Monday, May 03, 2021

Bucket List Cruises: The Galapagos Islands & Machu Picchu


The Galapagos Islands is on my cruise bucket-list destination for good reason: This archipelago 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site (both land and sea are protected) and served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. And when I found out Celebrity Cruises had a land extension package to Peru which included Machu Picchu I was doubly excited!

 There is so much to do on a Galapagos Island cruise vacation.  Hiking, bird watching, beach snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving immediately come to mind. But I confess, the biggest reason for why I want visit the Galapagos Islands is definitely to see the animals! Most of those animals in the Galapagos Islands can only ever be found on these islands.

 The Gal├ípagos sea lion is a species of sea lion that breeds on the islands. They’re pretty social critters and are often spotted sun-bathing on sandy shores or rock groups or swimming through the surf. I’ve heard them called the unofficial welcoming party of the Galapagos Islands!

 The Galapagos penguin is the only penguin that lives north of the equator and is endemic to the islands. It is quite small in comparison to the larger Antarctic varieties but it is just as cute. This species is found primarily on Fernandina Island and Isabela, but you can see them in the waters surrounding the archipelago.

 The blue-footed booby is actually native to the Pacific Ocean but regularly lands at the Galapagos Islands. As its name suggests, this species has bright blue feet, brown wing feathers, and a white head. Sounds crazy-beautiful to me!  From what I read, it’s worth planning your entire trip around their mating season in order to witness the mating dance rituals!

 The legendary giant tortoise is a big draw to the islands! As the largest species of tortoise, these guys can exceed 5 feet in length and reach 550 pounds. They’re visible on the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz, Pinzon, Espa├▒ola, Santiago, and San Cristobal all year long. There are ten specific types of the tortoise on the islands, but the Galapagos giant tortoise as a species is endangered.

 I love history and Machu Picchu has long been a place I’ve wanted to visit. What I love about many of the Celebrity Cruises’ Galapagos itineraries is that upon disembarking from the cruise, guests will fly to Quito Airport and then to Lima, Peru to begin a 7-night land tour. Upon arrival in Lima, another Celebrity Cruises representative will be at the airport to accompany guests on that portion of the trip.

Machu Picchu is considered a masterpiece of architecture; a spectacular urban creation of the Inca Empire built in the 15th century and later abandoned. It is one of the most important heritage sites in the world, sitting on top of a mountain, 8,000 feet in the tropical forest. The site is made up of plazas, temples, tombs, rooms for storing food, stone canals, stairways and platforms, distributed on the topography of the mountain in a unique layout. More than 700 terraces helped promote agriculture, served as part of an extensive system of water distribution, and limited retained water erosion on steep slopes. That is just so amazing!

The itinerary includes a stay in Cuzco, a colorful city that was once the capital of the Incan empire. It would be fun shopping for handmade crafts at the indigenous market in Pisac and to sample authentic Peruvian foods.

 The Celebrity Flora sails to the Galapagos Islands year-round. She is an elegant ship that holds just 100 guests. The Flora has large and luxurious accommodations, where every stateroom is a suite. The ship provides an all-inclusive experience with meals, drinks, Wi-Fi and gratuities always included.



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