Tour Begins: Country Club Lima Hotel. A transfer is included from Jorge Chavez International Airport to Country Club Lima Hotel, an elegant legendary hotel in the heart of the embassy district.
Explore colonial Lima
Begin your exploration of Lima in the city's Barranco ("cliff") district, known for its historic houses painted in bright colonial colors, and its iconic wooden Puente de los Suspiros ("Bridge of Sighs"). It's been the bohemian heart of the city since the end of the 19th century, when it became a favorite haunt of writers, poets, sculptors and painters drawn by its lovely coastal scenery. Next, visit the Pegro de Osma Museum; dedicated to preserving Peru's cultural heritage through art, the museum showcases the private collection of the philanthropist Pedro de Osma Gildemeister and is housed in what was his private home. Following lunch at Casa Garcia Alvarado – a restored Art Deco mansion in Lima's Miraflores district – you'll have some free time before visiting one of several surviving colonial period homes in the city's historic center. Later, join us for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner at the Larco Herrera Museum, which features pre-Columbian treasures and artifacts housed in an 18th-century vice-royal palace – including ancient Peruvian jewelry, crowns, garments, masks, and pottery, and a gallery that offers a comprehensive view of cultures that existed in Peru for thousands of years before the arrival of Spanish settlers.
The Sacred Valley & Peruvian Pasos
Fly to Cusco, high in the Peruvian Andes, and drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas – a stunning landscape of verdant farmlands, villages, and ancient ruins amid cloud forests, terraced hills, and towering mountain ranges. At Casa Orihuela in the Sacred Valley, enjoy lunch and a performance of folk dancing and horsemanship featuring Peruvian Paso horses, a breed famous for its smooth, elegant gait and athletic dancing ability. Arrive at your hotel, nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; it stands as a contemporary doorway to the vast cultural richness of this region, and is the only hotel in Urubamba with a private train station to Machu Picchu. Dinner at your hotel this evening is preceded by a private performance of Andean music and dance.
By rail & land to mysterious Machu Picchu
Set out for Machu Picchu this morning, stopping first at the town and archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, and its ruins of an Incan fortress containing a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, adobe houses, aqueducts, and the remains of a stone temple, the best example of Incan urban design in existence. Then board a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes. The village is a former railroad camp in a gorge surrounded by cliffs and cloud forests, the closest access point to the mountaintop ruins. From here you'll ride up a winding mountain road of hairpin turns to reach the "lost citadel," steeped in legend and mystery. Its purpose and original name are unknown; when Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, he followed the directions he was given to the place beside the Old Mountain (Machu Picchu), which was the name he gave it. Guided by a local expert, tour this mystical complex of giant walls, stone terraces, steps, ramps, and astronomically aligned structures, described by UNESCO as "the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height," surrounded by breathtaking mountain landscapes. After the guided tour enjoy free time to explore on your own.
Peruvian discoveries from Machu Picchu to Cusco
You have a choice this morning of a second Machu Picchu tour, an early-guided walk through the citadel, or sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Return to Ollantaytambo by train, and then drive to Sacsayhuaman, a mountaintop Incan fortress overlooking Cusco, originally built by the Killkes, who preceded the Incas. Behind rows of massive stonewalls its plan centers around a giant solar calendar and includes citadels, cisterns, baths, and underground chambers. Also, visit a camelid breeding center and learn about the four different kinds of South American camelids: Huanaco, Llama, Alpaca and Vicuña. You'll also meet weavers from over 12 communities from southern Peru who alternate exhibitions of threading, dying and weaving traditional Andean textiles. Next, a visit to Sacsayhuaman Fortress for a guided tour of this ceremonial compound; a magnificent example of Inca military power that boasts a panoramic view of Cusco city. Continue on to your hotel in Cusco where dinner tonight is at your leisure.
Cusco discoveries or highlands adventures
Today you'll have a choice of excursions – one to the highlands outside Cusco, visiting several villages and the Maras salt fields; or a tour of southern Cusco and the valley south of the city. The highlands adventure begins with a visit to Chinchero – an authentic Andean village with a colonial church housing a large collection of painting from the Cusqueñan School of Art; a bartering system in which townspeople gather in the main square to trade their products; and lots of character. Next, visit the salt fields of Maras and its seemingly never-ending terraces, where salt has been extracted from springs and stored for local use for centuries, even before the time of the Incas; the variety of colors created by the reflection of the sun's rays in the salt deposits – and the Incas' striking ability to generate resources – is impressive. Continue on to the rural community of Mullak'as Misminay – where your local hosts, dressed in their outfits used for special occasions, will greet you with a traditional welcome prior to an agricultural experience, a cooking lesson and a textile demonstration. Should you choose the Cusco tour, you'll visit the San Pedro Market, a typical mercado offering local produce ranging from fruits, vegetables and meats to hand-woven sweaters other apparel and crafts. Then drive south of Cusco through the South Valley, which runs parallel to the Vilcanota River, to visit three ancient churches along the "Andean Baroque Route"… Andahuaylillas, Huaro and Canicunca. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening as you please.
A day in Guayaquil, Ecuador
An early morning flight to Lima is followed by a flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador to begin your journey of exploration in the Galápagos Islands. Arrive at your luxury boutique hotel, nestled into a tropical oasis in the heart of Ecuador's largest city, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Fly to the Galapagos / Embark the Silver Origin
From Guayaquil, fly to San Cristobal Island, 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast – the starting point of your 7-night Galápagos cruise aboard the expeditionary-style yacht, Silver Origin. After boarding the ship, an orientation briefing and lunch begin the afternoon. Tonight, join us for the Captain's welcome cocktail reception followed by dinner.
