Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

Machu Picchu and More: Exploring the Andes

The vast range encompasses cities, glaciers, volcanoes, desert, and vineyards

March 10, 2023

One of the longest continuous mountain ranges in the world, the Andes extend through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. At 6,959 meters, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. The earliest Andean settlements date beyond 10,000 years, with the emergence of the Inca Empire cited to around 1400. Exploring the Andes offers a glimpse at past traditions as well as the modern culture of the range.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Of all the places of interest in the Andes, Machu Picchu sits at the top of the list. This high-altitude Incan citadel was constructed in the mid-15th century and once consisted of approximately 200 buildings. With Machu Picchu translating to “Old Mountain” the architecture was adapted to suit the landscape with terraced pyramids providing a solution to the varying terrain.

Highlights include the Temple of the Sun, the House of the High Priest, the Royal Tomb, and the Cave of the Sun. A limited number of trekkers are permitted to climb Huayna Picchu, the iconic peak, each day. This may be visited in tandem with the Temple of the Moon, a mysterious cave compound with impressive stone masonry.

Visiting Machu Picchu with a local guide is strongly encouraged in order to make the most of the experience and understand the remarkable engineering behind the city and the significance of the structures.  

Quito, Ecuador

There’s much more to Ecuador than the Galápagos Islands, as we set out to prove in our presentation on the four diverse worlds of Ecuador. Built atop an ancient Incan city in the Andean foothills, Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a wealth of churches, gardens, and museums dedicated to pre-Columbian art.

Riding the TelefériQo gondola to Cerro Guagua Pichincha grants a panoramic view of the city with the option to hike to the summit of the stratovolcano at 4,600 meters. Meanwhile, the nearby Mindo Cloud Forest is one of the best places to visit in Ecuador for scenery, hiking, and wildlife.

Mendoza, Argentina

Exposed to mountain air and enjoying an arid subtropical climate at the base of the Andes, Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s premier wine region. Tours, tastings, and culinary pairings operate at the nearby bodegas where you can sample Malbec alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay.

The Mayan-inspired Catena Zapata is famed for its full-bodied Malbec laced with black pepper and sweet spices. A multi-sensory experience, the Wine & Music Tour is a unique way to get acquainted with the notes in the different blends.

Not only does Bodega Salentein excel at steak and fish dishes paired beautifully with its signature Kilka wines but the winery also offers an art gallery and lodging. Salentein Posada is an exclusive ranch setting among vineyards, fruit plantations, and an organic garden with views of the Andes.

One of the oldest properties, Bodega La Rural is a small winery with a museum devoted to traditional wine-making techniques and machinery. Tours and tastings are available and you can purchase bottles at the on-site store.

Seeing Machu Picchu or anywhere else in the Andes is an adventure that will stay with you long after your vacation ends. Contact me when you are ready to book your trip to South America.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?