Latin America Vacation
Ecuador and Galapagos | Galapagos & Machu Picchu Adventure
Meet exotic and bizarre wildlife as you venture among cinder cones, lava flows, white and black sand beaches, and rocky cliffs and cool off snorkeling in clear equatorial waters, then head out to the Andes of Peru and discover the land of the Incas.
15 Days / 14 Nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
This adventure combines a voyage through Galapagos, whose unique wildlife adaptations gave rise to Darwin’s notes on evolution, and a journey through the land of the Incas. Begin aboard a first-class yacht in the Galapagos Islands and discover plants and animals unique to particular islands as you travel throughout the archipelago. Our expert naturalist guides explain how these species have evolved and adapted over time. During an eight-day cruise, you will visit the major wildlife sites, including some of the more remote outer islands. Meet exotic and bizarre wildlife as you venture among cinder cones, lava flows, white and black sand beaches, and rocky cliffs, and cool off snorkeling in clear equatorial waters.
Head out to the Andes of Peru and discover the land of the Incas. Specialists in archaeology, history, and Andean culture will take you through the monumental Inca stone temples and restored agricultural terraces of Quechua Indian villages in Cusco, the Urubamba Valley, and Machu Picchu. The Machu Picchu segment can be easily combined with ANY Wildland Adventures Galapagos itinerary, and the two segments can be done in the reverse order. Let this itinerary be your inspiration, and your dreams and preferences are your guides!
A few more reasons you have to go:
Amazing Galapagos cruise
Jorge Chavez International Airport LIM
Mariscal Sucre International Airport UIO
Arrival in Lima
Arrive in Lima. Airport assistance and overnight at the Costa del Sol Airport Hotel just a short two-minute walk outside customs.
About Costa del Sol
Located within the Lima airport complex, the Costa del Sol is an easy stop after late international flight arrival. The hotel features 130 guest rooms all with high-speed Internet access, air conditioning, and a marble bathroom. Enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant offering a variety of local and international cuisine or relax in the pool.
Return to the Lima airport for a brief flight to Cusco. Meet your guide and driver upon arrival and depart immediately to the Urubamba Valley. On this full-day guided adventure through the Sacred Valley of the Incas you visit the colorful village of Pisac and further up the hills to the rarely visited ruins. Depending on the season and your interests you’ll stop to chat with farmers and artisans and visit Quechua villages where highland Indians tend their fields and sell handcrafts in outdoor markets.
About Hotel Sol y Luna
Nestled in the heart of the Urubamba Valley, the Hotel Sol y Luna combines comfort, artistry, and service with a rustic Andean ambiance. Surrounded by a landscape of whispering eucalyptus, blooming gardens, and the majestic mountains of the Andes, all bungalows feature tastefully appointed interiors, private bath and shower, king-sized beds, and a private terrace, each decorated with murals by local artist Federico Bauer. For more space and comfort, and added tv and fireplace, consider upgrading from Standard Casita to one of the Suite categories. Sol y Luna also features a full-service spa, swimming pool, and BBQ area, a stable of Peruvian Paso horses available for riding upon request, and an exceptional restaurant with the warmth of a pizza oven, and a full menu featuring typical Peruvian dishes and fusion international cuisine. Culinary-minded travelers can reserve a spot at the Chef’s Table in his kitchen for a hands-on cooking lesson followed by lunch or dinner.
Drive through the Urubamba Valley to the town of Ollantaytambo and ruins of the same name. A narrow dirt road leads to the Patacancha Valley (1 hour) reaching the community of Pallata (12,000’ elevation). Here you can observe the native Quechua way of life in the high Andes where crops are sown, and textiles are woven with simple hand tools that have been in use for centuries. A short, steep ascent to the road head brings you to the small archaeological complex at Pumamarca, a former Inca settlement that managed the irrigation system of the Inca terracing below. After visiting this site, you will begin hiking down through the ancient Inca terracing complex of Choquecancha, still used today by local Quechua farmers, overlooking spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and Urubamba Valley below. A three-hour descent through these farmed terraced areas will bring you to the outskirts of Ollantaytambo Village. Picnic lunch will be served en route.
Transfer to catch the morning train to Machu Picchu. After assisting with your hotel check-in, our guide accompanies you on a private tour throughout the principal temples and important sectors of Machu Picchu before leaving you in the late afternoon, free to continue exploring on your own time. Includes first-class reserved train tickets, bus tickets up to and down the mountain, lunch, and entrance fee.
About Hotel Machu Picchu Pueblo
The Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is one of Peru’s most beautiful boutique properties with 85 luxury cottages laid out like a small Andean village ensconced within a secluded 12-acre cloud forest. Guests reach their comfortable one- or two-story whitewashed casitas following stone pathways through flowering gardens and natural landscaped habitat that attracts a cacophony of colorful birds. Large and bright rooms are furnished with wooden furniture specially made by local craftsmen. The property boasts the world’s largest native-species orchid collection open to the public with over 372 varieties. The gardens and walkways among flowing water channels set the tone for a relaxing and meditative atmosphere where you find the UNU Spa featuring massage, sauna, and aromatherapy.
