Ecuador & Peru: Galápagos + Cusco & Machu Picchu

Select Experience Tour, Turkey: Ecuador & Peru: Galápagos + Cusco & Machu PicchuSelect Experience Tour, Turkey: Ecuador & Peru: Galápagos + Cusco & Machu Picchu

Ecuador & Peru

Galápagos + Cusco & Machu Picchu

overview

Combining two of South America’s most beloved destinations, this itinerary gives you the natural beauty of pristine islands coupled with the world’s best-preserved archaeological wonders. First, enjoy the wildlife, landscape, and local culture during a four-night stay in the Galápagos. Explore tidal lagoons, steaming volcanoes, and fumaroles with expert naturalists. Spot sea lions, blue-footed boobies, tortoises, and penguins on active walks and kayak trips. Stay at eco-lodges on Isabela and neigh¬boring Santa Cruz islands. Next, travel to the mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu, where a full-day private guided tour introduces you to the mysteries of the Incan civilization. Return at sunrise, accompanied by your archaeologist guide who recites Peruvian poems into the morning mist. At night, enjoy the authentic cuisine and a deluxe resort at the base of Machu Picchu. Round out your Latin American adventure with a hands-on cooking class taught by a renowned chef.

Activity Level
Activities vary and
are accessible to
most fitness levels;
see full itinerary
Meet
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Depart
Lima, Peru
Daily Itinerary
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itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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10 days, 9 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Nine breakfasts, six lunches (Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8), and one dinner (Day 8)
  • Accommodations in boutique hotels and a historical waterfront inn
  • Private guided Humedales walk with certified bilingual guide
  • Private nature walk on Isabela Island with certified bilingual guide
  • Private Santa Cruz Island walk and Tortuga Bay exploration with certified bilingual guide
  • Private Bahia Ballena snorkeling excursion with certified bilingual guide
  • All transportation from meeting point to departure point including internal flights;
    Vistadome train service from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and return;
    two roundtrip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu site)
  • Private walking tour of Cusco with expert bilingual guide
  • Small-group (10 guests maximum) cooking lesson with professional chef
  • 1½ days of private excursions to Machu Picchu with expert bilingual guide
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $0 

Internal airfare + $1,990

*Surcharges may apply for New Year’s, Christmas, or other national holidays

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Isabela
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2
Isabela
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3
Santa Cruz
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4
Santa Cruz
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5
Lima
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6
Cusco
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7
Aguas Calientes
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8
Aguas Calientes
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9
Cusco
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10
Cusco
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Day 1

Isabela

Arrival to Isabela Island via Baltra; Humedales walk, 2 hours, easy

Upon your arrival to Baltra and the Galápagos, you meet your guide and continue directly on to the island of Isabela (a 20-minute flight). The largest island of the archipelago, remarkably beautiful and seahorse-shaped, Isabela is 80 miles long and is a well-kept secret—it is one of the least-visited of the Galápagos Islands and a perfect start to your exploration. Upon arrival, you check into your home for the next two nights. The timeless fishing village of Villamil still has sandy streets where locals and visitors alike walk barefoot. With a population of only 2,000, the island’s way of life is quiet, and you soon adjust to the relaxed pace.

Your exploration begins with a guided walk on the southern end of the island to the “Humedales” (literally the “wet places”), brackish lagoons where all four mangrove species of the Galápagos grow. Mangroves are the first plants to take hold on an island, and the wetlands where they grow are thus a breeding ground for marine iguanas and also a nesting site and stopping point for migratory birds—you may spot Darwin finches, Galápagos flycatchers, pink flamingos, and pintail ducks. A network of level gravel paths and wooden walkways leads to a tortoise breeding center that has released over 2,000 giant tortoises in the past few years alone. Winding past pools and secluded beaches, you walk back along the shore to town, perhaps pausing to get a feel for local life, or returning to your hotel to swim or relax before dinner on your own.

