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Express Machu Picchu & Galapagos

10 Days | From $3,990


Highlights

  • Navigate the Galapagos on a 4-day wildlife cruise
  • Enjoy a privately guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Explore the Sacred Valley of the Inca
  • Hike the iconic Wayna Picchu Mountain
  • Observe giant Galapagos Tortoises

Have you dreamed of seeing Incan treasures and meeting the exotic wildlife of the Galapagos, but you can’t take two weeks off work?  Andean Discovery has designed an efficient journey to allow you to experience two, extraordinary bucket list destinations in just 10 days.  You’ll be humbled by Machu Picchu whose ingeniously engineered city blends almost seamlessly into the surrounding mountain peaks.  You’ll explore the Galapagos by sea, cruising under the shadows of exotic sea birds snorkeling alongside some of the area’s famous marine wildlife.  This action-packed itinerary includes a visit to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu as well as a 3 night, 4 day cruise of the Galapagos.

Pricing

  • TRIP LENGTH10 days
  • STARTING AT $3,890
  • DEPARTURE DATESEvery Sunday


Included
  • Local Andean Discovery guides
  • 3-night / 4-day Galapagos wildlife cruise
  • Accommodations based on double occupancy
  • All activities per itinerary
  • Airport transfers in private vehicle
  • Most meals
  • Internal flights by Andean Discovery (additional cost)
  • Andean Discovery U.S. and South American staff assistance from start to finish
Not Included
  • International airfare to and from South America
  • $120 per person Galapagos park fees
  • Gratuities
  • Travel insurance (available upon request)

Itinerary
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Detailed Itinerary >>
Meet Andean Discovery staff and sleep near the airport

Quito, Ecuador, is a spectacular city positioned just a few miles shy of the equator in a narrow valley surrounded by volcanoes. At 9,350 feet above sea level, it is the second highest capital city in Latin America, and maintains a pleasant spring-like climate all year round. Quito is also the cultural epicenter of Ecuador, with a plethora of museums, expansive outdoor parks, and colorful festivals and fairs. Upon evening arrival into Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport, you will be met by Andean Discovery staff and transferred to your hotel to relax after the long flights.

Overnight: Wyndham Quito Airport

Note: Superior lodging is listed. Please contact us for information about Standard lodging.

Visit the Santa Cruz highlands and board the Galapagos Legend

This morning you will be met by Andean Discovery staff and transferred to the airport in time for your morning flight to Baltra Island, Galápagos. Upon arrival, you will be met by your Galapagos naturalist guides. A 45-minute bus ride will take you to the Santa Cruz highlands where we will find a natural reserve with giant Galapagos tortoises. Travelers can walk inside surprising lava tubes; we also visit Pit Craters created from the collapse of surface materials into chamber fissures underground. It’s a great place to spot Vermilion Flycatcher as we walk inside an endemic Scalesia forest. This afternoon board the Galapagos Legend for a welcome briefing.

Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz)

This afternoon, you will visit Black Turtle Cove, located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. It is accessible only by sea and you will arrive by “panga” (dinghy). The cove is home to four species of mangrove, which extend from the shore out into the lagoon. Sea turtles enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, sea birds, including pelicans, herons, and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary.” Later this afternoon return to the Galapagos Legend and enjoy a delicious welcome dinner.

Overnight: Galapagos Legend (B, L, D)

Hike around El Barranco and then unwind on the beach

El Barranco, Prince Philip’s Steps (Genovesa)

Be marveled at the variety of sea life that uses the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed Tropicbirds fly overhead, switching between their nests and the bay, and a small colony of fur seals may be found near the landing site. You will be dropped off at a steep stairway that begins on rocks at the foot of a path that leads through a seabird colony full of Nazca and Red-footed Boobies. At the plateau, the trail continues inland allowing you to see more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. Near the end of the trail, over a rocky lava plain, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels can be observed flying in all directions. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a Short-eared Owl.

Darwin Bay (Genovesa)

Disembark onto a small sand and coral beach. A short trail heads west along a tidal lagoon and then up a rocky hill that leads to a point overlooking the cliffs and Darwin Bay. Along the trail near the tidal lagoon, visitors will see pairs of Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Yellow-crowned and Lava Herons. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigatebirds and Red-footed Boobies. This is one of the few places in the islands where visitors are guaranteed to see Red-footed Boobies. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Red-footed Boobies live in the trees and bushes of Genovesa.

Overnight: Galapagos Legend (B, L, D)

View the wildlife of Santa Cruz and spend the afternoon exploring Santa Fe Island

Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz)

This morning disembark on the north side of Santa Cruz Island and walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingoes can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.

Santa Fe Island

Wet landing. Santa Fe shows white sand beaches surrounded by sea lion colonies; through the island path, an endemic cactus forest is passed, home the Santa Fe land iguanas (the largest in the islands). This island is the habitat for a number of species, including: the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, rice rats (one of the few endemic Galapagos rodents), a variety of finches and one of the four mockingbird species of the archipelago.

Overnight: Galapagos Legend (B, L, D)

Visit Mosquera Islet and observe the shorebirds

Wet Landing. Mosquera Islet is located between North Seymour and Baltra Islands, this flat, sandy island has a large colony of sea lions. It is also an excellent site for observing shorebirds such as herons and Lava Gulls. There is no trail on Mosquera Island, so any visitor can enjoy an open area. Most of the islet is covered with sand and barren lava rock. Very little sesuvium portulacastrum grows on the sand.