A day on Genovesa Island
Take a panga* to Genovesa (Tower Island), a horseshoe-shaped volcanic island whose submerged crater is actually Darwin Bay. Genovesa is also known as "Bird Island" for its extraordinary avian population; the bay is home to the world's largest red-footed booby nesting colonies, the cliffs harbor seabirds that include swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gull species in the world; storm petrels swoop from the heights, and short-eared owls hunt the petrels; yellow-tailed night herons fish the tidal lagoons. Climb Prince Philip's Steps, a steep path named for the British prince who visited in 1965, and observe frigatebirds with their fiery red sacs, and the nesting grounds of Nazca boobies (also known as Masked boobies). You have an opportunity this afternoon to take a kayak adventure on Darwin Bay, enjoy the beach, or snorkel in the caldera. Back on board ship, enjoy a cocktail hour prior to dinner.
Intriguing wildlife & lava on Santiago Island
Visit North Seymour Island, formed by the uplifts of undersea lava. The plateaus are home to thousands of iguanas, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, common noddies, and frigatebirds. This afternoon, you'll head to Santiago Island for a wet landing at Sullivan Bay – then it's your choice. Take a coastal walk over tuff layers and black lava flows; the island and its settlement, Puerto Egas, was once a stopping place for whalers and buccaneers, and the pigs and goats they introduced wreaked havoc on the ecosystem for many years. Alternatively, enjoy the sandy beach where snorkeling may reveal eagle rays or sea turtles who come to lay their eggs.
Fernandina and Isabela Islands
This morning, board a panga for an adventure along the coastline of Punta Mangle on Fernandina Island, the archipelago's youngest ecosystem. Filled with tiny bays, tall mangroves and tranquil coves, stay on the lookout for the Galápagos penguins and green-eyed flightless cormorants or the sea turtles and rays gliding beneath the ocean surface. Depending on the conditions of the waters, snorkeling and a glass-bottom boat ride may be possible. After lunch aboard the ship, it's a wet landing at Punta Moreno on Isabela Island, where you'll have a choice in how you explore. In the 1950s, geological activity on Isabela caused a mass of land to lift up some 15 ft., leaving the coastline pushed further out to sea and the underwater marine life stranded ashore. Explore by Zodiac to get a better look at the unique landscapes that created an ecological niche where species had to adapt to challenging, harsh conditions. Alternatively, go on a hike with the expedition team along the rugged trails of the island _ a perfect opportunity to view the unique lava formations, lava cacti, scalesia tress and of course, the abundance of wildlife that calls this place home, such as the Galápagos penguins, sea lions, herons, marine iguanas, brown pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Return to the ship late afternoon. The enthusiasm continues during dinner as you trade stories with your fellow travelers.
Santa Cruz Highlands & Isla Santa Fe
Arrive at Santa Cruz Island for a visit to Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, where tortoises are bred and raised as part of a conservation program to maintain and protect the population. After your visit, enjoy some free time in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galápagos Archipelago, before setting sail for Isla Santa Fe. The island is home to a reptile that exists nowhere else in the world, the Santa Fe Land Iguana. A beach covered by sea lions marks the beginning of your visit, where sea lions' pups welcome visitors with their curiosity. A rocky terrain guides your island exploration; the views from the cliff are a reward unto itself. You have a choice of exploring - a Zodiac cruise that introduces you to unusual vegetation such as the giant prickly pear cactus, along with Galápagos marine wildlife; or one of three active experiences with the expedition team - a hike, kayaking or snorkeling. Back on board ship this evening a cocktail hour precedes dinner.
Bahia Gardner and Punta Suarez on Española Island
Go ashore on a wet landing at Gardner Bay on Española, also known as Hood Island, where there are extensive nesting grounds for Waved Albatrosses and sea turtles, and a sea lion colony. Get a close up look at sea lions who love to bask and sleep on the glorious white sand beach, careless of the presence of humans. The bay and inlets provide swimming and kayaking opportunities today. At Punta Suarez, on the island's western point, sheer cliffs provide thermal currents on which seabirds soar; Galápagos Hawks, cactus finches, and Hood Mockingbirds, the only carnivorous members of the species, may be seen here. Waves crash against the rocky coast and a blowhole sends water spouts skyward, 75 feet high. This evening join us for a farewell cocktail reception followed by dinner.
Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal
San Cristóbal, created by the fusing of multiple volcanoes, is known for its wildlife. An impressive tuff cone has been carved by erosion into an outstanding natural sculpture, and is a resting place for marine birds such as blue-footed bobbies and brown pelicans. You'll have a choice as to how to how to spend your day. Relax and enjoy the pleasures of one of the most beautiful white sand beaches of the Galápagos where you can swim or snorkel; alternatively, join the Expedition Team for a hike along the beach for an opportunity to view the unique wildlife that call it "home." Return to the ship midday, and spend the remainder of the day aboard ship. Return to your fabulous ship for your final night in the Galápagos.
Return to Guayaquil
Your Galapagos Islands journey ends today as you disembark ship this morning at Itabaca on Baltra Island, then fly to Guayaquil where your room is waiting at the Hotel del Parque. The remainder of the afternoon is spent as you please; we invite you to join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel.
Tour ends: Guayaquil. A transfer is included from the Hotel del Parque in Guayaquil to Guayaquil International Airport; please allow three hours for flight check-in.