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-   -   Machu Picchu and the Galapagos (http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f46/machu-picchu-and-the-galapagos-32691.html)

Zoocat 01-20-2008 08:32 PM

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos
 
Just returned from this trip Machu Picchu & Galapagos Tour and Vacation Package with OAT. Absolutely fabulous! Machu Picchu is so spectacular that pictures do not do it justice. The setting in the Andes is amazing, especially Agua Calientes the nearby town. We had two visits to the ruins, and hiked part of the Inca trail. It was wonderful.We visited a few other ruins in Peru, including the sacred valley which is so lovely it brought tears to my eyes.

Also, our tour guide was fabulous and knowledgeable about the Incas, which made the trip a mini-seminar in Inca history. We also visited artist studios, had lunch with a local family, and lots more. A very busy trip.

The Galapagos also surpassed my expectation. For an animal lover, being so close to the birds and sea lions was really wonderful, and the snorkling, among the turtles and sea lions and tropical fish was spectacular. The seas were calm this time of year and so the small boat cruise was very relaxing. Only 16 people on our boat plus the crew. It was great!

Ecuador was interesting, but I have to say that Quito is a big, ugly polluted city. So much traffic! Viewing the persistent scenes of poverty throughout the country was distressing to me. But Cuenca is lovely as were the Andes mountains. But the bus trip through the highlands was scary because of thick fog, and our driver's persistence in passing the farm trucks on curving mountain highways. :o

But overall a great trip!

toofrugalformycat 01-20-2008 08:54 PM

That's wonderful. Glad you're back safe. Sorry the bus ride was scary but it's good to have a good story or two, especially if you survive the experience! ;D
Can you post a favorite photo?

Sandy 01-21-2008 06:33 AM

OldBabe,

We were in the Galapagos this past summer - instead of Manchu Pichu we also went into the amazon jungle. Truly an awesome unforgetable trip.

The Galapagos had the best snorkeling we have ever done and swimming with the sea lions, and seeing the other animals and birds so unafraid was awesome. At the same time, the native Galapagos species are under incredible threats and pressures from invasive species and people.

The amazon jungle was wonderful. There were 4 of us with 2 guides (English speaking and native guide). We saw lots of birds up at tree top level, we swam with, fished for and ate pirhana, saw monkeys, a sloth, tons of different poisonous frogs, butterflies and wild orchids.

I agree about Quito - crowded, dirty, and the most important feature on the cars is the horn.

donheff 01-21-2008 07:09 AM

+ 1 on the Galapagos. DW has it on her list for a return visit. We will have to add Machu Picchu to the itinerary next time.

travelover 01-21-2008 08:13 AM

Agree, Machu Picchu is a wonder of the world. And the local people are so photogenic, especially the children.

Zoocat 01-21-2008 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travelover (Post 603945)
Agree, Machu Picchu is a wonder of the world. And the local people are so photogenic, especially the children.

In Cusco the young girls have a part-time job as "poser". They dress in native costume and hold, in a sling across their front, a baby animal, a lamb or puppy. Very cute! Take their picture and pay them a sole (30 cents). All the native people selling things on the street are working for themselves. They are very polite with sweet voices but persistent. One member of our group referred to them as the "little people" and they are very small. I loved them.

I'll post a picture when I get my act together.

travelover 01-21-2008 11:15 AM

At Machu Picchu the boys hold a job that consists of racing the tourist buses down the mountain by cutting across the switchbacks. At the end, they board the bus and collect tips. I heard that the kids make much more than an average adult in the region.

mickeyd 01-21-2008 11:49 AM

Thanks for the post. Both of these places are on my short list of places to visit within the next few years.

Urchina 02-04-2008 11:32 AM

Okay, I'm going to stick up for Quito here. My father-in-law is FIRE in Quito (he fell in love with an Ecuadorean woman and decided to stay down there where his retirement dollars go farther). We had a lovely week in Quito at their wedding. Yes, it's a big city and has its share of big-city poverty, noise, traffic, pollution and squalor, but I've also seen those things in Buenos Aires, Paris, London, Berlin, New York and LA. Quito does have some stunning cultural areas, which anyone with a 1/2 day in the city can enjoy. I'd particularly recommend the Cathedral in the middle of town, which has some fantastic examples of the Quito school of painting (Jesus eating guinea pig in the Last Supper fresco on the wall, for example).

Also, the Museo del Banco Central (actually an art museum) has a great collection of art, much of it indigenous (and not all of it religious), spanning several centuries. The highlight for me here was Eduardo Kingman's "La Minga."

With a half-day or more, you could also work in a visit to Mitad del Mundo (about 1/2 hour by bus from the city), which is a tourist spot on the equator. It's kitschy, but the little natural history museum there had a very interesting exhibit on the native peoples of Ecuador.

Finally, a stroll through one of the local markets (open-air, food) is a tremendous education in culture.

So, while you may not want to spend a lot of time in Quito, should you find yourself with a day or two there, I'd take advantage of it.

Zoocat 02-09-2008 04:30 PM

Favorite pics from Peru
 
Well, that didn't work. I'll try to figure out how to post them.

dex 02-09-2008 05:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by travelover (Post 604047)
At Machu Picchu the boys hold a job that consists of racing the tourist buses down the mountain by cutting across the switchbacks. At the end, they board the bus and collect tips. I heard that the kids make much more than an average adult in the region.

This is an interesting aspect of human nature. At sometime in the past a boy raced a boss down the mountain for the fun of it. When he got there a tourist gave him some money for it.

That night the boy tells his brother that a tourist gave him more money that dad makes in a week for catching the bus.

So a tourist spoil what they came to see.

-------
It is better to give your money to a school or charity in the country and not directly to people.

Zoocat 02-12-2008 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dex (Post 613643)
This is an interesting aspect of human nature. At sometime in the past a boy raced a boss down the mountain for the fun of it. When he got there a tourist gave him some money for it.

That night the boy tells his brother that a tourist gave him more money that dad makes in a week for catching the bus.

So a tourist spoil what they came to see.

-------
It is better to give your money to a school or charity in the country and not directly to people.

Yes, I witnessed the running boys too and apparently that's their after school job now. I wondered though how the residents decide which boy gets the job. There must be lots who'd like to run for tips.

deserat 02-13-2008 03:35 PM

I lived in Quito for a month for language immersion - lived con una familia Ecuatoriana - Quito is dirty, but there are some beautiful parts - we went to Banos, very pretty - biked the Orchid trail - went to Otovalo and to the studio of Miguel Andrango - he weaves traditional blankets using hand spun and dyed yarn - his studio and home have dirt floors - he weaves sitting on the floor with a backstrap loom his grandfather had.

Saddest part was seeing how the middle class had had their savings eaten away by their corrupt government. Another sad thing was the children who were addicted to the shoe polish - we were told not to give them money to shine our shoes as they were just using the money to get high.

Went to Chile last summer - LOVE the Andes - skied and traveled around and among - need to go in the southern summer. Macchu Picchu is on the 'list.'

Glad you had a great time - B

Zoocat 02-14-2008 10:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deserat (Post 615211)
I
Saddest part was seeing how the middle class had had their savings eaten away by their corrupt government. B

Yes, it's no surprise that Ecurador is losing its professional class to emigration. Our first guide on the tour told us that the new government is imposing a 70% inheritance tax. He wasn't happy about that at all. He said the new government is going right down the line with Chavez of Venezuela.

On the other hand, our second guide was in favor of the new government and was a Chavez fan. He liked the combination of socialism and Catholicism.


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