23 days

Empire of the Incas & the Galapagos

Empire of the Incas & the Galapagos

UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima

The towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco

Puerto Ayora

Puno - a town four kilometres above sea-level

The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu

Frigatebird spotting

The potions of 'Witches’ Market'

Tiahuanaco's 'Gateway of the Sun'

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

Post Office Bay on Floreana

Spot the pink river dolphin

Trip rating
  • Our Peru's exploration begins the Amazon, where we check out the jungle’s astounding biodiversity. Peru’s Incan treasures take centre stage: exploring Cusco and Sacred Valley whet the appetite for the area’s most glorious sight – the hidden, cloud-shrouded lost city of Machu Picchu. After that, we explore Lake Titicaca, home to Incan creation myths and fascinating, preserved island cultures, before moving on north to Ecuador. Frolic with sea lions, get up close to giant tortoises, watch albatrosses taking flight and gaze upon iguanas swimming – there’s nowhere quite like the Galapagos for a hefty dose of dazzling wildlife.

    Why we love it

    • The exploration of the natural world’s riches continues in the Amazon, where we check out the jungle’s astounding biodiversity.
    • Further south, Peru’s Incan treasures take centre stage: exploring Cusco and Sacred Valley
    • Next you will see the area’s most glorious sight – the hidden, cloud-shrouded lost city of Machu Picchu.
    • After that, we explore Lake Titicaca, home to Incan creation myths and fascinating, preserved island cultures.
    • Frolic with sea lions, get up close to giant tortoises, watch albatrosses taking flight and gaze upon iguanas swimming – there’s nowhere quite like the Galapagos for a hefty dose of dazzling wildlife.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Lima

    • On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you will be transferred to your hotel. You'll meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing at 2pm. Please check the noticeboard near the hotel reception for confirmation of the location of the meeting.
    • After this important meeting, you will start your exploration of the Peruvian capital with a half-day city tour. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, it was from Lima that all Spanish territories in South America were governed. Few cities at that time could rival Lima’s power, wealth and opulence. However its glory days ended in 1746 when the city was virtually destroyed by an earthquake. Many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and you will get a first-hand look at several of them on the tour. The striking Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), flanked by some of the most important buildings in town such as the cathedral, the huge Government Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace, constitutes the heart of the city.
    • You will visit the cathedral and the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. You'll also visit the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Peru, which is home to a wonderful collection of cultural exhibits tracing the history, arts and accomplishments of the people of Peru, ranging from the original inhabitants of the land through to the Inca Empire and the Spanish conquerors.
    • If you arrive early we recommend wandering around Miraflores, visiting Parque del Amor (Love's Park) where you can enjoy a view aross Lima's beaches, or catching a taxi to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Museum, which is renowned for its ancient pottery collection. Please remember that you must agree on a fare with the driver before catching a taxi, as the taxis here do not have meters. (Miraflores-Downtown approximately 10-15 soles).
    • There are a number of restaurants and cafes to choose from for dinner. Lima has some of the most superb cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its exceptional seafood. During your time here, you may wish to try ceviche, Peru’s national dish, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers. This culinary delight is a must for all seafood lovers!
    Antigua Mira Flores or Similar

    Day 2-3 - Amazon Jungle -Puerto Maldonato

    • You will take a two hour flight to Puerto Maldonado today. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to our Amazon jungle's local office in town where your will be able to store the bulk of your luggage before heading off with a smaller pack for your two nights in the jungle. A motorised canoe will transport you up the river to your jungle lodge is the Madre de Dios region. The lodge is sustainable and eco-friendly, it is built in the native style. While simple, the rooms are comfortable, with flushing toilets, showers, kerosene lamps and mosquito nets.
    • Multilingual guides will take you through the forest and and help you to explore the incredible flora and fauna, teaching you about the medicinal properties of the plants and pointing out the spectacular wildlife. You will see everything from macaws and monkeys to peccary, jabirus, otters and thousands of butterflies.
    • After spending time immersed in the wilderness, you will re-board the canoes and head back to Puerto Maldonado.
    Heath River lodge or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Cusco

    • You will take a short (35 minute) flight to Cusco from Puerto Maldonado today.
    • The oldest continuously inhabited city in the western hemisphere, Cusco is a wonderful place in which to stroll aimlessly or participate in optional outdoor activities. If you are feeling energetic there are a myriad of adventures available in and around town, such as cycling and hiking.
    • There are plenty of opportunities to shop for handicrafts or wander around the cobblestone streets and visit museums, churches and colonial sites. You may just wish to relax with a 'cerveza' or a 'pisco sour' in one of the restaurants and 'penas' (traditional local bars) surrounding Plaza de Armas.
    • You will go on a guided walking tour while you are here, visiting the Coco Museum and the San Pedro market. Ensure you take some time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 metre altitude.
    Eco Inn
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 5 - Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo

