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 Machu Picchu with 7 Day Santa Cruz II Cruise
Galapagos and Machu Picchu are 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 seven day cruise aboard the Santa Cruz II, where you will enjoy plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on Earth. The final part of your tour will take you to Peru to see Machu Picchu, the spectacular mountain top citadel known as the ‘Lost city of the Incas’.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 14 nights (2 nights in Quito, 6 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 2 nights in Lima, 3 nights in Cusco, and 1 night in Machu Picchu), and 28 meals (14 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 6 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Bartolomé Island, Españiola Island, Mosquera Islet, North Seymour Island, San Cristóbal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Fe Island, South Plaza Island, Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.
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.
This morning, you will visit to downtown Quito to relish in this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stroll starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World; its impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar.
Then continue to the Equatorial Monument, 16 miles north of Quito, which marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will get a certificate for having crossed the Equator. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. You land at Baltra Island in the morning and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II, where you receive a welcome introductory briefing, and lunch.
Mosquera. After lunch and your introductory briefing on board, Santa Cruz II will relocate only four nautical miles from Baltra, next to Mosquera Islet, a small volcanic uplift between Baltra and North Seymour. The island is a long and narrow sand bank surrounded by lava reefs. Our groups will approach the island from its western shore, a long shallow reef, the perfect rookery for young sea lions. After a wet landing, our guides will lead you past the sea lion colonies, where you will learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos. The walk is easy as it is restricted to a few hundred meters of flat sandy dunes. This will also be a great opportunity for an introduction to snorkeling. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you disembark (dry landing) at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, you visit the breeding centre for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics.
Punta Pitt. In the afternoon, you disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. You can walk or enjoy a panga ride along the coast. Opportunity for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Santa Fe. After breakfast, you take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions (wet landing). The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkeling, swimming from the panga, and riding in the glass bottom boat (for non-snorkelers) rounds off this rewarding experience. There is also an opportunity for kayaking.
South Plaza Island. Following lunch and a rest, you disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline, one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station. In the morning, you disembark (dry landing followed by a brief bus ride) for the visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following the visit, you board the bus to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
Santa Cruz Island. There are several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. Options include beach walks, kayaks, walks along the tortoise reserve, etc. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Punta Suarez (dry landing). An exciting walk awaits at this site, where you enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous “blow-hole”. Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
Gardner Bay-Osborn Islet (wet landing). In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby islet of Osborn provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches as you relax. You can expect great snorkeling in this area. Opportunity for swimming and kayaking as well. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Eden Islet. After breakfast, a panga ride takes you to Eden Islet, a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where you can observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather condition permits, ride in the glass-bottom boat and kayak.
North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a volcanic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing (dry landing), usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom. This is a great introductory site to the islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
This morning, you disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport for your 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 to the train station for the ride to 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 flight back to Lima and your final destination. Depending upon the time of your departure flight from Lima, you can choose to leave Cusco on a mid-afternoon flight to Lima and stay at the airport until your flight departs, or leave Cusco on a morning flight to Lima, pay for a day use hotel and transfers to and from the airport to rest before your flight and enjoy your last day in Lima. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
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 service fees and taxes.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Santa Cruz II.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Excursion to Machu Picchu via Vistadome train and other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides (suggested $20/day for the crew and $10/day for the guide).
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.
4 Star – Sol de Oro Hotel & Suites
5 Star – J.W. Marriott Hotel Lima
Deluxe – Miraflores Park Hotel
3 Star – Casa Andina Classic Cusco Plaza
4 Star – Hotel Novotel Cusco
5 Star – Libertador Palacio del Inka
Deluxe – Hotel Monasterio
3 Star – El Mapi Hotel
5 Star – Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Deluxe – Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
Group/Private: All transfers in Quito are private and the city tour and Middle of the World excursion is a group tour. All services in the Galapagos are operated on a group basis. In Peru, all transfers are private, and the city tours of Lima and Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas excursion, and Machu Picchu guided tour are group tours for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, Cusco is 10,912 feet, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 8,944 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: Call or email us to confirm the availability of the ship and airfare for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $1,250 (Single passengers) or $1,350 (Double/Triple passengers) plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.