This 15-night itinerary takes you on a journey to discover some of South America‘s finest landscapes, culture and wildlife.
Begin by exploring Ecuador, the world-leader in eco-tourism and a rugged playground for outdoor adventure. Aside from the wild beauty of Ecuador lie age-old colonial cities like the capital and Unesco World Heritage Site, Quito, along with being the gateway to the spectacular Galapagos; enriched with one of the planet’s most incredible endemic wildlife. Discover the untouched beaches populated by sea lions and rare penguins and hop between islands to discover the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species.
Day 1: Arrival
Upon arrival into Quito Airport, make your way through immigration, customs & collect your luggage. At the arrival hall your driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
For the next 2 nights you will be staying at Casona de la Ronda in a Deluxe Room on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Casona de la Ronda is built within a restored colonial mansion in the heart of historic Quito. A fantastic option with just 22 rooms arranged around a central patio, combining cultural and traditional Ecuadorian style with contemporary traces. The hotel sits on the oldest street in Quito, a narrow, winding cobbled street dating back to when the Incans were in town in the 1400’s and very close to the main square.
Stay: Casona de la Ronda
Day 2: Explore Quito
This morning meet your guide for a three hour tour of Quito, focused on the historic colonial district around your hotel and Plaza San Francisco. Wander along La Ronda Street one of the oldest in Quito which has been restored to its former glory in recent years; it has a number of traditional craft workshops which are interesting to visit.
Stay: Casona de la Ronda
Day 3: Arrival into Galapagos & Santa Cruz Island
After check out, you meet your driver at the lobby where you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Baltra Airport.
Upon arrival at Baltra Airport on Santa Cruz Island, pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands. You have prepaid the Galapagos NP entrance fee. A representative of the Sea Star Journey will meet you with the rest of the group and escort you on a short public bus ride to the Itabaca Channel and then a 45 minute transfer to Puerto Ayora harbour where the boat is moored.
Afternoon: Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz Island
After lunch your guide will take you to the Charles Darwin Research Centre for a tour. The majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. The main attractions are the National Park information centre, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity. Return to the boat afterwards.
Please note that itineraries are flexible and subject to change according to weather conditions and NP stipulations.
For the next 5 nights you will be staying at Sea Star Journey in a Main Deck Cabin on a Full Board basis. Sea Star Journey is a stylish motor boat, measuring 43 metres. Accommodation is extremely spacious in all 8 double cabins, with large panoramic windows and ensuite bathrooms. There is also the sea star suite measuring 35 square metres. Some of the cabins have sofa beds and are interconnecting, a great option for families. Facilities on board include an outdoor bar and dining area as well as a Jacuzzi located on the large sun deck. As well as snorkel equipment there are sea kayaks and a glass bottom zodiac. Your cuise includes all meals, shared transfers and shared excursions such as panga boat rides hikes, snorkelling and kayaking. There is a wetsuit rental fee of USD 40 per person for the duration of your stay onboard.
Stay: Sea Star Journey
Day 4: Explore Isabela Island
Morning: White Tipped Reef Shark Canal, Isabela Island
A delightful place reached by a zodiac ride. “Tintoreras” are a set of small islands off the southern coast of Isabela Island. Find many of the classic Galapagos species in one place such as the Galapagos Penguin, sea lions, iguanas and a variety of bird species. White-tipped reef sharks are fairly common in this mini-archipelago and it serves as a protective nursery for their young.
Afternoon: Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela Island
Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. Disembark in Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in Galapagos with approximately 3,000 inhabitants. Drive up to the highlands from Puerto Villamil to Sierra Negra slope where you hike up to the volcano rim, the second widest crater in the world. From this viewpoint, take in the fantastic view of the to the 6 by 5 mile-wide crater, additional volcanoes, and the Perry Isthmus, a 12 Km wide lava field. From here you can hike to Chico Volcano to watch the striking lava formations, examples of the geological occurrences that created the Galapagos Islands.
Stay: Sea Star Journey
Day 5: Punta Moreno & Elizabeth Bay
Morning: Punta Moreno, Isabela Island
Moreno Point is located near Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. The plethora of birds seen during a panga boat ride along the striking rocky shores or a hike along path through lava rock leading to tide pools and mangroves create a birdwatcher’s delight. In the tide pools green sea turtles or white-tip sharks can be spotted.
Afternoon:Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island
This is a marine visitor site, the excursion is carried out by panga and so there is no landing point. Your panga ride starts with a visit to the Marielas islets where there is the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion continues into a cove surrounded by red mangroves where you may observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans and sea lions. Frequently visitors have been able to see Galapagos Hawks soaring overhead whilst schools of Pompano and Dorado fish swim below.