Iguana Crossing

Isabela, Galápagos, Ecuador

Located steps from the ocean, this beautiful new hotel has 12 rooms and boasts superior service and a swimming pool. A short walk brings you to the laid-back town of Puerto Villamil or a rich lagoon, a bird-lovers haven for early morning walks.

Day 2

Isabela

Sierra Negra to Volcan Chico, 10 miles, moderate to challenging. Shorter option, El Mirador, 4 miles, easy

After breakfast and a one-hour drive to the Isabela Highlands, you gain an entirely new perspective on the Galápagos experience. At the starting point of today’s walk, you immediately notice the difference in vegetation and weather—fostered by the southeast trade winds that bring significant humidity to the southern side of the island. The lowland landscape of prickly pear and the endemic candelabra cactus that dominates the coastal areas gives way to more lush and diverse flora, including bromeliads and epiphytes. Your path leads to the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano, about a 20-minute gradual ascent. The Sierra Negra Volcano stands at 3,690 feet and last erupted in 2005, subsequently depositing a new and dramatic layer of lava. This caldera, the world’s second largest, measures approximately 6½ miles in diameter. Circling the caldera on foot, you spot a variety of birds, including finches and flycatchers as well as the Galápagos hawk, as lava lizards scuttle underfoot.

The longer walking option proceeds from the caldera’s rim to the Chico Volcano to see fumaroles (gas and steam vents in the earth’s crust) and unusual lava formations, a striking visual record of the island’s geological history. From the highest vantage points, you enjoy spectacular views of Isabela’s other volcanoes and nearby islands. Along the walk you are introduced to Aa and Pahoehoe lava, feel the steam beneath your feet, and witness new life being created within the most inhospitable of environments. Alternatively, the shorter walk option is to the El Mirador lookout. Returning to your hotel in the later afternoon, there is ample time to relax and enjoy an independent evening of dining.

Iguana Crossing

Isabela, Galápagos, Ecuador

Located steps from the ocean, this beautiful new hotel has 12 rooms and boasts superior service and a swimming pool. A short walk brings you to the laid-back town of Puerto Villamil or a rich lagoon, a bird-lovers haven for early morning walks.

Day 3

Santa Cruz

Flight from Isabela Island to Baltra Island; Santa Cruz Island; Highlands of Santa Cruz; Cerro Crocker, 4 miles, moderate to challenging; or Tortuga Bay, 3 miles, easy

This morning, you board a short (20-minute) flight from Isabela to Baltra Island, and then cross the Itabaca Canal to Santa Cruz Island. You then transfer to the town of Bellavista and to a site known as the hill of Media Luna, where you walk along a narrow path leading to Cerro Crocker—a dormant volcano and, at 2,834 feet, the highest point on Santa Cruz. Along the trail, you will see great native and endemic flora and fauna such as the scalesia, miconia, and fern sedge zones, as well as birds such as the vermilion flycatcher, the elusive Galápagos rail, and the paint-billed crake. Returning along the same path to Media Luna, you continue to the town, or, alternatively, you may choose to make a stop at Tortuga Bay—a beautiful, fine white-sand beach, with spectacular sunsets. You may choose to enjoy the remainder of the afternoon swimming or walking the beach before settling in to your hotel.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Galápagos, Ecuador

A historic family-run property located on the waterfront has been designed to incorporate the natural surroundings of the Galápagos—highlighting unmatchable views with spacious guestrooms. Near town, but in a serene setting, its private waterfront deck and pier invites relaxation and offers alfresco dining and drinks, and the on-site cozy bar and café has its original fireplace. Please note all guest rooms are non-smoking.

