Highlights include Lima, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Quito, 4-Night Galapagos Islands Cruise and more.|
Day #1 Overnight Flight - Welcome to a journey of a lifetime to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands, two of the worlds "must see" destinations. Vast in landscapes and diversity, you will experience unchanged cultures and the breathtaking beauty of the Andes and lush tropical landscapes of the Galapagos, teeming with exotic wildlife including fur seals, marine iguanas, giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. Depart on your overnight flight to Peru this evening.
Day #2 Arrive Lima, Peru - Tour Begins - Arrive this morning in the "City of Kings," Lima, Peru. A room has been reserved for you to check in and relax upon arrival. This afternoon enjoy a fascinating city tour. Journey through the historical center of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage site. View the Plaza Mayor, Government Center and discover the abundance of colonial architecture scattered throughout the city. The fashionable suburbs of San Isidro and Miraflores will give you an inside look at the daily life of the Limeños (people of Lima). Enjoy an excellent introduction to Peruvian culture as you dine this evening in one of Lima's finest restaurants!
Day #3 Lima - Cuzco - Sacred Valley of the Incas - Fly this morning into Cuzco, in the heart of the Inca civilization. Board your coach to descend through the Andes to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This majestic valley was the agricultural center for the Incas, ranging from Pisac to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Following the route of the Urubamba River, the valley boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Peru. A special stop is made at Pablo Seminario Ceramic Studio where you will learn about this internationally-known artist's techniques and designs inspired by ancient Peruvian cultures. Settle in this evening at your hotel nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley.
Day #4 Sacred Valley of the Incas-Ollantaytambo-Sacred Valley of the Incas - Experience the lifestyle of the Andean people today and delve into their culture as you travel to a nearby Andean community. While here you get a glimpse at the daily activities of the village and have a chance to interact with the locals. This afternoon, visit the spectacular Ollantaytambo ruins, the only Inca settlement that has been continually inhabited since its inception. A unique terraced complex topped with an amazing set of huge carved stone panels, these ruins are a magnificent example of ancient Inca architecture and heritage.
Day #5 Sacred Valley of the Incas - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Cuzco - Begin the day with a breathtaking train ride through the Andes from Ollantaytambo to the mysterious Machu Picchu! Hidden by mountains and the semi-tropical jungle, the "Lost City of the Incas" is deemed the most spectacular sight on the continent of South America. Spend the day with your tour guide exploring the ruins. Return by train this evening to the majestic ancient capital city of Cuzco.
Day #6 Cuzco - Explore this former capital of the Inca Empire during a colonial city tour, experiencing the architectural legacy visible in the Cathedral, Santo Domingo and the Plaza de Armas. Discover the important sacred Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman Fortress and Qenko Temple. Next, meet Peruvian children with a special visit to a local orphanage sponsored by the tour group Foundation. This evening, enjoy a dinner and performance of traditional Andean folkloric music and dance.
Day #7 Cuzco - Lima - Quito, Ecuador - Return to Lima this morning for your connecting flight to Ecuador, a country of rich indigenous cultures and spectacular natural scenery. Your day ends in the capital city of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just a few miles south of the Equator.
Day #8 Quito - Quito's mild climate and dramatic mountain landscapes make it a pleasure to explore. Spend your morning touring the charming colonial center where you will see the Presidential Palace and 17th century church of La Compañía with its breathtaking gilded altars. Next, visit the Equatorial Line Monument and Museum where you will cross from one hemisphere into another! The remainder of the day is at leisure so you can experience this historic city on your own.
Day #9 Quito - Baltra Island, Galapagos - Embark Ship - Bartholome Island - Today begins your adventure in the Galapagos! A morning flight takes you to beautiful Baltra Island, the gateway to the Galapagos. Upon arrival you will enjoy lunch aboard the m/v Galapagos Legend followed by a welcome session to introduce you to your home for the next 4 nights. This afternoon, disembark at Bartholome Island, known for its spectacular volcanic formations. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the amazing views of lava fields and moon-like craters. At the summit of the island, you'll be awed by the panoramic view of the surrounding islands and the famous eroded tuff cone of Pinnacle Rock. During your hike to the summit, you can expect to see colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tequilla and various cacti. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel to see Galapagos penguins, sea turtles and white tipped sharks--from a safe distance! This is a day you will never forget.
