Inspiring Incas & Great Galapagos
Special 7: Machu Picchu, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Galapagos Cruise
- Day 1: Arrival in Lima
- Day 2: Arrival in Cusco
- Day 3: Cusco City Tour
- Day 4: Sacred Valley Tour
- Day 5: Machu Picchu Tour
- Day 6: Arrival in Quito
- Day 7: Begin Galapagos Cruise
- Day 8: Galapagos Cruise
- Day 9: Galapagos Cruise
- Day 10: Galapagos Cruise
- Day 11: Departure from the Galapagos
Travel to the heights of Machu Picchu and cruise the Galapagos Islands on a two-in-one exploration of South America’s greatest wonders.
Five centuries ago, Cusco and the Sacred Valley formed the heart of the Inca Empire, the greatest and most powerful civilization in all of the Americas. This tour takes you to the still-magnificent ruins of this lost empire, including the most wonderful of them all, hidden deep in the cloud forest jungle: Machu Picchu.
From Peru, you’ll continue to the Galapagos, inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution, where strange and special creatures roam across the volcanic landscape, swim in the gorgeous blue-green seas of the archipelago, and lounge lazily under the equatorial sun. Your cruise will take you to the best islands for wildlife-viewing in what is sure to be the experience of a lifetime.
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Upon arrival at the Lima airport, meet our Peru For Less representative and walk or take a short car ride to your airport hotel. Overnight in Lima.
Day 2: Arrival in Cusco
Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Cusco.
Upon arrival at the Cusco airport, meet our Peru For Less representative for the 20-minute drive to your hotel in the historic center. As you approach the oldest sections of the city, gorgeous examples of Spanish colonial architecture will draw your eye. Look closely and you might see the remains of Inca stonework - these are the former palaces and temples of the former Inca imperial capital.
After check-in at your Cusco hotel, you have the rest of the day to start exploring the city on your own. Remember to take it easy on this first afternoon since Cusco is located at 11,300 feet in elevation. Most travelers acclimate within 1-2 days and have no trouble with slow-paced activities. Wander about the main square, visit a museum, or stop by one of the many shops or cafes. Don’t miss out on the chance to sample Peruvian cuisine in one of Cusco’s many casual and/or fine dining restaurants.
Day 3: Cusco City Tour
Spend the morning at your leisure. This is a good time to explore some of Cusco’s less-visited attractions including the famous San Pedro Market, the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, or one of Cusco’s many fine museums. Get a glimpse of Peru’s long artistic heritage at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, hone your knowledge of the Inca Empire at the Casa Concha (“Machu Picchu Museum”), or make your own chocolate from scratch at the Choco Museum.
In the afternoon, meet our expert Cusco guide to tour the city’s must-see attractions. Stops include the Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, the fabulous Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha, the gargantuan ruins of the Sacsayhuaman fortress/temple overlooking the city, as well as the ruins of Q'enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay nearby.
In the late afternoon, return to your Cusco hotel and spend the evening at your leisure. Enjoy the local cuisine and the splendor of Cusco at night, the surrounding hills twinkling with lights and the sky overhead littered with stars.
Day 4: Sacred Valley Tour
Explore the beautiful Peruvian countryside with a full-day tour of the magical Sacred Valley, home to several royal estates of Incan emperors. First, visit the town of Pisac, famous for its bustling indigenous market and for the beautiful Inca ruins on the hillside overlooking the city. In the market, browse stalls brimming with beautiful handicrafts and handwoven garments. In the center of the market, village women in traditional dress gather to buy and sell local fruits, vegetables, and other natural products. While exploring the Pisac ruins above, wander narrow paths with walls of spectacularly cut stones and enjoy stunning views of the village and the Sacred Valley below.
After Pisac, stop for lunch (not included) at a buffet restaurant to sample a variety of Peruvian and international dishes near the town of Urubamba. The town is named after the sacred river (whose upper stretch is called the Vilcanota) that flows through the valley, on its way to Machu Picchu and eventually the Amazon jungle.
Next, visit the spectacular fortress of Ollantaytambo. These magnificent Inca ruins that cling to the hillside were part of the royal estate of the Incan emperor Pachacuti. Later, during the Incas' heroic resistance against the Spaniards, a great battle was fought, during which the Spaniards were repelled by the guerrilla emperor Manco Inca. The small town of Ollantaytambo at its base still has Inca houses, making Ollantaytambo the only Inca city that is still inhabited today.
The tour ends at your comfortable hotel in the Sacred Valley. If you've selected a hotel in Ollantaytambo, you can explore the former Incan town at your leisure, which still boasts mountain water coursing through Inca-built gutters in the center of its streets and where many of the inhabitants still speak the Incan language, Quechua.