Stay: Sea Star Journey
Day 6: Fernandina & Isabela Islands
Morning: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island
Fernandina is the third largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza. Crossing the Bolivar Channel that divides Isabela and Fernandina Islands, disembark at Espinosa Point. After walking past a colony of marine iguanas and a group of sea lions, we’ll reach the island’s highlight: the Flightless cormorant nesting site, birds which due to the lack of predators had to adjust their way of survival and improve their skills of finding food in the ocean. Marine iguanas conglomerate in larger groups than in other island. They bask around in the sand, swim near the shore and some time block the way at the landing dock. This area also provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos Hawk.
Afternoon: Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
Tour along the cliffs in a panga for a good chance to spot Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and other sea birds. From the landing dock it is about a 30 minute hike along the trail up to the top of the cliff from where you can view Darwin Lake, an uplifted ultra saline lake saltier than the sea. You can also see several volcanoes from this location. Look carefully at the graffiti on the surrounding cliffs of the cove, it has been written by pirates, whalers and buccaneers in past centuries.
Stay: Sea Star Journey
Day 7: Santiago Island
Morning: Espumilla Beach, Santiago Island
Espumilla Beach is located on the northern coast of Santiago Island and is a popular spot for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons who performing the dance of predator and prey. The main attractions are the Palo Santo forest and the spectacular landscape. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles.With an abundance of marine life including octopi, moray eel, and shark, snorkeling is highly recommended.
Afternoon: Puerto Egas, Santiago Island
Also known as James Bay, Egas Port is home to the curious Galapagos Hawks and Quick-footed Galapagos Lava Lizards. The trail leads to a coastline with gorgeous tide pools and grottos full of fauna. Here the Galapagos Fur Sea Lions bathe in the sun. This is also a great snorkeling site.
Stay: Sea Star Journey
Day 8: San Cristobal Island & depart Galapagos
Morning: Isla Lobos, San Cristobal
This little island is reached by panga from Baquerizo Moreno Port, the capital of the Island. The trail will lead across a dry vegetation zone, substrate of volcanic rocks and sandy areas. There is a small population of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds, which nest on this site and you also find a large colony of sea lions on the beach. After your visit to Isla Lobos, shared transfer to the airport in San Cristobal and fly back to Quito via Guayaquil.
After securities and customs, you meet your driver at the gate where you will be transferred to the hotel.
Located fairly close to Guayaquil airport, the Hilton Colon is a handy destination for a one night stopover before flying to the Galapagos Islands. All rooms are comfortable and nicely appointed with usual modern amenities.
Stay: Hilton Colon Quito Hotel
Day 9: Transfer to Lima
After checking out of your hotel, your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby for your private transfer to the airport in time your flight out.
After securities and customs, you meet your driver at the gate where you will be transferred to your hotel in Lima.
For the next 2 nights you will be staying at B Arts Boutique Hotel in an Alcoba Suite on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Ideally located in the heart of Barranco, Lima’s boho-chic seaside neighbourhood, an area filled with art galleries, fashion boutiques and restaurants, this luxury boutique hotel is an exciting addition to Peru’s design scene. Home to a unique collection of Peruvian and Latin American Art, Hotel B is also connected to the fabulous Lucia de la Puente Gallery next door, where guests can enjoy private viewings and special events. The property features 17 stylish and sophisticated rooms that contemporary décor with traditional influences and include luxurious amenities such as a pillow menu. Lavishly decorated and spacious rooms come with king-size beds and a foyer or private terrace overlooking the Boulevard. The hotel’s restaurant, bar and lounge offer a great introduction to Lima’s exciting restaurant scene. The Dining Room features a superb menu of Peruvian delights with fresh seafood the speciality.
Stay: B Arts Boutique Hotel
Day 10: Lima City Tour and Larco Museum
Today you will embark on a half day private tour of Lima.
Peru’s capital is a rich kaleidoscope of colonial architectural jewels, revered pre- columbian sites, charming residential areas, and vibrant shopping districts perched over the blue Pacific. Explore these many facets, including the 16th century Plaza Mayor (Main Square) – still graced by the Government Palace and the City Hall. You’ll visit the Cathedral and the San Francisco Convent, built in the 17th century, and its “Catacombs” ancient underground cemetery of Lima.
Afterwards, visit the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum: this fabulous museum includes the exquisite Collection of Peruvian Gold and Silver from the olden days, and the Pre-Hispanic Erotic Art Salon. Its pieces have toured major world museums. The Larco Museum exhibits the largest private collection of pre-Colombian Peruvian art in the world. Your tour continues along the city’s lovely Pacific coast through the enchanting neighborhoods of San Isidro, Miraflores and Larco Mar.
Stay: B Arts Boutique Hotel
Day 11: Transfer to Cusco
After check-out you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight out.
