Machu Picchu & the Galápagos
Visit the mystifying ruins at Machu Picchu then travel to the fascinating Galápagos Islands to observe abundant wildlife, including giant tortoises, Blue-footed Boobies, and sea lions.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This is a once in a lifetime trip -- an outstanding travel and learning adventure.”
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of no more than 18 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
South America is home to many unique and amazing sites, and this favorite tour features two of its most popular cultural and natural treasures—the World Heritage sites of Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands. Journey first to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley to learn about ancient Inca culture. Ascending into the Andes, you’ll experience the enigmatic site of Machu Picchu during a special overnight visit. Then immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Galápagos Islands. During four magical days, explore the unique wildlife that Charles Darwin encountered during the early 1800s. Amazon Rainforest Pre-Program option available.
- Cuzco and the Sacred Valley: Visit the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and Sacsayhuaman and explore past and present Inca culture in Pisac, Chinchero, and Ollantaytambo.
- Machu Picchu: Explore the stunning “Lost City of the Incas.” Enjoy the beauty and mystery of Machu Picchu and stay overnight at the nearby Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, where you’ll experience Machu Picchu without the crowds.
- The Galápagos Islands: Enjoy a four-night stay on Santa Cruz Island. Settle into a beautiful hotel and take excursions on a privately chartered yacht to explore the Charles Darwin Research Station to see and learn about the giant Galápagos tortoises, and explore the islands of North Seymour and South Plaza.
- Active Adventure: Experience the natural wonders of the Galápagos while swimming and snorkeling and during nature walks and boat rides.
- Wildlife: Observe giant Galápagos tortoises, sea lions, iguana, and both aquatic and migratory birds such as Blue-footed Boobies, flamingos, and Frigate birds, as well as reefs teeming with colorful fish.
Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Lima, Peru
Depart today for the Peruvian capital. Upon arrival tonight transfer directly to your hotel.
Day 2 — Lima
Learn about the journey ahead at a briefing with your tour leaders, then visit the Larco Herrera Museum, whose ceramics collection is unparalleled, and treasured Casa Aliaga, one of the oldest homes in Lima (circa 1535). This afternoon take a city tour of the Peruvian capital followed by a welcome dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 3 — Cuzco and Sacred Valley
Today fly to Cuzco and stop at the Incan site of Koricancha, dedicated to the Sun God, before continuing to the beautiful Sacred Valley, a region of Inca sites and traditional villages. After visiting the Indian market at Pisac, reach your hotel late this afternoon. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Sacred Valley
Explore Ollantaytambo, known for its massive Incan ruins that continue to inspire wonder. Then visit the Incan farming town of Chinchero, where residents live much as their ancestors did, keeping ancient Inca traditions alive. Attend a native “Offering to the Earth” ceremony before dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
Early this morning travel by train for the 1½-hour journey to Aguas Calientes, where you board a bus for Machu Picchu. Enjoy your first guided visit of the stunning “Lost City of the Incas” late this morning. Due to its small size, your group will move nimbly through the ruins and have the leisure to absorb the beauty and mystery of this site whose original purpose has been lost to time. Following the tour, check in at the 31-room Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, just steps from the entrance to the ruins. While most visitors see Machu Picchu on a day trip, you have the rare privilege of spending the night and seeing the ruins after all the tourists have left. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Machu Picchu and Cuzco
Today, before the day trippers arrive, begin your second guided tour of this World Heritage site. Then return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and free time before a mid-afternoon train to Cuzco. (B,L)
Day 7 — Cuzco
This morning tour the archaeological hub of the Americas, the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and World Heritage site. Make a special visit to the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Stop at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an Incan masterpiece, then enjoy lunch in the home of a gracious Cuzco family. (B,L)
Day 8 — Quito
Early today fly via Lima to Quito, arriving late afternoon. This evening have a briefing and dinner at your hotel. (B,D)
Day 9 – Quito
Nestled in Andes foothills, Quito boasts a well-preserved historic center considered the finest in Latin America, as seen on your city tour that includes the Intiñan Museum and the Middle of the World Monument. (B,L)
Day 10 – Quito, Baltra and Santa Cruz Island
Fly to the island of Baltra then transfer to Sant Cruz, your island-based home for your Galápagos exploration. Enjoy your beautiful hotel set on 370 lush, unspoiled, and secluded acres in the highlands adjacent to Galápagos National Park in time for lunch. Then visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see and learn about the giant Galápagos tortoises. (B,L,D)
Day 11 – North Seymour Island and Bachas Beach
Embark on your first excursion aboard the Santa Fe, your privately chartered yacht. Set out for North Seymour, a flat, low-lying island with ample opportunities for close encounters with the magnificent Frigate bird, land iguanas, and lava lizards on your naturalist-led walk. After lunch, head back to Santa Cruz island, weighing anchor in the calm waters off Bachas Beach. Highlights of your nature walk here include flamingos, nesting sea turtles, and both aquatic and migratory birds, including Darwin’s finches (B,L,D)
Day 12 – South Plaza Island and Punta Carrion
Today’s destination is the island of South Plaza. Boasting abundant wildlife and colorful flora, South Plaza ranks as one of the most popular (and colorful) of the Galápagos islands. During your nature walk, you could see such local residents as land and marine iguanas, bright orange Sally lightfoot crabs, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, and a male colony of sea lions. Then cruise to Punta Carrion, where you have the opportunity to snorkel. (B,L,D)
Day 13 – Santa Cruz Island
Explore Santa Cruz itself, the second largest of the Galápagos islands. See the giant Galápagos tortoises in their natural habitat; Los Gamelos, the huge twin craters formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago; and Garrapatero, a secluded white-sand beach where there is an abundance of marine and terrestrial wildlife. Finally, explore the “lava tunnels” at your hotel: to literally walk through the naturally-formed tube through which lava flowed eons ago. (B,L,D)
Day 14 – Santa Cruz Island, Baltra and Quito
This morning transfer to Baltra for the return flight to Quito, arriving mid-afternoon. Tonight celebrate your adventure at a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 15 – Depart for the U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for your return flight to the U.S. (B)