    • You will drive on to the Sacred Valley on a private bus today. The journey will take approximately one and half hours.
    • The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River.
    • You will visit a local community here, to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle. If it happens to be market day, you will be able to wander the stalls and hunt down beautiful hand painted beads and ponchos. You will enjoy lunch with the local community.
    • Next you will head to the town of Ollantaytambo. Built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning, this is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas and the upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.
    Samanapaq hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 6-8 - Important Notice

    • We trek the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Quarry’ routes, both of which include a visit to incredible Machu Picchu at the end of the trek. Although you will normally trek the 'Classic' route, this is restricted to 500 trekkers (including porters and support staff) each day. If this is your prefered option, please book early - particularly iftravelling between May and September.
    • The 'Classic' route is also closed during the month of February for cleaning and rejuvenation. If we are unable to confirm your permit for the 'Classic' route you will instead use the ‘Quarry’ trail. This is an exceptional alternative. Venturing further off the beaten path, this trek winds its way through remote rural villages and provides stunning views across the Andes. Along the way you can mingle with local families, llama herders and weavers, renowned for their brightly coloured hats and ponchos. The trek is of similar altitude and level of difficulty as the 'Classic' route and also includes a visit to the town of Aguas Calientes and the magnificent Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’.
    • The following description refers to the 'Classic' route. Please refer below to the 'Itinerary Variation' section of this trip note for details of the 'Quarry' route.

    Day 6 - Start Inca Trail

    • We take a minivan to 83km (2,850m above sea level) marker of the trek, where you will meet your porters, cook and guide for your Inca adventure to follow. You will start trekking today, heading uphill to reach the first campsite at 3, 300 metres.
    • Will pass by the ruins of Llactapata, which were burnt to the ground by the last Inca emporer as a way of discouraging Spanish pursuit further down the trail.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Inca trek

    • Today is the most difficult part of the trek as you climb to Warminwanusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass (4200m). Along the way you will trek through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be seen anywhere in the Andes. This is the first and highest of three Andean passes on the Inca Trail, with breathtaking views over the snow-capped Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges.
    • Ahead of you, you will see the ruins of Runkuracay and in the valley below, Rio Pacamayo (Sunrise River). Here the trail changes from dirt to steps and stone pathways, your route will take you through a landscape dotted with rural hamlets, grazing llamas and well-preserved remnants of the Incan culture.
    • Although it's not too arduous, you will still need to make a steep descent to the valley below to see the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours), before walking on to the nearby Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 metres.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Inca Trek

    • Today you will climb over the third pass to reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds at 3,850 metres and approximately a 90 minute walk from your campsite.
    • You will start your descent down the Inca steps from here, before reaching your final campsite. Tonight's camp is by the Winay Wayna ('Forever Young') archaeological site at 2,750 metres. You can enjoy a drink and expansive views of the valley here.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9-10 - Inca Trek- Machu Picchu- Cusco

    • The day starts before dawn with breakfast served nice and early at approximately 4.30 am. The early start serves two purposes, one we farewell our porters as they descend to the train station to catch their 6.30am train home and two, we are ready to start hiking by 6am by when the gate that leads through to the Inti-Punku (sun gate) opens. The walk to the sun gate takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
    • Here you will enjoy your first views of the complex of Machu Picchu, often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas. On a clear morning the view from the Sun Gate can be quite stunning and creates a lasting impression that will stay with you long after you return home.
    • Built around 1450, the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and ‘lost’ for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them.
    • You will tour the site with your guide and then have some free time to explore by yourself, before taking the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes. There are some small shops and restaurants in the town where you can wile the time away.
    • Alternatively you may choose to wash away the dust and grime of the trail in the hot thermal baths located on the edge of town. In the late afternoon you take the train back to Cusco.
    • WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Peregrine's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
    Eco inn or Similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11-12 - Puno- Lake Titicaca

    • You will travel on to Puno today, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 6 hours drive). You may make some stops on the way, to collect and drop off passengers.
    • Puno is situated on Lake Titicaca, and is a fusion of Quechuan Indian and Aymara culture. It is recognosed as the cultural capital of Peru, with an abundance of festivals, music and dancing.
    • You will go on a tour of the lake on a motor boat, visiting the floating islands that are built on totora reeds. In fact everything on these islands are crafted from reed, including their boats which last up to 12 months. You will also visit Taquile Island, a place where knitting is strictly the domain of men, while women are relegated to spinning. This is the place to get your hands on some beautiful knitwear.
    • You will hike uphill for an hour to reach the main part of the island. It has great views across the lake. There will be an optional lunch here as well, with a simple set menu of quinoa soup and muna tea (Andean mint tea). You will return down 500 steps to the boat that will take you on the three hour journey back to Puno.
    Taypikala hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 13-14 - Lima -Quito