You have time this morning to return to Machu Picchu on the early shuttle bus (transport and entrance fee included). Enjoy contemplating, exploring, and photographing the most impressive archaeological monument in South America on your own time wandering through the mysterious maze of streets and stone buildings in this magnificent citadel. Hike up the towering Wayna Picchu peak (separate ticket needed for timed entrance and hike), or back up the Inca Trail to the Intipunku, Gate of the Sun entrance. Or, simply explore the trails and lush orchid gardens of the Machu Picchu Pueblo, where you will have lunch before departing on the late-afternoon return on the Pullman train to a station in the Urubamba Valley. Here, you will reunite with your guide and driver to return the remaining 45 minutes to Cusco.
About Casa San Blas
Casa San Blas is situated in an original colonial building peacefully removed from Cusco’s fast pace, like a sophisticated country hotel in the city. Rooms offer superb distant views of Cusco’s tiled rooftops and surrounding mountains or of the handsome arcaded interior courtyard, central fountain, and ample terrace. Tucked away in the heart of the city’s most atmospheric neighborhood, San Blas, the hotel is perfect for visitors looking for a relaxed, spacious option, and ideal for families.
Cusco Walking Tour
Following breakfast at your hotel, join your guide for a half-day exploration of ancient Inca temples, Spanish churches, and the surrounding ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, and Tambo Machay. The remainder of the afternoon is free for your own explorations, your guide will be happy to direct you to shops, museums, markets, and restaurants where you can shop dine and explore on your own later this afternoon.
Lima & Departure to Quito
Transfer to Cusco airport for a flight to Lima, where you will remain at the airport for ongoing connections. Arrive in Quito and transfer to Patio Andaluz, a lovely converted colonial mansion located in the heart of the city’s historic center.
About Patio Andaluz
Situated in the heart of Quito’s colonial center, Patio Andaluz holds centuries of Ecuadorian history within its elegant walls. With a maximum capacity of 100 guests, the hotel retains an intimate atmosphere coupled with impeccable service and modern amenities. All of Quito’s most popular highlights, including Independence Square, the Cathedral, and Carondelet Palace, are conveniently located nearby.
You begin your Ecuador vacation with a tour of colonial Quito, including the bustling Independence Plaza, the dazzling gold-leafed altars of La Compania Church, and the impressive San Francisco Church. Visit the Mitad del Mundo Equatorial marker and ethnographic village and museum for a fun and informative examination of the curiosities of life on the Equator. You will enjoy lunch al fresco at a lively café in the colonial square, or in the Andean highlands with views to numerous volcanic peaks.
Private transfer in the morning to the domestic airport for the flight to the Galapagos [Avianca #1636 Quito/Galapagos 09:00-11:30], you are met by your naturalist guide and transferred to the yacht for check-in and lunch onboard. Following lunch, travel overland to Cerro Tijeretas or Frigatebird Hill. This is a great opportunity to spot nesting colonies of both species of frigatebirds, Great and Magnificent. This evening, your naturalist guides hold your first briefing followed by the Captain’s welcome cocktail.
About the Letty
With a minimum of two friendly onboard naturalist guides, flexible room configurations, and a 20-passenger limit, the Letty is perfect for families looking for a Galapagos adventure of a lifetime. The air-conditioned boat features a conference room and lounge for daily briefings or movie watching and delicious cuisine that highlights Ecuador’s vibrant flavors. Each of the 10 double or triple capacity cabins comes with private baths, ample drawers and closet spaces, and hairdryers.
And when it comes to environmental sustainability, you can feel good about choosing this vessel: it is Smart Voyager certified, a program by the Rainforest Alliance that credits operations that adhere to a strict set of conservation standards. As you journey from island to island explore each new site by foot, kayak, Zodiac, or flipper and snorkel (all gear is included).
This morning you visit Cerro Brujo, a breathtaking white powder-sand beach, said to be one of the most spectacular in the Galapagos. Here you have an opportunity to snorkel or kayak directly from the beach, where you may spot turtles or flamingos. Following lunch onboard and repositioning of the vessel, you visit the northeast tip of San Cristobal, Punta Pitt. This is a tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including blue-footed, Nazca, and red-footed boobies, frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and storm petrels. Punta Pitt is considered to be a first-class site for birders, so don’t forget your binoculars!
Following breakfast, you have a dry landing at Punta Suarez, where you witness the highest rate of endemic species in the Galapagos. Sea lions noisily greet you as you land on “their” beach. Curious Hood mockingbirds peck at your shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates. Nazca (formerly masked) boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls are the only nocturnal gulls in the world. Red-billed tropicbirds take shelter under the cliffs. You also find Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves, and Galapagos Hawks. Here you may observe a unique species of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near the dramatic “blow hole”. This is the scene most people envision when they decide to visit Galapagos. During lunch, you motor to the other side of the Island.
