Peru Holidays - Holidays to Peru - Chinchero market

Essential Peru + Galapagos in depth


PPW18L
18 NIGHTS
FROM £5,395
International flights quoted separately
Combine the highlights of Peru - including the Inca citadel at Machu Picchu & Spanish colonial city of Cusco - with time exploring the Galapagos Islands in depth. Board an Expedition Cruise followed by time onshore exploring Santa & surrounding islands, with diving options available. All transfers & specified sightseeing with English speaking guides included.
Photo Galapagos Islands Santa Cruz Diving Finch Bay Expedition Cruise
• 
Lima
• 
Cusco
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Ollantaytambo
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Guayaquil
• 
Galapagos Cruise
• 
Santa Cruz Island
• 
Quito
• 
Centre of World Monument
• 
Lima
• 
Cusco
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Ollantaytambo
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Guayaquil
• 
Galapagos Cruise
• 
Santa Cruz Island
• 
Quito
• 
Centre of World Monument
Day 1
You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city - the largest in Peru and its gastronomical centre.
Day 2
Enjoy a half day city tour of historic Lima, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well preserved architecture.
 
Founded in 1535, Lima was re-named the "City of Kings" when it was conquered by Spain and it became the most important city in the region. Today you can see many imposing buildings from the colonial era with their intricate balconies, including Government Palace on the Plaza Mayor, where you can still watch the changing of the guard.
 
The beautiful cathedral on the main square, the Plaza de Armas, and building such as the President's Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, City Hall and the baroque Torre Tagle Palace a couple of blocks east of the main square, add to the city's charm. See the 17th century Santo Domingo church and monastery, that is today a World Heritage Site, before driving through the financial district of San Isidro and the residential district of Miraflores. Afternoon is at leisure to explore the city independently.
Day 3
Transfer to Lima Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Cusco Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in, settle in and relax in this ancient Inca capital city set high in the Andes Mountains, that is today a World Heritage Site.
Day 4
Today enjoy a half day tour of the city of Cusco situated high in the Andes Mountains, followed by a visit to some of its ancient Inca ruins outside the city.
 
Comprising a fascinating mix of colonial churches, monasteries and extensive pre-Columbian ruins, almost every central street in this city has remnants of Inca walls. Explore the Plaza de Armas and the impressive Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun), whose walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold.
 
Walk down well-preserved Loreto Street, and along Ahuajpinta Street you can see the remains of impressive Incan palaces as well as old colonial buildings such as the 16th century cathedral and the Museum of Colonial Art. If you walk down Hatun Rumiyoc, a cobbled street near the Archbishop's Palace, keep an eye out for the famous 12-sided stone that fits so perfectly you can't even insert a coin.
 
We then leave the city and visit the impressive walled fortress of Saksaywaman on the northern outskirts, believed to have been both a military and ceremonial centre. We also visit the archaelogical site at Tambomachay (also known as the Incan Baths) and the excavated ruins at Q'inqu, before returning to town.
 
In the evening savour the local cuisine including a Pisco sour, the national drink. If you are feeling adventurous you can even try guinea pig - the local speciality.
Day 5
This morning we set out for the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is at Awanacancha, where we visit an Andean textile centre that strives to keep traditional Incan textile art alive. Here we learn about the dyeing techniques and instruments used for hundreds of years in the weaving of these famous textiles - as well as close up views of lama, alpaca and vicuna.
 
We continue to the picturesque colonial village of Pisac in the Urubamba Valley. Here we visit the impressive Pisac archeological complex, a collection of remains of Incan dwellings, temples and terracing, before visiting the village's colouful Indian market.
 
