Tour two of South America’s most spectacular sights in one trip
The following itinerary is a popular 15 day Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands tour. It can be done exactly as you see it here or customized in any way you would like, including doing the trip in reverse order (Galapagos and then Peru). A popular variation is to do the same itinerary in 12 days with a 5 day Galapagos Islands cruise instead of 8 day.
Included meals are indicated in parentheses: (B,L,D)
Arrive to Lima, former capital of the Spanish empire in the Americas, and transfer to your first class hotel ideally located in the Miraflores district, Lima’s main cultural and commercial district. This is the best area of town for strolling around and is home to many of Lima’s best restaurants. If you are interested and time permits, private tours of Lima or visits to any of Lima’s museums can be arranged; we can also arrange culinary tours focusing on Peru’s increasingly renowned cuisine or art tours for those with special interests.
Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores (upgrades available to Hotel B, Miraflores Park Hotel, and others)
Fly over the Andes to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan Empire. When you land in Cusco you will be met at the airport by a local representative who will transport you to your hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a long fertile river valley surrounded by snow capped peaks that lies between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Starting in the Valley (which is about 3000 feet lower elevation than Cusco) helps you adjust to the high altitude of the Andes (and avoid altitude sickness), and is a great way to see how the local people continue to live in the traditional Andean manner. You’ll make a visit to the Pisac ruins and town en route to your hotel (if you are feeling up for it you can walk down from the ruins to the town; ask your guide about this option). You’ll stop for a lunch at a great small restaurant serving creative modern variations on traditional Andean dishes. In the afternoon you’ll visit the remarkable ruins and town of Ollantaytambo, and spend the night in a first class small hotel that is a traveler favorite.
Hotel Sol y Luna (B,L)
Today you start a 2 day/1 night trip to Machu Picchu, giving you plenty of time to see the area. In the morning you will be picked up at your hotel for transfer to the train station, where you catch the train to Machu Picchu. You will visit Machu Picchu with a private guide, enjoy lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, and then have the chance to explore the ruins on your own before returning to your hotel in Aguas Calientes (the ruins close at 5 pm and the last shuttle down is at 5:15 pm).
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Today you make an unguided return visit to Machu Picchu in the early morning to observe the ruins. This is a great way to experience the site when there are far fewer people around. You’ll also have the chance to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, the mountain that towers above Machu Picchu, or hike back along the Inca Trail to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate). After visiting the ruins you will make your way down to the train station for your afternoon train back to Cusco and be dropped off at your hotel.
Palacio del Inka (B) (upgrade to Palacio Nazarenas or other options is available)
Today you’ll have a privately guided exploration of Cusco, including a visit to Sacsahuaman, the massive Incan fortress on the hills above the city, where you enjoy views of the surrounding area. Cusco is a fascinating city, with many colonial buildings constructed on top of the remains of Incan palaces. You can observe massive Incan walls along many streets of the city. Enjoy dinner out at one of Cusco’s excellent restaurants.
Palacio del Inka (B)
In the morning you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Lima. Upon arrival to Lima you will have assistance at the airport in making your connecting flight to Quito, Ecuador. In Quito you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for the night.
Casa San Marcos (upgrade to Casa Gangotena is available) (B)
Today you will be picked up from your hotel for a privately-guided tour of historic Quito, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. You will visit some of the highlights of the colonial “Centro Historico,” and go up to a lookout point on the Panecillo for a great view of the entire city. Afterward you’ll head into the new town to visit the Fundación Guayasamin, which houses the art collection of Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuador’s most famous 20th century artist. Seeing both parts of the city gives you a great overview of some of the different neighborhoods in this diverse Andean metropolis.
Casa San Marcos (B)
Today you fly out of Quito, about 600 miles out over the Pacific Ocean to arrive at the Galapagos Islands. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your vessel. Visiting the Galapagos Islands is a unique experience, a combination of sheer natural beauty, amazing wildlife, beautiful vessels, and fascinating natural history.
On yacht (B,L,D)
The exact itinerary varies from vessel to vessel, but you will spend these days exploring the islands in depth. Your boat will travel between several different islands, so that you can experience a wide variety of the unique wildlife and environments that the Galapagos offers. Each island presents a unique experience, and often there are species found nowhere else in the world but on that island. The giant Galapagos Tortoise, the marine iguana, the waved albatross, the Galapagos penguin, and flightless cormorants are just a few of the species you can come across. There will also be daily opportunities to snorkel, where you can see what’s below the surface: giant sea turtles, rays, and sea lions, to name just a few. Each day you will enjoy excellent cuisine, and the company of an expert bilingual naturalist guide.
On yacht (B,L,D)
Today you will enjoy a final morning in the Islands before flying out from the Galapagos back to Quito, where you will connect with your international flight home or continue your trip in mainland Ecuador. If you have a long layover before your flight, we can set up a visit to nearby hot springs or transfer you to a nearby hotel to relax and have dinner before transferring back to the airport. If you would like to continue traveling, possible extensions include visits to the Amazon Jungle, local markets, volcanoes, and stays at historic haciendas. Please inquire if interested.