Explore the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Galapagos Islands during this unforgettable 13-day adventure. This trip combines many of our exciting opportunities into one expansive experience. Explore markets and ruins in the Sacred Valley, explore the citadel of Machu Picchu, soak up history among the colonial buildings and Incan architecture of Cusco, tour the political palaces and churches of charming Quito, embark on a luxurious cruise of the beautiful and mystifying Galapagos Islands. The second half of your trip offers a more relaxed pace during which you will be immersed in the exotic environments of diverse and rare wildlife present on the islands.
Upon arrival in Lima, you’ll spend the night at the Wyndham Costa del Sol Airport Hotel, located adjacent to the terminal.
After a short flight to the legendary city of Cuzco, you’ll spend a full day at two royal ruins in the Sacred Valley of the Incas—both built by the emperor Pachacutec. The first, Pisac, is a vast residential and military complex, built amid sweeping agricultural terraces and overlooking a quaint market town selling alpaca sweaters and handicrafts. The second, the fortress of Ollantaytambo, terrified the Spanish with its gargantuan parapets, and is set in the only surviving Inca village in the Andes. Afterward, you’ll rest at your hotel in the Urubamba Valley.
Bird’s-eye vistas and adrenaline-pumping descents are the agenda for Day 3, as you whiz down 2,000 meters of cable at the Sacred Valley Zip-Line Adventure. Prepare for some gorgeous views—hold on to your hats!
However many selfies you’ve seen of that iconic sugarloaf backdrop, nothing can prepare you for the moment when you get to the top of the ridge and actually see Machu Picchu for yourself, with its sun temple, royal quarters, and purling sacred fountains. On this day, you’ll take a luxury train from Ollantaytambo to this New World Wonder, where you can climb to the sun gate and cross an Inca bridge. After your adventure, you’ll overnight at El Mapi Hotel in Aguas Calientes, huddled beneath Machu Picchu Mountain.
Most visitors feel one day at Machu Picchu is too short, so the next morning, you can hike up to the Sun Gate or climb Huayna Picchu, the sacred mountain containing hidden Inca shrines. From there, it’s back to Cuzco, where you’ll rest in Maytaq Wasin Boutique Hotel, just steps from the main square.
Inca walls on every corner; three-tiered fortresses; Quechua women in colorful traditional garb: this is Cuzco, which the Incas considered the spiritual center of the universe. Even today, the city’s energy is unmistakable, as you wander through echoing churches and the most sacred Inca temple of them all, the Qorikancha. You’ll also visit four Inca ruins just outside the city, including Sacsayhuaman, the citadel where the Incas nearly defeated the Spanish in battle—and which is carved from some of the most massive stones on the planet.
Next up: a flight to Quito, Ecuador’s luminous Andean capital, via your connection in Lima.
Overnight Vieja Cuba in the city's Mariscal district.
“The Florence of the Andes”: such is the locals’ nickname for Quito, and you’ll see just how fitting this moniker is when you tour its Baroque churches, with their soaring domes, indigenous-looking cherubs, and golf leaf everywhere. You’ll also climb the Panecillo, a hilltop Inca shrine to the sun-god that commands a sweeping view of the colonial city—and of snowy Mt. Pichincha in the distance.
Comfort and style: these are the priorities for your tour of the Galapagos. After a well-deserved rest, you’ll fly out in the morning to these near-mythical islands, where you’ll be picked up by a cruise representative and taken to your luxury yacht. For the next five days, you’ll island-hop with an intimate group of passengers, enjoying air-conditioned cabins with private bathrooms, Jacuzzis, sun terraces, and on-board naturalist guides that help you appreciate the wildlife that comes fearlessly up to you in this magical place.
On your first afternoon, you’ll sail out to Whale Bay, on the Island of Santa Cruz, where you’ll have time to explore the volcanic rocks and green-sand coves before snorkeling in the turquoise waters. Your companions? Marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and a host of exotic seabirds.
Rippling lava formations inland, spiny cacti and mangrove beds along the shore. This is Espinosa point, where, on a morning excursion, you’ll have a chance to dive with sea lions, sidle along with colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs, and spot the king of the region’s predators, the Galapagos hawk.
Afterwards, following a gourmet lunch on board your yacht, it’s off to Isabela, the Galapagos’ largest island, where you’ll explore the lava fields and crater lakes formed by the area’s five volcanoes. On the way back, you’ll see graffiti left by 19th-century pirates, before taking a dinghy to see blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, and, season permitting, one of the true stars of the region’s wildlife, the Galapagos penguin. With a population of some 2,000 individuals, these 13-inch seabirds are the only tuxedoed birds found in the northern hemisphere.
The cliffs of Vicente Roca and black volcanic beaches of Urbina Bay may look different, but they have one thing in common: spectacular fauna. Here, depending on the season, you may come across giant tortoises, land iguanas, or even killer whales in the serene waters. When you swim among the tropical fish in Urbina Bay, you’ll see the uplifted coral reef that broke out during volcanic activity in 1954.
Charles Darwin visited Santiago’s black-sand beaches back in 1835, and you’ll follow in his footsteps as you hike the volcanic basaltic rock that lines the shore. Here the surreal geological formations are home to numerous exotic bird species, including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron and Darwin’s own favorite, the green warbler finch. During your afternoon snorkeling, you’ll also witness an astounding array of sea creatures, including lobsters, starfish, and rare varieties of octopus or squid. If you’re lucky, fur seals from the area’s cold-water pools will tag along.
Rancho Primicias is a private farm for tortoises on Isla Santa Cruz. When you go, you’ll have a chance to experience these iconic animals in their natural habitat. The road to the reserve is also ideal for observing land birds, including tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, and cattle egrets. Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Quito or Guayaquil. Connect with your international departure.
|Price from||$4,790.00 per person, based on double occupancy|
International and domestic airfare
We had the trip of a lifetime. All went smoothly without any problems. Connections were seamless, guides and drivers were courteous, friendly, and knowledgeable.
- Lynn G, June 2015