Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, walk across the street to the comfortable and conveniently located Ramada Costa del Sol Hotel. Settle into your room and rest up for your Peru travel. You have an exciting journey ahead, filled with ancient ruins, local markets and the beautiful Andes Mountains!
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendents of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas. In the afternoon, you'll tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market. After tasting a few unique local foods, you will visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. (If visiting the Sacred Valley on Sunday, you will visit their center in Chinchero instead). Enjoy a tour of Peru weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
Journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo.
In the morning, visit the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco in 1537. The ruins feature expansive terraces and well-preserved architecture, and the town is still laid out as it was during the Incan empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the train and follow the Urubamba River as it rumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu. Ancient canals still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After the tours of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants or end your day soaking in the hot springs after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Today is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu and to listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. You can choose to book a permit to climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the afternoon, you'll return by train to Cusco with your guide. (Let us know if you would like help arranging entrance fees or hiking permits for today – these are not included and sell out in advance!)
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets for those on Peru holidays, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife. Live folk music and excellent food abounds in Cusco!
Transfer to the airport for your flights from Cusco to Quito. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and overnight in Quito.
An early morning flight from Quito brings you to the Galapagos Archipelago. Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to your yacht -- your home for the next seven nights. This afternoon you'll head to the first island on your Galapagos tour and the beginning of a week filled with mysteries of the natural world.
You will visit several islands during your unforgettable voyage. Each day you leave the comfort of your yacht and go ashore in your panga (the local word for dinghies, Zodiacs, etc.) to remote areas of the islands for natural history walks through the Galapagos's unique ecology. This is everyone's chance to photograph strange marine iguanas, snorkel with playful sea lions, and just wonder at the strange landscape of ancient volcanic turmoil. Except for a few settlements, the entire archipelago is national park, and the beaches and meandering footpaths invite relaxation and fanciful dreams for all enjoying Galapagos cruises.
This morning you'll say good-bye to Darwin's inspiration. Afterwards, transfer back to the airport for your late morning or early afternoon flight back to Quito. Overnight in Quito.
$570 single supplement
Applies only towards the Peru segment. Single travelers are automatically given a single room in Quito.
Price above based on 8 day/7 night cruise on the Iguana Deck aboard the Eric/Letty/Flamingo. Prices from $4,500 - $8,400 depends on the Galapagos yacht.
Exact start date depends on yacht choice.
*Inti Raymi Departures for June 18 and June 22. Please add 1 day to your itinerary and $680 to the tour cost