Peru & Galapagos Explorer


This trip combines our most comprehensive adventure through Peru with an immersive experience on the Galapagos Islands to become a breathtaking 30-day tour through ancient cities and beautiful landscapes. Cruise deep into the Amazon and spend two nights in jungle lodges, stay with a local family on Lake Titicaca’s floating islands, explore Colca Canyon and reach the famed Inca city of Machu Picchu by trek or train. Just when you think it can’t get any more amazing, prepare to have your mind blown all over on the Galapagos Islands. Encounter colourful, bizarre and beautiful wildlife and traverse volcanic landscapes. Walk among giant tortoises, hike to the top of a volcano on Isla Isabela and fall in love with sea lions.

30 days, from

$8,205

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

4
Trip code: GGSFC
Style: Original
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Details

Countries Visited:  Ecuador Peru
Accommodation: Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (23 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)
Transportation: Plane , Speed Boat , Canoe , Train , Private Vehicle , Public bus
Meals: 6 dinners, 26 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Choose the classic Inca Trail, the quieter Quarry Trail or the scenic train route to reach Machu Picchu. It will be unforgettable, no matter how you get there.

  • Take a boat tour around the floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca and spend the night with a local family in a traditional island community.

  • Spend two nights deep in the Amazon Jungle, trekking with local flora and fauna experts through the ‘Lungs of the World’.

  • Huge giant tortoises, colourful marine iguanas and the puppies of the sea (AKA sea lions) – come face-to-face with these creatures and more on the Galapagos Islands.

  • Stay in locally-owned hotels in the Galapagos with daily island-hopping adventures by speedboat. The perfect way to see the best of the archipelago while supporting home-grown businesses.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Lima

Welcome to Lima, Peru! You’ll get to see downtown Lima and the historical centre on your walking tour tomorrow, but with plenty to do and see in this capital, perhaps arrive a few days early to see more of the sights. There’s the famous suburb of Miraflores, Central Park and Lovers’ Park, and the 16th-century monastery of San Francisco with its catacombs of some 10,000 remains. There are also plenty of museums including the Museum of the Inquisition, the National Museum and the Gold Museum, just make sure you’re in your hotel at 4 pm for an important welcome meeting. After the meeting, why not head out with your new travel companions for a bite of Peru's national dish – ceviche.

Day 2: Pisco/Paracas

Set out on a guided tour of downtown Lima, where streets are flanked with colonial mansions, palaces and churches. See the iconic Plaza Mayor with its imposing Cathedral on foot, then board a local bus bound for Pisco. The bus will stop about three or four times along the way during the 4-hour journey. There are no planned activities upon arrival in Pisco, but you may want to seek out a bar serving Peru's national libation – this is the birthplace of the Pisco sour, after all.

Day 3: Pisco/Paracas - Nazca Lines

This morning, wildlife enthusiasts might like to take the opportunity to visit the Paracas National Reserve for a chance to spot pelicans, red-footed boobies and flamingos on a 2-hour boat tour. Otherwise, take it easy do some more sightseeing in Pisco before the drive to one of the world's most mysterious archaeological sites, the Nazca Lines. Along the way, stop in the town of Huacachina. This little settlement sits beside a small lake with dramatic sand dunes. Perhaps go sandboarding or simply enjoy the photo opportunities. Upon arrival, explore the eerie desert graveyard of Chauchilla, where the arid conditions have naturally interred the remains of the Nazca people buried here. Visit the Nazca lines, enormous geoglyphs representing animals drawn into the sand thousands of years ago. Climb to the viewing platform, or perhaps take an optional flight over the lines for the best experience.

Optional Climb to the viewing platform, or perhaps take an optional flight over the lines for the best experience.

Day 4: Arequipa

Travel approximately 9 hours from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus. Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cusco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname – the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.

Day 5: Arequipa

Spend the day in stunning Arequipa. Perhaps wander the main plaza with its lovely cathedral, many cafes and eateries. You may like to visit the Andean Sanctuaries Museum in Arequipa, which houses Peru’s famous ‘Ice Maiden’, the Inca mummy of a girl who died in the 1440s. There’s also the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a 16th century monastery which only accepted women from well-to-do Spanish families. These nuns grew infamous for their luxurious lifestyles, each one having her own servant, splurging on fine products and enjoying frequent parties.

