15 days from £4995pp plus international flights.
The combination of two of the most iconic sites in the world, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands, creates a holiday of a lifetime. You'll learn about past civilisations in details that will bring them vividly to life and have breath-taking close encounters with wildlife; a true privilege.
This is a holiday of two halves, which will enchant and excite in equal measure. In Peru you'll head to Cusco, high in the Andes. Once an Inca stronghold, transformed into a colonial headquarters and now a thriving modern city, it's a great introduction to human history in this region. And that's just for starters! Next, it's Machu Picchu… Your first sight of the spectacular citadel sitting on a narrow mountain ridge is one you will never forget. After a guided tour you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the site for yourself.
Usually we'd leave Machu Picchu as the finale to your holiday, as it's impossible to top, but this trip is an exception. The Galapagos Islands are on almost everybody's wish list. They're unique and you may have to pinch yourself to believe you're really here! You'll spend a week on a deluxe motor yacht, with excursions that enable you to see plants and animals that exist nowhere else on earth, with some found only on one tiny island. As if that weren't enough, these creatures have little or no fear of man, so you can get incredibly close. It's a rare honour and one you'll never tire of.
Experienced, professional guides in all locations will fill you with information and insights and, just as importantly, pass on their passion, bringing their respective worlds well and truly to life.
You'll be met by a local representative on arrival at Lima, who will welcome you to Peru and assist you the short distance to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel. This is the perfect place to relax after your flight, maybe going for a swim in the indoor pool, treating yourself to a soothing massage in the spa and enjoying a meal in the restaurant.
After breakfast you'll walk back into the airport for the morning flight to Cusco. This takes about an hour, and you'll be greeted on arrival and taken to your hotel for the next two nights, Casa Andina Koricancha. The hotel is made up of 2 old colonial mansions and has a lovely central courtyard where you can sit and acclimatise at your leisure. Cusco is some 3,300 metres above sea level and the altitude can make you feel a little tired, so you'll have a free afternoon to take it easy. There are shops, museums and cafes a short stroll away if you feel like exploring or you can simply relax in the courtyard. Breakfast
After a good night's sleep and some breakfast you'll be ready to explore! Your guide will call for you and take you on a city tour, showing you the main highlights and explaining Cusco's history and culture. You'll also visit the Inca site of Sacsayhuaman on the northern outskirts of the city, a foretaste of what is to come! You'll be dropped off back at the hotel and have the afternoon free to explore the sites of Cusco, rich in history and architecture from both Inca and colonial times. Breakfast
This morning you'll take the Vistadome train to Machu Picchu, sitting back in air-conditioned comfort as you watch the scenery of the Sacred Valley through the picture windows. Your guide will travel with your from Cusco, and will set the scene for the sights to come. The journey will take about 3 hours and on arrival you'll take the bus up the steep hillside to the citadel to explore with your guide. No matter how many photos you may have seen, viewing Machu Picchu for yourself is a real thrill, and, combined with the insights of your guide, this will be an absorbing day. Lunch at the nearby Sanctuary Lodge is included for you and tonight you'll be staying at El MaPi at the foot of the mountain. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
You'll have a further opportunity to explore Machu Picchu this morning, time to take in the views, soak up the special ambience and capture some memorable photographs. This second visit will give you a chance to take in some of the fine details and visit less busy parts of the site, away from the crowds. The shuttle bus from your hotel and the entrance fee is included. In the afternoon you'll take the train back to Cusco and will be transferred back to your comfy hotel for the night. Breakfast
You'll have breakfast in the hotel before heading to the airport for your flight to Baltra airport in the Galapagos Islands. You'll be met by a guide from your home for the next week, the yacht Beluga, and be transferred to the boat. You’ll meet the crew and enjoy lunch on board as Beluga sails to Santa Cruz. In the afternoon you’ll visit Cerro Dragón (‘Dragon Hill’), home to a large population of little ‘dragons’, the Galapagos land iguanas. You can also hike up the rugged hill to take in the amazing views, or go birdwatching, looking out for Darwin Finches, mockingbirds and pintail ducks. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
