Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands
Discover the heart of the Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu with top quality service and staying in charming hotels. Then take a plane to Quito to experience one of the most amazing spots in South America: The Galapagos Islands. This adventure gives you the opportunity to see iguanas from prehistoric species, giant tortoises, exotic birds, plants and beautiful landscapes of volcanoes, lava cones and magma flows. We will swim and snorkel in warm clear waters among tropical fish, manta rays, sea lions, swordfish, sea turtles and other marine wildlife. Our multilingual nature guides will lead shore excursions twice a day showing us the diversity of the Galapagos Islands and teaching us about the area´s natural history. Get ready to discover the best Peru and Ecuador has to offer!
- Explore the famous citadel of Machu Picchu
- Try a delicious Pachamanca in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Experience the pristine ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands
Arrival to Lima
Upon arrival to Lima’s Airport, you will be welcomed by a Peruvian Soul representative and transferred to your hotel in Miraflores, where you are free to relax and wander around at your own pace. Depending on the time of arrival, we have plenty of suggestions for you so you can make the most of your first day in Lima.
Lima, must sees
This morning we pick you up from your hotel in the morning and depart on a tour that will take us back in time through the Colonial and Pre-Hispanic stages of Peruvian History. Our first stop we’ll be at the Larco Museum. The collection exhibited at Larco features the finest gold, silver and ceramics collection from Ancient Peru and offers the perfect introduction to Peru’s millenary history. After, we head to Lima’s City Center to have a look at its imposing architecture. Here we will visit the 16th Century Santo Domingo Convent and have a look at Lima’s main square. We should be returning to our hotel around 1pm, just in time for some lunch!
Arrival to Cusco and transfer to the Sacred Valley
Today, after breakfast, we have a short drive to the airport to take our 1 hour flight to the city of Cusco. If possible, we will try to get a seat on the left side of the aircraft as some of the best views of the Andes can be seen by this side of the aircraft. Upon arriving at Cuzco airport, we will be met by our local staff who will welcome us and take us on our private transport towards the Sacred Valley Incas.
Because of its lower elevation (2,870 meters above sea level or 9,415 feet) and its peaceful atmosphere, the Sacred Valley is the perfect place to enjoy your first days in Cusco as you adapt to the high altitude. From Cusco, the journey to our hotel in the valley takes approximately two hours. However, we’ll have some very interesting stops on route to enjoy this very scenic journey to its fullest. First, as we leave Cusco, we can stop at the Cristo Blanco Viewpoint for great view of this amazing city. Then as we descend into the Sacred Valley, we’ll visit “Hacienda Sarapampa” a beautiful country manor that has been producing some of the best corn in Cusco for over 3 generations. We’ll be welcomed at Sarapampa and shown around before settling in for a delicious 3 course traditional lunch. After relaxing in Sarapampa, if we fancy it, we can drive to the nearby village of Pisaq and visit its market and then we´ll continue to our nice lodge located in the countryside between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo.
Terraces of Moray, salt flats of Maras and Pachamanca experience
This morning we’ll set off on a tour to visit some of the Sacred Valley’s most impressive sites. First, we reach Moray, one of the most unusual Inca sites consisting of circular terraces built upon a natural depression, which seem to have been an agricultural experimental station used to adapt crops to different temperatures. Then we continue to Maras, an impressive salt-extraction complex consisting of thousands of small terraces. During the dry season they fill the pans every 3 days with salty water that comes from a natural spring, once the water is evaporated, they collect the salt they’ve been selling at the markets of the region since before the Inca times. We then continue to our hotel in the cozy village of Ollantaytambo where we should be arriving just on time for lunch.
Upon arrival, we´ll get ready to experience a traditional cooking technique called Pachamanca. We´ll be able to see and if possible to participate in building the Pachamanca Oven which in Quechua means “Earth Pot”. This is a traditional cooking technique where the food is prepared underground the Earth with preheated stones and covered with banana leaves to separate ingredients from the soil. The main ingredients are potato, sweet potatoes, fava beans, corn, oca and other Andean products as well as beef or lamb and Andean aromatic Herbs. After this really interesting and delicious lunch, you´ll have the rest of the afternoon free to keep exploring Ollantaytambo at your own pace. We recommend making a short free hike to Pinkuylluna located at the opposite mountain of Ollantaytambo believed to have been Inca storehouses to preserve the food and grains that were produced in the surrounding agricultural terraces. The 30 minutes hike worth the effort since you´ll have privileged views of the town and fortress of Ollantaytambo. You can also relax and enjoy a good coffee at the town.
Early visit to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu
Today, after enjoying a nice breakfast, we’ll walk from our hotel to the Ollantaytambo archaeological site, an impressive Inca complex that protected this area from incursions from the Amazon Basin. Ollantaytambo is one of the best examples of Inca architecture we can see nowadays. At around 11:00am we’ll head to the Ollantaytambo train station to board the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). The train journey is a spectacle in itself as we’ll be able to appreciate the changing landscape from green fields and eucalyptus forests to lush jungle always travelling besides the meandering Urubamba River. Upon arriving to Aguas Calientes, we take a 20-minutes bus up the steep zigzagging road to Machu Picchu Citadel, located on an impressive mountain setting. Upon arriving to Aguas Calientes, we’ll head to the nearby bus station to take a 20-minutes bus up the steep zigzagging road to Machu Picchu Citadel, located on an impressive mountain setting.
Ideally we would like to be at the entrance gate to Machu Picchu between 1 and 2pm. This will give us plenty of time for our 2 to 3-hour guided excursion in which we’ll explore just about every corner of the famous citadel. We like to visit Machu Picchu in the late afternoon because it is the time with the least crowds and therefore the best experience! Machu Picchu closes at 5pm, time at which we’ll take our bus back to Aguas Calientes. We’ll have a little more than an hour to relax and maybe have a snack here before returning to Ollantaytambo for the night.