This morning you step ashore at Punta Cormorant on Floreana, one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Floreana presents a rich history with mystery and intrigues worthy of a novel. Set foot on a green-sand beach alive with the sounds of sea lions. Follow a trail to a brackish lagoon, home of the pintail ducks, common stilts, and the pinkest flamingos in the world. Your guide will help identify a rich variety of plants including morning glories, cut leaf daisies, Palo Verdes, and scalesia, all while approaching a beach with powder-soft sand. Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand dunes and brilliantly-colored rays swim in the shallow water. After the walk, you have an opportunity to snorkel at Devil’s Crown, a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and coral.
This afternoon you visit Post Office Bay, perhaps not the most scenic, but probably the most famous site in Galapagos. Here you visit a post barrel, originally put into use in the late 18th Century by sailors onboard English whaling vessels. You are invited to leave a postcard and to pick up any mail from your home area.
Santa Cruz Island
Today travel via local “Chiva” bus to the verdant highlands of Santa Cruz. The scenery gradually changes as you make your way through seven vegetation zones found in the Galapagos Islands. Visit a tortoise reserve, “La Primicias,” where you may observe the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Next travel to the “Los Gamelos” twin pit craters and prime habitat to the vermilion flycatcher, a brilliant red streak of feathers in the greenery. Following lunch, visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, where scientists keep breeding corrals of all species of tortoises found on the islands. You may see brand new hatchlings as well as juvenile tortoises not yet ready to be released into the wild. This evening, you have the option to remain in the town of Puerto Ayora to experience the nightlife and restaurants available there or return to the yacht for dinner. Zodiacs will be available for transfers through the evening.
Bartolome & Santa Cruz Island
Following breakfast, you visit Bartolome, a landscape reminiscent of walking on the moon. While inhospitable to most plants and animals, this young island is breathtaking in its stark beauty. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes upstairs leading to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, you pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones, and cinder cones. From the top of the wooden stairs, gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and iconic “Pinnacle Rock”, an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel from the beach or Zodiac with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins. After lunch, visit Las Bachas (The Barges) Beach, a long stretch of soft white sand and lagoons which provide habitat for the Greater Flamingo. Snorkeling here from the beach is a great passenger favorite. Later, a wet landing at Sombrero Chino presents you with sea lion colonies, and after a short hike, the trail gives way to lava fields and tubes. Here you will find marine iguanas and opportunities to snorkel with penguins.
South Plaza & North Semour
his morning’s visit is to South Plaza, a small geological uplift with tall cliffs offering spectacular views. After a dry landing, the trails lead you through Prickly Pear cactus or Opuntia and Sesuvium. Here you find the Galapagos land iguana feeding on the cactus leaves. Toward the end of the hill, you encounter a colony of bachelor sea lions. The dominant bulls will likely be in various stages of recovery from battles lost over prime beach territory. You also find swallow-tailed gulls, shearwaters, and red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs.
Arrival & Departure
Your trip begins with your arrival at Jorge Chavez International Airport on Day 1. Upon arrival, you will be met by an Austin Adventures representative who will transfer you to Costa del Sol for check-in. On Day 16, you will be transferred to Mariscal Sucre International Airport for your flight home, approximately three hours prior to your flight departure time.
- Visit Pisac ruins and market
- Visit Ollantaytambo and Patacancha Valley hike
- Train to Machu Picchu, guided visit to the site
- Tour of Cusco and nearby ruins
- Quito City tour + Mitad del Mundo Equatorial Marker
- Cerro Brujo and Punta Pitt
- Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay
- Punta Cormorant, Devil’s Crown, Post Office Bay
- Highlands, Charles Darwin Station
- Pinnacle Rock, Black Turtle Cove
- Opuntia cactus forest
Perhaps there’s no better combination in South America than the unique wildlife of the iconic Galapagos Islands, paired with the gem of all archaeology, Machu Picchu. This exciting itinerary gives you one of the most comprehensive adventures you could ask for…exploring the culturally-rich villages and world-class Inca ruins of Peru, then capping it with luxury cruising through the wildlife haven of the iconic Galapagos Islands, with opportunities to snorkel, kayak, and hike nearly every day!
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments, and receptions except one dinner on your own are included as indicated by the itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire, and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Latin America Expert
Want to know how to fully experience the depth of beauty and culture in a place? Ask Carol Austin. A Montana native who treasures the land and people in her own backyard—be it Yellowstone, the Beartooths, or the family around her dinner table—Carol knows how to embrace any destination she explores, a feat at 40+ countries and counting. And with more than 20 years in the travel industry, she’s really good at helping guests plan—and fully enjoy—their adventure vacation, too. She co-founded Austin Adventures with her husband, Dan Austin.