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.
Luxury Galapagos and Machu Picchu
Treat yourself to the finest accommodations in Ecuador and Peru on this fabulous journey. In Quito, you will stay at Casa Gangotena, a boutique luxury hotel in the old town center, and in the Galapagos, the luxurious La Pinta will be your base to discover the fascinating wildlife and landscapes of the Islands. In Peru, we include all Orient Express hotels, and transport you via the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu, for a private guided tour and an overnight stay at the Sanctuary Lodge.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 12 nights (2 nights in Quito, 4 nights on the La Pinta, 2 nights in Lima, 3 nights in Cusco, and 1 night in Machu Picchu), and 24 meals (12 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 dinners).
Best Time to Go: April-October.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Bartolomé Island, Chinese Hat Islet, Eden Islet, Genovesa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santiago 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)
Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival in Baltra Island, you will be transferred to the Itabaca Channel. A small ferry will take you across the Channel to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. You will then board a bus to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will learn about the unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch at a local restaurant.
Highlands of Santa Cruz. After lunch, you continue by bus to reach a reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools. There are several lava tunnels in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes you down to Puerto Ayora to board Yacht La Pinta. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Eden Islet. After breakfast, a panga ride takes you to Eden 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 conditions permit, to ride in the glass-bottom boat. The volcanic setting of this area is quite stunning due to its variety of volcanic debris, including cinder cones, tuff cones, and semi-eroded lava flows.
Sombrero Chino Islet. The tiny island of Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance, reminiscent of a Chinese hat. This islet, formed only fairly recently, makes a beautiful visit as one explores the wildlife along its 400-metre long trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped white sandy beach. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Bartolome Island. This morning, a Galapagos icon awaits: Bartolome Island. A great way to start the day, with a steep climb up a wooden staircase: the view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, you take to the dinghies for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, followed by time to enjoy the beach and some snorkeling. You can also ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
Sullivan Bay. After lunch, you board the pangas to land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach great for swimming and snorkeling, and with a trail over a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galapagos while observing its wildlife. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Darwin Bay. In the morning, you begin your exploration of this island with an easy stroll to observe marine and land birds. There is an optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or else you can return to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this beautiful natural harbor. The more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs or paddle sea kayaks.
Prince Philip’s Steps. The afternoon starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs before you disembark for a short but steep climb up a wooden staircase. Once at the top, the land is flat, allowing for a captivating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels and the elusive short eared owl. Farewell Cocktail, departure briefing and dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Your journey ends at Baltra Island, where you transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland, 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 Yacht La Pinta.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Excursion to Machu Picchu via Hiram Bingham train and others as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
- Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment.
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.
- Bar, 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.
Group Private: The airport transfer in Quito on the first day of the tour, and the city tour of Quito/Middle of the World excursion are private. All services in the Galapagos are operated on a group basis. In Peru all services are 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, 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 a cabin on this ship for your desired dates of travel. The non-refundable deposits for single, double, and triple passengers are $1,200, $1,000, and $950 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).