Machu Picchu and Galapagos
Two of South America’s most iconic destinations in one trip: the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands, unparalleled for wildlife.
Machu Picchu and Galapagos
15 days from £5,010
(includes £550 pp worth of free domestic flights. See below)
If you were to choose just two places to visit in South America, it would be these: the original ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands, central to Charles Darwin’s theory of the origin of species. This trip combines archaeological sites and natural wonders to rival anything on the planet, adventure on land and sea, expert guiding and quality accommodation
Your Machu Picchu and Galapagos adventure starts high in the Andes in Cusco, Peru. This was the capital of the Inca empire and is now a thriving modern city and world-class tourist destination. Your visit includes a guided tour of some of the most famous sites. Next stop – Machu Picchu!
After a train ride along the Sacred Valley, your first glimpse of the mysterious Inca ruins will take your breath away, we promise. A guided tour will fill you in on the history of this intriguing and atmospheric sanctuary and then you will have two further opportunities to explore on your own. As archaeological sites go, Machu Picchu is undoubtedly among the world’s finest and if you were to choose a destination to top it, what better way than a complete change of scene – the magical Galápagos Islands and their outstanding wildlife.
The birds, reptiles, marine mammals and scenery of this stunning archipelago are unlike anywhere else on the planet. Where else could you wander among sea lions and get up close to blue-footed boobies in the same day! Your yacht for this trip is spacious and comfortable with an experienced crew and guiding team. What better way for visiting these beautiful islands!
Machu Picchu and Galapagos Highlights
- Inca cities and ruins
- Colonial monuments in Cusco and Quito
- Stylish contemporary hotels, some in historic surroundings
- Train ride through the Andes
- The lost city of Machu Picchu
- Wildlife viewing like no other
- Comfortable cruising between islands
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DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to the Wyndhams Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel, which makes a convenient overnight stop. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Relax after your flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.
DAY 2: FLY TO CUSCO
After breakfast you will return to the airport for the flight to Cusco. You'll be met at Cusco by our local representative and transferred to Casa Andina Koricancha Hotel, a few streets away from the main Plaza, but near other important monuments. You will have the rest of the day to get used to the altitude (3,300m above sea level) and explore some of Cusco's sights, restaurants and bars on your own.
DAY 3: EXPLORING CUSCO
Getting to know Cusco will help to put Machu Picchu in context and give a better appreciation of what is to come. Your guide will collect you after breakfast to show you some of the major attractions, including the massive Inca ceremonial centre at Sacsayhuaman, just north of the city. After lunch you will have more free time to visit museums, shops and eating places, or take it easy if you need more acclimatisation time. Breakfast
DAY 4: TRAIN TO MACHU PICCHU
In the morning transfer to the station for a comfortable train journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Picture windows allow you to appreciate the changing scenery on the 3-hour trip to the station at Aguas Calientes. A short bus ride up the hill brings you to the entrance to the sanctuary of Machu Picchu, which you will be given a detailed tour. There will be plenty of time to admire the magnificent setting of the ruins and take photographs. Please keep your entrance tickets as you will need them the next day. Lunch will be served in the Sanctuary Lodge, the hotel nearest the entrance and in the evening, you will return to Aguas Calientes to stay at El MaPi Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 5: FROM MACHU PICCHU BACK TO CUSCO
You’ll have the chance to go back to Machu Picchu this morning, to explore for yourself and experience the special atmosphere. You will need to show your entrance tickets from the previous day to gain access without being on a tour. Strolling among the ruins is a great way to get a feel for the place and its history; let your imagination picture the site when it was a living testament to the Incas’ architectural genius and rich culture. In the afternoon you’ll take the train back to Cusco and a guide will take you to the Casa Andina Koricancha Hotel. Breakfast
DAY 6: FLY TO ECUADOR
Today you will be taken to Cusco airport for your flight to Quito, Ecuador. At you will be met by our representative and escorted to La Casona de la Ronda, a beautiful hotel in a tastefully restored colonial building in the historic part of the city. The remainder of the day is at leisure, to relax in the hotel with its innovative vertical garden or to take a look at your surroundings. Breakfast
DAY 7: QUITO TOUR