Day 5: Machu Picchu Tour
After breakfast at your Sacred Valley hotel, take a train to Machu Picchu, the hidden Inca citadel. This 2.5-hour train journey is one of the finest in the world. Much of the path winds along the rushing Vilcanota river and snakes through gorges cut into the bases of massive mountainsides, offering passengers dramatic views of the Andean landscape as the train descends from high altitude plains down through the cloud forest. The foliage dramatically changes as the train approaches the meeting point of the Andes and the Upper Amazon rainforest, providing visitors an intimate view of one of the most spectacular transitions in the world.
The train arrives in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, which is surrounded by tall granite cliffs and a cloud forest inhabited by orchids and hummingbirds. Meet our representative at the train station gates and walk to the bus station for a 20-minute ride up to the secluded Inca citadel high atop a mountain ridge.
Next, meet your expert, English-speaking guide for a 2-hour tour of the most important sites in Machu Picchu, including the Intihuatana (Sun Stone), the Sun Temple, and the Room of 3 Windows. Machu Picchu is ranked as one of the “must see” archaeological sites in the world. Royal palaces, temples and astronomical observatories cling to a granite spur some 2,000 feet above the valley floor, affording spectacular views of the cloud-wreathed Andes and the Urubamba River far below.
After your tour, you have the option to explore more of the ruins on your own and capture some final photos.
In the late afternoon, take a comfortable train back to Cusco and then meet our driver for a transfer to your Cusco hotel for the evening.
Want an extra day at Machu Picchu? Customize this package to include an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. The next morning, make a second visit to get your fill of the enigmatic citadel and then return to Cusco in the evening.
*Optional: Hike up Huayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the Machu Picchu ruins. This hike is steep and takes about 3 hours round trip to complete, but affords spectacular views of the surrounding Andes and views over the Machu Picchu citadel from above. Numerous Inca burials have been found in cavities on this mountain. Please let your Travel Advisor know if you’d like to add this to your itinerary.
Day 6: Arrival in Quito
After breakfast, meet a Peru for Less representative for a transfer to the Cusco airport for your flight out to Lima and then to Quito, capital city of Ecuador and transit hub for Galapagos travel.
Upon arrival at the airport in Quito, meet our representative for a transfer to your comfortable Quito hotel in the center of the city.
In the evening, meet our representative to receive a briefing for your Galapagos cruise. The rest of the evening is yours to enjoy Quito’s historical and modern attractions at your leisure.
Day 7: Begin Galapagos Cruise
After breakfast in your comfortable Quito hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival in the Galapagos, meet our representative and transfer to your confirmed Galapagos cruise ship.
Get settled in your Galapagos boat and then enjoy a briefing by the cruise staff and a delicious welcome dinner to start off your exciting Galapagos cruise.
Day 8: Galapagos Cruise
Explore the wonderful Galapagos Archipelago aboard your comfortable cruise ship. Your specific itinerary depends on the ship that you choose; all boats, however, include land tours to the Galapagos’s most beautiful islands guided by expert naturalists. Some Galapagos boats also offer water activities such as snorkeling or scuba-diving.
The Galapagos Islands offer some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, not only because the animals themselves are beautiful and interesting, but also because many of the species are virtually fearless. Through a quirk of evolution, large predators failed to evolve here, resulting in the unique sense of security that many of the islands’ fauna display. This means that the famous blue-footed booby will perform its awkwardly elegant two-stepped mating dance right under your nose, oblivious to your camera. Mockingbirds will hop onto your shoes. Sea lions will do figure eights to show off their swimming prowess as you snorkel among them.
Day 9: Galapagos Cruise
Day 10: Galapagos Cruise
Day 11: Departure from the Galapagos
After your last breakfast aboard your Galapagos cruise ship, disembark and meet your transfer to the airport for your flight home or to continue to your next South American destination.
Browse our full range of Peru travel destinations to see how you can extend your amazing South America vacation.
|3 Star||4 Star||5 Star|
|$ 5989||$ 6399||$ 7229|
|3 Star||4 Star||5 Star|
|$ 8619||$ 10199||$ 11909|
- 1 night in Lima airport hotel, 3 nights in Cusco, 1 night in the Sacred Valley, 1 night in Quito and 4 nights on Galapagos cruise ship
- All tours stated in the itinerary with English-speaking guides
- Ground transportation and entrance fees
- Breakfast at all hotels
- Trains: Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Cusco (Vistadome Train for 5-star and 4-star packages / Expedition Train for 3-star packages)
- All meals on the Galapagos cruise
- Lunches or dinners (unless otherwise specified)
- Airport taxes
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($110)
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