Galapagos Wildlife and Peru’s Treasures
This sample luxury tour to Peru and Ecuador includes two of South America’s most iconic headline attractions: the “lost” Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the remote Galapagos Islands – a place Darwin famously described as a “living laboratory of evolution.” Start your customized tour in Peru, where you’ll unpack the mysteries of the Inca Empire during explorations of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Next, fly to Ecuador and embark on a luxury cruise around the Galapagos. Snorkel with seal pups in aquamarine waters, bask in the sun with marine iguanas and take in Galapagos sunsets from the comfort of your luxury yacht deck – the perfect way to wrap up a day of unforgettable wildlife encounters. Experience the best of these two fascinating destinations with a Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour designed by the local experts at Kuoda.
- Visit the colonial mansion of Casa Aliaga, one of the oldest houses not just in Peru but in the Americas as a whole.
- Immerse yourself in local life with visits to remote Andean villages that are, for most tourists, unchartered territory.
- Visit rural communities in the Sacred Valley towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
- Embark on a private city tour of Cusco, whose fascinating streets feature a unique concoction of Inca ruins and colonial constructions.
- Scale the ancient stone stairway up Machu Picchu’s neighboring peak, Huayna Picchu.
- Tour Machu Picchu with your very own expert guide who can explain all about the history, architecture and theories surrounding the site, before wandering independently among the iconic ruins the following day.
- Discover the delights of Peruvian cuisine at the country’s finest dining establishments.
- Pet llamas, alpacas and other wool-producing Andean camelids at the Awanakancha Living Museum.
- Delve into the rich history and colonial past of Quito, South America’s first declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Jump from one hemisphere to the other as you experience the “Middle of the Earth” at the Equator line.
- Island hop from aboard your luxury yacht while visiting the vibrant islands of the Galapagos, the former playground of Charles Darwin.
- Face-to-face encounters with exotic wildlife such as Giant Tortoises, Blue-Footed Boobies, and Pink Iguanas, all throughout the Galapagos Islands!
- Discover hidden treasures as you snorkel pristine beaches
- Luxury accommodations and services throughout your personalized trip of Peru and Ecuador.
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: Welcome to Peru! – Arrival in Lima
Day 2: Discover the Sacred Valley
Day 3: Ollantaytambo’s Incan Treasures – Hike in the Patacancha Valley to the ruins of Ollantaytambo
Day 4: Biking adventure to Inca laboratories – Private tours of Moray and Maras by bike
Day 5: Over the hills to Machu Picchu – Trekking the renowned Inca Trail
Day 6: The Ancient Citadel – Private tour of Machu Picchu
Day 7: Exploring the imperial city of Cusco – Private Walking Tour of Cusco
Day 8: On to Ecuador – Fly from Cusco to Lima, then on to Ecuador
Day 9: Quito’s secrets – Private tour of colonial Quito. Visit the Equator!
Day 10: Welcome to the Galapagos! – Transfer to airport, flight to Galapagos, start of island tour
Day 11: Isabela Island – Flight from San Cristobal to Isabela, tour of Los Tuneles
Day 12: Isabela Island – Sierra Negra Volcano and Tintoreras Island
Day 13: Santa Cruz Island – Boat to Santa Cruz; visit Los Gemelos and Tortuga Bay
Day 14: Bidding farewell to South America – Visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, fly to Quito and return home
DAY 1: Welcome to Lima!
Arrival in Lima
You will find us waiting for you when your international flight arrives in Lima to take you to your airport hotel for a rejuvenating night’s sleep.
DAY 2: Discover the Sacred Valley
Not only will we take you to the airport, but we will escort you to the correct airline desk and ensure you are checked in for your morning flight to Cusco. Upon arrival at Cusco’s small Andean airport, we’ll pick you up and bring you for a mouthwatering lunch. Then, before the altitude begins to take effect, we’ll chauffer you out to the Sacred Valley, where you can gently acclimatize in lower environs.