Day #10 Isabela Island (Urbina Bay) - Fernandina Island (Espinosa Point) - Start the day with an exploration of Isabela Island where you will visit the incredible fossil beach and coral area. Depending on the season of your visit, you may be able to observe giant tortoises, land iguanas and flightless cormorants along the beach. After the nature walk, you will have time for some snorkeling in the warm waters of Urbina Bay. Then it’s on to wonderous Fernandina Island. It's here that you will see oversized marine iguanas mingling with sally lightfoot crabs, and sea lions sharing the beach with adorable Galapagos penguins. In addition to the diverse wildlife, you will also lay eyes on such interesting sights as brachycereus cacti, "pa-hoe-hoe" and "AA" lava formations, and the vast mangrove beds that extend into the sea.
Day #11 Santiago (Egas Port) - Rábida (Jervis) - Another day…another incredible island. Today you will explore Santiago, whose landscape is characterized by tuff-stone layers and lava flows. A birdwatcher's paradise, look out for hunting herons, great blue herons, lava herons, yellow crowned night herons and oyster catchers. Other common sights include marine iguanas grazing on algae beds, fur seals frolicking in deep pools of cool water, and coral-colored crabs teetering along the rocky shore. If you choose to swim or snorkel, you might find octopuses, sea horses or star fish. Your next stop is the island of Rábida. The volcanic beach is covered in dark red sand and lazy, lovable sea lions. It's considered the geographic center of Galapagos because it has the most diverse volcanic rocks on the islands. During your exploration you will hike to the scenic salt water lagoon, frequented by graceful flamingos. If you are visiting between July and September, you are likely to see brown pelicans nesting in the salty bushes. The eccentric boobies and nine species of Darwin's finches can also be observed here. This evening, cap off your day of sightseeing with some stargazing from the deck. With no lights around to spoil their splendor, it really is quite a sight.
Day #12 Santa Cruz (Charles Darwin Research Station) - Your first stop today is the Charles Darwin Research Station, a world-class facility where international scientists conduct biological research and conservation projects. Here you can admire the famous giant tortoises that are part of the station’s breeding program. You'll also have a chance to admire the prickly-pear cactus forest and spot many species of land birds. Later, trek through the highlands of Santa Cruz to visit breathtaking Cerro Chato, where you'll find more of the giant tortoises that gave the islands their name. These gentle giants are sure to impress you with their size and humble beauty. Finally, you may choose to walk inside the dormant lava tubes for an incredible glimpse into the turbulent formation of these islands.
Day #13 Santa Cruz (Bachas Beach) - Disembark Ship - Baltra Island - Guayaquil - Today you will experience Bachas Beach, a stunning white sand beach located on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. Among the sand and surf, you’re bound to find many of the sea birds, marine iguanas and sea turtles that make their home at Bachas Beach. You’ll also have the opportunity to take a dip in the clear, turquoise waters. Later, return to the Galapagos Legend to check out and transfer back to Baltra´s airport. Your afternoon flight brings you to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city.
Day #14 Guayaquil - Miami, Florida - Known as the "Pearl of the Pacific," Guayaquil is a bustling coastal community. Enjoy a city tour showcasing the picturesque waterfront area of Malecon 2000 and the 19th-century neighborhood of Las Peñas, with its colorful, Spanish-style wooden houses. From Santa Ana Hill, enjoy magnificent views of the city below and the chocolate-colored Guayas River. Your day highlights the architecture, traditions and customs of the Ecuadorian coastal region. Finally, visit the Botanical Garden where you can observe over 73 bird species and 60 species of butterflies. After enjoying this last taste of Ecuadorian natural beauty, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home.