Breakfast daily, 5 lunches, 7 three-course dinners including a welcome dinner in Lima and a farewell dinner in Cusco
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Day 1 ARRIVE IN LIMA, PERU
Arrive in Lima, where you will be met by your Tour Director.
Day 2 LIMA
This afternoon, your Local Guide focuses on the city’s colonial heritage during a WALKING TOUR. Start at the Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and the cathedral. From here, stroll to the venerable SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its splendid 17th-century cloister murals. For a special treat, stop at a LOCAL PERUVIAN FOOD MARKET to get a real taste of life for the local people. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at one of Lima’s Peruvian restaurants with your fellow traveling companions.
Day 3 LIMA–CUSCO–SACRED VALLEY
Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Head into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where you will have lunch and experience an El Pago a la Tierra, or MOTHER EARTH CEREMONY, performed by a local shaman. These ceremonies, thanking Mother Earth and asking for good health and safe travels, have been practiced in Peru since before the arrival of the Incas. Next, stop at AWANAKANCHA to meet local families who preserve the ancient technique of Pre-Columbian weaving using South American camelid fibers. Here is your chance to get up close to the various camelids, including alpaca, llama, guanaco, and vicuña, indigenous to the region. Continue to PISAC, an old mountain village, where you will have free time to shop its famous market for local wares such as alpaca sweaters and blankets, jewelry, or hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Stay in the Sacred Valley tonight, and enjoy a special dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 SACRED VALLEY–MACHU PICCHU
This morning, visit the Inca Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO, followed by the opportunity to visit a HOME, meet some of the locals, and experience their way of life. Next, board the Vistadome TRAIN for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Then, transfer to a motorcoach for the ascent to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the “Lost City of the Incas,” high above the steep valley overlaid with dense tropical jungle. Your Local Guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures built by the Pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. Tonight, stay at a nearby hotel.
Day 5 MACHU PICCHU–CUSCO
Your entrance to MACHU PICCHU is included for a second day. Enjoy the tranquility of the morning, with free time to wander the ruins at your own pace and experience the magic that is Machu Picchu. After lunch, return to the Sacred Valley by TRAIN TRIP and continue on to Cusco.
Day 6 CUSCO
This morning, learn more about the Incas and their struggle against invading Spaniards on your Cusco CITY TOUR, with visits to the imposing CATHEDRAL and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY. A special treat is in store for you when you are greeted by a group of Andean musicians dressed in colorful Inca textiles. They will escort you on a PASACALLE (Andean Parade) through Cusco while playing traditional music and performing ancient dances—an experience you won’t soon forget! Also visit the semi-circular KENKO AMPHITHEATER with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages, and the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. The remainder of your day is free to explore at your leisure. Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7 CUSCO–LIMA–QUITO, ECUADOR
Fly to Quito, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 8 QUITO
On a city tour, see INDEPENDENCE SQUARE with its CATHEDRAL and SAN FRANCISCO PLAZA CHURCH, and the BASILICA.
Day 9 QUITO–BALTRA–SANTA CRUZ (EMBARKATION)–CRUISING
Fly to Baltra and transfer to SANTA CRUZ Island and the highlands. While here, visit a TORTOISE RESERVE where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat. You can also explore lava tubes and pit craters. Board the Galápagos Legend for your 3-night CRUISE.
Day 10 CRUISING: GENOVESA ISLAND
Wake up at GENOVESA ISLAND and encounter a small fur seal grotto before taking a walk up Prince Philip’s Steps, where you will see large nesting colonies of Nazca and red-footed boobies. Wedge-rumped storm-petrels can be observed flying in all directions and, if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a short-eared Owl. After lunch on board, visit DARWIN BAY to observe frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, herons, lava gulls, and many other bird species.
Day 11 CRUISING: SANTA CRUZ & SANTA FÉ ISLANDS
Back at SANTA CRUZ, walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingos are often found. Climb DRAGON HILL, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and Galápagos doves. At SANTA FÉ, a large sea lion colony greets you on its white-sand beach. Walk through a cactus forest in search of the endemic Santa Fe land iguana, the largest in the islands and distinctively paler. This island is home to a number of endemic species, including the Galápagos hawk, Galápagos snake, a variety of finches, and one of the four species of Galápagos mockingbirds.
Day 12 CRUISING: MOSQUERA ISLET–BALTRA (DISEMBARKATION)–GUAYAQUIL
After breakfast, visit MOSQUERA ISLET located between North Seymour and Baltra Islands. This flat, sandy island has a large colony of sea lions and is an excellent site for observing shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls. Take a dip in the waters and snorkel to see the abundant sea life. Later, fly to Guayaquil, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 13 GUAYAQUIL
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.