Ecuador, Galapagos & Peru Explorer


This unique adventure focuses on South America’s heaviest hitters – the Galapagos Islands, the Inca Trail and the Amazon Jungle. Take 24 days to explore these wildly different parts of the region. Snorkel the turtle-filled waters of Leon Dormido, then walk the cobblestone streets of Cusco. Sit on black-sand beaches watching sea lions lounge and later conquer the 4200-metre-high Dead Woman’s Pass. Witness breathtaking natural beauty among the surreal landscapes of the Ecuador Highlands and Galapagos, then wonder at the man-made elegance of Machu Picchu. This tour offers immersive and active adventure led by locals in two bucket-list favourite destinations.

24 days, from

$8,820

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: GGSJC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Ecuador Peru
Accommodation: Route 1 - Inca Trail: Camping with basic facilities (3 nights), Hotel (16 nights), Jungle Eco Lodge (2 nights), Homestay (2 nights). Route 2 - Quarry Trail: Camping with basic facilities (2 nights), Hotel (17 nights), Jungle Eco Lodge (2 nights), Homestay (2 nights). Route 3 - Train option: Hotel (19 nights), Jungle Eco Lodge (2 nights), Homestay (2 nights)
Transportation: Plane , Speed Boat , Bus , Private Vehicle , Taxi , Train - Route 3 only
Included Meals:

  • 22 breakfasts
  • 11 lunches
  • 7 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • This trip gives both trekkers and non-trekkers the chance to visit Machu Picchu with Inca Trail*, Quarry Trail and train options.

  • Admire the ingenuity of Inca engineering in https://hybris.intrepidgroup.travel/cockpit/images/icon_func_inlinetext_openwysiwyg.pngOllantaytambo (Sacred Valley) and contemplate how stone was excavated to build the structures still standing there.

  • Explore Cusco, South America's oldest continuously inhabited city. The city has ancient foundations, an interesting blend of Incan and colonial influences, and seemingly endless things to do and see.

  • Snorkel the incredible marine life-filled waters of Kicker Rock, also known as Leon Dormido, one of the best snorkelling spots in the Galapagos and an absolute highlight for many travellers.

  • Encounter the wildlife wonders of the Galapagos Islands up close. Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas and more await.

  • Hike to the top of one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos – the Sierra Negra – and peer into the second-largest caldera in the world.

  • Marvel at the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano – one of the largest active volcanos in the world – while hiking through Cotopaxi National Park.

  • Live like a local as you’re welcomed into a family home in a sustainable community high in the hills of Ecuador, getting your hands dirty and helping with everyday tasks like reforestation projects, organic gardening or jam making, to name a few.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Quito

Bienvenido! Welcome to Ecuador. Your South American adventure begins in the country’s capital of Quito – high in the Andes. You can expect to be greeted by the relaxed atmosphere that Ecuador does so well. You’ll notice a mix of modern and traditional houses dotted halfway up the surrounding mountain peaks that frame the city and an Old Town with ancient architectural jewels just waiting to be explored. Our trip officially kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening, where you’ll meet your group leader and travel pals. If you arrive with time to spare, we recommend taking a wander through the cobblestone streets, checking out the eclectic market stalls or perhaps joining an Intrepid Urban Adventure tour through the city’s historic centre. Discover more here: Quito Legends and Culture Tour (urbanadventures.com)

Day 2: Tena - Amazon

After breakfast this morning, you’ll wave goodbye to the country’s capital as we switch up the pace and make our way from the Andes to the Amazon on a local bus bound for Tena. Your lodge-style accommodation in Tena, on the banks of the Arajuno River, is only accessible by canoe so you can expect a little bit of adventure for the last leg of today’s trip – welcome to the jungle. You'll spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps exploring the eco-lodge, built with all-natural materials, and soaking up the atmosphere of this magical place surrounded by rainforest. In the evening, you’ll enjoy dinner at the eco-lodge, listening to the singing sounds of jungle insects and the flicker of the fireplace. Then, wander the area under the twinkling night sky on a special night walk with your locally-based leader guiding the way.

Day 3: Tena- Amazon

Fuel up on breakfast this morning – we have a big day of adventures ahead. First up, you’ll get the chance to hike into the rainforest with an indigenous guide leading the way. Listen carefully as they point out local bird species and teach you about the incredible plant life that thrives here. You’ll be surrounded by one of the most magnificent landscapes on Earth, teeming with wildlife, so make sure you take a moment to breathe it all in. After lunch, you’ll visit an animal rescue centre to learn more about the local wildlife (and how we can help to protect them).

Day 4: Banos

Take the opportunity to mingle with the locals and, perhaps brush up on your Spanish, on a public bus to Banos today. Surrounded by towering verdant mountains, home to hot springs and etched with waterways that lead to thundering waterfalls – we think you’re going to like it here. On arrival, stretch your legs with a leader-led walking tour of the city to find your bearings and get the inside scoop on the best places to grab a bite to eat. Then, in the afternoon opt to visit Pailon del Diablo, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the area. The 80-meter-high falls have a mighty strength that whips up a spray of water – showering anyone in its path. Expect stairs - a lot of them - but expect to forget all about them when you reach the view of Pailon del Diablo.

Day 5: Cotopaxi National Park- Yunguilla Community Stay

Rise bright and early this morning as we hit the road for Cotopaxi National Park. This national park is home to three volcanos, including one of the largest active volcanos in the world – the park’s namesake, Cotopaxi. We’ll take to the winding trails that meander through the park for a hike through the area that sits below the dominating, snow-capped volcano. Keep your eyes peeled for foxes, white-tailed deer and Brazilian rabbits that call this area home. After some time to explore, you'll head to Yunguilla village, where members of the community will be waiting to welcome you to their home and show you a glimpse into their lives. This evening, enjoy a traditional homemade dinner and a chance to get to know your host family.

Day 6: Yunguilla Community Stay

Today, you’ll be immersed in the local way of life as you spend the full day alongside your host family. There will be different jobs to participate in and experiences to enjoy depending on the time of season you travel. You may be invited to get your hands dirty with reforestation projects or organic gardening, you might learn to make jam or cheese or even get a little creative and work on traditional handicrafts. Whatever you get up to, the best part of today is simply spending time with the local family, getting to know their way of life, learning about their culture and even learning a new Spanish phrase, or three. This is your chance to feel like a local for a day and dive into the customs and cultures of this sustainable community high in the hills of Ecuador.

Day 7: Otavalo-Quito

You’ll say adios to your newfound family and friends after breakfast this morning and make your way to Otavalo Market – this is one of the biggest markets in all of South America for handicrafts. Do you know what that means? It’s one of the best places for you to haggle for souvenirs. You can expect to find hats, tapestries, ceramics, textiles and so much more. And if shopping isn’t your thing – don't worry, simply watch as the bustling markets beat with the drum of locals busily selling their goods. After working up an appetite at the manic market stalls, you’ll grab a bite to eat (own expense) before making tracks back to Quito for the evening. This evening, perhaps rally your travel companions together for dinner. Ask your group leaders for recommendations on the best street eats or bars in the city.

Day 8: Quito

There are no activities planned for today. You are free to check out the city on your own today. If you arrive with time to spare, perhaps head to Quito’s Old Town and pick one (or more) of the 30 churches to explore.

Day 9: Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Early this morning, catch a flight to Isla San Cristobal, your gateway to the galapagos Islands!

After joining up with your fellow travellers who are starting and ending their trip on the Islands, head to La Loberia where you'll put on snorkelling gear for the first time and go for a swim among sea lions, perhaps spotting sea turtles too. Return to town for a free evening. Perhaps head out with the group and enjoy some of the fresh seafood available.

