Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Galapagos and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
16 Days/15 Nights
From $5,369 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
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Galapagos and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu combines two of the most popular destinations in South America. Your tour begins in Quito, which has a well-preserved colonial center and spectacular views of the Andes and nearby volcanoes. You will then travel to the Galapagos Islands for a five day cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend, where you will enjoy plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on Earth. The final part of your tour will be an amazing hike of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the spectacular mountain top citadel known as the ‘Lost city of the Incas’.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 15 nights (2 nights in Quito, 4 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 2 nights in Lima, 3 nights in Cusco, 3 nights on the Inca Trail, and 1 night in Machu Picchu) and 31 meals (15 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 7 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Quito. You will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, and visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compania and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. You will drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan and finish the morning at the Panecillo hillside, with its breathtaking views of the old and modern parts of the city.
Following the city tour, you will be driven to the “Middle of the World City” complex, which is located 11 miles north of Quito. Here, you will see the monument of the equatorial line, a 98 ft high stone trapezoidal monument with a brass globe on top. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. Passengers are picked up at the San Cristobal Airport by our guides and taken on a ten minute bus ride to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Interpretation Center. Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. You will visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about islands’ history in the Museum of Natural History which displays information about the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronicling the most significant events related to the discovery and the island’s colonization. (Duration: one hour visit/one hour walk)
Tijeretas Hill involves a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony. (Duration: one hour visit). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Gardner Bay, Gardner & Osborn islets. Wet landing on a beautiful white coral sandy beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so you stay along the shore where you can spot Galapagos hawks, American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Ground Doves, Hood mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin’s finches: a subspecies of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer the opportunity to see a great variety of the Galapagos’ marine wildlife: king angelfish, Creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling).
Suarez Point (dry landing). An island of geological interest, you will explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
A somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous “Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots up water up to 23 m (75 ft.) in the air. (Duration: 2.5 hour walk). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Post Office Bay (wet landing). Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay was named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them back to their destinations. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, going to the letter’s destination, will take it back for free. The chances are that the letter posted can take a long time to arrive at its destination. However, there have been cases where it has arrived before the sender.
You may also encounter Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warbler and Lava Lizards. There are great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. As well, the island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos Milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions. (Duration: 30 minute walk/one hour snorkeling).
Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown, and Champion. Wet landing on an olivine green, sanded beach. You will hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food.
This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on, to swim or snorkel among sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center (dry landing). You will visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of the efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin’s finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to the communities, schools, and tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town of Puerto Ayora and shop for souvenirs. (Duration: 1.5 hour visit)
Highlands Tortoise Reserve (dry landing). In the mountains of Galapagos you can observe different kinds of birds, including tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve also offers a great opportunity to see contrasting ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a bird watchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here. (Duration: 45 minute drive/1.5 hour walk). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Carrion Point. This rocky cliff offers a great opportunity to further explore the marine biodiversity of the islands. You can snorkel among a variety of colorful fish, stingrays, and if lucky, the magnificent White tipped shark. (Duration: 2 hours snorkeling).
Afterwards you will go straight to the airport in Baltra for the flight to Guayaquil, and then Lima, Peru. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our inbound services representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Lima. (B)
In the afternoon, you will have a city tour of Lima. You will visit downtown Lima and see several examples of the Spanish architecture of the colonial period including the Plaza de Armas, the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, and the Church of San Francisco and Catacombs. After that, you will see Huaca Huallamarca, a restored adobe pyramid dating from the pre-Inca period located in San Isidro. You will tour the upscale residential and commercial district of Miraflores and see the Parque del Amor, a seaside park with a huge statue of a kissing couple, before returning to your hotel. Overnight in Lima. (B)
Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Cusco. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Because of the high altitude (10,912 feet above sea level), we recommend that you rest for a short period. In the afternoon, you will have a city tour that includes a walk-through of the Cathedral, the Koricancha (‘site of gold’), typical streets, and the four ruins that surround the city: the Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Kenko, Puca Pucara, and Tampumachay. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
Today you will have a full-day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The tour begins at Awanakancha, a living museum of the Peruvian Andes, where you can observe traditional textile dyeing and weaving techniques and the four types of camelids that are native to the region. You will also visit the Indian artisan market in Pisac and have lunch at a local restaurant (included). The last stop is the impressive Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo that served as both a fortress and ceremonial center, and is the site of a short-lived victory by the Incas over the Spanish. Overnight in Cusco. (B,L)
Note: The Indian market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from October to March, and daily from April to September. On the days of the week that the market is not open, you will be taken to the Inca ruins above the village.
