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Best of Peru & Galapagos island-hoppingPeru

Discover ancient ruins, colonial architecture, fantastic food, and a thriving, bewitchingly colourful folk culture in a week exploring in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

Then we’ll fly you to Galapagos for a week of island-hopping. Land-based is the way to go in Galapagos – you get to enjoy the best these world-famous islands have to offer –incredible wildlife spotting by day, and lush tropical evenings kicking back by the beach.

This is a sample itinerary – order of events and embarkation point in Galapagos may vary, and island-hopping trips are very flexible – let us know what you’re into, and we’ll happily tailor a trip to suit your interests!

Start:

Cusco, Peru

End:

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Maximum group size:

12 Guests

Duration:

3 13 days

Price:

US$ 5,675

Includes:

wMachu Picchu pFamily zOutdoors FHike

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The trip in detail

Welcome to Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire, one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, and a natural starting point for any Peru itinerary. We’ll meet you at 1pm for a traditional Peruvian meal at a local favourite restaurant. In the afternoon your guide will lead a relaxed walking tour around Cusco’s stunning historic centre – it’s important to take it easy if you’ve arrived from sea level today, as you need to adjust to Cusco’s 3,400m (11,200 feet) altitude.

Meals: Lunch and dinner included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco

The sunny, incredibly scenic floodplain between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the valley of the Urubamba River is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Pisac is a tiny, cobbled Inca village which is home to the largest handicraft market in the region and a huge Inca fortress. We’ll explore both, then set off into the Sacred Valley. We’ll need frequent photo stops as we pass still-working Inca terracing, irrigation canals, and awesome mountain vistas. Our destination is Ollantaytambo, perhaps the most perfectly preserved of all Inca towns, a maze of cobbled alleyways and sun-drenched plazas presided over by a spectacular, llama-shaped ruin.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Cosy, family-run Ollantaytambo hotel

Day 3 Ruins, weavers, and an Inca salt factory

Today starts with Chinchero, best known for its outdoor weaving studios and extensive Inca terracing with incredible views. Next we’ll explore Moray – a mysterious complex of massive amphitheatres of incredible engineering precision and stern, magnificent beauty.

Then an easy stroll (or ride in the vehicle if you prefer), through rolling farmland and views of the high Andes, brings us to Salineras – a surreal and beautiful patchwork of pools and paths that still produces salt using Inca technology and is our favourite site in the Cusco region.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Cosy, family-run Ollantaytambo hotel

Day 4 Adventures in the Amazon basin

Today we cross one of the world’s more drastic topographical divides: from the arid, Pacific side of the Andes to its lush western slope and the uppermost reaches of the Amazon Basin. The differences become more and more obvious as we descend from the icy high pass of Abra Malaga (4,350 m/14,000 feet), all the way down to the steamy heat of the ceja de selva (“eyebrow of the jungle”).

Our destination, sleepy Santa Teresa (1,550 m/5,085 feet), is home to one of our favourite places in Peru, the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo, natural mountain hot springs beside a raging river. It’s the perfect place to soak away the road dust of today’s journey from one side of the Andes to the other.

If you’re into biking, you might want to ride some or all of the day’s long descent to the high jungle – it’s an incredibly fun, freewheeling, downhill and is suitable for anyone who can ride a bike. We provide bikes so you can ride as much or as as little as you like.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Rustic eco-lodge near Santa Teresa

Day 5 Meet coffee growers and sample their wares

Coffee, grown at cottage-industry level and exported to the world through growers’ co-operatives, is the backbone of this area’s economy. This morning a local coffee producer will show us around their plantation, and the operation where they harvest and mill coffee.

In the afternoon we’ll take a short (seven km/five mile) train ride to Aguas Calientes. There’s time this afternoon to explore the market and admire the scenery all around and above us – the isolated little town has one of the most beautiful settings you’ll see in Peru, in a jungle gorge by a rushing river.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes

Day 3 Start hiking the Inca Trail!

We’ll get up very early this morning to take the bus to KM 82, the start of the Inca Trail. The hike begins in the Sacred Valley as we follow the Urubamba River, climbing ever higher and eventually heading off up the Cusicacha Valley, through semi-arid forest and farming villages, to Wayllabamba, where we’ll camp for the night.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 12 km (7.5 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 2,700m (8,860 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Altitude of camp: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Day 4 Hike over Warmiwayñusca Pass

Most of our walking time today is taken up by a stiff 1,200 m (3,940 feet) hike up to Warmiwayñusca (Dead Woman’s Pass), the highest point of the Inca Trail. From here if it’s clear we’ll enjoy incredible views back the way we came, and onwards towards the distant, snowcapped Vilcabamba Range. Then we descend steeply into Pacaymayo, our campsite for the night with one of the best views in the Andes.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 11 km (6.8 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 3,100m (10,170 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 4,200m (13,780 feet)

Altitude of camp: 3,600m (11,810 feet)

Day 5 Runkurakay, Sayacmarca and Wiñaywayna

Today’s hike takes us through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru, with cloud forest, orchids, hummingbirds and mountains on all sides, and to three gorgeous little ruins – Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Wiñaywayna, next to the evening’s campsite. Along the way we cross the watershed of the Andes – this is one of the best days trekking in the world.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Camping on the Inca Trail

Walking: 12 km (7.5 miles)

Minimum Altitude: 2,670m (8,760 feet)

Maximum Altitude: 3,900m (12,800 feet)

Altitude of camp: 2,670m (8,760 feet)

An early start rewards us with sunrise at Machu Picchu – a peak moment for anyone. A spectacular stone city surrounded by incredibly steep, incredibly green mountains, Machu Picchu needs no introduction and is deservedly one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Your trip leader will take you on a guided tour – a necessary start to orient you in this massive site – then you’ll have plenty of time to explore the site and some of the surrounding peaks on your own before we catch the train back to Cusco for the night.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Comfortable hotel in Cusco

Today we’ll fly you from Cusco to Guayaquil in Ecuador, where you’ll stay one night and rest up ready for the next stage of your South American adventure!