Afterwards, you will be transported to the airport for your flight to Guayaquil. An Andean Discovery team member will assist with the check in process for your international flight to Lima, Peru. Upon arrival in Lima, you will be met by Andean Discovery staff and transferred to your hotel, conveniently located just steps from the Lima airport.

Overnight: Lima Airport Wyndham (B)

Explore Inca Ruins and ancient market in the Sacred Valley

Wake up knowing the capital of the ancient Incan Empire awaits! An Andean Discovery staff member will ensure your journey to Cusco goes smoothly by assisting the check-in for your one-hour flight. After a spectacular trip over the Andes Mountains, your Andean Discovery guide and driver will greet you and you’ll begin your descent into the Sacred Valley.

This area extends from Cusco, the Imperial City, to the ancient city of Machu Picchu. In this area, ancient civilization and modern life collide with an intriguing mix of archeological sites and vibrant small towns.

Your first stop is Sacsayhuaman, featuring some of the largest and most impressive stonework of the Incas.  Marvel at the massive limestone boulders and ponder how the Incas transported, carved, and meticulously positioned the stones.  Then, visit a Quechua community and participate in a ceremonial offering to Mother Earth and the surrounding mountains, which the Incas have worshipped for centuries.  Observe traditional Peruvian weaving techniques and meet the alpacas and llamas from which locals spool their wool, before continuing your descent into the Sacred Valley. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a private hacienda and peruse its collection of Inca and colonial artifacts. After lunch, you’ll check-in to your comfortable mountain lodge. It’s worth a wander through the property’s fragrant gardens, to soak in mountain views.

Overnight: Hacienda Urubamba (B, L, D)

Travel by train through the Andes to Aguas Calientes

This morning, you will continue through the Sacred Valley to Ollataytambo, which is thought to be the only remaining example of pre-Colombian urban planning and retains the original Incan street plan and foundations. It was the royal estate of Pachacuti, the ninth Inca, who expanded the empire throughout the continent.

Next, one of the world’s greatest train rides will take you alongside the roaring Urubamba River and past Andean Peaks, through the cloud forest to Aguas Calientes. You will spend the night in this small town that serves as the gateway to Machu Picchu. If you choose our superior accommodations, Andean Discovery staff will escort you to Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a boutique eco-lodge with an exquisite location in 13 acres of cloud forest along the Urubamba River. You can spend the afternoon as you wish, with options to visit a natural sweat lodge sauna, thermal hot springs or a serene orchid pavilion. If you’re aching to maximize your time in Machu Picchu, you can schedule an additional visit this afternoon if you book in advance, for an additional fee.

Overnight: Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, L, D)

Walk in the footsteps of the Incas to Machu Picchu

Your journey to Machu Picchu will begin with a short bus ride through tropical mountain forests. You’ll understand why the Spanish were never able to find this rumored “Lost City of the Incas” when you see the surrounding steep Andean peaks and hear the mighty Urubamba River gorge below. Journey into another world with a walking tour through this ethereal complex and citadel. You’ll learn about the mysterious origins behind this private retreat for Incan royals and their family. The Incas were famous for cutting blocks of stone to fit together perfectly without mortar, making this one of greatest architectural achievements of all time. The man-made creation is enhanced by its surroundings- you’ll be amazed how its massive walls, terraces and ramps appear to have been cut naturally into rock ridges. You will learn about advanced Incan engineering and how some mysteries remain to this day as you visit the Temple of the Three Windows and the Sacred Plaza. You will also see the famous, sacred Intihuatana stone used by the Incas to mark the solstice and créate an agricultural calendar.

After exploring Machu Picchu, you can relax and watch nature put on a show, as the clouds of mist roll in over the mountains. If you still have energy, you may take a thrilling hike up to the summit of Wayna Picchu where you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled panoromic view of the ruins.

This evening, you will return to Cusco, where you can explore the colonial, cobblestone streets as you find a place for dinner on your own.

Overnight: Palacio del Inka (B, L)

Explore the ancient city of Cusco

This morning you will explore Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire and known as the “Navel of the World” in the Quechua language. Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas fill the streets, proof that this ancient culture is still vibrant today.  Meet your guide and wander down cobbled walkways admiring the architecture, a unique blend of Inca and Spanish influences. The first stop is a local, open-air market where Cusqueños buy their produce, meats, and cheeses.  Discover exotic fruits, and several varieties of Quinoa, the Andean superfood, as well as unusual items like guinea pig and live frogs. Sample local delicacies, such as Chuta bread, which is cooked in traditional wood-burning ovens.  Later this morning, visit the Coricancha, a temple dedicated to the sun that was once covered in sheets of gold and filled with golden figures and statues.

This afternoon enjoy some free time to explore Cusco on your own.  Explore the colorful artisan shops of the San Blas neighborhood and search for the famed twelve sided stone. Lunch and dinner not included. Later this afternoon you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima, check in for your international flight.

Optional activity: Time permitting, you may choose to visit the market with a professional chef, who will show you how to select the best ingredients and give you a cooking class to prepare a traditional recipe. This activity must be requested in advance for an additional cost.

(B)



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