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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, also known as Camino Inka, is the single most popular South American trek. The reason it keeps attracting so many people from all parts of the globe each year is not that hard to understand. Trekkers will have to follow the paved stone paths created by the Incas through pleasant river valleys, steaming sub-tropical forests and freezing snowy mountain heights. Inca ruins and tunnels await discovery along the way, and Machu Picchu at the other end.
Jorge Chavez International Airport is the main gateway into Peru. It is located in Callao, which is just a quick drive from the city center in Lima. A connecting flight from the capital must be taken to reach Cuzco, where travelers will need to stay overnight in a hotel. A bus leaving from Cuzco at dawn takes passengers on a very nice 3 1/2 to four hour drive through the Sacred Valley. The bus ride ends at the 82 km point on the Cuzco to Aguas Calientes rail line, where the trail begins.
After the porters’ bags are weighed at the weigh station alongside the river, trekkers can cross the suspension bridge across the river and begin their quest. The first hour or so through the open valley is easy. After that, the path starts snaking upwards towards the looming snow-capped peaks of Veronika Mountain.
The first campsite for an overnight stay on the trail is at Wayllabamba, which is 3000 feet above sea level. At this point, it would be prudent to point out that trekkers can choose from amongst multiple routes. On top of that, choosing a different starting point can also make the trek easier and smaller.
One alternate route is the path that starts from Mollepata. The 4-day Classic Route described above takes trekkers up from the valley to the cloud forest and into the Andes. Many Inca ruins can be found on the way, with Machu Picchu as the last one when the sun rises on the morning of the fourth day.
If four days of trekking sounds a bit much, it can be reduced by moving the starting point forward. The two most popular shortened treks begin at the 88 km and 104 km markers. Those who start from the 104-km point can finish the trek in a couple of days.
Intrepid adventurers seeking a thrill can expand the itinerary by taking the Mollepata route. This path goes a lot higher up into the mountains and only reaches Machu Picchu after seven days. A bus from Cuzco goes to the starting point in Mollepata, to be followed an arduous trek involving some real mountain climbing on Salkantay Mountain. It includes a hike through a mountain pass in the snow up above 4,000 feet.
Permits are needed to enter the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and it has to be booked well in advance. The usual arrangement is to book a guided tour, which means that it becomes the tour operator’s responsibility to handle all the logistics. They arrange for the permits and provide tour guides and porters to carry the bags, cook meals, etc. It makes the trek easier, and trekkers can focus all their energy on the challenge of getting to Machu Picchu in one piece.
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For a terrific holiday memory that allows to do and see much, the southern Americas are difficult to rank below anywhere else. As a matter of fact, several brilliant South America vacation destinations are available to you. Among these brilliant locations can be included the following.
For starters, a perfect setting for a perfectly good break is Rio de Janiero in Brazil. Blending the cultures of the Europeans, the Americans and the Africans into a heady Brazilian mix provides you with a beautiful and cultural place. Much natural beauty can be appreciated here as well.
One example of outstanding natural wonder lies within the Tijuca National Park, where the Corcovado can be found. Indeed, this city’s scenery, located in a mountainous terrain enclosed by the sea, is naturally plentiful. By no means will you regret spending time in Rio de Janiero.
A second Latino location that may appeal is Argentina’s Buenos Aires. Regarded by many as the Mesoamerican answer to Paris, Buenos Aires plays host to businessmen and artists who can live here affordably. The previous sentence shows why the Parisian comparison is often made.
Because of this attraction, the city has invested in clearing away its slums for development. Hotels, restaurants and art studios have replaced the abandoned warehouses of old. Restaurants are a particular feature of night life here, as Argentinians are in the habit of dining late.
In contrast to these places, quite a few people are put off by the idea of taking a trip to Santiago, located in Chile. It is easy to see why this is the case upon first glance. This is because the city center is polluted with smog, and that is not many holiday makers idea of a good place to go.
If you direct your gaze beyond the city center smog, however, there is a lot to appreciate. The Barrio Brasil sector, for example, is a charming area with a bohemian and artistic community that compares well with that of Buenos Aires. The Andes mountains that lie to the city’s east are as beautiful as the scenery that Rio de Janiero has.
For the pure naturalist, though, the Galapagos Islands to the west of Ecuador cannot be beaten. These islands were the place Charles Darwin went to on the HMS Beagle during the 19th century when studying nature. And the wildlife here was the inspiration for his evolutionary ideas.
As well as the abundant flora and fauna which grow on this archipelago, a lot of animals also live in this area. Sea lions, seals, iguanas, lizards and crabs thrive in abundance here. No wonder, then, that this isolated yet gorgeous location could provide inspiration to Charles Darwin.
In conclusion, a few of the top South America vacation destinations may be deduced from the foregoing quite simply. If you want a decent holiday, then the continent as a whole is an above average selection for that purpose. If you really want to get the most out of being there, keep the above spots clearly in mind.
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