Free day in Cusco
This morning, after a long but fun day in Machu Picchu, we can sleep in and have a late breakfast. Then at the coordinated time, we´ll be picked up from our hotel and transferred back to Cusco where we have a completely free day. Cusco is one of the most interesting cities in Peru and South America. We’ll have most of today to explore the streets, plazas and markets of this UNESCO World Heritage City at our own pace.
Cusco to Quito
We’ll be picked up from our hotel in Cusco and transferred to the airport to take our flight to Lima. Upon arrival to Lima we’ll continue with our connecting flight to Quito. Once in Ecuador we’ll be welcomed and transferred to our hotel. We’ll have the rest of the day free to relax or explore the city by ourselves.
Quito, colonial city tour
Today we´ll go on a colonial city tour to explore the best of Quito located across a spectacular Andean Valley and flanked by volcanic peaks. We´ll walk through narrow and bustling streets, beautiful squares and parks. We´ll visit Quito´s city centre, one of the largest historical old towns in the Americas, also named as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Finally, we´ll visit the middle of the World Complex marking the equator on latitude 0 – 0´ -0´´ and where we can stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and another foot on the Southern hemisphere.
Otavalo market and surroundings
The highlight of the day will be the popular, colorful and fascinating Otavalo market. Here we´ll be able to search for the most curious and beautiful souvenirs, crafts, textiles and almost anything you could imagine to find on a market. If you would like to walk a little bit, you can visit the animal market where you can buy even a llama! After visiting the market, we´ll be visiting the surroundings of the town, Peguche known for its weavers, visit a wind instruments workshop, Cotacachi known for the manufacture of leather goods and Cuicocha, a crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi volcano. In the afternoon we´ll return to Quito.
Galapagos – Santa Cruz
After an early breakfast, we´ll depart to the airport to take a domestic 2 hour flight to Baltra airport in the Galapagos Islands. Once we get there, we´ll be welcomed by our nature guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board our deluxe cruise. We´ll sail on charming vessels with nautical wood and brass interior decor. The ample outer decks and ocean view cabins will allow us to observe amazing landscapes.
In the afternoon we´ll trek through the highlands of Santa Cruz Island observing the famous giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Observing this slow moving, huge 300kg tortoises in the wild it’s an inspiring adventure. We´ll also walk inside immense lava tubes and visit the impressive pit craters where we might spot flycatchers as we walk inside an endemic Scalesia forest. Back at the Ayora Port, we can do some shopping in town and then we´ll go back to our cruise.
Galapagos – Genovesa Island
Today, we´ll visit one of the most beautiful islands in the Galapagos: Genovesa. This island is a paradise for birdwatchers and almost anyone that loves nature. We´ll spot the most representative birds of Galapagos such as Puffball–chicks, white both yellow–crowned and lava herons, Red footed boobies contrasting with the Nazca booby and also the Sawllow–tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world that will be nesting at the cliff’s edge. We´ll be walking for about 45 minutes through a steep stairway and rocky lava plain in search for different fauna living at the island, mainly many different types of birds. If we are lucky we may catch a glimpse of a short-eared owl.
In the afternoon we´ll make a wet landing on a beautiful white coral sandy beach on Darwin Bay. We´ll then head west on a short trail along a tidal lagoon where we may observe pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, yellow-crowned and lava herons. We´ll then continue up a rocky hill with nice views of the cliffs and Darwin Bay. We´ll hike through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia Cacti and Saltbushes where it’s almost guaranty to spot Great Frigate birds and red-footed boobies. A the end, we´ll have a little bit of time for snorkeling before returning to the boat.
Galapagos Islands – Dragon Hill, Santa Fe Island
Our morning excursion will take us to Dragon Hill, home to different species of flora and fauna. Its quiet easy to spot some flamingos resting and eating at the pond just behind the beach. The trail that leads up to Dragon Hill takes about 2 hours and we´ll be able to see a variety of reptiles especially land iguanas, which look like dragons due to their claws and spiky crests. The trails crosses then a Palo Santo “holy stick tree” forest home of different bird species such as mockingbirds, Darwin finches, yellow warblers and Galapagos doves.
In the afternoon, we´ll make a wet landing in a white sandy beach surrounded by sea lion colonies; through the island path an endemic cactus forest is passed, home the Santa Fe land iguanas, the largest in the islands. This island is the habitat for a number of species, including the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, rice rats, a variety of finches and one of the four mockingbird species of the archipelago. Afterwards, we´ll have a one hour deep-water snorkeling experience where we shall see see lions and many other species in their natural environment, maybe even spot the hammerhead shark.
Galapagos – Bachas beach
Our last excursion of the trip will take us in a wet landing to the north side of Santa Cruz Island. Its quiet interesting to see flamingos sharing the same pond with land iguanas as well as seeing many coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds and gulls. The vegetation is also beautiful with red and black mangrove and salt bushes. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank a long time ago, when the United States Navy operated a base during World War II on Baltra Island. Local people modified the word barges to “Bachas”. You´ll also have snorkeling opportunities, so don´t miss your last chance to swim in this beautiful spot at the Galapagos Islands.
After the excursion, you´ll be transferred to the airport on time for your flight to Quito. Reception and transfer to your hotel in the city center.
At the coordinated time, transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
- What’s Included
- Brief presentation prior to departure
- All transfers and transports with the exception of domestic and international flights
- All excursions and entrance fees with the exception of ticket to Galapagos
- English speaking guide in each destination
- Accommodation and meals as detailed in the program
- Galapagos cruise