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Tour: 13-Day Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands

  • View of Cusco
  • Snorkelling in Galapagos
  • Machu Picchu Complex
  • Chicha
  • Alpacas
  • Frigate Bird
Tour Highlights
  • Visit the Archaeological Wonder of Machu Picchu
  • Enjoy Peruvian and Ecuadorian cuisine and experience Andean culture
  • See the famous giant tortoises and marine iguanas in their natural habitat
  • Guided tours in Lima, Cusco, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Moray
  • Snorkel with sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos
  • Hike up an active volcano and one of the biggest calderas in the world
Contact To Book

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Lima, Welcome Briefing and Group Dinner

Dinner Provided.

Hello Peru! The big city of Lima boasts a beautiful coastline and a number of interesting, lively neighborhoods to explore. Some are known for nightlife, others for history and culture. There is a lot to see in the capital of Peru, so why not arrive a day or two early and let us take you on a music tour, bike tour or food tour?

Tonight you’ll have a meet and greet with your group, usually around 6pm. If you’re unable to attend, a note will be left for you at your hotel with instructions on when to meet in the morning for your city tour.

Day 2
Lima City Tour, fly to Cusco, free time in Cusco

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Stretch your legs a bit by taking a guided walk around part of Lima. From upscale Miraflores, to historical Centro and colorful Barranco, each district of Lima has its own vibe. The city has an abundance of great architecture, with old colonial buildings and plenty of churches and museums that will give you a great introduction into the history and culture of Peru.

To get the most time out in the city, we’ll pack up for our flight to Cusco, and then travel around town exploring Lima. We’ll visit the impressive Love Park, stop by the Main Square in the city and visit the Presidential Palace, including the cathedral and monastery. It is an action-packed introduction to Peru, and we’ll finish off the tour with some local eats before getting ready to fly to Cusco. Take it easy this afternoon and get your body acclimatized to the altitude. Drink some coca tea, relax and do some people watching in the main square!

Day 3
Sacred Valley: Pisac and Awanakancha, Afternoon arrival in Ollantaytambo

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Do you know the difference between alpacas, llamas and vicunas? With a visit to Awanakancha you’ll see, and learn about the differences between these domesticated and wild camelids of South America. See how alpaca textiles are made and learn how to spot the difference between the real deal, and the fake stuff (very helpful if you’re planning to buy some Peruvian wool clothing!) 

Exploring historic Inca sites, you’ll venture off to Pisac, an impressive town that is also home to Incan ruins by the same name. The Inca ruins are split into four areas at Pisac, atop a hilltop, overlooking the Urubamba Valley. Impressive terraced, hillsides are found here, an ingenious agricultural solution that allowed the Incas to grow numerous crops in otherwise steep, harsh terrain. At the ruins, you’ll visit the citadel and the Temple of the Sun, among other highlights.

Back in Ollantaytambo, you’ll have time to explore the terraced fortress, which dominates the landscape above the town. There are also great shopping opportunities here, with artwork, handicrafts and sculptures available at the town market and in many shops.

Day 4
Sacred Valley tour of Maras and Moray, train ride to Aguas Calientes

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

Moray is an interesting Inca site near the salt mining operation of Maras. Vast circled terraces are found at Maras, which were created for unknown reasons. The common belief is that the Incas created these terraces to test and domesticate different crops. 

Standing atop one of the main terraces helps you realize just how advanced the Incas were when it comes to agriculture. Just a short drive away near the Urubamba Valley is Maras. For centuries these pools have been cultivated for their salt. It’s an oddly intriguing operation that your guide will bring to life, plus from the vantage point of the salt mine you’ll get some fantastic photos of the valley below.

In the afternoon, it is time to hop on the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, where you’ll have a free evening to walk around town or soak in the hot springs. Next stop Machu Picchu!

Optional: 1-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu

Cost: Extra $160 per person, minimum 2 people.

This 7-hour hike requires permits to be booked months in advance. An early morning (around 6:30am) train departure from Ollantaytambo is required, meaning you will not have time to visit Moray and Maras. After a shortened scenic train ride, the day-hike Inca trail starts at Chachabamba, the hike starts with great views of the Urubamba Valley and Choquesuysuy ruins in the distance. Spending time at Wiñay Wayna is the main highlight before heading on to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) at Machu Picchu. A boxed-lunch is provided, and you can expect a challenging hike that rises from 2150m / 7052ft at Chachabamba to a maximum height of 2650m / 8692ft.