Early morning transfer by minivan to the town of Chilca (km. 82), the start of the Inca Trail. We begin escorted by native “quechua” porters going through semi-arid terrain along the Urubamba River with magnificent views of snowcapped mount Veronica (18,636 feet). We walk past the Inca hamlet of Huayllabamba, an ancient Inca citadel that protected the entry to two valleys. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
We will begin to climb the first pass, Warmiwañusqa (13,776 feet), where there is a spectacular view of the valley below. At this pass we move from the dry puna ecology to elf forest, the highest of the tropical forest types where gnarled trees grow to two meters amid fog and low clouds, habitat for a profusion of orchids and strange animals. On this night, we will camp along river Pacamayo at the bottom of the pass. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we will hike towards Runku Rakay and traverse the second pass of the same name (12,464 feet). We will descend to Sayacmarca, an important archaeological complex, where we will have lunch. We will spend the night near the ruins of Wiñayhuayna, which means ‘city above the clouds’. Overnight on the Inca Trail. (B,L,D)
We will arise very early so that we may watch the sunrise from Inti Punku and have our first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu ‘the Lost City of the Incas’ (7,900 feet). This mountaintop citadel, which served as both a center of worship and an astronomic observatory, is located in the middle of the cloud forest overlooking the Urubamba River. There are both agricultural and urban areas constructed with the precision stonework that the Incas are known for. The agricultural area consists of terraces and food storehouses, and the urban area contains temples, squares, and royal tombs. Guided tour followed by lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Aguas Calientes. (B,L)
This is a free day to explore Machu Picchu on your own. You may want to hike Huayna Picchu or enjoy another activity. Mid-afternoon, you will depart from Machu Picchu by train to Poroy Station in the Sacred Valley, and then be taken to your hotel in Cusco. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima and your final destination. (B)
About the Inca Trail
The Incas built a vast network of roads to communicate with the four regions of their vast empire. The network was called Qapaq Ñan (the sovereign’s highway) or Inca Road, and was made up of stone paths suitable for two or three people with trains of llamas. Rivers were crossed by hanging bridges and the steep slopes were mastered with steps and ramps. There are remains of the Qhapaq Ñan throughout Peru that are still used to this day by local villagers and farmers. One of the most impressive and best preserved roads is the trail that links Cusco and Machu Picchu. Today, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu allows the visitor to step back in time and walk through a variety of eco-systems and dazzling scenery. The length of the 39 kilometers (24 miles) includes unforgettable views, archaeological remains; 400 different species of orchids and begonias, exotic trees like the pisonay, the queñual and innumerable species of fauna in their natural habitat, such as the cock-of-the-rocks, llamas and vicuñas, the white-tailed deer, the vizcacha and, if visitors are lucky, the endangered and vegetarian spectacled bear. The Inca Trail is one of the world’s leading trekking and camping routes. (Source: PromPeru)
A Note About Your Free Day in Machu Picchu
On your free day, you will be on your own. If you choose to revisit Machu Picchu, you will need to purchase a second entrance ticket, which currently costs $74 per person. If you are staying in Aguas Calientes, you will also need to purchase a round-trip bus ticket ($28 per person) for transportation to the site. The first bus departs at 5:30 AM. As an alternative to visiting Machu Picchu again, you can hike Huayna Picchu (a +/- 60 minute hike), or partake in another activity. The cost for hiking Huayna Picchu is $13 (in addition to the second entrance ticket). At the end of the day (mid-late afternoon), you will walk to the train station for the return ride to Poroy train station, where our local representative will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel in Cusco.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Hotel accommodations including taxes and service charges.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
- Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, and other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Double occupancy tents.
- Camping equipment: Bathroom tent, kitchen tent, dining tent, chairs, tables, and comfortable mattresses.
- Cook, porters to carry food, tents, and cooking gear.
- Porters for personal belongings (one for every two passengers).
- Coffee breaks during the trek, first aid kit/oxygen.
- Local, English-speaking tour guides.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Fuel surcharge for the ship ($50).
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and naturalist guides, tour guides, porters, drivers, and hotel staff.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of international airfare, domestic airfare within Peru, and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.
First Class – Galapagos Legend
Group Private: All services included in Quito and Galapagos are operated on a group basis. The city tour of Lima, city tour of Cusco, and the Sacred Valley excursion are group tours for single passengers and 3 star accommodations and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodation levels. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike is a group tour.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, Cusco is 10,912 feet, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 8,944 feet, the Inca Trail varies from 8,528 feet to 13,776 feet, and Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet.
IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.
Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Passport/Visa: For Ecuador, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling. For Peru, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Peruvian embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $1,250 per person plus the cost of the international airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.