Though it’s not far from Cusco, the Sacred Valley feels much more laid-back and rural. The inhabitants live simple lives in small farming and weaving hamlets, guarded by the sheer-sided Andean pinnacles in the distance. We’ll stop off at the Awanakancha Living Museum en route to learn about the timeless weaving techniques and to meet the photogenic Andean camelids, including endearing alpacas and llamas, who provide the wool for the weavers.
DAY 3: Ollantaytambo’s Inca Treasures
Hike in the Patacancha Valley to the Ruins of Ollantaytambo
Today, you’ll don your walking shoes for a hike through the Patacancha Valley, whose billowing hillsides are covered with Inca-built agricultural terraces, irrigation canals, watchtowers and more.
First, we’ll drive up to the seldom-seen ruins of Pumamarca, which functioned as a community religious center for the Inca. Trek down the valley on a pre-Columbian trail, along irrigation canals used to water the terraced fields of Pallata. Enjoy lunch al-fresco amid the gorgeous valley scenery and breathe in the crisp mountain air.
Next, you’ll enter the town of Ollantaytambo, a classic Inca valley village whose cobbled passageways still retain original Inca features, including trickling street canals and Inca-style doors. Continue your private tour of Peru’s Sacred Valley at Ollantaytambo’s ruins, which sit above the graceful terraces. As you take in the view, your guide will show you the food storehouses where the Incas kept their grains and the distance quarries from where they sourced there hulking boulders for construction.
At the end of the day, you’ll be dropped off back at your luxury hotel.
DAY 4: Biking Adventure to Inca Laboratories
Private Tours of Moray and Maras by Bike
After breakfast, you’ll meet your guide and driver and head up to the highlands overlooking the Sacred Valley. Keep an eye out the window; it’s a particularly scenic drive, with spectacular views of the mesmerizing mountain peaks.
First, point your handlebars in the direction of the Inca ruins at Moray. Though they may appear to look like crop circles, these ancient amphitheaters are thought to have been used as an agricultural testing ground, where the Incas could develop new farming techniques. This explanation is, however, still just a theory, so you may want to ponder the likelihood of alien involvement over a picnic lunch at the sight.
Continue cycling to Maras to see the functioning salt pans. Spread out on terraces covering an entire hillside are thousands of white pools, which are still harvested by local families who pass down ownership from generation to generation.
Give your legs a break on the last downhill leg to to the small town of Pichingoto. Here, you’ll hop off the saddle and travel by car back to your hotel.
DAY 5: Over the hills to Machu Picchu
Trekking the renowned Inca Trail
Fill up on a hearty breakfast, before taking the train to Km 104 of the Inca Trail. Follow your guide along an uphill path to the ancient ruins of Wiñaywayna. Marvel at the strength and ingenuity of the Incas’ constructions and be on the lookout for striking orchids and jungle plants that sprout up at the site. Rest your legs while you eat an al fresco lunch.
Hit the trail once more and walk for another two hours or so to reach the famous Sun Gate of Machu Picchu. The iconic stone portal is so called because the sun shines through the narrow stone passage here each day as it rises. Tourists flock to this entrance to see the iconic view of Machu Picchu spread out below – a scene that’s plastered across almost every promotional image of the site.
Think about the Incas who walked this path before you as you descend over the paving stones into the city itself. As you walk around the precision-cut stone constructions of this grandiose citadel, it’s impossible to not be in awe at the sheer audacity of constructing a site like this is such an improbable location.
Later, your guide will take you back to your hotel In Aguas Calientes, leaving you to relax for the evening.
DAY 6: Machu Picchu on Your Own Terms
Private Tour of Machu Picchu / Climb to Huayna Picchu
You’ll enjoy an early breakfast at your hotel before meeting your guide for your visit to Machu Picchu. Your expert guide will give you a private tour of the ancient city and also will accompany you on a climb to Huayna Picchu, where you will be privy to an extraordinary viewpoint of the world wonder. After lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, you can re-enter with your guide or explore Machu Picchu on your own.
