The Galápagos Archipelago is a unique world heritage. Situated on the equator 600 miles off the coast of South America, this remote volcanic archipelago remains much as it was millions of years ago. Over the centuries, animal and plant life from the Americas reached the islands and gradually evolved into new forms. Many of its species are found nowhere else on earth. Since Darwin's famous voyage, its marine and terrestrial ecosystems have provided a wealth of information and source of inspiration for people through the world. The "Enchanted Islands" continue to play an important role in our understanding of life on earth. The Galapagos experience offers world travelers a way to step back in time, to visit an isolated, relatively untouched place on earth.
Lima, "the City of the Kings," became the effective capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, established 1560. Today, a visit to Lima may serve as a unique Peruvian experience that offers a glimpse into the Andean world, Spanish tradition and the country's modern aspect. Visit handsome old buildings and baroque churches that testify to the city's religious background and the Plaza de Armas, shared by the realms of the Catholic church, municipality and national government. The pre-Inca ruins of Pachacamac lie a short distance south of the city. Once a ceremonial site, Pachacamac has been the most important religious center of the Andean world since before the age of Christ. Stop and admire The Temple of the Sun and the Moon, Lima's outstanding museums, and Machu Picchu - a "Jewel in the Mist."
Quito is a fantastic place to visit and the best place to start your Latin American journey. Quito is also the entertainment center in Ecuador with new bars and discos opening every week and also the best place to shop, either at the small souvenir shops or at big malls. Quito has many interesting cultural sites, historical sites, museums, private galleries, churches, exhibition centers, and theaters.
The Cuzco (Cusco) region of Peru combines Inca legacy with Spanish colonial architecture in an atmosphere at once provincial and sublime. The chaotic marketplaces where campesinos barter grain or potatoes for multi-colored fabric belie the mute spirituality of the Lost Cities, where Inca stonework conveys order and balance. Such diversity enhances this inspiring nine-day adventure. The blue sky radiates with an intensity achieved only at high altitudes (the city of Cuzco lies 11,150 feet above sea level), while the landscape offers its unique pattern of exacting agricultural grids and tangled jungle masses.
Machu Picchu is a fortress city of the ancient Incas, in a high saddle between two peaks 50 miles NW of Cuzco, Peru. The extraordinary pre-Columbian ruin consists of five sq. miles of terraced stonework link by 3,000 steps; it was virtually intact when discovered by Hiram Bibghan in 1911.
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