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 $4,869 pp
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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 airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Black Turtle Cove is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, and is accessible only by sea. Four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon and turtles enjoy swimming in the calm waters, raising their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, and sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. The cove has been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary”. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Sullivan Bay (wet landing). This visitor site is located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and is of important geologic interest. It features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.
Rábida. Dark-red sand covers unique beaches with an incredible landscape; Rábida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches can be seen. You will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Urbina Bay. Wet landing on a volcanic “black” beach. Depending on the season, you may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. You can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. You will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo volcano.
Tagus Cove. Dry landing on Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, where you will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. You will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where you will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant, and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins, which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves. The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. You will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Punta Espinosa (dry landing). Punta Espinosa is the only spot that you visit on Fernandina, and from it you can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk. “Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but you encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
Punta Vicente Roca. Great deep water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). You take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Highlands of Santa Cruz (dry landing). A 45-minute bus ride will take you to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where you will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the Island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg. and can live up to 150-200 years.
After the visit, you will be transferred to Baltra Airport for your return flight to Quito, 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.
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 10, 2016.
- The Single and Double prices are based on a Standard Plus Cabin and the Triple prices are based on a Junior Suite.
- Room/cabin upgrades and additional nights in each destination are available upon request.
- Machu Picchu Pueblo, Casa del Sol Machu Picchu, and Sanctuary Lodge accommodations include breakfast and dinner.
- Upgrade to the Hiram Bingham train, which operates every day except Sunday, is available for $700 per person.
- Oxygenated rooms are available at the Monasterio for an additional $50 per room per day.
- Holy Week, Inti Raymi Festival, and Christmas week surcharges may apply.
Tuesday departures throughout the year, except during February, when the Inca Trail is closed.
- 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 ($90).
- 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.
Galapagos Legend – First Class
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 Traveler Funding Program South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Traveler Funding Program, 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.