Day 5
Machu Picchu Day Tour, return to Cusco by train

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

The Lost City of the Incas! One of the world’s most majestic landscapes, Machu Picchu is a place unlike any other. You’ll arrive early in the morning by bus, before the big crowds get here, so that you can enjoy your guided tour of the ruins. Have your camera batteries fully charged, as today you’ll be taking a ton of photos. Entering through the Main Gate, you’ll have the entire Machu Picchu complex open up before your eyes. Your guide will explain the importance of each area of the main part of the site, including the Temple of the Condor, Observatory, Ceremonial Rock and Temple of the Three Windows.

 Afterwards, you’ll have a few hours to explore at your leisure before heading back to town for your train ride to Cusco.

Day 6
Cusco walking tour, free time

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Included on the tour is a Cusco city walk with your tour guide, who will meet you at your hotel this morning. Travelers often say Cusco is their favorite city in Peru, and we can’t argue with that! You’ll quickly fall in love with the cobblestone streets, inviting cafes, museums and lively Plaza de Armas (main square) of this old colonial city. Your guide will point out all of the important attractions such as the Temple of the Sun and you’ll learn about the history of Cusco. After the walk, you’re free to explore the rest of the city on your own.

Day 7
Fly from Cusco, Peru to Quito, Ecuador. Dinner out in Quito.

Breakfast and Dinner Provided.

Say farewell to Peru and hello to Ecuador! Do some final shopping in the early morning for Peruvian handicrafts and souvenirs, then head to the airport for your flight to Quito. There will be a welcoming dinner in the evening in Quito, to prepare you for the Galapagos adventure ahead. If you arrive with time to spare, head to the Old Town to stroll through the magnificent cathedrals and take in the colonial architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. El Panecillo or 'the Little Bread Loaf,' is located high atop a hill in the Old Town and is a major Quito attraction boasting a panoramic view of the city. Museums are scattered throughout the New and Old Town as well as local artisan markets that are great for picking up souvenirs. The New Town is teeming with cafes and restaurants and is a vibrant mix of locals, expats, and fellow travelers. New Town and Old Town are easily accessible by trolley or taxi.

Day 8
Arrive Santa Cruz, Visit Highlands, Explore Town

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

This morning, you’ll fly to Santa Cruz or Baltra to be exact. This little island off the coast of Santa Cruz is home to the airport. Your guide will be waiting for you and the adventure will begin right away! As you make your way to Puerto Ayora, the capital of Santa Cruz, you’ll begin your first activity with a stop in the highlands to visit a private giant tortoise reserve. You’ll be able to see these massive creatures in their natural habitat cooling off in a watering hole or munching away. You’ll also have the chance to explore some nearby lava tunnels and gain a better appreciation of the natural forces that created these islands.

You’ll continue on to Puerto Ayora, and after a quick check-in, head out to explore town. Santa Cruz is the most populated of all the islands and its bustling port city is the tourist capital of Galapagos. Tonight, your guide will lead you to the Calle de los Kioskos (Kiosks Street). This little back street is closed down each night as the small stall restaurants set up table and chairs in the middle of the street for open-air dining. If you’re looking for where the locals eat, look no further!

Day 9
Visit Tortuga Bay and Charles Darwin Research Station, Public Boat to Isabela

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

This morning we’ll take a short walk that ends in white sand and luscious waves. Tortuga Bay is a gorgeous beach accessible only by foot and laden with choices. Do you want to swim, sunbathe, bodysurf or do all three? A leisurely 45-minute path leads to the beach area and along the way you may spot lava lizards and birds in the surrounding trees. 

Upon arrival at the first soft, white sandy beach, you’ll be greeted by some perfect surf. Further along you can reach Tortuga Bay, a calm bay that is sheltered by mangroves and ideal for swimming, sometimes friendly baby sharks can be seen here too! There’s a nice walk through a cactus forest, a chance to spot nesting blue-footed boobies or massive marine iguanas.

We’ll head back to town in time for a quick visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. We’ll learn about the stations successes in repopulating the islands with the once endangered land iguana and several species of giant tortoise. From the collection of the eggs to the age of release, we’ll observe how the giant tortoises are raised and readied for life on their own.  CDRS is optional.

After lunch, we’ll hop on board for our boat ride to Isabela Island – the largest island in the Archipelago. After check-in, we’ll go for a stroll through the picturesque town of Puerto Villamil. Along its white sand beach we’re sure to find the perfect spot to toast in our first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.

