Buffet breakfast daily (B), 6 lunches (L), and 5 three-course dinners (D); Local Host service in each city; sightseeing with a Local Guide and transportation as outlined in the day-by-day itinerary (except intra-vacation flights, which are additional; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE).
Day #1 Arrive Quito, Ecuador. Arrive in Quito, where you will be met by your Local Host.
Day #2 Quito. Your included city TOUR showcases the rich legacy left by the Incas and, later, the Spaniards. See Independence Square dominated by its formidable Cathedral, San Francisco Plaza Church, and the BASILICA with its marvelous stained-glass windows. (B)
Day #3 Quito–Baltra–Santa Cruz (Embarkation)–Galápagos Cruising. Take a morning flight to Baltra, one of the remote Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, board the Galápagos Explorer II and enjoy five days of cruising among various Galápagos Islands. This afternoon, walk by a brackish lagoon, where flamingos can be found. Then, climb DRAGON HILL, a nesting ground for land iguanas, with lovely views of the nearby islands. (B,L,D)
Day #4 Cruising: Genovesa Island. Disembark at the base of Prince Philip’s Steps and climb up the stairs to a trail where birdlife abounds. A walk reveals large colonies of masked boobies, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, storm petrels, and even short-eared owls. In the afternoon, disembark at DARWIN BAY to observe hundreds of birds. Return to the beach for swimming and snorkeling while looking for tropical fish, golden rays, and, hopefully, some hammerhead or Galápagos sharks. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Cruising: North Seymour & Santa Cruz Islands. Today begins on NORTH SEYMOUR. The interior has a Palo Santo and small Opuntia forest with blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebird colonies. Next up: the highlands of SANTA CRUZ, marked by extinct volcanoes and astonishing plants. Here you are likely to see Galápagos rails, cattle egrets, and flycatchers. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Cruising: San Cristobal Island. Wake up at PUNTA PITT, the easternmost point in the islands. A somewhat difficult trail leads you to the only place in the archipelago where all three types of booby exist, nesting next to both types of frigates. Cruise to JUNCO or LA LOBERÍA. Visitors to Junco see the only permanent freshwater lake in the islands. La Lobería is home to a large sea lion colony. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Cruising: San Cristobal (Disembarkation)–Quito–Lima, Peru. Disembark and fly to Lima. (B)
Day #8 Lima. Your included city TOUR focuses on Lima’s rich colonial history as well as the modern city. Lima was the bastion of Spanish South America from its founding in 1535 until the independence of the South American republics in the early 19th century. See the Cathedral, where the remains of Francisco Pizarro are sealed in a wooden coffin and with its eerie burial crypts. (B)
Day #9 Lima–Cusco. Fly to Cusco high in the Andes. Your guided TOUR visits the Santo Domingo MONASTERY, previously the Koricancha Temple, one of the most important temples devoted to worship of the sun. It is said it was covered in gold leaf and filled with golden representations of nature. In the Plaza de Armas, see the Cathedral before taking a short drive outside the city to the ruins of SACSAYHUAMAN with its intricate stone walls, amphitheatre of KENKO, and the Red Fortress of PUCA PUCARA. (B)
Day #10 Cusco–Sacred Valley. Today, a short drive into the Sacred Valley of the Incas brings you to AWANAKANCHA, where you will learn about the importance of the alpaca (llama) for Inca cultures as well as the ancient weaving techniques. Continue, to the market town of PISAC. Handmade rugs, alpaca sweaters, and jewelry can be bought here at bargain prices. At the other end of the valley is OLLANTAYTAMBO. Here, some of the finest examples of Inca masonry can be seen. (B,L)
Day #11 Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu. Board a TRAIN bound for MACHU PICCHU and cut a path through the Sacred Valley to this “Lost City of the Incas,” discovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. On a guided TOUR, explore this intact fortress with its temple remains, holy houses, and mile-long aqueduct. For hikers, a brisk one-hour walk leads to the Sun Gate, the ancient entrance used by the Incas. (B,L,D)
Day #12 Machu Picchu–Cusco. A morning at leisure in Machu Picchu allows you to wake up early to see the sunrise over MACHU PICCHU. Return to Cusco, where your Local Host will recommend options for your free time. Perhaps visit the Inca Museum or wander through the artisan district of San Blas. (B)
Day #13 Cusco–Lima. Fly to Lima, where the remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B)
Day #14 Lima. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)