Upon arrivial in Cusco, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives and transferred around 1-1.5 hours to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
For the next two nights you will be staying at Hotel Sol & Luna in a Superior Casita on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Sol & Luna is a charming boutique-style hotel is situated 8,850 feet above sea level in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, an hour’s drive from Cusco airport, in Peru. Set within 25 acres of delightful gardens and surrounded by snow-capped mountains and arresting landscape, Sol & Luna was built using local materials to blend in with the surroundings. Its location was carefully chosen in order to maximise the amount of sunlight it receives. This luxury hotel offers 43 charming bungalows including four family bungalows, that are dotted around the enchanting gardens. Each bungalow features rustic décor, private terraces and stunning views of the mountains. Sol & Luna offers the perfect base from which to explore the fascinating region and will appeal to honeymooners, couples and families looking for an exclusive and peaceful escape with warm hospitality, personalised service and excellent facilities. With a world-renowned Peruvian chef at the helm, Sol & Luna’s superb restaurant serves up delectable local cuisine with a contemporary twist.
Stay: Hotel Sol & Luna
Day 12: Chinceros, Maras and Moray
Today, embark on a private full day excursion to explore Chinchero, Maras & Moray.
Begin your tour of the Sacred Valley with a visit to Chincheros village, surrounded by year round snow-capped peaks. A charming village where tradition is maintained in the dress of the indigenous locals and the profile presented by the site, which includes the walls of an Inca fortress and palace with trapezoidal niches, most likely belonging to Incan Tupac Yupanqui. Continue on to the Maras Salt Mine located near Maras town which is surrounded by the towering mountains of “La Veronica” (5682m) and “Chicon” (5530m). Maras-Salineras is an interesting pre-Columbian site formed by thousands of salt flats which are still worked today. Lunch included today.
Continue to Moray Archaeological site around 7km from Maras. There are enormous natural depressions or hollows in the ground surface that the Incans used for constructing farming terraces. Archaeologists describe it as a place of huge importance for the Incans and as an “Agricultural Laboratory”. What is surprising is that the difference of average annual temperature between the top and the bottom of the main depression (30 mtrs deep) is about 15 C. Moray, due to its mild weather and many other characteristics, was an important centre of agriculture and it was a greenhouse prototype allowing the Incans to grow 60% of the vegetables they consumed. Moray produced three thousand varieties of potato, 150 of maizeamong others. Return to your hotel after the tour.
Stay: Hotel Sol & Luna
Day 13: Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes by Vistadome Train
Today you will travel from Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) by Vistadome Train. There will be an early pick up and transfer to Ollanta railway station to board the tourist train that goes through the Urubamba Valley, or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to Aguas Calientes at the foot of the fabulous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spaniards. For centuries it was buried in the jungle until Hiram Bingham found it in 1911.The Holy City was built in stone among the flanks of two hills belonging to the eastern mountain range of the Andes, descending into the upper Amazonian region.
There is no doubt that Machu Picchu represents an extraordinary example of architecture and engineering, with numerous ruins to explore amidst the simply breathtaking views! Upon arrival at the station meet your guide and drop off luggage at the hotel before taking a bus to the top of the ruins, which is roughly a 20-30 minute journey. A private guided tour of the ruins then gives you some idea of what the city must have looked like when it was inhabited centuries ago. On this memorable day, a buffet lunch at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is included. Afterwards you have time to explore the ruins at your own leisure and then head down to Aguas Calientes on your own afterwards.
Please note that there is a 5kg/11 lbs carry-on luggage allowance per passenger. Dimensions are 62 linear inches / 157 cm. Your main luggage will be transferred to your hotel in Cusco for your return from Machu Picchu tomorrow.
Tonight you will be staying at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in a Superior Deluxe Room on a Half Board basis. Although Inkaterra is conveniently close to one of the worlds most visited archeological sites it is also a refuge from this popular tourist area. Their villas and casitas are scattered around twelve acres of nature reserve interwoven with waterfalls and dense foliage providing a habitat for 372 native species. Rooms are typically Peruvian; comfortable and cosy. Expect cool terracotta floors contrasting against white washed walls and large alpaca rugs draped over the beds. The hotel provides an excellent service in organizing any trips to explore the local area.
Day 14: Machu Picchu Mountain Hike & Transfer to Cusco
Today you have bus and ruins entrance tickets to revisit Machu Picchu at your leisure without a guide. You also have entrance tickets to climb Machu Picchu Mountain. It is the most spectacular yet one of the most overlooked optional hikes available at Machu Picchu. Located to the south-west of the citadel, towering 3,050 meters (10,007 feet) above sea level, the mountain hike offers unparalleled views of the famous Inca sanctuary and panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountainous landscapes. At its summit Incan priests once performed rituals on special dates as well as liturgical greetings to the Salkantay Apu.