After an included lunch in the Urubamba Valley, we end the day with a visit to the citadel of Ollantaytambo, built to protect the northern entrance to the Sacred Valley from invasion, and later the centre of Incan resistance against the Spanish. The fortress and walled terraces of this town provide some of the finest examples of Incan architecture, with the six rose-coloured monoliths of the Temple of the Sun being particularly outstanding.  Afterwards you will be dropped off at your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
 
Note: You need to pack a small bag for this excursion, as large suitcases are not allowed on the train to Machu Picchu.
Day 6
Up early this morning to transfer to Ollantaytambo Station for the air-conditioned Vistadome train to the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu - an amazing 1.5-hour journey to this magnificent mountain top city situated in a beautiful cloud forest, that was abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911.
 
This legendary "Lost City of the Incas" is without a doubt one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Built on the summit of Machu Picchu (meaning "Old Peak"), on a natural saddle between steep forested mountains, it overlooks the deep canyon of the Urubamba River some 3,400 m above sea level. With its giant walls, terraces and ramps that appear to have been cut naturally out of the rock escarpments, Machu Picchu's history remains shrouded in mystery as the Incas did not leave any written records.
 
At the gateway town of Aguas Calientes, leave the train and board the bus for the 40-minute zig-zag ride up to this 14th century citadel for a guided tour. Here we visit the Main Plaza, Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, Royal Quarters, Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds. We suggest you take a packed lunch (to avoid queues at the restaurant). In the late afternoon return by bus to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo Station, where you will be met and transferred back to your hotel.
 
Note: You must take your passport today, as this will be needed to gain access to Machu Picchu and only one bag or rucksack not exceeding 5 kg (11 lb) is allowed as hand luggage on the train. From January to June, parts of the rail track may be impassable due to mud slides when a bus transfer is substituted.
Day 7
Transfer 2-hours to Cusco Airport for your onward flight.

Arrive at Guayaquil Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this important port, that is the largest city in Ecuador. Here the vibe is Caribbean, in marked contrast to the Andean region.
Day 8
Transfer to Guayquil Airport for your flight to the spectacular Galapagos Islands.
 
You will be met at Baltra Airport and transferred by bus to the boarding jetty. Here you will embark by panga boat (zodiac) on your Expedition Cruise through this magnificent archipelago, situated on the equator in the Pacific Ocean some 560 miles (900 km) west of the Ecuador mainland.
  
These volcanic islands are famous for their vast number of endemic species, studied by Charles Darwin during his historic voyage on the Beagle, which contributed to his Theory of Evolution by natural selection. Check in and relax in this astonishing marine reserve, where the unique wildlife does not seem perturbed by human visitors - allowing for extremely close-up encounters.
 
Please note that you need to be relatively mobile to enjoy an expedition cruise in the Galapagos, as you will be embarking and disembarking by panga boat (zodiac). All sightseeing with a naturalist guide, marine fees, snorkelling and medical care aboard the boat are included, but not the cost of medicines. Wetsuits are available for hire. Children < 6 years are not allowed on an expedition cruise.
Days 9 To 11
Enjoy cruising through the marine-rich waters of the world-famous Galapagos Islands, with shore excursions each day with a naturalist.
 
Your exact routing will depend on your departure date and the vessel you have selected.
Day 12
Disembark from your Expedition Cruise at Santa Cruz Island and transfer to your yacht to enjoy lunch onboard as we sail to North Seymour Island.
 
This island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed accounts for its low flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, with swallow-tailed gulls sitting among the rocks and ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.
 
North Seymour Island is teaming with life. You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed boobys nest beside the trail and mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along the rocky shore, large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding frenzy. The trail then turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the magnificent frigate bird. These huge dark acrobats have 2m (6 ft) wingspans. The males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, perch in low bushes as they watch over their large chicks. This is a walking excursion, involving a dry landing on uneven rocky terrain.
 
After our visit, the yacht sails to the Itabaca channel, where we disembark and travel by road across the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galápagos. Here we board a panga boat for the short ride to your hotel. Check in and enjoy the swimming and bar, as well as the magnificent white coral beach out front.
Day 13
Today we travel to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where we visit the Manzanillo Tortoise Reserve. Here you can see giant tortoises in their natural habitat - a once in a lifetime experience.
 