Day 6: Colca Canyon

Today you’ll travel about 5 hours by minivan to the town of Chivay. Along the way, you’ll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas – not sure how to differentiate between these adorable creatures? Your tour leader will explain the differences between them. You’ll also stop for breaks, photo opportunities and to try some local coca tea. The third stop takes you to the highest point on the tour at Patapama (4800 metres above sea level) before descending to your destination of Chivay. The town will be your base for exploring the Colca Canyon in the coming days. Enjoy a break for lunch in town and then go on a short trek in the area, which will take you to the local thermal baths. From here you can either spend the evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak at a nearby restaurant or seeing some live Andean music at a pena (local bar).

Day 7: Puno

This morning you’ll board a Van or splinter to Puno, it’s a long drive, but the dramatic views of Peru’s highlands – the Altiplano – make it an exceptionally scenic one too. Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which you’ll explore in the coming days. Upon arrival, take the change to get acquainted with the town. Puno is known as Peru’s folklore capital, this is due in no small part to its thriving indigenous cultures, including the Aymara and Quechua. If you’re lucky enough to arrive during a festival, you’ll be treated to an elaborate parade of costumes and dances.

Day 8: Lake Titicaca (Home stay)

Start the day with a tour of Lake Titicaca. Sitting 3820 metres above sea level, it holds the title of highest navigable lake in the world. Hop in a motorboat and learn about the spiritual significance the lake holds for the Quechua while cruising across its waters. Stop off at Uros Titinos, floating man-made islands made entirely from reeds and home to several families. Later, head to your homestay in the Lake Titicaca region. To get a better understand of daily life, why not help your host family with some of their daily activities. Your hosts will be happy to teach you a few words of their language, Quechua, and a friendly game of soccer may also be on the cards!

Day 9: Puno

After breakfast, take a 1-hour boat ride to Taquile Island. The locals here make their livelihood out of textiles, with the women doing the spinning and men doing the knitting. Browse the handmade goods sold here including warm, high quality items. Next, take an uphill trek for about an hour to visit the main area of the island. After a brief stay, the boat will take you back to Puno (about 3 hours).

Day 10: Cusco

Take a scenic bus ride across the Altiplano towards Cusco (approximately 7 hours). Cusco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and here, colonial buildings are built upon foundations remaining from Inca times. Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3450 metres), then set out to discover some of Cusco's lesser-known sights on a guided walking tour. Visit the facade of Qoricancha temple, San Pedro market, the main square, 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. End the walking tour at Cusco's Chocolate museum where you'll get to sample a dissolute cup of hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. There’s also a small store where you can browse handicrafts and artisanal chocolate products.

Day 11: Cusco

Enjoy a free day in Cusco, the heart and soul of Peru. You may like to visit the city’s many museums and archaeological sites with a boleto turistico (tourism ticket). This includes the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum, Qosqo Native Art Museum and the Inca ruins of Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The most easily accessible among these sites is Coricancha, which was once the Incan empire's richest temple until the Spanish built a Dominican church on top of it.

Day 12: Inca Trail, Inca Quarry trail or Train option

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, hiking the Quarry Trail or staying in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. 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 (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that 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 only travel with the necessary items during the excursion by train.

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 3100 metres 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.

Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 kilometres long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 2: The Quarry Trail
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where the Inca worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After a 1-hour walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, where there’ll be an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3700 metres above sea level, and arrive around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Inca.

Notes: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 kilometres long in total and its highest pass is at 4450 metres above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

Route 3: Train
For those travellers who would prefer not to hike, or who are unable to, will spend an extra day in Cusco. With no planned activities for this day, perhaps ask your leader for suggestions on how to make the most of your time in this beautiful city.

