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Exploration and encounters

See an unforgettable World Wonder, the treasures of the Inca, the world's highest capital and some of the planet's most unusual creatures.

Beginning with a visit to Peru's Sacred Valley where the Inca civilisation once thrived and to the magical "lost city" of Machu Picchu, this wonderful Small Group Tour will reveal Cuzco's unique blend of Inca architecture and colonial style, and Peru’s cosmopolitan capital, Lima. You’ll fly to lofty Quito, to explore the Ecuadorean capital in its spectacular Andean setting, and spend four nights in the remote Galápagos Islands. Here, encounters with the fearless, extraordinary creatures that make the islands their home will leave you with some astonishing memories, and ensure a wonder-filled conclusion to a very special holiday.

What does this price include?

  • 14 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at good hotels in the Sacred Valley (2 nights), Aguas Calientes (1), Cuzco (2), Lima (2), Quito (3), San Cristobal, Galápagos (2) and Santa Cruz, Galápagos (2)
  • Hop back and forth across the equator line at the ‘Middle of the World’
  • Four lunches and one dinner
  • Entrances and Galapagos National Park fees
  • Return flights to Cuzco, via Bogotá (returning from Quito via Bogotá)
  • Internal flights from Cuzco to Lima, from Lima to Quito, from Quito to San Cristobal and from Baltra to Quito
  • An inter-island ferry and bay cruise in the Galápagos
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers
  • The services of a friendly, experienced tour manager and local guides

Your Itinerary

  • Fly overnight, via the Colombian capital, Bogotá, to Peru’s Inca capital, Cuzco.

  • Today you'll arrive in the high Peruvian Andes, and transfer from Cuzco to the fabled Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here, highlights will include a visit to the tiny town of Ccaccaccollo, where you’ll enjoy a demonstration of the ancient crafts of fabric weaving and dyeing before continuing to your hotel for the first of two nights in the valley.

  • Continue your discovery of the Sacred Valley, today, as you explore the Inca ruins and market of ancient Pisac, as well as the great terraced fortress at Ollantaytambo. You'll also visit a potato park where you’ll learn about the importance of that vegetable to the valley’s indigenous community.

  • Today you'll travel by narrow-gauge railway and bus to breath-taking Machu Picchu, the iconic Lost City of the Incas. On arrival, your guide will introduce the layout of the original citadel, after which you are free to wander around the site. Magnificently set in the heart of the Andes, Machu Picchu seems to have been a military outpost, a secret retreat of Inca rulers and a sanctuary built in honour of Inca chief Pachacutec. With its Royal Tomb, Temple of the Sun, Priest’s House, Temple of the Three Windows and Sunken Plaza, it is undeniably one of the true wonders of the world.

    At the end of the day, you’ll head back down to nearby Aguas Calientes for an overnight stay in this lively Andean jungle spa town.

  • A second day’s optional visit to Machu Picchu begins with the unforgettable sight of sunrise over the citadel, as well as the opportunity to explore the site before the bulk of visitors arrive. At the end of a truly unforgettable couple of days you’ll return to Cuzco by train and bus, to spend two nights in the majestic city.

  • Join your guide for an introduction to one of The Americas’ most enthralling cities, with its ancient palaces and temples, and its roll call of colonial buildings. Highlights will include the Santo Domingo monastery, built over the Inca Temple of the Sun, the monumental cathedral and the Spanish glories of the main square, the Plaza de Armas. You will also visit San Pedro market's colourful stalls, and journey out into the surrounding hills to take in the ruins at the Inca sites at Sacsayhuaman, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay, before spending a second night in the city.

  • Today you’ll fly west and back down to sea level to spend two nights in Lima. After your arrival in the Peruvian capital, you'll be transferred to your hotel so you can rest and relax. Why not dine out this evening in this city that is well known as one of South America’s culinary hotspots?

  • Today’s tour will introduce this thriving city, founded by conquistador Francisco Pizarro, where Spanish colonial influences abound, especially around its central Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de Armas. See the Presidential Palace and the city's Baroque cathedral, explore the ultra-modern San Isidro and Miraflores districts, which overlook the Pacific Ocean, and enjoy a second evening in the city.

  • Bidding farewell to Lima, today you'll head to the airport to board the two-hour flight back into the high Andes and to the extraordinary Ecuadorian city of Quito.