Day 4

Santa Cruz

Bahia Ballena snorkeling excursion

Following breakfast, your day on the water starts with a short boat ride from Puerto Ayora to the sandy beaches of La Fe—an ocean inlet where Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas bask on carpet weed and lava rocks. In this privileged snorkeling location, you swim through an underwater world of lava rocks and small reefs teeming with tropical marine life such as king angelfish, barberfish, striped salema fish, damselfish, surgeonfish, and gnarled sea cucumbers. At depths of up to 30 feet, the sandy ocean floor is home to Pacific green sea turtles and long-tailed stingrays of different shapes and sizes. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the leatherback sea turtles during their migratory stage. This spot is also home to the predominant Darwin’s finch—described in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Beak of the Finch—as well as the yellow warbler, a species that navigates candelabra and prickly pear opuntia cacti in search of food and nesting spots. When they aren’t trying to steal fish from blue-footed boobies, frigate birds keep a close lookout from the red, black, and white mangroves abundant in the lava field landscape.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Galápagos, Ecuador

A historic family-run property located on the waterfront has been designed to incorporate the natural surroundings of the Galápagos—highlighting unmatchable views with spacious guestrooms. Near town, but in a serene setting, its private waterfront deck and pier invites relaxation and offers alfresco dining and drinks, and the on-site cozy bar and café has its original fireplace. Please note all guest rooms are non-smoking.

Day 5

Lima

Departure from Baltra. Flight to Lima (via Guayaquil)

Time permitting, this morning you may opt for a final visit to the giant Galápagos tortoises in the wild, before transferring to the airport for your flight to Lima, bidding adios to these beautiful isles.

After a full travel day, you reach Lima, where you check into your airport hotel to rest and rejuvenate in anticipation of your upcoming adventure in Cusco & Machu Picchu. 

Ramada Costa del Sol

Lima, Peru

Located a short walk from the arrivals terminal, this four-star airport hotel is very convenient as a layover hotel. The hotel offers a bell service to assist with transferring your luggage from the airport. Additional amenities include a 24-hour spa, indoor pool, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Day 6

Cusco

Flight from Lima to Cusco; Arrival in Cusco; Cusco guided walking tour; 1-2 hours, easy

After breakfast, you return to the airport this morning for your short (70- to 80-minute) flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, one of the highest cities in the world at 11,400 feet, a guided walking tour takes you to the main sites of this multi-layered city. Incan in origin, and then built over by the Spanish after their conquest and colonization, the historical center is a wealth of centuries-deep architectural marvels and vibrant markets reflecting the diversity of Andean life in its people, crafts, foods, produce, and animals! You start at the city’s main square—the Plaza de Armas—and continue to Cusco’s cathedral, which houses more than 400 Cusqueña School paintings, and then on to the Inca walls with the 12-angled stone, and the Incan Sun Temple of Koricancha inside the Santo Domingo Temple. Concluding the walk through cobbled streets, you wind your way back to your boutique hotel in a historical neighborhood. You may choose to adjust to the altitude by unwinding in your hotel’s spa, which offers many treatment options.

Casa Cartagena

Cusco, Peru

A fully renovated historic property in the heart of historic Cusco, this intimate boutique hotel offers spacious suites around a tranquil Spanish-style interior courtyard with lovely gardens and terraces. A full spa with multiple treatment rooms and options is on site, as well as a fine-dining restaurant and lobby and terrace bars. All suites are equipped with an oxygen-enrichment system to facilitate adjustment to Cusco’s altitude.

Day 7

Aguas Calientes

Train travel from Cusco to Aguas Calientes; hands-on cooking class; optional bird-watching walk; 1 hour, easy

