GRAND TOUR OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AND MACHU PICCHU (Double Room)
Sightseeing, Nature excursion, Cultural, Meal included
Description The trip of our lives to discover the world’s most unforgettable places over six days. We depart for the Galapagos Islands, where unspoilt nature is the true protagonist of the biodiversity kingdom. A journey back in time that continues with Peru, where the history of the Incas unveils in all of its mystery before us through the lasting traces of this civilization the first of which is enchanting Machu Picchu.
What we will see
What we will do DAY 1
What you need to know
What we will see
- Natural marvels of Sant Cruz and lively town of Puerto Ayora
- The incredible Highlands with their giant tortoises and lava tunnels
- Unspoilt islands in the Galapagos archipelago with their unique nature
- Visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena, places that safeguard the archipelago’s ecosystem
- Visit to the architectural treasures of the ancient Inca capital of Cusco
- Visit to the architectural site of Machu Picchu and shopping at the Aguas Calientes market
What we will do DAY 1
- We set off from the port of Manta on a coach headed to the airport of Guayaquil, the most populated city in Ecuador. We board a plane for a one-hour flight to the Galapagos Islands.
- Once in Baltra airport, we meet our nature guide who, in addition to helping us with our luggage, takes us to the local bus do Baltra port where we embark on the ferry to Santa Cruz. Crossing the Itabaca Channel takes only five minutes and we soon reach the island where another driver takes us to lively Puerto Ayora on the other side. We take advantage of this transfer to enjoy the island’s natural landscape and to observe its unique animal species including the famous finches studied by Darwin as part of his theory on evolution.
- We stop in the Highlands where we savour a lovely lunch in a local restaurant and, after the break, we continue discovering the local territory and see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. We spot a few magnificent specimens of this species lazily moving around the lush vegetation and learn to distinguish the younger ones with sturdy shiny shells from the older ones who remain majestic despite their age. Our guide explains that the local ranches do their best to safeguard this incredible species that risked extinction during the 19th century as they were hunted by man.
- We venture into the evocative lava tunnels, i.e. tunnels more or less intact created by volcanic lava that develop from the Highlands to sea level. Small lanterns light up the way along which, with a bit of luck, we may spot a few barn owls and finches.
- This first intense day ends with dinner and an overnight stay in a hotel in Puerto Ayora.
- The second day of our tour is entirely dedicated to discovering the Galapagos Islands by boat.
- Our coach already awaits us at 6 am to take us to Puerto Ayora port where we board the boat taking us to Bartolomé, the most visited Galapagos island. We enjoy breakfast as we sail the crystal clear waters of the archipelago and observe the dolphins and other sea creatures who carry on unperturbed by our passage.
- We disembark on the volcanic island and remain breathless in front of its many colours. On reaching highest point, we enjoy spectacular views overlooking the other islands and the famous Pinnacle Rock, a cone of volcanic origin formed by an underwater eruption and providing the ideal settlement for numerous bird colonies.
- We return to our boat to put on our bathing suits and head to the island’s magnificent beach as the curious Galapagos penguins gaze at us before diving into the sea from the cliff. Once on dry land, we cross the dunes and reach the beach north of the island, a favourite spot for pelicans and whitetip sharks that swim in the bay undisturbed. We return south, where the calm waters and heavenly surroundings are perfect for a snorkelling session among starfish, rays and other exotic creatures. With a bit of luck, we might be able to spot iguanas and sea lions as well.
- We head back to the boat for lunch and return to the hotel in the late afternoon.
- Our coach awaits us at 8 am to take us to the Puerto Ayora port. We set off to discover the island of Seymour inhabited by many bird species.
- Once there, we immediately notice the unique vegetation of Palo Santo: the trees look dead or sick, but it is actually a species that bares no leaves for most of the year. We also realise immediately why the island is considered a paradise for ornithologists: we can admire species never seen before such as the fun blue-footed boobies, protagonists of a peculiar mating ceremony, or the frigatebirds, whose male specimens inflate their red pouch to attract females. There are also seagulls, sea lions, iguanas and pelicans.