Historic Quito was the first city to be declared a World Cultural Heritage Site and after breakfast your guide will give you a tour of the fine churches, monasteries and palaces in the old city. Afterwards, by way of contrast, you will be shown the new city which has some equally important places to visit. The tour usually ends at the top of El Panecillo, a hill with sweeping views of the entire city and the valley in which it sits. The afternoon is yours to wander round the shops, galleries and cafés near the hotel. Breakfast
DAY 8: FIRST DAY IN THE GALAPAGOS
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for the 4-hour flight to Baltra, the airport for Santa Cruz island. A guide from the yacht Beluga will greet you and take you to the boat which will be your berth for the next seven days. Having met the crew you will have lunch as the yacht sails to Santa Cruz. Afterwards you’ll visit Cerro Dragón to look for land iguanas and, if you are feeling energetic, you can climb the rocky, pointed hill for views of the island, bay and ocean. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 9: SANTA FE AND SOUTH PLAZA
Overnight you cruise to Santa Fe where you’ll be able to watch sea lions and go swimming and snorkelling. There’s a walking trail past prickly pear cacti, a favourite food of the island’s endemic land iguanas. Darwin’s finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, frigate birds and pelicans are all frequently seen here. You’ll have lunch on board the yacht, followed by an excursion to South Plaza Island, with its coastal and dry vegetation, sea lion colony and many species of birds. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 10: SAN CRISTOBAL
Landing on the north coast of San Cristóbal Island you’ll visit the pretty crescent-shaped beach below Cerro Brujo for a chance to swim and snorkel, perhaps being joined by turtles and rays. You’ll have a great view of the dramatic Kicker Rock from here, too. In the afternoon you’ll see large numbers of birds at El Junco Lagoon, the only freshwater lake in the Galápagos, and you’ll be able to visit Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the archipelago, with its pleasant seafront boulevard. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 11: ESPAÑOLA
In the morning you will wake at Española, the archipelagos’ southernmost island. Gardner Bay, a long sandy beach, is known for its colony of sea lions often seen dozing in the sun. This is also a favourite location for turtles. After lunch you’ll land at Punta Suárez on the western tip. Between May and December you’ll see waved albatrosses performing their unusual courtship dance, while year round inhabitants include Nazca and blue-footed boobies, doves, finches, Galápagos hawks, Española mockingbirds and colourful marine iguanas. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 12: SANTA CRUZ AND THE CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
At the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz you will learn about the islands’ geology and history and the vital conservation projects being carried out. Possibly the most popular part of the station is the giant tortoise breeding centre, where you’ll see these endearing creatures from hatchling to full grown adults. You’ll also visit the Highlands, whose main attraction is the giant tortoise reserve, where animals roam in their natural environment. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 13: SOMBRERO CHINO AND SANTIAGO
Sombrero Chino, a volcanic island off Santiago shaped like a conical Chinese hat, offers great opportunities for swimming and snorkelling today, where you may encounter penguins and white-tipped reef sharks (harmless!). Later you’ll visit Sullivan Bay, on Santiago’s east coast, where a trail crosses lava fields formed at the end of the 19th century. The ripples in the rock swirl like liquid and the overall effect is desolate and lunar. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 14: GENOVESA
From Santiago it’s another overnight cruise northeast to Genovesa, where a nature trail from Darwin Bay leads to a mangrove-fringed tidal lagoon where you can expect to see a variety of birds. A viewpoint overlooks the bay. As you follow the path back to the shore keep your eyes open for red-footed boobies and great frigate birds, especially in March and April for their courtship display. Later you’ll land at the base of a series of steps, named after Prince Philip who visited in the 1960s, which ascend the cliff to a plateau where you should see storm petrels, all three boobies, tropic birds and many others. If you are lucky, you may catch sight of a short-eared owl. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 15: BLACK TURTLE COVE AND FLIGHT TO THE MAINLAND
Your final visit is to Black Turtle Cove on the north coast of Santa Cruz, where you’ll have a panga (dinghy) ride. Once the boat’s engine has been cut there’s a good chance you’ll see turtles surfacing as they come up for air and rays swimming in the clear water. Afterwards you’ll say goodbye to the yacht’s crew and head to the airport for the flight back to the mainland, and then home. Breakfast
Trains to Machu Picchu either depart from and return to Poroy station near Cusco or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. At certain times of year some trains only operate from Ollantaytambo. Your exact itinerary will be dependent on the train ticket we are able to purchase for you at the time of booking. This may mean that part of the journey between Ollantaytambo and Cusco is by road.
