughts about staying in lodging on one of the inhabited islands and taking day tours or staying on a boat?

Finally, to incorporate the beach, any thoughts about small beach destinations along the way home, i.e. headed north in Peru or Ecuador or Columbia?


Last edited by lamphs; May 21, 17 at 11:31 am
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Old May 23, 17, 12:04 am
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I can't speak to the Galapagos Islands, but I can tell you that Machu Picchu is quite a bit more dramatic and impressive than the other Inca sites in the Sacred Valley. Several of the other sites are worthy of a detour because they are easily accessible during the journey from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes (the village at the base of Machu Picchu), but in no sense should they be viewed as acceptable less crowded substitutes for Machu Picchu. It would be a waste to travel all the way to Cuzco, Peru, and NOT to go to see Machu Picchu. Yes, it can get crowded - but the crowds do not diminish the significance of such an elaborate ruin (an entire town, in essence) that has been built atop such a remote and steep mountain.
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Old May 23, 17, 12:19 am
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In the Galapagos, absolutely take a boat to see most of the islands. I'd recommend a ten day or longer cruise. I found sailing around the islands to be very relaxing. You'll have half days where you sit on deck and watch the world go by. Most of the islands are wilderness, populated only by the animals. Very peaceful.

I recommend GalapagosHolidays.com as superb travel agents who specialize in that part of the world. They set me up on a trip to both Macchu Picchu and the Galapagos that was incredible.
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Old May 25, 17, 7:07 pm
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If you're looking for beach during the October to December period, everything south of northern Peru will likely be either foggy or cold or both (and rainy, if you go far enough south). Starting from Máncora in northern Peru and going north through Punta Sal and on to Montañita in Ecuador, you will have a better chance of good beach weather.
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Old May 28, 17, 2:16 pm
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Don't want to sound too negative, but when I was researching my Ecuador trip came across a discussion about Galapagos.

Apparently there have been posters who complained when they came back that it's just a bunch of rocks and it's very hot.

While I would have loved to say I've been there, the prospect of hot humid (in middle of equatorial ocean) weather and not exactly inexpensive, decided to take a pass. YMMV - there were more reports that were very positive.

Now I'm back to Peru, this time with a little more time and determined to visit Mach Picchu. This may well be my last trip to South America, so want to make it count.

ETA less than 48 hours
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Old May 30, 17, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by EmailKid View Post
Now I'm back to Peru, this time with a little more time and determined to visit Mach Picchu. This may well be my last trip to South America, so want to make it count.

ETA less than 48 hours
I don't believe MP is over hyped. Going for my 3rd time next year.
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Old May 31, 17, 1:32 am
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Another vote in favor of Macchu Pichu. I did it in a rather time-pressed manner out of Cuzco, basically plopping down about $205 at a travel agent and getting a pile of tickets and vouchers (the entrance fee/tax being a biggie) for a long day that included bus/train/bus to get there and back, a mini-tour and some time in Ollyantambo, and about 4 hours on site, nicely split between 2 hours of a guided tour and 2 hours free. Am glad I structured it that way because crowds really thinned and picture taking got better in the late-afternoon free hours, and I also got to greet the hikers just arriving at the site after being on the Inca Trail. I think I got back to the hotel in Cuzco around 10:30. A long but very rewarding day.

Cuzco itself was a very pleasant surprise...an old and visually charming city with always something going on at the Plaza de Armas, a chocolate museum with a cafe and great drinking chocolate, a chance to see Peru vs. Colombia in an anticipated soccer match at a sports bar, and tours to other ruins and other possible daytrips. And mostly sunny days at a time when Lima was under the fog.

Have not been to the Galapagos but have been to the one OTHER place that has the giant tortoises, namely the Seychelles. So I'm ruined there, but if the Galapagos is half as good it's worth checking out.

With Peru there's also the Amazon experience out of Iquitos that I'd really recommend, especially as it's only lightly touristed. Heck, even MP is a lightweight there compared to places like SE Asia where sites like Angkor are said to be much more overrun.

Am becoming much more a fan of much of South America, though it's important to note that a little Spanish helps greatly.
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Old May 31, 17, 3:02 am
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I've been to both Machu Picchu and the Galapagos. Both are worthwhile, but I found Machu Picchu more extraordinary. We did Machu Picchu as part of a one week trip, starting in the south with Arequipa and Colca Canyon. We then worked our way north thru Puno and Lake Titicaca and then took the train to Cusco. I'm very happy that we took a week for Peru and didn't simply fly in and out of Cuzco. The ruins are phenomenal but there are other interesting things to see as well.
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Old May 31, 17, 6:37 am
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Thank you all for the helpful information. I'll post as to what we decide!
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