Manzanillo is on the annual tortoise migration path, as these huge animals move slowly to higher moist ground during the dry season (June-September) then descend again to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Giant tortoises can be seen grazing here on the vegetation and wallowing in muddy banks or in small red-coloured ponds. The surrounding area is teeming with bird life - including chirping small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules. Make sure you wear suitable outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear.
 
After an included lunch served in the highlands, with stunning views over Santa Cruz Island, we visit a small farm where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown and harvested – all in an organic and sustainable way. We can taste the products and learn about the island spirits. Balance of afternoon is free to relax at your hotel.
Day 14
We explore Santa Fe Island today with its beautiful sheltered coves and turquoise lagoon, protected by a peninsula of tiny islets, that provide an ideal anchorage. This island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz, within sight of Puerto Ayora.
 
Like North Seymour Island, Santa Fe was uplifted from the ocean floor and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off. A wet landing on a sandy white beach will take us close to one of the many sea lion harems, with bulls vying for dominance. We will also see a large species of land iguana native to this island. Chocolate brown in color, with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas resemble pre-historic dinosaurs. Galápagos hawks are often seen perched on salt bushes, as well as indigenous species of rice rat and the harmless Galápagos snake. You can also see the giant prickly pear cactus, with huge tree-sized trunks.
 
After your nature walk, enjoy swimming in the calm waters of the bay and snorkelling among the marine life.
Day 15
Only a short distance from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, we discover the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay that provides a wonderful natural shelter. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from ocean swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, a gallery of mangrove trees on the other side, and ancient cliffs created by the uplift of the lava plateau.  
 
Every morning hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, returning before sunset to perch on the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eyes of blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs. Beneath the sea sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of species of reef fish swim in the lava crevices and young reef sharks and rays hide from large predators in the brackish streams.
 
We explore this lovely cove by boat or, if you are more adventurous, by tandem kayak straight from the hotel’s beach. You can also snorkel in a calm section of the cove. We also explore Punta Estrada, where a dry landing and short walk will take us to a small beach called 'Playa de los Perros' (or Dog Beach) on the south shore of the island. This is a great place to see marine iguanas and their nesting sites. Nearby there is a natural terrace, from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed as they swim in the lava crevices.  
 
We return to our hotel for lunch and to freshen up, before visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station in the afternoon. Accompanied by a guide, stroll through the grounds of the research station with its famous giant tortoise breeding programme that includes celebrities such as Diego (now the world’s most famous giant tortoise, following the death of Lonesome George in 2013). Land iguanas are also a highlight, with the opportunity to learn more about their conservation.
Day 16
This morning we visit the Twin Pit Craters, a great geological depressions of volcanic material formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground. Here you can see exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids.
 
Continue to Baltra Airport for your flight to Quito, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 17
This morning we visit the equatorial monument that marks the Centre of the World at latitude 0º - about 16 miles (25 km) north of Quito. Here you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere and visit the Intiñan folk museum that showcases the different Native American groups living in Ecuador, their culture and traditions. There is also a colonial-style tourist village complete with main square, church, post office, bull ring and gift shops.
 
Afterwards enjoy a walking tour through the streets and main square of the historic Colonial Quarter, the largest and best preserved in South America. Take in its magnificent colonial architecture - including the Cathedral, President's Palace, Archbishop's Palace and the Municipal Building flanking Independence Plaza. You will see many mansions, monasteries and churches, and visit the Church & Convent of Santo Domingo. The city also has many cosmopolitan galleries and boutiques filled with contemporary paintings, sculptures and exquisite traditional crafts.
 
Please note: Quito walking tour is conducted at an altitude of 2,800 m and includes climbing stairs. As you will be visiting churches (except on Sundays, when this is not permitted), do not wear shorts or mini-skirts as these are not allowed.
Day 18
Transfer to Quito Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred to your hotel situated near the airport.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city.
Day 19
Transfer to Lima Airport for your flight home.

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