Meals: Breakfast included

Accommodation: Comfortable 3 star hotel, Guayaquil airport or downtown

We’ll get you back to the airport in time to check in for your two hour flight to Baltra airport in the Galapagos!
Here your guide will meet you and together you’ll start the island-hopping – by bus, taxi, and ferry across Itabaca Channel – to a highlands ranch where you can see giant tortoises wandering around.

Later we’ll head to Garrapatero Beach where you can take a swim among abundant bird and marine life.

This evening, enjoy one of the great aspects of Latin American beachside life – the central street of Puerto Ayora is closed to traffic and restaurants put tables and chairs on the street, so kids can run free and everyone can enjoy an al fresco dinner. You’ll feel all your worries fall away as you relax into the tropical island vibe!

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included

Accommodation: Santa Cruz Island

Today we’ll sail to an uninhabited island on a yacht. Here we’ll wander among land iguanas, blue footed boobies, and dozens of other species of birds. The various uninhabited islands - Santa Fé, Plazas, Bartolomé and Seymour – all have different highlights, such as the lava landscapes of Bartolomé and the frigate bird and iguana breeding grounds of Seymour. We’ll let you know which island we’re thinking of for you when you book your tour – let us know if you have particular interests and we’ll make sure to match you with the island that suits you best!

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included

Accommodation: Santa Cruz Island

An early start gets us on the 7am speed boat to Isabela where we’ll get you settled in to your accommodation and oriented for a free morning. You might like to spend this checking out the tortoise breeding centre or the flamingo lagoon, or if you’re a bird lover simply wandering along the stunning, white sand beach, which offers the best opportunity to spot migratory birds in the entire Galapagos!

After lunch we’ll take a short boat ride – past reef sharks, blue footed boobies, pelicans and penguins– to the Tintoreras islets, where we’ll take a short hike (be careful here not to step on a marine iguana – they are everywhere!). We’ll also snorkel here in crystalline water, among sea turtles, rays, penguins, and multitudes of different fish.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included

Accommodation: Isabela Island

The 16km (six hours approx.) hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano and back is long, but not at all difficult, and infinitely rewarding! The changing landscapes along the way are fascinating – we start out in lush, ferny forest, then climb (very gently) into an ever drier and more obviously volcanic environment, much of it along the rim of the caldera (crater). Sierra Negra has the largest crater diameter in the Galapagos, and indeed, the second largest in the world – it’s no less than six miles across!

As we walk we’ll see smoking fumaroles, lava rock forms, and spectacular views of Elizabeth Bay and the northern volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina.

Note – if hiking isn’t your thing, we can offer a different activity on this day – just let us know!

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included

Accommodation: Isabela Island

This morning a 45 minute boat ride takes us to Cabo Rosa, where lava flows into the ocean have created hundreds of natural tunnels and arches above and below the water. Here we’ll experience the best snorkelling in the Galapagos, sharing the water with giant sea turtles, sea lions, rays, seahorses and many tropical fish, and observed with interest by sea lions, penguins and blue-footed boobies.

Late this afternoon you’ll enjoy some free time to soak up the serenity and beauty of Isabela one last time.

Meals: Breakfast and lunch included

Accommodation: Isabela Island

This morning we’ll hop across the islands back to Baltra airport, via speed boat and ferry across two different channels, in time for your flight back to Guayaquil and onwards towards home.

Meals: Breakfast included

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How much does this trip cost?

US $

5,675

pp.


for a group of four to 12 people


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WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All accommodation (based on twin share. Single Supplement available for US$750)
  • Flights Cusco-Guayaquil, Guayaquil-Galapagos-Guayaquil
  • Ground and sea transport
  • All attractions and activities specified in itinerary
  • Extra permit to climb Huayna Picchu at Machu Picchu (if available at time of booking
  • Isabela Island entrance tax
  • All attractions and activities specified in itinerary
  • Aspiring Adventures Peru-specialist guides in Peru
  • Galapagos-specialist naturalist guide on excursions as above
  • ground staff support on islands
  • Entrance to all attractions specified in itinerary
  • Meals as specified in itinerary
  • Snorkelling gear

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Tip for your guide(s)
  • US$100 Entrance to Galapagos National Park (has to be paid in cash on arrival to airport in Galapagos)
  • US$20 INGALA Migration Card (has to be paid in cash in Guayaquil airport)

Important!

The order of days and embarkation point in Galapagos may vary. We’ll provide a finalized itinerary before your trip. Don’t forget to let us know of any particular interests – we’re more than happy to incorporate them!

Travel insurance is mandatory for all travellers to Galapagos.

Accommodations:

Our trip price is based on clean, comfortable accommodations of 2-3 star standard. We can easily upgrade accommodations if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious – just ask us!

Check out all our adventure tour itineraries and find groups of like-minded people to share them with. Have us create your own private and/or custom tour. Whatever you’re looking for, we’re here to make it happen!

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