    • You will fly to Lima from Puno today (approximately 1-2 hours). If time permits you will have the opportunity to visit the Sillustani archaeological site on the way to the airport, a collection of ruined towers built by a pre-Inca civilisation near Lake Umayo. The towers are chullpas - funeral towers built to commemorate noble men, and fitted with offerings to help secure their passage into the next life.
    • Day 14: You will have to book your flight on to Quito from Lima yourself, and provide us with details so transfers can be booked. Once you arrive in Quito, the rest of the day is free. In the evening you will have a briefing with your fellow Galapagos travelers. This is usually held at approximately 6pm however please check the notice board in reception for the exact details.
    Hotel Rio Amazonas or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Morning flight to Baltra, transfer to the M.C Queen Beatriz. Visit Punta Carrión.

    • This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4am as the airport is a one hour drive and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the pre-departure meeting on Day 1.
    • On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$110 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park (which includes the US$10 transit fee) . This is best done using cash, as using credit cards can be a time consuming process.
    • You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by a National Park Guide, and transferred to the catamaran ‘M.C Queen Beatriz’. Lunch will be served on the boat.
    • Your first stop in the afternoon will be Punta Carrion, located in north-eastern Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for your first snorkel and swim in the Galapagos! Wildlife is plentiful; keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 16 - Isabela Island, including Tintoreras, Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and the Wall of Tears.

    • Today you will wake up on the South Coast of Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago.
    • This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You will visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them!
    • Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. Here you will also visit the Giant Tortoise breeding centre and the Wall of Tears, constructed from lava by prisoners of the penal colony here between 1946 and 1959 as punishment.
    • Please note there's a US$20 fee to be paid upon entering Isabela Island.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 17 - Cruise to Floreana Island, exploring Post Office Bay, Devil's Crown and Punta Cormorant.

    • The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. You will go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions.
    • Today is also one of your finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices.
    • The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colourful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 18 - Santa Cruz Island, visiting Charles Darwin Station and the Highlands.

    • Today you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
    • Afterward you will head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you'll travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. This is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 19 - Visit Santa Fe and Plaza Sur.

    • Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, and the landscape on the inland trails is also beautiful, with cacti forests home to a unique sub-species of land iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pear cactus.
    • A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear shaped fruit the plant produces. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. Once back at the beach you will have free time to snorkel back in the lagoon. Playful sea lions pups and florescent fish make for fascinating company.
    • A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you will get close to sea lions and onto trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sesuvium. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the gentlemen’s club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be beachmasters!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 20 - Espanola Island, including Bahia Gardner and Punta Suarez.

    • Today you will cruise to the island of Española Espanola - the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies.
    • Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. You will also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner, which are great places for swimming and relaxing. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.
    • You will also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population - a walk along its trails will take you to a cliff top viewpoint, where you'll gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island.
    • If you’re lucky you’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 21 - Cruise to San Cristobál Island, visiting Leon Dormido, Isla Lobos and Punta Pitt.

    • This morning you will visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of San Cristobál Island. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for expansive views of the sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and frigates.
    • Close by you will pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel.
    • You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island almost touching San Cristobál Island. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 22-23 - Fly from San Cristobál to Quito.

    • Visit the Interpretation Centre in the morning. The centre brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today is also explored.
    • This is a great way to complete your time in the Galapagos. This will be your final excursion before you head to the airport in San Cristobál for your flight back to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them.
    • As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay.
    • Your tour will come to an end after breakfast on day 23.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader in Peru
    • Arrival transfer
    • 2-day Amazon Jungle exploration
    • Local community visit - Sacred Valley of the Incas
    • 4-day Inca Trek to Machu Picchu
    • 1-night homstay in the Lake Titicaca region
    • The services of an expert English-speaking naturalist guide and a crew of eight onboard the Galapagos vessel.
    • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
    • Accommodation onboard the Queen Beatriz.
    • All Zodiac and shore excursions during the voyage.
    • All meals aboard the M.C Queen Beatriz.
    • Use of snorkelling equipment during the voyage.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Your flight from Quito to Lima
    • Airport departure taxes
    • International departure transfer
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Galapagos islands fees- You must pay US$110 entrance fee to Galapagos Islands National Park upon arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos (this includes the $10 transit card fee) In the interest of speed and efficiency, this is best paid in cash.
    • Please note there's a US$20 fee to be paid upon entering Isabela Island.
  • Map Itinerary

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Trip Code PSIG
Start City: Lima
End City: Quito

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