Machu Picchu & Galapagos
Discover Peru’s ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and Ecuador’s ‘Enchanted Isles’
Reviews 10 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
Group Size Small Group
This fascinating trip combines two truly outstanding places in South America. Flying into the Peruvian highlands, we encounter Cuzco, a city replete with Inca architecture and colonial charm. A beautiful train ride through mountains and cloud forest takes us to the extraordinary lost city of Machu Picchu. Ecuador’s Galapagos archipelago is one of the world’s leading ecological sites, with incredible fauna both on land and at sea as well as striking volcanic landscapes. We explore the islands from the comfort of our small First-Class boat, which grants us access to areas that larger boats cannot reach.
* All accommodation
* All land/sea transport and listed activities
* Tour leader in Peru and registered naturalist guide in the Galapagos
* Airport Arrival and departure transfers (at designated times)
- Single Accommodation (available on request only for the six hotel nights in Peru. We are not able to offer single cabins on board the boat and you will be pair with a suitable roommate. Inquire for supplement)
- Compulsory Galapagos taxes USD$120pp, paid locally
- Flights between Cuzco (inquire for prices)
- Visit Machu Picchu to discover the incredible ‘Lost City of the Incas’
- Historic Cuzco, former capital of the vast Inca empire
- Optional day walk on the Inca Trail, at no extra cost (please request at the time of booking)
- Seven nights on board a First Class boat in the Galapagos Islands
- Galapagos wildlife and volcanic landscapes
- 6 nights en suite hotels, 7 nights on board a First-Class boat in en suite, air-conditioned cabins
- Optional Inca Trail day walk: request on booking
- Group normally 2 to 16 plus local leader/staff. Min. age 16 yrs
- Spends time at altitude
- Travel by flight, minibus, train and motor yacht
Start Cuzco (3400m); afternoon walking tour.
The tour starts at our hotel in Cuzco this morning. Hotel check-in often isn’t until 3 pm.The Inca capital of Cuzco is among the most attractive cities in South America, with much of the centre comprising colonial-era buildings with Inca foundations, as well as museums, churches and pre-Columbian sites. To help acclimatise, we have a relaxed walking tour this afternoon to discover its historic buildings and winding streets.It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude.*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*
Free day in Cuzco; optional Sacred Valley tour.
Today has been left free to explore the city in more detail. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves.Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. Alternatively, you may wish to take an optional visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the incredible ruins at Pisac. Various other optional activities can be arranged from Cuzco – your leader will have the details.*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*
Train to Aguas Calientes; optional day walk along Inca Trail via Winay Wayna ruins.
This morning we take the train to Aguas Calientes, a lively town in the valley below Machu Picchu. This afternoon and the rest of the day is free for visits to the hot springs or shopping in the large craft market. Our Machu Picchu entrance ticket is valid for tomorrow, however should you wish to visit the ruins today as well, you will need to purchase an extra ticket. Please inform your leader at the start of the holiday if you would like to purchase an extra entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.For those who wish to walk to Machu Picchu, there is an optional day walk along a section of the Inca Trail. The trail passes the ruins of Wiñay Wayna and ascends a stone staircase to the Sun Gate for the iconic view of Machu Picchu and its magnificent backdrop. Although this optional walk is available at no extra cost, it must be pre-booked since numbers are strictly limited (and a permit required). You should request this at the time of booking.A packed lunch is included today.*Hotel Hatun Inti Classic (or similar)*
Early morning tour of Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco.
In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long. Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the three possible visiting slots, Exodus will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins).*Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)*
Fly to Quito (2850m).
Today we depart Cuzco on a flight to Quito via Lima. Quito has one of the best-preserved colonial centres in South America and plenty of vibrant markets to explore.*Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)*
Quito city tour.
We have a half-day city tour of Quito, one of the smaller and more attractive of the capitals of South America – 2,850m high in the western cordillera of the Andes. Quito is the second highest capital in the world, and as always at altitude, it is a good idea not to do anything too strenuous at first!We explore the colonial centre with its narrow streets and hanging balconies. The tour usually includes the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop palaces as well as La Compañia Church with its impressive gold leaf decorations. A short drive brings us to El Panecillo Hill for a panoramic view of the city and to admire the 45m high statue of the ‘Virgen de Quito’, the only original Madonna with wings. Please note that entrance fees are not included.*Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)*
Fly to Galapagos; visit the Charles Darwin Centre; board boat.
We return to Quito airport for the flight to Galapagos and the island of Baltra via Guayaquil. We will take a short ferry crossing to Santa Cruz Island, where we drive to the highlands to look for wild tortoises. We follow this with a visit to the Charles Darwin Centre, where we learn about the ecology of the islands and visit the centre’s turtle hatchery. After this visit, we board the boat at Puerto Ayora, the island’s main town. Please make sure that you bring your camera, sun cream and appropriate clothing: comfortable footwear for some short walks (possibly amongst grass), light clothes, a hat/cap and a light waterproof in case of a shower or mist.*First Class Boat*
Galapagos cruise following itinerary A (Tower) or B (Fernandina) to discover the unique wildlife of these volcanic islands.
