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.
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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.
Visit two of South America’s greatest treasures—the enigmatic ruins at Machu Picchu and the fascinating Galápagos Islands. Beginning in historic Lima, travel to the magnificent Sacred Valley to explore the stunning “Lost City of the Incas.” An overnight stay at the intimate 31-room Belmond Sanctuary Lodge offers a rare opportunity to see this breathtaking World Heritage site after all the tourists have departed. You’ll also explore the World Heritage site of Cuzco and Sacsayhuaman, and enjoy lunch with a gracious local family. Then embark on a three-night cruise of the Galápagos Islands, Darwin’s “living laboratory,” on a privately chartered ship. During guided shore excursions, observe the giant Galápagos tortoises, Blue-footed Boobies, sea lions, iguanas, and abundant birdlife. You’ll also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and boat rides.
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 director, then visit the Larco Herrera Museum, with its renowned collection of Moche pottery from the north coast of Peru dating to the first millennium A.D. This afternoon take a city tour of the Peruvian capital followed by a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 3 — Cuzco and Sacred Valley
Today fly to Cuzco and continue to the beautiful Sacred Valley, a region of Inca sites and traditional villages. After visiting the Indian market at Pisac, reach your hotel in the mid-afternoon. Attend a native ceremony this evening, then gather for dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Sacred Valley
Visit the Incan farming town of Chinchero, where residents live much as their ancestors did. Next, explore Ollantaytambo known for its massive Incan ruins that continue to inspire wonder. (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)
Days 9-11 — Galápagos Cruising
Your Galápagos adventure begins with an early departure on Day 9 for the flight to Baltra or San Cristobal, where you’ll embark the privately chartered M/Y Coral II, your home for the next three nights. The cruise features expert Galápagos naturalist guides and the opportunity to see giant Galápagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, iguanas, and abundant bird life. Enjoy time for swimming, snorkeling, dinghy rides, and nature walks. (3B,3L,3D)
A sampling of the islands visited on your cruise follows (subject to change by Galápagos National Park Authority):
Santa Cruz: Visit a natural reserve with giant tortoises. Stop and explore the town of Puerto Ayora before returning to the ship.
Santa Fe: Walk through an endemic cactus forest in search of the Santa Fe land iguana, the largest in the islands.
Daphne: Observe blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and brown noddies on this prime bird-watching island.
Day 12 — Galápagos and Quito
After a morning of Galápagos exploration, fly to Quito (via Guayaquil). Nestled in a valley surrounded by staggering Andes peaks, Quito boasts the largest historic center in the Americas and was the first city to be named a World Heritage site. (B,D)
Days 13-14 — Quito and Depart for the U.S.
Explore this capital city on a walking tour and visit the Middle of the World Monument, where you can straddle two hemispheres. Learn about the many varieties of roses grown, cultivated, processed, and shipped all over the world on an excursion to a local rose plantation. Learn to make authentic Ecuadorian ceviche at a private cooking lesson. Celebrate your adventure with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Following touring and lunch together, return to the hotel (rooms are ready for late check-out). Late in the evening transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to Miami. (2B,2L, D)
Day 15 — Arrive in the U.S.
Arrive in the U.S. and connect with flights home.