From Machu Picchu and Niagara Falls to the astonishing Canadian Rockies, these are the destinations to add to your South and North American adventures.
Discover Machu Picchu and the Andes in Peru
The experience: Exploring ancient ruins
The location: Machu Picchu, Peru
Why go: It doesn’t matter how many postcards or documentaries of Machu Picchu you’ve seen, nothing prepares you for what unfolds when the sun rises over these ancient ruins. Most people arrive in the dark, scaling immense steps and smooth boulders to reach a sunrise vantage point. As the morning heat burns off the mist, the Incan city reveals itself.
Some 2,430 metres above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, perched on a rocky outcrop surrounded by subtropical mountain forest, Machu Pichu is as mystical as it is beautiful and a trip here is a humbling experience. Llamas graze on terraced grass fields and there are more than 200 structures on the site – some religious, others ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural.
The three polished-stone buildings of significance are Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. Little wonder this Inca citadel is a World Heritage site and has been voted one of the Seven (New) Wonders of the World.
Getting there: On a 20-night Peru and Cuba itinerary with the NRMA, you’ll not only visit Machu Picchu and take a panoramic train ride through the Peruvian Andes, but will also spend time in one of the world’s most in-demand destinations, Cuba, followed by a Caribbean cruise.
Discover Niagara Falls in the USA
The experience: Chasing waterfalls
The location: Niagara Falls, USA
Why go: Niagara Falls is actually a collection of three falls that converge from four of the Great Lakes into the Niagara River Gorge.
Straddling the Canadian-American border, the Niagara Falls State Park stretches across 160 hectares, with a large proportion of that under water. The sheer force of the falls is hard to comprehend: 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara every second, dropping at about 10 metres per second. One of the best ways to comprehend the intensity is by visiting the Cave of the Winds, a journey down the Niagara Gorge onto the “Hurricane Deck” just metres from the water. Be warned: you’ll get wet, but you’ll enjoy it.
The state park is home to kilometres of scenic walking trails, winding through ecosystems that support rare plants as well as thousands of wintering gull and waterfowl species, peregrine falcons and American bald eagles.
Getting there: NRMA’s 22-night Trans-American Adventure takes you across the country from New York City to Los Angeles with stops at Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon – among many other destinations – along the way.
Take an epic rail journey through the Canadian Rockies
The experience: Rail through the Rockies
The location: Canadian Rockies
Why go: One of the world’s epic rail journeys takes you through some of Canada’s most awe-inspiring countryside. The Rocky Mountaineer offers four routes, including the two-day Journey Through the Clouds from Jasper to Vancouver via Kamloops.
At 10,250 square kilometres, Jasper is the largest national park in the Rocky Mountains. The train cuts through the Rocky Mountains skirting the base of Mount Robson, its north face heavily glaciated, making it one of the most photographed sights in British Columbia. All around, fields of yellow and white wildflowers blanket slopes that are occasionally visited by foraging bears and their cubs. The night is spent off the train in Kamloops, an old fur-trading town at the confluence of two branches of the Thompson River.
The Rocky Mountaineer follows the caramel-coloured Fraser River through canyons to the narrow Jaws of Death Gorge, where thrill-seeking white-water rafters tackle tumultuous rapids. It’s a wild entrée to the cosmopolitan allure of Vancouver, where some of Canada’s best restaurants, bars and nightlife await.
Getting there: A Rocky Mountaineer train ride in SilverLeaf Service from Jasper to Vancouver is one of the highlights of NRMA’s 20-night Rockies, Glaciers and Alaska Discover itinerary. The trip also includes a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska through the extraordinary Glacier Bay National Park.