Difficulty: The Machu Picchu Mountain hike is considered to be a moderate to challenging one. Following an original stone Inca Trail and continuously acceding to the summit, a good level of fitness is required. The ascent is around 1.5 hours, descent around 1 hour. Note that entrance tickets range between 7 and 11 am.
After checking out of your hotel and spending much of the day exploring Machu Picchu ruins and Aguas Calientes, walk over to the train station platform with the hotel porter, where you meet our local representative for assistance boarding. Take the Vistadome train to Cusco. Upon arrival at Cusco this evening, a Lightfoot Travel representative will be waiting for you on the platform for your private transfer to your hotel.
For the next two nights you will be staying at Inkaterra La Casona in a Patio Suite on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Re-live the layered heritage at Inkaterra La Casona and enjoy complete relaxation in its calm and serene surroundings, your quiet oasis amidst the vibrant capital of the Incan empire. Appreciate Cusco’s unique mestizo grandeur in the blended essence of Spanish design and local flavors. Enjoy its contemporary fixtures integrated with the original facilities, traditional colors, murals, and stone reflecting the patina of several eras.
Stay: Inkaterra La Casona
Day 15: City tour of Cusco and Sacsayhuaman Ruins
Today, head out on a half day private tour of the beautiful city of Cusco.
Cusco, the Archaeological Capital of the Americas, exists in the present and the past at the same time, being a living example of the meeting of two different age of culture. You will visit the Koricancha or Temple of the Sun and the Cathedral from the early 17th century; it is a fine example of colonial baroque art.
Continue your excursion with a visit to the nearby impressive Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, its enormous terrace views perched high above the city, with sweeping views of the valley below. The construction of the fortress is remarkable, a true engineering feat involving huge stones which we were not peiced together using mortar, simply hard graft by many thousands of Incans!
Stay: Inkaterra La Casona
Day 16: Departure
After check out you will meet your driver at the lobby who will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward flight home.
We can organise some fantastic extensions to this Ecuador, Galapagos Islands & Peru itinerary, here are some suggestions of what you can do:
- Peru: Additional destinations within Peru include Lake Titicaca reached by train across the Altiplano, the spectacular Colca Canyon and the Amazon which can be a lodge-based experience or take the excellent Aria Amazon luxury boat out of Iquitos in the far north east of the country.
- Iguassu Falls: Located on the border of Argentina & Brazil it is truly one of the highlights of South America. A direct flight from Lima, it combines very nicely with Peru as well as a link point for any flight connections from the eastern side of South America: Rio or Sao Paulo for example.
- Rio de Janeiro: One the great iconic cities of the world, see the world-renowned Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches, Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado’s Christ the Redeemer Statue.
- Chile: One of the most diverse destinations on the continent and world. Find the Atacama Desert to the North and the stunning Torres del Paine in Patagonia to the South of the country. There is also intriguing Easter Island, wine regions and the Lake District, a land of lakes and snow-capped volcanoes.
|Day 1:||Arrival||Casona de la Ronda|
|Day 2:||Explore Quito||Casona de la Ronda|
|Day 3:||Arrival into Galapagos & Santa Cruz Island||Sea Star Journey|
|Day 4:||Explore Isabela Island||Sea Star Journey|
|Day 5:||Punta Moreno & Elizabeth Bay||Sea Star Journey|
|Day 6:||Fernandina & Isabela Islands||Sea Star Journey|
|Day 7:||Santiago Island||Sea Star Journey|
|Day 8:||San Cristobal Island & depart Galapagos||Hilton Colon Quito Hotel|
|Day 9:||Transfer to Lima||B Arts Boutique Hotel|
|Day 10:||Lima City Tour and Larco Museum||B Arts Boutique Hotel|
|Day 11:||Transfer to Cusco||Hotel Sol & Luna|
|Day 12:||Chinceros, Maras and Moray||Hotel Sol & Luna|
|Day 13:||Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes by Vistadome Train||Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel|
|Day 14:||Machu Picchu Mountain Hike & Transfer to Cusco||Inkaterra La Casona|
|Day 15:||City tour of Cusco and Sacsayhuaman Ruins||Inkaterra La Casona|
- All accommodation with board as specified
- Private/Shared transfers as indicated
- Private/Shared excursions as indicated with relevant entrance fees
- Return Galapagos Flights
- Flights within South America
- Galapagos National Park & Tourist Card fees
- 24-hour emergency contact
- International flights Visas where necessary
- Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
- Tips and Gratuities Drinks at included lunches / dinners
- Additional entrance fees
- Accommodation early check in / Late check out
- Overweight luggage
- Personal expenses
- All other items and travel components not mentioned in inclusions
From USD $9,450 based on two guests travelling
Notes on our prices
- This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
- Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
- Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
- This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant.