We’ve uniquely combined our complete Machu Picchu experience and Quito with the Ecuadorean Highlands and our intimate Galapagos cruise. In the engaging company of our expert guides and naturalists and never more than 16 guests, you’ll enjoy in-depth sightseeing, unique cultural encounters and a complete program of shore discoveries. By night, you’ll love our 5-star hotels and your stylish Upper Deck outside stateroom aboard La Pinta.
Day 1 - Welcome to Lima
On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the 5-star JW Marriott Hotel, overlooking the Pacific from a striking cliff-top setting in the vibrant city-center district of Miraflores. Settle in to your oceanview room and take the rest of this day to relax and enjoy as you wish.
Day 2 – Discover Lima #WHS#
Join our expert resident guide to discover the Colonial-era landmarks, colorful neighborhoods and vibrant city life of the capital. Begin in Plaza Mayor and admire the Cathedral; built in the 18th century, this handsome landmark is the oldest on the Square. Right next door, the Archbishop’s Palace is easily recognized by its grand wooden balcony. Just a few blocks away, the historic Church and Convent of San Francisco is perhaps the most impressive of Lima’s Colonial monuments. Behind its striking yellow and white façade, you’ll find a beautifully decorated interior with glazed ceramic tiles from Spain and carved ceilings that show a strong Moorish influence.
After lunch, visit the highly regarded Larco Museum; its superb collection of pre-Columbian artifacts is a great introduction to the many ancient sites you’ll explore in the coming days. Next up is a guided stroll through Barranco, a charming city neighborhood that has attracted writers and artists since the early 20th century. Today, it remains a vibrant cultural enclave with thriving studios, galleries and cafes. Visit MATE, a pioneering contemporary art museum founded by Mario Testino, the Peruvian photographer famed for his evocative portraits of cultural icons including Diana, Princess of Wales, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. In addition to a permanent collection of Testino’s works, MATE features rotating exhibits devoted to established and emerging contemporary artists from South America and around the world. Dine tonight at one of our favorite Lima restaurants. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 - Fly to Cuzco
After an early breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight to Cuzco #WHS#, the ancient capital of the Inca. On arrival, you’ll begin your exploration of the city with the handsome Colonial landmarks that surround the Plaza de Armas - including the Cathedral that was completed in 1654 after nearly a century of construction.
The day’s sightseeing is highlighted by a visit to the new Casa Concha Museum. Here in a Colonial mansion built on the foundations of an ancient Inca Palace, you’ll be enthralled by meticulously presented exhibits - including the many artifacts excavated at Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham; after having spent the last hundred years at Yale University, this vast collection was just repatriated to Peru in 2011. Enjoy an overnight at the luxurious Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. Your specially oxygenated room will help to ensure your comfort at this high-mountain elevation. Meals B
Day 4 – Discover Cuzco In-Depth
This morning, you’ll ascend with our expert Andean guide into the mountain peaks outside of town. Perched here overlooking the terra cotta roofs of Cuzco are the magnificent ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Built in the 1400’s by the Inca Emperor Pachacútec, the massive limestone blocks of this venerated complex were cut with such precision that they fit together without mortar like the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle! With some individual stones towering more than 10 feet tall and weighing several hundreds of tons, Sacsayhuaman is a monumental achievement of architecture and masonry.
Back in town, you’ll visit the San Pedro Market and Almudena Cemetery; here at these seemingly quotidian sites, your native-born guide will offer fascinating cultural perspectives and personal insights into how ancient traditions – many dating back to Inca times – still endure in the life of local citizens. Your sightseeing ends at the Temple of the Sun and Convent of Santo Domingo. Regarded as one of South America’s most architecturally fascinating sites, it also demonstrates the fascinating layers of history here in Cuzco - where a sacred structure of one culture, the Convent, literally sits atop and practically encloses another, the Inca-built Temple of the Sun! Meals B
Day 5 – Through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu
A two-day visit to Machu Picchu with Yaki, our expert Andean Trip Leader, begins with an unforgettable rail journey through the Urubamba River Valley, a timeless region of snow-capped Andean peaks, quiet villages and terraced fields that have been cultivated for centuries.
On arrival in the beguiling town of Aguas Calientes, you’ll board a coach for the 30-minute ride up the switchback mountain road that brings you to the entrance to Machu Picchu. The fabled Lost City of the Inca is certainly the single greatest landmark in Peru – and perhaps all of South America. Indeed, little can be written here that would do justice to the breathtaking grandeur of its mountain setting, the enigmatic aura that permeate this ancient citadel, and the unforgettable experience of standing among these ancient stones. And accompanied by our Yaki’s illuminating insight, your visit will bring to life the ancient civilization that built Machu Picchu.
Tonight, you’ll be one of the privileged few to stay at the singular Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel here on the mountaintop adjacent to the Lost City of the Inca. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 - Sunrise at Machu Picchu + Back to Cuzco by Rail
You’ll want to arise early today to take advantage of our lodge’s one-of-a-kind setting. As the only hotel next to Machu Picchu, you’ll be among the first to enter the site this morning. At this early hour, the day-visitors from Cuzco and the Sacred Valley have yet to arrive and even those who spent the night in the town below will still be making the 30-minute ascent. With fewer people and the softer light of morning just breaking over the mountain peaks, this early-morning visit to Machu Picchu is one of the most memorable travel experiences you will ever have.
In the afternoon, you’ll make the return rail journey through the Sacred Valley back to Cuzco. On arrival, you’ll be escorted once again to the luxurious Belmond Palacio Nazarenas where your specially oxygenated room promises a comfortable final night in Peru. Meals B+L
Day 7 – Onward to Quito
After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included international flight to Ecuador. Upon arrival in the capital, you’ll be met and escorted to the Plaza Grande. With only 15 suites, our luxury boutique hotel boasts elegant Colonial style in the historic heart of this World Heritage city.
This evening, you’ll dine here at the hotel at Belle Époque, a sophisticated restaurant overlooking Plaza de la Independencia and celebrated for its fine Continental cuisine – prepared with the freshest locally-sourced Ecuadorean products. Meals B+D
Day 8 - Excursion to Otavalo
Today’s full-day excursion starts with a magnificent morning drive along the Avenue of Volcanoes, a route that takes you north of Quito into a stunning region of towering snow-capped mountains, including the perfectly cone-shaped silhouette of Cotopaxi, an active volcano, and the equally impressive, slightly more rugged peak of Cayambe. At the Quitsato Sundial, set on the equator, you can stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other one firmly planted in the Southern Hemisphere.
Your journey continues to the beguiling Andean town of Otavalo. In the main square, you’ll join other visitors, local residents, and indigenous peoples who come from the surrounding mountain villages to sell, barter and shop in one of South America’s most celebrated markets. Many are dressed in traditional Andean garb and the variety of products for sale is astounding – local farm produce, woven rugs, jewelry, clothing, stone carvings, paintings, musical instruments, household products, leather goods and pottery are among the many items you’ll find!
Also today, you’ll spend time on a family-run rose farm, to see and learn how the region’s mountain climate, so close to the equator, has proven ideal for the cultivation of numerous varieties of roses and hybrids. Indeed, Ecuador is one of the world’s leading exporters of roses and other cut flowers. Before making the return journey to Quito, you’ll stop at an authentic high-mountain hacienda for a delightful lunch of traditional Ecuadorean fare. Meals B+L
Day 9 – The History + Culture of Quito
Today’s expertly guided sightseeing tour through the city’s finely preserved Old Town includes the Metropolitan Cathedral that was built over the course of nearly 300 years between 1562 and the early 19th century. Nearby stands the Church and Convent of San Francisco; considered to be one of the oldest churches in Latin America, built just one month after the arrival of the Spanish, it stands upon the foundations of an ancient Inca temple. Inside you will admire a uniquely ornamented ceiling with Moorish design elements and a beautiful Baroque altar.