    Stunningly set just 22 kilometres south of the equator, over 9,300 feet above sea level and beneath the volcanic slopes of towering Pinchincha, Quito is a Spanish colonial treasure-chest arrayed around its UNESCO-listed Historic Centre. Since the city can be literally breath-taking due to the altitude, you'll have the rest of the day free to spend acclimatising.

  • Join your tour manager for a guided introduction to the Ecuadorian capital, including a tour of the colourful, edgy La Mariscal district and the historic centre. Among the city's fascinating sights are restored Independence Plaza in the heart of the city's Historic Centre, Plaza San Francesco with its monumental church, and the towering Gothic wonder that is the Basilica del Voto National. The cries of the bowler-hatted street-vendors peddling woollen shawls and panama hats, and the aromas of traditional street food, add to the wonderful atmosphere. Head to Itchimba Park for spectacular views of the city and its mountain backdrop, and this afternoon pay a visit to Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World) where the equator is marked with a monument and visitor centre.

    Spend a second evening in the fascinating city, perhaps heading to La Mariscal, the hub of Quito’s nightlife.

  • Today’s included excursion takes you to the sprawling, kaleidoscopic fair held in the squares and streets of the highland town of Otavalo, probably the most famous of all South America’s colourful, indigenous markets. See vendors in traditional dress selling a vast array of traditional goods at remarkable prices on a fascinating day that will also include visits to indigenous villages Cotacachi and Peguche before you return to Quito for a last evening in the city.

  • The first of four very special days begins as you bid farewell to Quito and fly to the remote, volcanic Pacific archipelago. Charles Darwin first set foot in this "paradise" in 1835, and it remains a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna unaffected by the outside world.

    After your arrival on Baltra you’ll transferred by boat to the neighbouring island Santa Cruz. This afternoon, after an included lunch, head into the island’s highlands for a gentle hike in the El Chato Reserve, where extraordinary giant tortoises still wander freely, and where you'll also be able to watch the skies and surrounding vegetation for signs of bird life, including the island's Darwin finches.

    Later, spend the first of two nights in delightful Puerto Ayora.

  • On the first full day of your Galápagos tour, you’ll take an unforgettable cruise across the pristine waters of Academy Bay. Make the most of opportunities for snorkelling or swimming in waters filled with a colourful array of marine life, including turtles and sea lions. Ashore, there are marine iguanas to encounter, and an astonishing collection of cacti and red volcanic rocks to marvel at.

    Lunch is included again, today.

  • This morning enjoy a fascinating visit to the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, learning about the vital conservation work that takes place across the Galápagos, and meeting several sub-species of giant tortoise, many of which are at ease with human contact.

    In the afternoon you will take the boat to San Cristobal Island. On arrival you’ll head to the nearby beach at La Lobería, a crescent of sand that is home to families of sea lions, and where other indigenous species such as turtles, marine iguanas and several unique bird species (including the remarkable blue-footed booby) are also sometimes seen. There'll be time for swimming or snorkelling (opportunities for yet more marine encounters) before you head to your hotel.

  • After breakfast, head to the dock to board a boat for a short trip accompanied by your certified Galápagos National Park guide, to tiny Isla Lobos to see its resident sea lions, and colonies of frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. A swim in the calm, clear waters, or a stroll along the white-sand beach, should bring yet more sightings and close-up views of marine life before you return to Puerto Moreno to enjoy an included lunch followed by an afternoon free for relaxation.

    This evening you'll sit down with your new-found friends to reminisce about the extraordinary sights of the last two weeks over a Farewell Dinner.

  • Say goodbye to the Galápagos Islands, today, transferring to San Cristobal’s island airport to board the flight to Guayaquil. Here, you'll catch a connecting flight to Bogotá and your overnight flight home across the Atlantic.

  • You'll land back in the UK, today, at the end of a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime, South American adventure.

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Hotels

Peru, Ecuador & the Galapagos Touring Hotels

You will be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

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Further Information

  • The transfer time is approximately ******.

  • If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

  • We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.

  • The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

  • Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

  • Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

  • On the departures listed below, the Galapagos section of your tour (Days 12-16) will operate in reverse. The content and inclusions each day will remain the same but in a different order.

    22 Oct 2020
    1 Feb 2920
    14 Oct 2021
    10 Feb 2022
    18 Apr 2022

     

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