At the end of the day, you will travel by train back to Cusco. Enjoy the scenery of Peru’s Sacred Valley and the relaxation of train travel; not to mention a complementary fashion show! We will meet you at the station upon arrival and escort you to your hotel.
DAY 7: Exploring the Imperial City of Cusco
Private Walking Tour of Cusco
Having gotten used to the altitude, you’ll be ready to explore Cusco during a private tour. You guide will show you around, introducing you to the city’s appealing mix of Inca and colonial architecture. See all that remains of the ancient Inca temple of the sun, which the Spanish plundered for gold and replaced with its own Santo Domingo monastery. Learn about Cusco’s history prior to the arrival of the Spanish at the Pre-Columbian Art Museum. Get feel for 21st-century life in the city at the buzzy and bohemian San Blas neighborhood and shop for local products at the San Pedro open-air market.
Before you and your guide part ways for the afternoon, be sure to ask them if you need any dinner recommendations – Cusco is one of Peru’s gastronomic hotspots.
DAY 8: On to Ecuador
Fly from Cusco to Lima, then on to Ecuador
Your Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour continues. Today is the day you’ll swap the Inca heartland of Peru for Ecuador’s stunning capital, Quito. You’ll be transferred to the airport in Cusco and will fly to Ecuador via Lima, before being transported to your luxury hotel there.
DAY 9: Quito’s Secrets
Private Tour of Colonial Quito. Visit the Equator?
Today, you’ll delve into Ecuador’s thriving capital. During your private guided tour, you’ll discover its main plaza where a number of grand stately buildings, including the Government Plaza, Quito Cathedral and several key 16th and 17th-century churches, are situated. After you’ve worked up an appetite pounding the cobbled pavements, your guide will take you to one of the finest restaurants in town to feast on traditional Ecuadorean cuisine.
Next up? The Equator! Just 30 minutes north of Quito is the ‘Middle of the World’ monument, which was designed to honor the Equator. Except the people who built it got their calculations wrong; the true Equator is actually a few hundred feet north. Never mind, there’s lots of fun to be had here anyway as you pose for pictures astride the yellow line that supposedly marks the delineation between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
After that, you’ll escape the urban environs of Quito and hide away in to the cloud forest of Mindo, where you will spend the night in peaceful surroundings.
DAY 10: Welcome to the Galapagos!
Transfer to Airport, Flight to Galapagos, Start of Island Tour
Today you’ll begin you pilgrimage to the famous Galapagos Islands, flying from Quito out to San Cristobal.
After lunch, you’ll start getting to know the Galapagos with a tour of the Interpretation Center, which provides a comprehensive introduction to the islands’ unique wildlife. From there, it’s out to Darwin Bay – where Galapagos champion Darwin’s first set foot on the islands – for swimming and snorkeling. You won’t be alone in the water, with tropical fish, rays and even sharks often patrolling these shores.
DAY 11: Isabela Island
Flight from San Cristobal to Isabela, tour of Los Tuneles
Return to the airport on San Cristobal for your flight to Isabela Island, the largest in the archipelago. After settling into your hotel, you’ll be brought to Los Túneles, a maze-like series of arches and tunnels formed over many years as the waves eroded the lava rock. Don your mask and flippers for a spot of snorkeling or just swim around with your head above water waiting for the wildlife drama – starring feeding and courting iguanas, penguins and sea lions – to unfold. Alternatively, you might want to take a front-row seat on the sandy beach where you can watch the equally gripping flightless cormorants put on a show. Later, return to the hotel for dinner.
DAY 12: Isabela Island
Sierra Negra Volcano and Tintoreras Island
Day 12 gets off to a striking start with a trip to the Sierra Negra Volcano at the southern end of the island. Hike along the rim of one of the most impressive and most active volcanoes in the region. So active, in fact, that you’ll likely find yourself trekking across ‘fresh’ lava field which were only recently formed. After lunch, step aboard a boat for a short trip over to Tintoreras Island, a small but beautiful islet just off the coast of Isabela. Go snorkeling or swimming in the clear waters and wait for the endemic Galapagos penguin, white tipped sharks and baby iguanas to show their faces.