Day 10: Isla San Cristobal

Today begins with a 45-minute boat ride to Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock). On the way we might be able to spot nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies. There is also potential to swim among playful young sea lions. At Leon Dormido you can snorkel and look for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark. Currents can be quite strong so it's important you are a confident swimmer to participate in this activity. If you have any concerns, please ensure you speak with your leader. Eat lunch on the boat then head to the Interpretation Center. Learn about the history of the 'Enchanted Islands' and the conservation projects which seek to preserve them. Continue to Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tijeretas), which is located two kilometres from the Interpretation Center. It's quite a climb to the top, but well worth the amazing views of the bay. Return to town in the late afternoon or early evening.

Day 11: Isla Floreana/ Isla Isabela

Take an early morning boat ride towards Isla Floreana, which should take about 2.5 hours. Along the way keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins and whales. On arrival to the island, snorkel in the clear blue waters and then break for lunch. Afterwards venture to a black-sand beach which belongs to the Witmers, decedents of some of the first settlers on the Galapagos. The town here, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, has about 150 residents and an intriguing history involving deaths, disappearances and murders. Later in the afternoon, wave goodbye to Floreana and continue to Isla Isabela (approximately 2 hours). From Isabela Port it's a short transfer to the hotel where we will spend the night (approximately 15 minutes).

Day 12: Isla Isabela

Start your second day on Isla Isabela with a short bus ride (approximately 15 minutes) to the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center where you'll observe giant tortoises in all stages of development. The centre has almost a thousand giant tortoises preparing for life on their own. Afterwards, head to a brackish lagoon to observe flamingos. In the afternoon, board a small Zodiac (panga) and cruise to Las Tintoreras (Shark Alley), where your naturalist guide will help you look out for blue-footed boobies and the famous Galapagos penguin. On arrival, take a short walk on this isolated islet and popular iguana nesting site. Snorkel in a calm inlet with colourful fish and winding underground lava tubes. This area is frequented by green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom. In the late afternoon return to town in search of your own sandy resting spot and enjoy your first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.

Day 13: Isla Isabela

Start your last day on Isla Isabela by heading towards the Sierra Negra Volcano (approximately 45 minutes by bus), one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos and the second-largest crater in the world. Weather permitting, take a challenging hike of around 17 kilometres up the rocky mountain, which takes 5—6 hours. After the hike, make your way back to town for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before dinner.

Day 14: Isla Isabela / Isla Santa Cruz

Start the day with a kayak around Isabela before transferring by private speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz. Once you arrive on Santa Cruz head to a restaurant that offers a typical Eduadorian lunch package, simply referred to as ‘Menu’. This usually this consists of a fresh juice, a basic entree (usually a soup) and a main meal. These lunch deals are very popular throughout Ecuador so it’s a great way to eat like a local. In the afternoon visit a locally owned sugar cane farm. Here the farmers will show us the ways sugar cane is processed and turned into alcohol. Along the way, keep an eye out for eagle rays, sea turtles and blue-footed boobies. Later, head back to Puerto Ayora.

Day 15: Isla Santa Cruz

In the morning enjoy the Tortuga Bay walk. Visit the highland of Isla Santa Cruz to observe the giant tortoise roaming the wild – your naturalist guide will fill you in on the lives and habits of these fascinating creatures. In the afternoon enjoy free time to further explore the town or go on an optional excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

Day 16: Quito

Say goodbye to the glorious Galapagos today and return to Quito by plane, with a brief touchdown en route in Guayaquil. Arrive in Quito for a free afternoon and evening. As gorgeous as the islands were, perhaps take advantage of the cosmopolitan food and bar scene in Quito and treat yourself to a nice meal.

Day 17: Lima

Take an included flight to Lima, where you can use any free time to explore before a meeting at 2 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. After the meeting, go on a walking tour of downtown Lima, one of the most beautiful cities in South America, and an optional dinner with your group. Be sure to get your hands on Peru's national dish of ceviche during your stay.

