Guayaquil | Ecuador
Arrive in tropical Guayaquil, gateway to the Galápagos, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Guayaquil | Baltra, the Galápagos
Fly to the remote Galápagos island of Baltra, where you join your naturalist guide for the ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island. Disembark and drive up into the island’s mist-shrouded highlands in search of giant tortoises. Next, delve below the island’s surface to explore the lava tunnels that run beneath this volcanic archipelago. Continue on to Puerto Ayora and board ‘La Pinta,’ your Galápagos expedition ship for the next four nights. After settling in, attend an introductory briefing. Dinner on board this evening is followed by a summary of the next day’s shore excursions. Because weather, water and wildlife conditions are subject to constant change, your islands itinerary is not fixed, but two daily excursions are planned to the top sites and islands.
Cruising the Galápagos | Eden & Sombrero Chino Islets
After breakfast, get fitted for your wetsuit and snorkeling gear before boarding a panga (small open boat) for a shore excursion to Eden Islet, a biodiverse enclave secluded off Santa Cruz. Here, observe the island’s iconic blue-footed boobies against a backdrop of cinder cones and semi-eroded lava flows. Take this opportunity to snorkel the reef or observe marine life aboard a glass-bottom boat. Back aboard ‘La Pinta,’ cruise onward to Sombrero Chino, yet another secluded islet of the Galápagos archipelago. Disembark your panga to hike Sombrero Chino’s wilderness trails, swim its sandy cove, and snorkel among white-tipped reef sharks and Galápagos penguins.
Cruising the Galápagos | Bartolomé & Santiago Islands
Disembark on Bartolomé Island to hike the volcanic terrain leading to its summit. After a panga ride to visit the penguins of Pinnacle Rock, snorkel the reef, relax on the beach or take in the local marine life aboard a glass-bottom boat. Then, embark by panga to swim or snorkel along the white coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay.
Cruising the Galápagos | Genovesa Island
This morning, hike and snorkel Genovesa Island, a birdwatcher’s paradise. Explore Darwin Bay, snorkeling along the cliffs or paddling out in sea kayaks. After a panga ride exploring the island’s cliffs, disembark to climb the steep, rocky pass of Prince Phillip’s Steps. Your ascent leads to a clifftop frequented by Nazca boobies, frigate birds, storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl.
Guayaquil/Lima, Peru | Begin a Peruvian Adventure
Disembark ‘La Pinta’ at Baltra Island, where you transfer to the airport for the flight back to mainland Ecuador, and then connect to your flight to Lima, Peru. Upon arrival, you are met and assisted to your hotel strategically located within Jorge Chávez International Airport.
Cusco | Sacred Valley
Fly to Cusco, located more than 11,000 feet above sea level, where you are met and transferred to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. En route, visit Awana Kancha, a center where South American camelids, such as llamas and alpacas, are bred. Learn about the valuable fibers created from their coats, and feed these iconic animals. Then, visit the beautiful Hacienda Sarapampa to learn how the Incas developed unique varieties of corn and how their ancestral techniques survive along with the modern production methods, and discover the importance of corn to the local economy.
Sacred Valley | Like a Journey Back in Time
Today, visit a remote village seemingly frozen in time, where you experience ancient agricultural methods used for centuries in a challenging Andean mountain environment. Then, visit Moray, a fascinating archaeological site comprised of a series of concentric agricultural terraces, some almost 500 feet deep. Enjoy lunch at Rancho Wayra, where you are presented with a spectacular equestrian performance of Paso horses. Marvel at the graceful gait of these elegant animals as they move to the rhythm of live Marinera music.
Machu Picchu | Bingham’s Stunning Discovery
En route to the train station, visit the imposing fortress of Ollantaytambo, a formidable structure of massive stone terraces that hug the mountain slopes. Next, journey deep into the Andes toward Machu Picchu by train, gazing out at the spectacular Peruvian countryside. Once on site, explore the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu, guided by a local expert. Overlooking the Urubamba River and discovered in a hidden tangle of trees atop a mountain by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu forever holds the secret of its passing — its Incan inhabitants left no written records of its purpose. Built in the 15th century at the height of the Inca empire, it was most likely the estate of an emperor. Curiously, excavations here have revealed skeletons, artifacts and woolen clothing, but no gold. As you wander, sense the majesty of the age-old stone walls and picture life as it might have been for the leaders, warriors, priests and craftsmen who once inhabited this Incan citadel some 8,000 feet above sea level. Tonight, rest easy in your accommodations, designed to echo the soaring natural surroundings.
Machu Picchu/Cusco | Walk the Spectacular Ruins
Rise with the sun and join your expert guide to walk through Machu Picchu in the early morning mist before the crowds arrive. You may opt for a hike to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), entry point to the ruins from the Inca Trail, or steep Huayna Picchu. After your explorations, bid adieu to this “Lost City of the Incas,” enjoy a lunch at the hotel and return to Cusco by train, savoring incomparable views of the mountain scenery that surrounds you. On arrival, transfer to your hotel, a 400-year-old architectural treasure that was once a monastery. Enjoy your evening at leisure, free to explore this ancient Incan capital.
Cusco | The Immense Stone Marvel of Sacsayhuaman
Discover Cusco on a city tour that includes the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and the Santo Domingo Temple, a Dominican church built on the foundations of the Koricancha, the Incas’ principal religious building. Later, explore the well-preserved ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a testament to Incan architectural skill. Compiled of massive stones, the largest of which may weigh as much as 200 tons, the walls were cut and placed together with incredible precision and without a single drop of mortar to hold them in place. This afternoon is at your leisure. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner at the elegant MAP Café.
Enjoy the option to visit the San Pedro Market, where you will discover the unique artisanal traditions of local Cusco with the expert guide. Stop for an early lunch at your hotel’s restaurant. Later today, fly to Lima and connect with your homebound flight.