With unique and personal insight from our engaging resident guide, your city tour will also illuminate fascinating facets of the local culture. On a guided stroll in the charming La Ronda district, you’ll discover finely-preserve, centuries-old buildings that are now home to thriving studios, workshops and boutiques. Spending time with some of the artisans who live and work here brings a rich personal dimension to your sightseeing. Meals B
Day 10 - Embark your Galapagos voyage
You’ll be escorted to the airport this morning for your included flight to Baltra Island in the center of the archipelago. On arrival, cross the narrow Itabaca Channel by ferry to Santa Cruz Island and sit down to lunch at a local restaurant. Then join our expert naturalist for an exciting excursion into the Santa Cruz Highlands. Observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat, learn about the unique ecosystem of this pristine nature reserve, and discover its unusual lava tube formations.
Then travel to Puerto Ayora to board our Galapagos vessel, the intimate La Pinta. You’ll have time to settle in to your Upper Deck outside stateroom before joining fellow passengers for dinner. This evening’s briefing with our expert shipboard naturalists offers an entertaining and informative introduction to your upcoming voyage. Meals B+L+D
Day 11 – Eden Islet + Chinese Hat Islet
Today’s excursions explore the diversity of two small and uninhabited isles. In the morning, a guided expedition in our maneuverable panga boats takes you along the shores of Eden Islet, where you might observe Nazca and blue footed boobies diving into the sea for food, reef sharks and frigatebirds. Conditions permitting, this is also a great place to take advantage of our free snorkeling gear and glass bottom boat. With its cinder cones, tuff cones and semi-eroded lava flows, Eden Islet also offers a chance to learn more about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos Islands.
After lunch, a guided nature walk on Chinese Hat Islet offers a chance to espy marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, sea lions and Galapagos penguins. There’s also terrific snorkeling here amongst white-tipped reef sharks and penguins, or you might choose to explore these waters by sea kayak, glass-bottom boat or panga. Meals B+L+D
Day 12 – Bartolomé + Santiago Islands
After breakfast, join our naturalists ashore for an invigorating walk to the summit of Bartolomé Island. A network of wooden stairs and boardwalks protects the fragile environment, including small lava lizards and a species of cactus found only in the Galapagos. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most picturesque and memorable vistas of your Galapagos adventure! Later, a panga boat excursion around Pinnacle Rock offers a great opportunity to photograph this iconic natural formation. Before returning to La Pinta for lunch, you’ll have time to relax on the beach, snorkel or ride in the glass-bottom boat.
In the afternoon, you’ll step ashore at Sullivan Bay on the southeastern coast of Santiago Island. There was a major eruption here only 100 years ago, and the sinuous Pāhoehoe lava formations look almost like still-flowing molten lava. There may not be much wildlife here, but the barren, other-worldly landscape makes for remarkable photography, and this is a great place to observe and experience the volcanic origins of the Galapagos archipelago. In addition, the lovely coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Meals B+L+D
Day 13 – Two Landings on Genovesa Island
Genovesa is celebrated for its remarkable birdlife including magnificent frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed and lava gulls, and yellow-crowned herons. This morning, you’ll step ashore with our naturalists at Darwin Bay. From the small sand and coral beach, an easy trail winds its way along a tidal lagoon, offering myriad opportunities to observe and learn about the island’s birdlife. After your guided walk, you can hike along a more challenging lava trail to a look-out point, go for a swim or snorkel in the bay. The more adventurous can paddle or snorkel along the cliffs at the edge of the bay.
After lunch back onboard, you’ll explore Prince Philip’s Steps - named for Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos in 1964 aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. As you approach the lava cliffs in our panga boats, keep your eyes peeled for animals using the crevices for shelter and for red-billed tropicbirds flying overhead. You’ll make landing at the base of a staircase that leads to the top of the cliffs where a mile-long path will take us to the other side of this small island. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to espy large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigatebirds, storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl. Meals B+L+D
Day 14 – Fly to the Mainland for Departure
After breakfast, you’ll disembark on Baltra Island and transfer to the airport for your included flight to either Guayaquil or Quito - where you can connect to your homeward flight. Or if you wish, you can extend your stay with us in Ecuador. Meals B