Day 18: Cusco (3450m)

Transfer to the airport and board your flight to lofty Cusco. The next stage of your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you. After the meeting, get acquainted with this charming city's intriguing blend of Inca and Spanish culture on a guided walking tour with your leader. Check out some of Cusco's main attractions, as well as its lesser-known sights such as the Qoricancha temple, San Pedro market, the main square, the 12-Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. End the walking tour with a visit to the Chocolate Museum where you will sample hot chocolate made from local beans. There’s also a small store where you can shop handicrafts and artisanal chocolate products. Don't miss the opportunity to sample mate de coca (coca tea) while here.

Day 19: Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo (2792m)

Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley for about two hours. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the valley has been a source of livelihood to the locals for hundreds of years. You’ll see maize crops covering the terraced valley walls and the sacred river beneath. Stop for lunch in a local community, where you'll also get the chance to learn about their traditional lifestyle and maybe wrap your tongue around a few words of the Quechua language. If it’s market day, you'll have time to browse the local handicrafts on offer, such as beads and ponchos. Continue your journey to the town of Ollantaytambo where we check out the town’s archaeological site – a magnificent example of Incan urban planning – which includes remnants of an Inca city and soaring views over the present-day settlement. Spend the night in Ollantaytambo.

Day 20: Inca Trail (3100m) or Quarry Trail (3700m) or Cusco

Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be doing one of the following: hiking the Inca Trail (Route 1), hiking the Quarry Trail (Route 2) or staying in Cusco for two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes (Route 3). All routes visit Machu Picchu.

While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. You won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and travel with only a small bag for the overnight stay in Aguas Calientes.

Route 1 Inca Trail:
Today travel by minivan to the 82 kilometre marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3100m above sea level. On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, as well as incredible views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal prepared by your cook.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc Cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3700 metres above sea level. You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.

Route 3 Cusco:
After spending the night in Ollantaytambo, take a short drive to the town of Pisac. Pisac is well known for its market. Here you’ll have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and perhaps try some local empanadas. Arrive back into Cusco in the afternoon, where your leader will take you to San Pedro Market in order to buy some things for a picnic tomorrow.

Day 21: Inca Trail (3650m) or Quarry Trail (3600m) or Cusco

Route 1 Inca Trail:
This is the most challenging day of the trek as you ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4200 metres above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 metres.

Route 2 Quarry Trail:
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A 3 hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4370 metres high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4450 metres. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku. This is a sun gate, where the sun will stream through at particular times of the year and there are views of the Nevado Veronica mountain year-round. The Incas built several sun gates, the most notable overlooking Machu Picchu. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away and at 3600 metres.

Route 3 Cusco:
Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cusco. From here you’ll take a short downhill walk (between 1 and 3 hours) back to Cusco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites, including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cusco in the afternoon and enjoy some free time to go shopping, or perhaps visit Merida, Mendivil and Olave art galleries and workshops. Your tour leader will be able to give you some suggestions.

Day 22: Inca Trail (2650m) or Aguas Calientes (2040m)

Route 1 Inca Trail:
Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay Pass (3980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around 2 to 3 hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the 2 hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2 Quarry Trail to Aguas Calientes:
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3 Train to Aguas Calientes:
After a drive to Ollantaytambo (about 1.5 hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (another 1.5 hours). The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Quarry Trail. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Day 23: Machu Picchu (2430) - Cusco

Route 1 Inca Trail:
This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 4.30 am. Once the final checkpoint opens at 5 am, begin the final leg of the trek. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around 2.5 hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as you enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.

Route 2 Machu Picchu to Cusco:
Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters.

Route 3 Machu Picchu to Cusco:
Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters.

For all travellers, after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to catch the bus to Aguas Calientes where you’ll stop for lunch together. From here, take a scenic train ride to Ollantaytambo, then drive back to Cusco, arriving in the evening.

Day 24: Cusco

Your tour comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. You may like to stay on for a few extra days to make the most of your visit here. We’ll be happy to assist in booking accommodation (subject to availability).