While you sleep the yacht cruises to Santa Fe island, where you can swim and snorkel and watch sea lions. Spot more of those little dragons – the land iguanas are particularly fond of the prickly pear cacti that grow here – and keep an eye out for pelicans, frigate birds and mockingbirds. After lunch on board you’ll travel to South Plaza Island, home to a large number of bird species as well as those charismatic land iguanas. The island also has a sea lion colony and fascinating vegetation. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you disembark onto the north coast of San Cristóbal Island, to swim and snorkel on the crescent-shaped beach at the base of Cerro Brujo (‘Witches Hill’); if you’re lucky you’ll be joined in the water by rays and turtles. Enjoy the view of the 140ft tall Kicker Rock from here. In the afternoon you’ll head to the only freshwater lake in in the Galapagos. El Junco Lagoon is high in the volcanic mountains, surrounded by ferns and other greenery and home to large numbers of birds. You’ll also visit the pretty little port town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the archipelago. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Overnight Beluga will make her way to the extreme southeast of the archipelago to Española, island. Sea lions doze in the sun on the long beach at Gardner Bay, which is also a popular spot with the local turtles. Following lunch on board you head to Punta Suárez on the western edge of the island. Española is the only nesting site for the Galapagos Waved Albatross, who court and breed here from April to December. Giant tortoises also live on the island, as do blue-footed and Nazca boobies, red-and-green marine iguanas (‘Christmas Iguanas’) and Galapagos hawks. You’re unlikely to put your camera down much here, but make sure in particular to have it ready for the spectacular blow-hole; when the waves hit just right water spurts high in the air from the hole in the rock. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This is a fascinating and informative day, as you learn about the geology and history of the islands and the conservation projects being conducted here with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. A highlight will be the giant tortoise breeding centre, where you’ll see all sizes, from hatchling to adult. You’ll see more of these charming creatures in the giant tortoise reserve in the Highlands. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
You start today on Sombrero Chino, an island whose distinctive shape resembles a Chinese conical hat. Red Sally Lightfoot crabs add vibrant colour to the beautiful beach, as do the orange beaks of the American oystercatchers. You may be joined as you swim and snorkel by white-tipped reef sharks (don’t panic – they are harmless!) and just possibly by a Galapagos penguin or two. Then you head to Sullivan Bay, a volcanic site on Santiago Island, with a sparse ‘lunar’ landscape created by 19th century lava flows – now being tentatively populated by cacti. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Beluga is busy as you sleep, cruising overnight to horseshoe-shaped Genovesa Island, also known as ‘the bird island’. It certainly lives up to its name, with resident and visiting species including Nazca and red-footed boobies, nocturnal swallow-tailed gulls, lava and yellow-crowned herons, storm petrels and red-billed tropicbirds. Watch out also for great frigate birds – particularly in March and April, the time of their courtship display. Take the nature trail from Darwin Bay to the tidal lagoon and enjoy the wonderful view over the bay. You’ll then sail round the island so that you can disembark and ascend the Prince Philip steps – these 81 steps lead up to a plateau from where you should have some spectacular birding and may even see a short-eared owl. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Your final activity on this memorable holiday is a panga ride in Black Turtle Cove, a stunning mangrove estuary on Santa Cruz. It’s forbidden to set foot here, so the panga (an inflatable motorised dinghy) is the perfect solution. The engine is cut, and silence is observed as your guide navigates the panga through the mangrove forest. There’s a good chance you’ll see turtles surfacing, rays swimming and pelicans and boobies hunting. After this magical trip it’s time to bid farewell to the crew of Beluga before you are transferred to the airport for your flight to the mainland for your international flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £4995 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2019 guide price per person sharing: from £4995
Meet & greet at Lima airport, airport transfers in Cusco and Quito, 14 nights twin share accommodation (7 in hotels and 7 on board Beluga), meals as shown, private guided tours of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Quito, entrance fees on tours, including second entrance fee to Machu Picchu, return train to Machu Picchu, Galapagos island excursions with a bilingual naturalist guide as offered by Beluga, snorkelling equipment on cruise, return flights to the Galapagos Islands from the Ecuadorian mainland.
International flights and taxes, domestic flights within Peru (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package), visas (not currently required by British passport holders), meals not shown as included, drinks, Galapagos National Park Fee, currently US$100 to be paid locally in US$, tips, items of a personal nature.
This holiday starts in Lima and ends in Quito. International return flights from the UK and the necessary domestic flights will cost from around £1000 per person, subject to season and availability. We will be happy to book flights for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday that can begin on the day of your choice.
16 passenger deluxe motor yacht. Spacious and comfortable inside and out with a friendly crew.
Casa Andina Standard Koricancha is a lovely old colonial building in the heart of Cusco
El MaPi is a modern hotel in Machu Picchu town offering comfortable contemporary accommodation
La Casona de la Ronda is a charming colonial house dating back to the 18th century in the heart of historic Quito.
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Find the best time to visit Galapagos Islands
Time: GMT - 6 hours
Flight time: Flights to the Galapagos Islands leave from Quito and touch down in Guayaquil en route, taking about 3 hours from Quito or 2 hours from Guayaquil. The flights land either at Baltra or San Cristobal.
Language: Spanish is the official language in the Galapagos Islands.
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.