Day 10
Hike Sierra Negra Volcano and Volcan Chico, Optional Kayak

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Lace up your hiking boots – we’re hiking up a volcano! Sierra Negra is one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos; its last eruption was in October 2005. As we hike to the perimeter of the caldera, we’ll be on the lookout for bird species found only in the highlands like the bright red Vermillion Flycatcher and the elusive short-eared owl. Once we reach the rim, we’ll be met with a 9km view that stretches across one of the most active calderas in the world. 

We’ll continue around the rim, stopping at various lookouts along the way, en route to Volcan Chico. Volcano vents dot the landscape and colorful minerals can be found in some lava rocks. Both “aa” and “pahoehoe” lava flows have occurred here, creating an otherworldly-looking landscape. We’ll cross fields of lava and small lava tunnels until we reach a lookout that boasts breathtaking views reaching to the north of Isabela.

After enjoying a hearty sense of accomplishment, we’ll make our way back to town in early afternoon. You are free to take it easy or partake in an optional activity - a leisurely kayak around the sheltered bay area of Puerto Villamil. Galapagos penguins (the only penguin found north of the equator), sea turtles and rays frequent these shallow waters and blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and pelicans may be seen resting along the shore and in some nearby mangrove trees.

If you prefer, you also have the option to rent a bike and head to the Wall of Tears. Return to town just in time for a sunset dip before your independent dinner. As always, your guide will be more than happy to help you find a local spot to dine.

Day 11
Visit Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, Fly to San Cristobal, Visit La Loberia

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

After breakfast, we’ll head off for a leisurely walk through a coastal lagoon. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some pink flamingos along the way! This mangrove-lined path will lead us to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where we’ll see giant tortoises in all stages of development. The center has almost one thousand giant tortoises training for life on their own!

This afternoon, you’ll take an early flight to the island of San Cristobal, the oldest and eastern-most island of the Galapagos archipelago. You’ll arrive just in time for lunch before you head out for your first activity: a visit to La Loberia.

La “Loberia” is an area frequented by sea lions. In other words, it’s a sea lion hang out! There we’ll be able to watch sea lions sunbathing and vying for our attention. They play, they nap and sometimes, they pose for pictures! If you’re keen for a swim, hop on in.

On the way back to town, your guide will point out their favorite spots to dine.

Day 12
Snorkel at Kicker Rock, Optional Bike Ride or SUP

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Today we take to the water to get a glimpse of the underwater world of Galapagos. First, we’ll cruise along the coast in our boat identifying shore birds like the great frigate and famous blue-footed booby. Then we’ll drop anchor for an introductory snorkel where we’ll get our fins wet in search of damselfish, puffer fish, and, hopefully, curious sea lion pups.

Next, we’ll continue to Kicker Rock, or Leon Dormido as it’s known by the locals, to explore the final remains of a tuff cone rising over 143 meters out of the ocean. If Kicker Rock were a building, it would have almost 50 floors! Along the edge and through a channel of this drastic compact ash formation, we’ll be on the hunt for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, chocolate chip starfish, and, with any luck, a Galapagos Shark or two. Don’t worry: they won’t be as interested in you as you are in them!

A beautiful beach accessible only by boat will be our final stop. After lunch on board, feel free to spend your time swimming in the turquoise water or snapping photos of Kicker Rock in the distance.

We’ll head back to town late afternoon and have some time to explore town. Perhaps you’ll want to grab a sunset beer or cocktail by the waterfront and watch the spectacular sunset. Another optional activity is to grab a bike and explore town, or head out into the bay with a member of our local staff for some SUP fun!

Tonight, we head to one of our favorite spots for some open air dining. It’ll be a well-deserved farewell feast as this is the last night in the Enchanted Islands!

DIVING: Occasionally, the option to dive is available.  Please inquire in advance.

Day 13
Optional Visit to Interpretation Center & Tijeretas, Depart San Cristobal for Quito

Breakfast Provided.

Squeeze in some souvenir shopping, head to the beach for one last swim or visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the history and mystery of the archipelago. This educational center explains how the islands were discovered and what makes them so special. You can learn about Charles Darwin’s visit and the present day efforts to protect this amazing World Heritage site. There’s a short hike to Tijeretas, a panoramic lookout over the town and Kicker Rock, for those who are interested.

This afternoon, you’ll fly back to the mainland to prepare for the next part of your travels, or get ready for a flight back home. If you need help booking some day tours around Ecuador, we’re happy to help you out.

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