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, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon
Galapagos, Machu Picchu, and the Peruvian Amazon are three of the most popular destinations in South America. Your tour will begin 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 four day cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend, where you will enjoy plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on Earth. In Peru, you will visit Machu Picchu, the spectacular mountain top citadel known as the ‘Lost city of the Incas’ and Posada Amazonas in the Peruvian Amazon, which features an amazing parrot clay lick.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 15 nights (2 nights in Quito, 3 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 3 nights in Lima, 2 nights in the Sacred Valley, 1 night in Machu Picchu, 2 nights in Cusco, and 2 nights at Posada Amazonas) and 28 meals (15 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 5 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Genovesa Island, Mosquera Islet, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Fe Island, Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Puerto Maldonado & the Southern Amazon.
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 guides and taken on a ten minute bus ride to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
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)
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, passengers will be transferred to Baltra Airport for their 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 taken by private transportation to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You will visit 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 then be taken to your hotel. Overnight in Sacred Valley. (B) 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.
Today you will have a private excursion that includes a visit to the town of Chinchero and its archaeological complex, Moray, with its circular agricultural terraces, the Maras salt mines, and the impressive Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo. Lunch included. Overnight in Sacred Valley. (B,L)
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)
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Cusco 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)
Depart Cusco for the short flight to Puerto Maldonado. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed at the airport and driven ten minutes to the Puerto Maldonado headquarters of Posada Amazonas. Here you can leave non-essential items, which will help to keep the boats light. You will be taken to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. The port is a communal business. Boxed Lunch. The forty five minute boat ride from the Tambopata River Port to Posada Amazonas will take you into the Community´s Primary Forest Private Reserve. Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips. Canopy Tower. A twenty minute walk from Posada Amazonas leads to the 30 meter scaffolding canopy tower. A bannistered staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. From atop you obtain spectacular views of the vast expanses of standing forest cut by the Tambopata River winding through the middle. Now and then toucans, parrots or macaws are seen flying against the horizon, or mixed species canopy flocks land in the treetop next to you. Dinner. Ecotourism Lecture. A daily presentation on the Infierno ecotourism project is available every night from a staff member. Overnight in Posada Amazonas. (B,L,D)
Tres Chimbadas Oxbow Lake. Tres Chimbadas is thirty minutes by boat and forty five minutes hiking from Posada Amazonas. Once there you will paddle around the lake in a catamaran, searching for the resident family of nine giant river otters (seen by 60% of our lake visitors) and other lakeside wildlife such as caiman, hoatzin and horned screamers. Parrot Clay Lick. This clay lick is only a twenty minute walk from Posada Amazonas. From a blind located about twenty meters away you will see dozens of parrots and parakeets descend on most clear mornings to ingest the clay on a river bank. Species such as Mealy and Yellow-headed Amazon, Blue-headed Parrot and Dusky headed Parakeet descend at this clay lick. The clay lick is active at dawn, during the late mornings and mid-afternoons. Lunch. Ethnobotanical Tour. A twenty minute boat drive downriver leads you to a trail designed by the staff of the Centro Ñape. The Centro Ñape is a communal organization that produces medicines out of forest plants and administers them to patients who choose their little clinic. They have produced a trail which explains the different medicinal (and other) uses of selected plants. Dinner. Night Walk. You will have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen. Much easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories. Overnight in Posada Amazonas. (B,L,D)
You will retrace your river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado, the office of Posada Amazonas, and the airport for your return flight to Lima. Depending on your airline schedule, this may require a dawn departure. Overnight in Lima. (B)
Check out at noon. Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (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 ($50).
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- 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
Group Private: All services included in Quito and Galapagos are operated on a group basis. In Peru, all airport/hotel transfers in Lima and Cusco are private, and the city tour of Lima, the Machu Picchu Guided tour, and the city tour of Cusco are group tours for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations. The excursions in the Sacred Valley are private.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 8,944 feet, Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet, and Cusco is 10,912 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.