September 2013

As ex archeologists and botanists Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands have always been on our wish list. The day finally arrived and we took off on the dreaded 18 hour flight from San Francisco to Lima, and from there to the Islands. Our overall impression was of a dry California lava based landscape with some unusual flora such as Mangrove forests and Tree Cactus. The fauna was also similar, but again with some very unusual additions such as tortoises and iguanas. Perhaps most noticeable was was the tameness of the creatures.
Anyone who has been to the larger cities of Mexico will feel right at home in Ecuador or Peru. They range from Juliaca's rough Tijuana like feel to Cusco's smaller charming polished village atmosphere. While most of the people left tourists alone, aside from some curious stares, the residents of Uros Islands were unabashedly friendly. We all drank bottled water, and avoided fresh vegetables except in quality restaurants, and only two people out of 28 got sick. We took Gate 1, as it appeared to be the best value for the buck. The only thing we would have changed was our ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu, a 7 hour round trip that not only wore us out, but got us there just in time for the tourist crush. Having spent the night in Agua Caliente, a pleasant little town, would have solved all the problems. Overall, a very good trip.