Day #1 Quito, Ecuador - Arrive in Quito, a lovely city overlooking the green and gray peaks of the Andes.
Day #2 Quito - Otavalo - In Imbabura, an enchanting region characterized by lakes and farmlands, see how traditions thrive as local artisans create “Mazapan” bread dough figurines and talk about this unique art form. This evening, enjoy accommodations at a 300-year-old Andean hacienda, a colonial estate that offers warm hospitality and Old World elegance.
Day #3 Otavalo - This morning, travel through lush valleys and stunning highlands to tour a rose plantation hacienda and learn about the varieties and production of one of Ecuador's major exports. Afterwards, take in the sights and sounds of the famous Otavalo Market as you browse displays of blankets, ponchos, panama hats and much more. Learn about the regional customs, meet some local people during lunch, then enjoy a folkloric show featuring indigenous music and dance. Then, watch local artisans create high-quality apparel using traditional techniques and enjoy a demonstration and tasting of “helado de paila,” a local ice cream specialty.
Day #4 Otavalo - Andes Mountain Train - Quito - Begin your day with an unforgettable train ride through breathtaking Andean landscapes. On your descent from 7,220 feet to 4,920 feet, view fertile valleys of fruit and sugar plantations and typical indigenous villages. Your train ride ends in the community of Salinas where lunch features regional specialties and cheerful, traditional Afro-Ecuadorian music and dance. This evening, return to Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day #5 Quito - Spend your morning touring Quito’s charming colonial center including the Presidential Palace and 17th-century church of La Compañía, with its breathtaking gilded altars. Next, visit the Equatorial Line Monument and Museum at the “Middle of the World” where you will cross from one hemisphere into another! The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day #6 Quito - Baltra Island, Galapagos - Embark Ship - Bartholome Island - Your adventure in the Galapagos begins today! A morning flight takes you to beautiful Baltra Island, gateway to the Galapagos. Enjoy lunch aboard the m/v Galapagos Legend. This afternoon, disembark at Bartholome Island, known for its spectacular volcanic formations. At the summit of the island, enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding islands and the famous eroded tuff cone of Pinnacle Rock. Hike to the summit finding colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tequila and various cacti. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel and see penguins, sea turtles and white-tipped sharks.
Day #7 Isabela Island (Urbina Bay) - Fernandina Island (Espinosa Point) - Visit Isabela Island where you will see the incredible fossil beach and coral area. Depending on the season, you may be able to observe giant tortoises, land iguanas and flightless cormorants along the beach. After a nature walk, snorkel in the warm waters of Urbina Bay. Sail on to wondrous Fernandina Island where you will see oversized marine iguanas mingling with Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions sharing the beach with Galapagos penguins. In addition to the diverse wildlife, look for brachycereus cacti, dramatic lava formations and vast mangrove beds that extend into the sea.
Day #8 Santiago (Egas Port) - Rabida (Jervis) - Arrive at Santiago Island, a landscape characterized by tuff-stone layers and lava flows. Look for birds like the great blue herons, lava herons and oyster catchers. You may also see marine iguanas grazing on algae beds, fur seals frolicking in deep pools of cool water, and crabs teetering along the rocky shore. Next, visit the island of Rabida, the geographic center of the Galapagos boasting the most diverse volcanic rocks on the islands. Its volcanic beach is covered in dark red sand and sea lions. Hike to the scenic salt water lagoon, frequented by graceful flamingos. Eccentric blue-footed boobies and nine species of Darwin’s finches can also be observed here. This evening, stargaze from the deck of your ship.
Day #9 Santa Cruz (Charles Darwin Research Station and Highlands) - Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island – a world-class facility where international scientists conduct research and conservation projects. See the famous giant tortoises that are part of the station’s breeding program. Later, trek through the highlands of Santa Cruz to visit Cerro Chato; find more of the giant tortoises that gave the islands their name. It is here that the famous Galapagos coffee beans are organically grown – try a sample. Finally, you may choose to walk inside the dormant lava tubes for an incredible glimpse into the turbulent formation of these islands.
Day #10 Santa Cruz (Bachas Beach) - Disembark Ship - Baltra Island - Guayaquil - Experience Bachas Beach, a stunning white sand beach located on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. Among the sand and surf, find many sea birds, marine iguanas and sea turtles. You’ll also have the opportunity to take a dip in the clear turquoise waters. Return to the m/v Galapagos Legend to check out and transfer to Baltra’s airport for an afternoon flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city.
Day #11 Guayaquil - Lima, Peru - Enjoy a city tour of Guayaquil – a coastal community known as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” Behold the 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. Embrace 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 culture and natural beauty, fly to Lima, “City of Kings,” to start your Peruvian adventure.
Day #12 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. See and learn the Peruvian centuries-old methods of spinning, dyeing and weaving of Andean traditional textiles with a visit to Awana Kancha, a living museum of the Peruvian Andes. Stop in Pisac village to visit a colorful handicraft market. A special visit to Pablo Seminario Ceramic Studio teaches you about this internationally renowned 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 #13 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. Then do as the locals do and enjoy a tasting of “chicha,” a unique regional drink made from maize, at a local pub.
Day #14 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. This afternoon, en route to the majestic ancient capital city of Cuzco, meet Peruvian children with a special visit to a local orphanage sponsored by the tour group Foundation*. Return to the city of Cuzco. Meaning “Center of the World” in the ancient language of Quechua, Cuzco is a fascinating blend of Inca culture and Spanish colonial influence. Relax and become acclimated to the altitude this evening.
Day #15 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. This evening, enjoy a dinner and performance of traditional Andean folkloric music and dance.
Day #16 Cuzco - Lima - Tour Ends - Depart Cuzco this morning and return to Lima. Today, enjoy a fascinating city tour and 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). Your unforgettable journey through Ecuador and Peru ends with a delightful farewell dinner at the prestigious Larco Museum, housed in a fabulous 18th century mansion and surrounded by lush gardens.