Our Galapagos Cruise alternates between two itineraries. For the next seven days, your specific itinerary in the Galapagos depends on the departure date of the trip (please ask your Sales Consultant if unsure).*Itinerary A (Tower):* Walk on the tiny Plazas Islands to see a cactus forest, land iguanas and seabirds, then cruise to the white sand beaches of Santa Fe.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* A short walk on the tiny island of Chinese Hat before snorkelling with Sea lions (and penguins if lucky!); on to the dark red beach of Isla Rabida to walk amongst spatter cones, pelicans, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies.*First Class Boat*
*Itinerary A (Tower):* A day at San Cristobal Island: the white sand beach, Blue-footed boobys and old cone of Cerro Brujo, giant tortoise at Galapaguera and crystal clear waters around the striking spear of Kicker Rock.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* We start three days exploring the largest island of Isabela with the chance for early morning exploration of the mangroves at Los Tintoreras and then walk to the huge 5-mile wide caldera on Sierra Negra volcano. Our scheduled visit to Las Tintoreras alloted by the Galapagos National Park is from 0600 to 0800 hrs, therefore should you wish to stay onboard and have a lie in instead that’s not a problem.*First Class Boat*
*Itinerary A (Tower):* Swim with Sea lions and Marine iguanas at the paradisiacal beach at Gardener Bay on Espanola (Hood) Island. In the afternoon, walk amongst Nazca and Blue-footed booby birds and nesting Waved Albatross (in season) next to pounding surf at Punta Suarez.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* Cruising round Isabela’s west side, we’re likely to see whales and dolphins. We land at Punta Moreno’s swirling fresh lava flows and also explore the islets of Elizabeth Bay with the largest colony of penguins in the Galapagos.*First Class Boat*
*Itinerary A (Tower):* At Floreana Island snorkel in the spectacular sunken crater of Devil’s Crown amongst thousands of fish. We will then visit the lagoon at Punta Cormorant (often with flamingos) and Post Office Bay, the mailbox used by 18th Century whalers.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* In 1954 Urbina Bay was uplifted 4 metres and we walk here amongst exposed coral heads, wandering giant tortoises and huge land iguanas. We’ll then make an afternoon visit to Tagus Cove and Darwin Lake, directly opposite recently active Fernandina Volcano.*First Class Boat*
*Itinerary A (Tower):* To Dragon Hill, a nesting site for land iguanas with a large lagoon; dramatic Sullivan Bay with a walk on a huge lava flow only 100 years old before swimming from the white-sand beach in crystal clear waters.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* Land at Punta Espinosa on Fernandina in the midst of a huge colony of Marine iguanas; the sea life is very rich here and supports a large Sea lion and Fur seal colony. We then cross the straights and explore the cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela.*First Class Boat*
*Itinerary A (Tower):* Less-visited Genovesa (also called Tower) Island is home to an abundance of Red-footed boobies, Fur seals, Storm petrels and Short-eared Owls. Here, we look for tropicbirds at Prince William Steps before snorkelling, whilst at Darwin Bay, Galapagos mockingbirds also await.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* Excellent birding on Santiago (James) Island at Puerto Egas followed by an afternoon snorkel and a walk amongst incredible volcanic scenery up little Bartolome Island – cones, lava tubes and Pinnacle Rock.*First Class Boat*
Galapagos cruise ends; fly to Guayaquil; end Guayaquil.
*Itinerary A (Tower):* We explore the mangroves of Turtle Cove at dawn watching marine turtles rising for air; rays and herons fishing from the trees.*Itinerary B (Fernandina):* An early morning walk on North Seymour amidst Palo Santo trees and Blue-footed booby colonies.*Both itineraries:* After a late breakfast we disembark for the journey back to Baltra to transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Guayaquil. For land only clients, the tour ends at Guayaquil airport.* If booking an onwards flight from Guayaquil today please ensure that it does not depart before 6pm.*
Hotels and First-Class boat
6 nights comfortable hotels, all en suite, 7 nights on board a First-Class boat, the Cachalote Explorer, in en suite, air-conditioned cabins.
Cachalote Explorer: A 16-passenger Motor-Sailer with 8 comfortable double/twin cabins, each with en suite facilities. All cabins are air-conditioned and have the following: shower with hot water, toilet, amenities and towels, porthole windows. Max speed 8 knots, size 88ft. Renovated in 2018.
The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary, however, accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date. In Cuzco, Aguas Calientes and Quito, we generally stay in small, locally-owned hotels in central locations close to restaurants and shops.
Please note that central heating is very rare in Peru, even in good standard hotels. Most hotels provide plug-in heaters and spare blankets. A railway line runs straight through the centre of Aguas Calientes and whilst we try to allocate rooms away from it whenever possible, the trains might be heard from some rooms.
Single rooms can be arranged for a supplement for the six hotel nights in Peru, subject to availability – please enquire at the time of booking. Unfortunately, we cannot offer single cabins on board the boat in the Galapagos, and you will be paired up with another traveler of the same sex for the 7 nights on board.