Machu Picchu entrance. Tickets to Machu Pichu are currently restricted to a maximum of 4 hours within the site and with no re-entry. Your itinerary may vary according to your train arrival time to allow you to make the most of the 4 hours. That may mean an early lunch before the visit or a late lunch after it. You have to be accompanied by a guide on your first visit.
If you are revisiting on the next day you may enter without a guide and with a second new ticket. However, you have to produce the original ticket to show that you first entered with a guide.
Galapagos yachts. We work with a huge range of vessels in the Galapagos ranging from small yachts with 12 or 16 passengers up to the largest vessels in the Galapagos which carry 100 passengers. And there are different standards at different price points. We can tailor this trip to go on any of the Galapagos vessels we work with, subject to availability. As each vessel has its own itinerary this will affect your itinerary on the islands. It will also affect the price.
(The above price includes a current special offer of FREE return domestic flights to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador worth £550 pp. Subject to availability, and only available to new bookings).
Includes: Meet & greet at Lima airport, airport transfers in Cusco and Quito; 14 nights twin share accommodation (7 in hotels and 7 on board Beluga); meals as shown; private guided tours of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Quito; entrance fees on tours, including second entrance fee to Machu Picchu; return train to Machu Picchu; Galapagos island excursions with a bilingual naturalist guide as offered by Beluga; snorkelling equipment on cruise; return flights to the Galapagos Islands from the Ecuadorian mainland.
Excludes: International flights and taxes, domestic flights within Peru (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package), visas (not currently required by British passport holders), meals not shown as included, drinks, Galapagos National Park Fee, currently US$100 to be paid locally in US$, tips, items of a personal nature.
Getting there: This holiday starts in Lima and ends in Quito. International return flights from the UK and the necessary domestic flights will cost from around £1000 per person, subject to season and availability. We will be happy to book flights for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday that can begin on the day of your choice
La Casona de la Ronda, Quito
This is a charming 18th-century colonial house in the heart of historic Quito, Ecuador. The 22 rooms set around a central courtyard combine traditional features like polished wooden floors and hand-carved furniture with modern comforts such as cable TV and wifi.
MV Beluga, Galapagos
The Beluga is an elegant and comfortable motor yacht with 8 air-conditioned double cabins.
Departures are all year round, but Galápagos cruises start on specific days of the week so this will determine the date of your first day in Lima.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March, but it varies in intensity from area to area and from year to year. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
Note that June is the busiest months for festivals in Cusco, including the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, so there will be high tourist occupancy then.
On the Pacific coast of Peru, the climate is sub-tropical and dry. Temperatures are warmest in the summer from December to March, when they can reach up to 30°c. The winter lasts from June to September, when temperatures can drop to 15°c and days are usually misty (locally called garúa) and damp. You are more likely to experience some rain in these months.
The Galápagos can also be visited all year, but there are distinct seasons: the misty (garúa) season, from June to November, and the hot season, from December to May, when there is the possibility of heavy showers. Despite being on the Equator, temperatures vary from 20°c to 28°c the year round. July and August may be windy. Sea temperatures are highest in February (25°c) and lowest in August (18°c). The busiest months for tourism in the islands are June to August and December and January. Note that the wildlife in the Galápagos also has its own ‘calendar’ in which different species are courting, nesting and hatching in specific months and on specific islands in different months of the year.
For Quito, the driest months of the year are between May to September (July-August being the best), though these are unlikely to be completely rain-free. The rest of the year you are likely to experience more rain, but generally this will be in the afternoons/evenings, rather than a constant downpour. The temperature does not vary greatly from month to month, ranging from about 22°c (max) to 7°c (min at night).
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