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.
Galapagos and Machu Picchu with 8 Day Galapagos Legend 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 an eight 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 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 15 nights (2 nights in Quito, 7 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 2 nights in Lima, 3 nights in Cusco, and 1 night in Machu Picchu), and 19 meals (15 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 7 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Españiola Island, Floreana Island, Genovesa Island, Mosquera Islet, San Cristóbal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Fe 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.
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).
Black Turtle Cove. On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea, four species of mangrove crowd and form an internal lagoon, turtles visit the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish and rays circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, plus sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets. This cove has been declared a “turtle sanctuary”. (Duration: one hour dinghy ride). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
El Barranco (Prince Philip’s Steps). You will marvel at the variety of sea life that uses the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed Tropicbirds fly overhead, switching between their nests and the bay, and a small colony of fur seals may be found near the landing site. You will be dropped off at a steep stairway that begins on rocks at the foot of a path that leads through a seabird colony full of Nazca and Red-footed Boobies. At the plateau, the trail continues inland allowing you to see more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. Near the end of the trail, over a rocky lava plain, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels can be observed flying in all directions. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a Short-eared Owl. (Duration: 45-minute walk).
Darwin Bay. Disembark onto a small sand and coral beach. A short trail heads west along a tidal lagoon and then up a rocky hill that leads to a point overlooking the cliffs and Darwin Bay. Along the trail near the tidal lagoon, visitors will see pairs of Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Yellow-crowned and Lava Herons. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigate birds and Red-footed Boobies. This is one of the few places in the islands where visitors are guaranteed to see Red-footed Boobies. It is estimated that more than 200,000 live in the trees and bushes of Genovesa. (Duration: 2.5 hour walk). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Dragon Hill (dry landing). Walk by a brackish lagoon to see flamingos. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation. Keeping up until Dragon Hill, see an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchored boats and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and Galapagos doves. (Duration: 2 hour walk).
Santa Fe (wet landing). Santa Fe shows white sand beaches surrounded by sea lion colonies; through the island path, an endemic cactus forest is passed, home of the Santa Fe land iguanas (the largest in the islands). This island is also the habitat for a number of species, including the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, rice rats (one of the few endemic Galapagos rodents), a variety of finches and one of the four mockingbird species of the archipelago. (Duration: 1.5 hour walk/one hour deep water snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D).
Mosquera Islet (wet landing). This flat, sandy island is located between North Seymour and Baltra Island, and has a large colony of sea lions. It is also an excellent site to observe shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls. There is no trail on the islet and visitors can enjoy the open area. Most of the islet is covered with sand and barren lava rock. Very little sesuvium portulacastrum plants grow on the sand. (Duration: 1.5 hour walk and snorkeling).
After the visit, you will be transferred to Baltra Airport 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 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 Galapagos Legend.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
- Excursion to Machu Picchu including overnight stay and transportation via Vistadome train.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Fuel surcharge for the ship ($100).
- 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.
First Class – Galapagos Legend
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
Group Private: All services included in Quito and 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: We require a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person plus the cost of the airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.