Touring Peru and the Galapagos in Under 2 Weeks

Posted by on February 23rd, 2021

One of the perks of working with Vaya is that we’re experts in seamless logistics, meaning we can help you plan a South America vacation that incorporates multiple highlight destinations with minimal travel time. Some travelers aren’t sure if two weeks will be enough time for the trip they want, so we’re here to tell you that yes, you can absolutely tour Peru and the Galapagos Islands in under 2 weeks. Here are some of the top ways to plan your Peru and Galapagos travel package to work in the amount of time you have.

Peru to Galapagos boat
Sea Lion in the Galapagos Islands

There are many different ways to set up your Machu Picchu and Galapagos vacation. Check out our Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour itinerary for some inspiration. The best Peru and Galapagos tours are based on how you like to travel, so although the tour is shown here as Peru-Ecuador-Galapagos, it can also be planned in reverse, depending on your preferences.

Cruises to Peru and Galapagos
Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands

Here is the basic structure:

Arrive to Lima, Peru’s capital city. Spend a night here, and be sure to try out the world-renowned restaurant scene. If you have an extra day to spend, explore the city’s cultural highlights and excellent museums. We can also arrange a culinary tour so you can sample even more of Peru’s famous cuisine.

Peru_Lima_Restaurant on cliff near the coast
Restaurant on the cliff overlooking Lima’s coastline

The next step in your tour to Peru and Galapagos is to fly to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a lush river valley in the Andean Mountains. Visit charming small villages and fascinating archeological sites, and maybe do some shopping for high-quality Peruvian textiles along the way. If you can work in another day or two, there is plenty to see and do in this area, including hiking, horseback riding, and visiting archaeological ruins.

Peru Machu Picchu Galapagos Islands
Road into the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas

The following morning take a scenic train ride to Machu Picchu, one of South America’s most iconic sites and a major highlight of your trip to Peru and Galapagos. Explore the ruins with your private guide and learn about the mysteries of this famous place. Spend the night in Aguas Calientes, the bustling town at the base of the mountain, where you can try out Peruvian restaurants, shop for jewelry in the local market, and mix with other travelers. If you prefer to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful ambience, plan to spend the night at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel located on the mountain, just outside the ruins of Machu Picchu.

2 weeks Peru and Galapagos
Machu Picchu

The next day, continue your Galapagos and Peru Adventure by visiting the ruins again to do some more exploring before you take the train back into the Sacred Valley. From there, head to Cusco, an intriguing city where colonial architecture sits atop Incan streets and stonework. Spend two nights here, discovering the marvelous city with your private guide.

Cusco, Peru vacation
Stone walls and buildings in Cusco

Next, your Peru and Galapagos itinerary takes you to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are a number of excellent hotels in the historic city center, such as the Casa Gangotena, set in a restored historic mansion. In the morning your private guide will show you the highlights of Quito and, if you’re interested, take you to the Fundación Guayasamín, one of the most remarkable art museums in South America.

Casa Gangotena_view of Plaza San Francisco
Casa Gangotena with view of Plaza San Francisco, Quito

Finally, prepare for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. You will head to the airport in the morning to fly to Galapagos, a journey of about 600 miles over the Pacific Ocean. Quito to Galapagos flight time is about 4 hours, and the island time zone is an hour behind Quito. Most flights arrive in the late morning, letting you start your Galapagos cruise vacation right away with an excursion and lunch.

Galapagos and Peru 2 weeks
Galapagos seascape

Our top recommendation is an 8 day Galapagos cruise, which will take you deep into the archipelago to see different islands and ecosystems. Galapagos ships are small expedition vessels, so each day bring a new adventure: snorkeling, hiking, and, depending on the vessel, activities like kayaking, SCUBA diving, exploring in a glass-bottom boat, and standup paddleboarding. Each day on a Galapagos cruise will take you to a new landing site and let you see animals and plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. You will also have plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

View from the sundeck of the Seaman Journey, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (photo credit Reed Kaestner)
View from the sundeck of the Seaman Journey, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (photo credit Reed Kaestner)

While an 8 day cruise is our top recommendation for Galapagos, we know that many of our travelers want to see Peru and the Galapagos Islands in under 2 weeks. If you follow the basic Peru itinerary above plus an 8 day cruise, the itinerary is 15 days, which may be too long for some travelers. Fortunately, a 5 day Galapagos cruise is also plenty of time to explore the islands and see a variety of Galapagos wildlife. Combining the basic Peru itinerary above with a 5 day Galapagos cruise will give you a 12 day trip, well within the 2 week limit even once you factor in your international flights to South America and back home.

Galapagos and Peru 2 weeks
Exploring the Galapagos Islands on the Cormorant

It’s simple to plan a vacation around Peru and Galapagos cruise highlights, and it can definitely be done in 2 weeks or less, so you can take your family on a Peru and Galapagos vacation during school holidays.

If you have a little extra time to spend, consider a longer Galapagos cruise, or add in other great destinations to your trip: We can set up a Peru, Galapagos and Amazon tour that includes even more wildlife and nature with just a few additional days. You can also get more active by hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a truly remarkable way to experience that part of the Peru.

Monkeys in the Amazon
Monkeys in the Amazon

Whatever you want to see, we’re here to advise you on how to make the most of your vacation time. Whether you have two weeks or a month to explore, we have plenty of Peru and Galapagos Islands tours for your consideration. Just contact us to speak with a Destination Specialist and get started planning your Peru and Galapagos vacation!

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