DAY 13: Santa Cruz Island
Boat to Santa Cruz; Visit Los Gemelos and Tortuga bay
Today begins with 2.5 hour boat trip to the Island of Santa Cruz. Upon arrival, we’ll head to the highlands to look for the famous Galapagos giant tortoise, who can be often seen plodding around this area. Then we’ll peer inside the twin sinkholes of Los Gemelos, before breaking for lunch.
Spend the afternoon on the baby-soft sands of the heavenly Tortuga Bay. The gorgeous setting is only outdone by the wildlife; fearless sea lions and marine iguanas often join humans here for a spot of sunbathing. Later, you’ll check into your luxury hotel in Puerto Ayora for the last night of your private tour of the Galapagos Islands.
DAY 14: Bidding farewell to South America
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, Fly to Quito and return home
Your final Galapagos stop-over will be at the Charles Darwin Research Center, where you can learn about the research and conservation work taking place here and see a gaggle of endangered tortoise species, which are safely in the center and later repatriated into the wild in an effort to increasing the islands’ tortoise population.
Afterward, you’ll be taken to the airport for your flight to Quito. Your host will help you check in for your international flight and wish you Buen Viaje!
Like the sound of this Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour? Get in touch with Kuoda and we’ll start devising your very own customized South America private travel experience.
- Take the reins of a Peruvian paso for a horse trek through the Sacred Valley.
- Sit down with a shaman for a private meditation ceremony.
- Observe local weavers at work during private demonstrations.
- Hone your kitchen skills during Peruvian cooking classes with celebrated chefs.
- Join a local Peruvian family for a home-cooked meal in their residence.
- Admire views of the Andes from your luxury, vintage-style carriage on the Belmond-owned Hiram Bingham Train.
- Take a day hike along part of the famed Inca Trail and arrive in Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate entrance that afternoon.
- Revel in the gorgeous views as you tuck into lavish picnics that come complete with glassware, crockery and even a professional waiter to serve you.
- Amp up the adrenaline with exhilarating adventure activities, such as riding the fast-flowing rapids of the Vilcanota River or zooming along zip lines in the Andes.
- Chat with local artisans and hunt for a bargain at Otavalo, the setting of South America’s oldest, largest and most famous market.
- Explore the flora-and-fauna-packed surrounds of the majestic Cuicocha lagoon, one of Ecuador’s most emblematic destinations.
- Ride horses, hike, fish or go paragliding around the dramatic mountain terrain of the Avenue of Volcanoes.
- Make the most of Ecuador’s striking scenery with deluxe, gourmet picnics where glassware, proper table settings, a professional waiter and delicious local dishes come as standard.
- Personalized itinerary planning: Work with a Kuoda Travel Designer to create the Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour of your dreams.
- Kuoda hosts take the hassle out of traveling. They’ll be there to assist you – whether with luggage, check in, transport or translating – at every destination during your private tour of Peru and Ecuador.
- Got a question or query? Kuoda operate a 24-hour, seven day a week customer service operation and can provide updates and assistance whenever you need it.
- With Kuoda, you’ll never be bundled in with big groups; each visit, activity, tour and experience will be completely private and conducted by your very own expert, English-speaking guide.
- Our private tours of Peru and Ecuador are fully flexible, which means we can modify them to suit your travel mood. So if you want to cut an activity or add on a new one, just say the word!
- All necessary adventure and trekking equipment will be provided so all you need bring is yourself.
- Receive a customized Kuoda Travel kit upon arrival.
Our staff handpicks the best hotels in each of the countries we operate in to ensure you get ultimate comfort and character during your stay.
Take a look to our recommendations and let us know if you’d like to incorporate one or a few of these options in to your Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour.
An exemplary way for any adventure seeking traveler to experience the best of the Andes! This sample Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour itinerary is just the way for you to get inspired.
Please know you can change or modify these tours however you deem necessary as all Kuoda itineraries are crafted just for you, to suit your individual interests and schedules. Interest in getting this trip completely customized?
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