For many travelers looking to explore South America for the first time, Peru and especially Machu Picchu is at the top of the list. As well as seeing Peru’s obvious natural and historical wonders, South America offers an incredible mix of destinations to explore, each offering a different experience.
Combining certain destinations with a trip to Machu Picchu can turn an awe-inspiring experience into one that you will remember and treasure forever.
Below are some of our favorite South American destinations that combine perfectly with the ancient Inca citadel, taking you to Machu Picchu and beyond.
♦ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Situated on opposite sides of South America, you may be wondering what Machu Picchu and Rio de Janeiro could possibly have in common. Aside from being two of South America’s top destinations to visit, they are both home to two New World Wonders. The impressive Christ the Redeemer Statue that rises above Rio de Janeiro and the Inca archaeological site of Machu Picchu are two of the world’s man-made wonders.
Combining Machu Picchu with Rio de Janeiro you’ll be able to enjoy South America’s full diversity, as you relax on Rio’s golden beaches and explore the Andean and Inca culture of Peru and Machu Picchu.
Making the trip from Machu Picchu to Rio de Janeiro also opens up the opportunity to extend your trip to include a visit to the natural New World Wonder of Iguazu Falls. Traveling to Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls, you’ll be able to tick three stunning and unmissable world wonders from your travel bucket list while soaking up the full scale and beauty of South America.
♦ The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Travel to the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu and explore the enigmatic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, two of South America’s greatest treasures in one unique experience. Watch as the past comes alive from exploring the history of Machu Picchu before traveling back in time to the ‘Origin of Species’ in the Galapagos National park.
More than just a vacation, exploring the Galapagos Archipelago and Sacred Valley of the Incas takes you to connect with endemic wildlife and delve into ancient cultures.
Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Inca civilization as you explore the impressive ruins of the Lost City of the Incas while experiencing the Peruvian culture surrounded by breath-taking Andean landscapes. Combining Machu Picchu with sailing through the Galapagos Islands on a luxury boat and exploring the abundant wildlife, perfectly balances the natural wonders of the Galapagos with experiencing the marvelous cultural treasures of Peru.
♦ Buenos Aires, Argentina
As the capital and largest city of Argentina, Buenos Aires is regarded as one of the most cultural cities in South America and is often referred to as the Paris of South America. Known for its European-style architecture, purple jacaranda tree-lined avenues and rich cultural life, a trip to Buenos Aires perfectly complements exploring the history and culture of Machu Picchu and Peru.
As a wonderful contrast to the ancient Inca history of Machu Picchu, the vibrant city of Buenos Aires introduces you to its famous tango dance and history as well as to its more contemporary and thriving art and gastronomy scene.
The city of Buenos Aires is a very special and unique city combining resilience with creativity as you explore the city’s volatile history and its effect on modern day Buenos Aires. Flying across the continent from Machu Picchu to Buenos Aires, means that you should also consider including the magnificent Iguazu Falls into your itinerary before heading back home or on to Rio de Janeiro.
♦ Tayrona National Park, Colombia
After exploring Machu Picchu’s ancient civilization of the Inca discover the indigenous Tayrona civilization in neighboring Colombia. The Tayrona National Park is located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast near to the town of Santa Marta which dating back to the 16th Century is one of South America’s oldest towns. Hiking along trails used by the indigenous Tayrona tribe over 500 years ago, the archaeological ruins of El Pueblito sit high in the verdant mountains of the Tayrona National Park.
Surrounded by a variety of wildlife and exotic flowers, the trail to El Pueblito goes through jungle and agricultural terraces passing intricate rock channels, stone bridges and irrigation aqueducts.
From the 5th Century to the 1600s, the town of El Pueblito was one of the main settlements of the Tayrona people and it is estimated that there are more than 250 terraces and was home to about 3,000 people. The stunning panoramic views over the glistening azure waters of the Caribbean and white beaches below, adds to the serene and beautiful setting of El Pueblito making it the perfect complement to visiting Machu Picchu.