This morning, a 2-hour transfer takes you from your hotel to the Ollantaytambo train station, where you catch the train (Vistadome class) to Aguas Calientes, the riverside town at the base of the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu. You enjoy lunch upon arrival at your luxurious hotel and spa. This afternoon, you join your hotel’s excellent resident chef for a hands-on cooking class, an opportunity to learn about the cuisine of Peru—one of the world’s most delicious and fascinating gastronomic traditions, with, of course, a tasting of the final product. Later, in the early evening, there is time to explore the charming spa town of Aguas Calientes, known, as its name implies, for its hot springs. Perhaps you choose to dine in one of the town’s many restaurants, or you may choose to indulge in a massage or treatment in your hotel’s luxury spa.  Alternatively, you may wish to explore the cloud-forest ecosystem of Aguas Calientes with a 1-hour bird-watching walk (a supplemental cost applies). Not far from the hotel, on the road to Puente Ruinas, some of the exotic bird species frequently sighted along the Vilcanota River in lush cloud-forest vegetation are the Inca wren, lyre-tailed nightjar, crested quetzal, masked trogon, emerald toucan, oscillated piculet, and the golden-olive woodpecker.

Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Inspired by local architecture and art, the town of Aguas Calientes’ only five-star hotel offers spacious plush rooms in a riverside location at the base of Machu Picchu’s high mountains and national park cloud forest. In addition to a full-service spa, the hotel’s restaurant offers exceptional cuisine and a panoramic bar.

Day 8

Aguas Calientes

Guided tour of Machu Picchu; optional walks to Sun Gate or Urubamba River, easy to moderate

Early this morning, you start your guided journey to the mountaintop site of Machu Picchu, beginning by traveling by bus up a series of breathtaking switchbacks. Still an enigma to archaeologists, Machu Picchu is thought to have been built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility, although there is evidence it had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Yet another school of thought claims the site was an astronomical observatory. There is ample time for you to develop your own theories as you wander through the gates and around the many temples, palaces, and living quarters. Machu Picchu’s remote location kept it hidden from the Spanish Conquistadors, and it was not exposed to the world until 1911, by American academic Hiram Bingham. Your tour of the site includes explorations of the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Condor, and the astronomical observatory. After breaking for lunch at a hotel not far from the grounds, you can decide—with your guide’s help—whether you want to walk up to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, or spend more time exploring the incredible site of Machu Picchu, strolling its mystical altars, terraces, and chambers in solitude, or take one of the short walks leading from the site. An alternative walk is back in the valley, along the Urubamba River, to a tranquil waterfall with abundant cloud-forest biodiversity. (For guests seeking a more challenging walk option, we can arrange a hike up Machu Picchu Mountain for a supplemental cost of approximately $60 per couple. The hike involves a 2,000-foot elevation gain and loss and takes approximately three hours. Kindly advise at the time of your reservation if you would like to confirm this option, as it does involve securing an Inca Trail Permit.) Returning to your hotel by early evening, you may again choose to enjoy a spa treatment followed by dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.

Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Inspired by local architecture and art, the town of Aguas Calientes’ only five-star hotel offers spacious plush rooms in a riverside location at the base of Machu Picchu’s high mountains and national park cloud forest. In addition to a full-service spa, the hotel’s restaurant offers exceptional cuisine and a panoramic bar.

Day 9

Cusco

Optional Machu Picchu sunrise visit; travel from Aguas Calientes to Cusco

This morning, you have the option for an early guided visit to Machu Picchu (entry to the site and roundtrip bus tickets included), to experience the magic of sunrise just as the gates open. Or, you may choose to stay at your hotel, enjoying its amenities or a final visit of the town of Aguas Calientes before catching the early-afternoon train to Ollantaytambo station and, from there, private transportation to your hotel in Cusco, arriving in Cusco in the early evening (around 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.).

Casa Cartagena

Cusco, Peru

A fully renovated historic property in the heart of historic Cusco, this intimate boutique hotel offers spacious suites around a tranquil Spanish-style interior courtyard with lovely gardens and terraces. A full spa with multiple treatment rooms and options is on site, as well as a fine-dining restaurant and lobby and terrace bars. All suites are equipped with an oxygen-enrichment system to facilitate adjustment to Cusco’s altitude.

Day 10

Cusco

Departure from Cusco; flight to Lima

A private transfer from your hotel in Cusco to the Cusco airport is provided based on your Lima flight departure time.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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