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 Lake Titicaca
Combining the Galapagos with Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca is an excellent way to experience the best of Ecuador and Peru. You will begin in Quito and then travel to the Galapagos Islands for a four day cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend, where you will observe plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. In Peru, you will visit Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, and then travel to Puno and Lake Titicaca to experience the unique cultures of the inhabitants of the Altiplano.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 14 nights (2 nights in Quito, 3 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 3 nights in Lima, 3 nights in Cusco, 1 night in Machu Picchu, and 2 nights in Puno) and 23 meals (14 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 3 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Españiola Island, Floreana Island, San Cristóbal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Puno & Lake Titicaca.
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.
Bartolome (dry or wet landing). You discover a fascinating landscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones – lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones – that resemble the moon. Going up to the summit there will be impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock. You also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies.
Beach time is a great opportunity to do snorkeling and see the famous Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best snorkeling experience. Crystal clear water is the perfect spot to appreciate the incredible marine life it has to offer. Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable however, there are pioneer plants including the endemic Tiquilia nesiotica and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes. (Duration: 1.5 hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
South Plaza Islet (dry landing). There are two Plaza Islets (north and south) located east of Santa Cruz Island. On the northern part of the Islet, visitors begin the journey along an impressive cactus forest where colorful yellow and red land iguanas live, the population number is around 300 animals; during the dry season they survive on fruits and flowers of the opuntia cacti. A peculiar thing to see in South Plaza is the hybrid iguana (sea and land). When reaching the highest point, tropicbirds can be seen. During the dry season (June-January) the usually greenish and yellowish vegetation changes color creating a bright red landscape (sesuviumedmonstonei plant). (Duration: 2 hour walk).
North Seymour Island (dry landing). Off of Baltra Island and not far from Santa Cruz, North Seymour is located. This landmass was formed by a series of underwater volcanic eruptions, which deposited layers of lava on the ocean floor. You will have an approximately two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles and sea lions. You will also encounter land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across the endemic Galapagos Snake. (Duration: 2 hour walk, 30 minute snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Pitt Point & Islet (wet landing) followed by a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes a 90 meters long, olivine beach and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together, as well as, two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. It is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed. (Duration: 2.5 hour walk/40 minute snorkeling & kayaking).
Cerro Brujo (wet landing). Cerro Brujo is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of AA lava formations and a beautiful white sandy beach, great for snorkeling and sunbathing. There is a lagoon visit where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno which is the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers will visit the Cerro Colorado Giant Tortoise Reserve to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. Passengers will also have the opportunity to visit the port village, have a drink, or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs. (Duration: 40 minute bus ride to the Reserve/one hour visit).
After the visit you will go to San Cristobal 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)
Early morning transfer to the train station for the train ride to Puno (12,566 feet) on the PeruRail Titicaca Train. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Puno. (B,L)
Note: The PeruRail Titicaca Train operates every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday year-round.
Morning departure by boat to Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca. The island is known for the hospitality of its people, their distinctive knit clothing, and its landscape with Inca terracing where potatoes, corn, and quinoa are cultivated. Lunch is included. On the return to Puno, you will stop at the Floating Islands of the Uros people, which are part of the Titicaca National Reserve. These islands, as well as the houses and boats used by their inhabitants, are made of totora, a water reed that can grow to 10 feet tall. Overnight in Puno. (B,L)
Morning transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima. On the way to the airport, you will visit the chullpas of Sillustani on the shores of Lake Umayo. Some of these stone funerary towers stand nearly 40 feet tall. They house the remains of the nobility who were buried in family groups along with food and their possessions for the afterlife. Upon arrival in Lima, you will be transferred to your hotel. 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.
- Excursion to Machu Picchu via Vistadome train and other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Transportation to Puno via PeruRail Titicaca Train.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
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
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 services included in Quito and Galapagos are operated on a group basis. In Peru, all transfers are private, and the city tour of Lima, city tour of Cusco, 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. In Puno, the Taquile Island and Floating Islands of Uros excursion is a group tour, and the chullpas of Sillustani excursion is private.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, Cusco is 10,912 feet, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 8,944 feet, Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet, and Puno 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.