Day 13: Inca Trail, Inca Quarry trail or Train option

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: The Quarry Trail
This is the most challenging yet rewarding day of the hike. A 3-hour walk takes you 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 2-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4450 metres. From here, descend to the sacred site the Inca called Intipunku (Sun Gate) and enjoy views of the Nevado Veronica mountain, then head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.

Route 3: Train
Today you’ll head to a community along the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities. If your visit coincides with market day, you can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising a little bit of the local language, Quechua. Your leader might also suggest an optional local meal or an Andean picnic with the locals.

Day 14: Inca Trail, Quarry trail or Train option

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', then begin the 2-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.

Route 2: The Quarry Trail
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Inca were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek and 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. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon, before spending the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.

Route 3: Train
Travel by train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (approximately 90 minutes). Sitting at the base of Machu Picchu in a picturesque valley, Aguas Calientes takes its name from the numerous hot springs that are dotted throughout the area.

Day 15: Inca Trail, Quarry Trail or Train (Machu Picchu) / 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 4.30 am, then say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station. Begin hiking by 5.30 am – the walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around 2.5 hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Pichu ‘Lost City of the Inca’ as the sun rises (and before it’s crawling with tourists). After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a well-deserved shower and a Pisco sour.

Route 2: The Quarry Trail
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins and returning to Cusco with the group for a well-earned Pisco sour.

Route 3: Train
Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for the Inca nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Inca site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cusco.

Day 16: Cusco

Enjoy free time to delve deeper into all Cusco has to offer. Those with weary legs may want to simply grab a coffee from a cafe at Plaza de Armas and do some people-watching. Manos Unidas Cafe is a great choice for a meal. In addition to serving up delicious food, this central pizzeria also provides vocational training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For those who can't get enough active adventure, the hills that surround Cusco are well-suited for some mountain biking. Ask your tour leader for advice on optional activities and how to make the most of your free day.

Day 17-18: Amazon Jungle

This morning you will take a flight to the frontier town of Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where you'll be staying for two nights. Upon your arrival, lodge staff will take you to their office in town where you’ll be able to pack a small duffle bag with clothing and other items needed for two days in the jungle, stow the rest of your luggage and then travel by private vehicle to the water. Here, board a motorised canoe and cruise deep into the jungle. The journey to your eco-lodge in the Madre de Dios region will take around 3 hours, and you'll be given a packed lunch on the way. Arrive and settle in to your thatched-roof lodge before a short orientation walk of the immediate area and a briefing. Spend the evening getting acquainted with the sights and smells of the jungle and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.

Day 19: Lima

Leave behind the natural wonders of the Amazon and return to Puerto Maldonado where a short 2-hour flight will take the group back to Lima. One of our local representatives will meet you at the airport and will accompany you back to the hotel in Lima. The rest of the day is then free to explore more of Lima's sights and perhaps do some last-minute souvenir shopping. In the evening, maybe gather the group together for one last night out on the town.

Day 20: Lima

Your last day in Lima is free to explore more of the sights and perhaps do some last-minute souvenir shopping before flying out to Quito.

Day 21: Quito

Take an included flight to Quito, where you can use any free time to explore before a meeting to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure.

Day 22: Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Board you flight and head to the glorious Galapagos Islands. After joining up with your fellow travellers, 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 23: 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 24: 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 25: 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), looking out en roue 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 26: 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 27: 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 enjoy free time to further explore the town or go on an optional excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

Day 28: Isla Santa Cruz

In the afternoon visit the highland of Isla Santa Cruz to observe the giant tortoise roaming the wild. Afterwards 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 29: Quito

Say goodbye to the Galapagos today and take a flight back to Quito (please note the flight will make a stop in Guayaquil). Arrive in Quito in he late afternoon. Perhaps head out for a group dinner.

Day 30: Quito

This morning your adventure comes to an end in Quito. As there are no activities planned for the final day, you can depart the accommodation at any time after check out.

Unscripted experiences, insider access and authentic local flavors


Our team of travel specialists and local contacts have curated some of the best, most exclusive and authentic experiences, restaurants and accommodations in Peru to truly immerse yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible in larger groups or just on your own.

30 days, from $8,205

to book call 1-844-205-6226