- We get back on board for lunch and head to the Las Bachas beach to observe flamingoes up close, go for a swim in this oasis among sea lions, rays and turtles as well as the countless species of tropical fish inhabiting the waters.
- We return to the hotel in the late afternoon.
- Our coach awaits us at 8 am to take us to the Puerto Ayora port. from where we set off headed to the island of South Plaza.
- The island appears as a vast expanse of sesuvium, a sprawling plant typical of the archipelago with colours ranging from green to reddish hues during the dry season, dotted with cactus plants. We walk along paths that enable us to see a few sea lions resting on black rocks with swallow-railed gulls flying around overhead. We climb to the highest point on the island, the perfect observatory to discover all the unique bird species that live here: blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds and countless tropical birds.
- After this adventure, we continue to Punta Carrion, where we lunch on our boat and dive into the heavenly waters, a natural habitat to unique tropical sea creatures.
- Our coach takes us to the port of Puerto Ayora where we set off to discover the island of Sant Fe.
- The island is surrounded by black cliffs and boasts a white beach lapped by turquoise waters. The most beautiful and peculiar animal specimens live here: the Galapagos falcon and snake, iguanas, various species of finches and the northern mockingbird.
- We venture along the island’s paths trying to count as many animals as possible before diving into the calm waters under the watchful eye of a sea lion colony.
- We get back to the hotel in the late afternoon.
- We leave the hotel and head to the Charles Darwin Research Station, the first stop of the day. Founded in 1964, the station is home to many scientists from all over the world who work constantly to research into and preserve the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Galapagos islands, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We observe how researchers, guides and rangers contribute to safeguarding the local animals, including the giant tortoises. The research station is in fact part of the Cnetro de Crianza Fausto Llerena where tortoises are bred before being reintroduced into their natural habitat.
- After our visit, we make our way to Baltra airport where we hop onto the plane back to Guayaquil. Once there, we take an international flight to Lima. After reaching the Peruvian capital, we spend the night at the hotel.
- We head to the airport for our flight to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire.
- Once there, we visit Koricancha temple, a perfect example of the combination of Inca and Hispanic culture. The Santo Domingo convent was erected on top of the foundations of what used to be the Temple of the Sun. During the visit, we can admire the building skills of the Inca population thanks to the well-preserved ancient walls, once covered in gold and silver leaf.
- We continue with the Cusco Baroque cathedral, a classical example of colonial architecture built during the mid-16th century on top of an Inca palace. Stones from the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman were used in its construction.
- We stop in a local restaurant for lunch before visiting Sacsayhuaman fortress, an architectural gem of the Inca civilization. It was built without using mortar and employing perfect drywall techniques that have enabled these enormous blocks to reach the present day in their original position.
- We return to the hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
- After breakfast, we board a coach headed for the Ollantaytambo railway station to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, where a coach takes us to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site as well as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It remains unclear whether it used to be a sacred place destined to the most privileged Inca classes or a royal residence, but what is certain is that its position kept it safe from the covetous eyes of the colonisers. The site was in fact only discovered in 1911 by US archaeologist Hiram Bingham, who found himself in front of the incredible spectacle of these ruins surrounded by narrow valleys, unexplored gorges and imposing peaks - the same we admire to this day. Our guide accompanies us to discover the temples, residences and sanctuaries dating back to the Inca empire.
- We then get back on our coach and head off to Aguas Calientes, where we can indulge in some shopping among the stalls of its artisan market.
- We board our train back to Cusco, where we are served dinner. On arrival at our destination, we spend the night in our hotel.
- After breakfast, we are driven to the airport where we board a flight to Lima. Once there, we get on another plane to Tacna, where a representative awaits us to take us to Arica so we can continue our cruise.
What you need to know
- We recommend that you book early because only a limited number of places are available.
- We recommend bringing sun cream and wearing clothing that is suitable for warm weather as well as a light waterproof jacket in case it rains.
- Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
- This excursion is not recommended for guests with mobility problems.
- To participate in the excursion, you must bring your passport with you.
- Children's (0-2 years) tickets are subject to airport taxes and local hotel service charges however this amount can be checked and discounted on board at the Excursion Office.