On board the Galapagos boat, all meals are included and are served in a buffet style. There is a wide choice of food available, including vegetarian options.
For the rest of the trip, we visit a variety of cafes and restaurants for any meals which are not included in the itinerary. Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee that wheat/gluten-free products will be available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food. We provide a packed lunch on day 3, whether you are taking the train or doing the optional walk to Machu Picchu.
Drinking water is provided; please bring a reusable water bottle with you.
Seven nights are spent on board a First-Class boat – single cabins are not available, and if you are travelling on your own you will be paired up in a cabin with a member of the same sex. There may be passengers on the boat who have not booked through our office, and occasionally this may include families with children below the minimum age of this trip.
The Galapagos boats operate different itineraries on alternate weeks: Itinerary A (Tower) and Itinerary B (Fernandina). Each itinerary follows a different path and visits a different set of islands in the Galapagos – please inquire for the correct itinerary for your date. During the cruise we live aboard, visit a number of islands and sites and spend as much time as possible ashore watching the birds and animals. Due to local regulations, there is usually very little disruption to the schedule, but this can also mean little deviation in the event of poor weather or other circumstances. We use only small Galapagos boats (8 to 16 passengers) as we believe this is the most satisfying and environmentally friendly way to see the islands. We do not use the large boats preferred by some of our competitors.
In the Galapagos, each day will feature a mixture of walking, snorkeling and exploring the islands by boat. To get closer to the designated landing sites on each of the islands we disembark into small pangas (motorized dinghys). Landings on the islands are divided into two types – wet and dry. For dry landings, the panga will take you right up to a landing stage or rocky outcrop where you can disembark without getting wet. However in some places where there is no landing stage the panga will stop close to a beach and you will be expected to walk through shallow water (generally no more than ankle-deep) to the shore. The leader will always advise conditions prior to leaving and it is possible to skip any particular excursion if you would rather relax on board the boat.
There are plenty of opportunities for snorkelling in the Galapagos and this is one of the best ways to experience the marine life. A mask and snorkel will reveal an exciting underwater world with Sea lions, rays, turtles, Marine iguanas and a colourful array of fish. On most days of the itinerary there will be one or two snorkelling sessions. Snorkelling in the Galapagos does not require any special skills, however, at times you will be snorkelling in open water where there are fairly strong currents. Before going into the water, the guide will evaluate the strength of the currents and the general condition of the sea to make sure they are right for this to be a safe and enjoyable activity. The dinghy will remain very close at all times; if you get tired or feel like coming out of the water you only have to raise your arm and they will come to pick you up so you can rest for a while before going back in or stay in the dinghy until it is time to return to the boat. Snorkelling equipment (snorkel, fins and masks) is provided, however, is advisable to wear a wetsuit which not only protects you from the cold but also makes floating much easier without as much effort.
This trip spends considerable time at altitude, Cuzco itself lies at 3400m above sea level.
Please note that there are now extremely stringent booking procedures in place for the Inca Trail. If you would like to do the optional day walk to Machu Picchu on day 3 then it’s essential that you let us know at the time of booking as a permit is required to do so. We will also need your full passport details or we will be unable to process your booking.
Inca Trail Regulations
Those who have opted to do the day walk along a section of the Inca Trail will require an Inca Trail permit. There are a number of important regulations regarding the Inca Trail that we would like to make you aware of:
- Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first come, first served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible.
- If you cancel your booking more than 8 weeks before departure and wish to transfer your deposit to another departure or another trip the transfer fee is £150 as we will lose the permit we have purchased. This is an amendment to our Booking Conditions. No transfers are possible within 8 weeks of departure.
- Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.
- Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify Exodus immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to Exodus in advance of travel and pay an administration fee of £25. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking.
- Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and Exodus is not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
- There is a possibility that the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.
Please Note: If you have elected to do the optional day walk along a section of the Inca Trail, you should be aware that whilst your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If travelling within the current year we will try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. In either case, in the event that we are unable to get your permit we will contact you.
New List of Regulations for visiting Machu Picchu (which apply from July 1st 2018).
The main points impacting your visit are the following:
- The tickets are valid only for one entry which means that you cannot leave the site and re-enter.
- Once you have done the chosen circuit with your guide, you cannot walk back to view anything already visited and once you finish the circuit, you will have to leave the site. You can no longer explore the site further after the guided tour.
- The two visit times for visiting the site, either 6am-12pm or 12-16.30pm.
These new regulations will affect how long you are able to spend at Machu Picchu. In the past, after the guided tour passengers could stay longer to explore the site, this is not possible anymore. The alternative that we are implementing on our visits to allow you further time, is to explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun Gate and Inca Bridge) before starting the guided tour. The guided tour will be about 2 hrs in duration, and unfortunately at the end of it, you will need to exit the site.
Schedule of visit to Machu Picchu on this itinerary:
- Early bus to Machu Picchu and explore upper part with the tour leader until 10am.
- 10 am start the guided tour
- 12.30pm passengers leave Machu Picchu.