In 1535 the Galapagos Islands were discovered by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama. In 1835, Charles Darwin first arrived on the HMS Beagle. In 1959 the Government of Ecuador declared the archipelago’s uninhabited areas as a national park. Then in 1978 the Galapagos was designated the first UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 1 - Cusco
Head out to the markets in Pisac, grab yourself a Cusqueno beer and start getting acclimatised (you're 11,500ft above sea level, after all).
- Pre-departure meeting is at 6pm today.
- Take a walking tour of central Cusco
- Explore Cusco and see the local sights during free time
Day 2-5 - Inca Trek
There will be a few tough days. Dead Woman's pass on Day 2 will test you, but it's worth all the sweat and tears when you watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu's Gateway of the Sun. Pretty apt name.
- Gaze upon massive Inca fortifications in Ollantaytambo
- Begin the Inca trek
- Hike past the ancient hilltop fort of Huillca Raccay and the archaeological site of Llactapata
- Stunning views of snow-capped Veronica Peak
- Camp near the village of Wayllabamba
- The most difficult part of the trek - Dead Woman’s Pass
- Panoramas of the Vilcanota and Vilcabama mountain ranges, and ruins in the valley below
- Camp with a view over the cloud forest
- Climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay
- Continue up the Inca staircase
- Spectacular views of Pumasillo and the entire Vilcabamba range
- Enter the beautiful cloud forest
- The final, and most spectacular, leg of the trek to Machu Picchu
- Arrive at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun
- Experience a panoramic view of Machu Picchu at sunrise
- Explore Machu Picchu on a guided tour
- Return to Cusco by train
Day 6 - Quito
Today you need to make your way to from Cusco to Quito to join the second leg of your trip. The Cusco to Quito flight is not included and needs to be booked independently. Transfers to and from the airport for this flight are also not included but can be booked on request if required. On arrival in Quito you need to go to the Rio Amazons Hotel. Details below:
Rio Amazonas Hotel
Cordero 1342 y Amazonas
Quito Canton 17211714
The rest of the day is free to explore Quito, the capital of Ecuador. La Paz, in Bolivia, is the actual highest capital city in the world, but it doesn't have a judicial building. Who would've thought a judicial building could make such a difference?
Attend a welcome meeting in the evening, check with the hotel reception for details
Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level and at this altitude you may possibly experience some effects from the high altitude, we suggest that you avoid any strenuous activity on this day
Wander through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets and explore the lively Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco, see The Baroque art and architecture when visiting the churches, monasteries and public buildings
Perhaps head for one of the many viewpoints over the city, El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) offers views of the city’s white houses and surrounding volcanoes, the 30-metre high statue of La Virgen de Quito sits atop this small hill and can be seen from all over the city
La Cima de la Libertad, the site of Ecuadorian independence from Spain also offers great views
Day 7 - Fly to Baltra, visit Bachas beach
It's time to get your cruise on. Hope you remembered thongs (aka flip-flops), bathers (aka togs, swimmers, swimming costume or swimsuit) and pajamas (aka PJs or jammies) First stop is Las Bachas beach, popular with sea turtles and flamingos.
Transfer to Quito Airport and fly to the Galapagos Islands (you may depart as early as 4am)
A US$10 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival - have cash on hand for these transactions to save time
You'll be met and transferred to the boat (the Nemo III) when you arrive
You'll be assigned cabins, meet the crew members and get to know our naturalist guide and fellow travellers over lunch
Santa Cruz Island is a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seen
The sand here is particularly white and soft - it's made of decomposed coral
The rocks provide great snorkelling and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs
A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and also look out for great blue heronsBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 8 - Isla Genovesa
Genovesa is a collapsed volcanic island. We guess some volcanoes just can't handle the pressure.
Sail overnight to reach Genovesa the archipelagos north east outpost
Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around Genovesa while the island itself has abundant wildlife
All three kinds of boobies live here, including the rare red-footed booby, and numerous other species such as tropic birds and frigate birds
Walk the steep path known as Prince Philip's Steps to the heart of the seabird rookeries
Look out for storm petrels on the islands rocky plains
Cool off with a snorkel
See breeding colonies of seabirds and frigates and other birds such as lava herons, swallowed tail gulls, mocking birds and hopefully the vampire finch on Darwin Beach
Pass by tide pools with Sea Lions and Diamond Sting Rays and perhaps encounter manta rays, sharks, turtles and moray eels while snorkellingBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 9 - Isla Santiago and Cerro Dragón
Lots of iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions and Galapagos fur seals on the menu today. No, not the eating menu. The seeing menu. Two different things.
Walk on Pahoe-Hoe lava from an eruption that occurred in 1897
Hopefully see some marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and sometimes penguins
Learn about the geological history of the islands from your guide as you walk
Set sail for Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), on Santa Cruz's north coast
Walk to a brackish lagoon frequented by lagoon birds including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and occasionally flamingos
Walk further to see views of the bay and the western area of the archipelago - this area is a nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station
Bird watch, perhaps see Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers
The path can be challengingBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 10 - Santa Cruz and the Charles Darwin Research Station
The Galapagos giant tortoise is basically just a big tortoise. If that doesn't sound that exciting, just consider other things that increase in awesome as they increase in size: mountains, lakes, icebergs, burritos, smiles, paychecks, TV screens, dinosaurs - the list goes on.
Visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos
Puerto Ayora is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station
Perhaps go to the visitor centre and museum - learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos and see giant tortoises up close
Spend free time exploring Puerto Ayora, check your email or have a drink at a local bar and see the local’s way of life
Head to the highlands of Santa Cruz for a total change of scenery
Travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests, where you'll see Unique Scalesia cloud forest, dome shaped giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and possibly the world famous woodpecker and warbler finches as well as vermillion flycatcherBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 11 - Isla Isabela and Tagus Cove
Isabela is a pretty name for an island, which is fitting, because this is a really pretty place. If you think that sounds lame then we can't be friends anymore.
Visit the archipelago's largest island, pay a USD$20 island entrance fee
Spend the morning at Punta Moreno on the south west coast
Enjoy beautiful blue lagoons and rocky terrain in the Galapagos, with a backdrop of 3 active volcanoes, flamingos, and incredible lava formations
Walk on top of the black lava field with views of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, perhaps see brown pelicans nesting on top of the mangroves, lava and candelabra cactus, and Lava lizards
Walk by brackish water lagoons covered with several different plants where pink flamingos, ducks and black neck stills res
Reboard the boat for some snorkelling
Visit Tagus Cove for around two hours - snorkel, check out ancient graffiti on its walls, observe flightless cormorants, penguins, blue footed boobies and a variety of waterfowlBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 12 - Isla Fernandina - Punta Espinoza and Bahia Urbina
It's not often the words 'lava' and 'cactus' are mentioned in the same sentence. But soon it's all you'll be talking about, because today you'll walk among actual lava cactus.
Visit nearby Fernandina Island, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands
The northeast tip, Punta Espinosa, is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre volcano
Walk around the peninsula and see lava cacti, marine iguanas piled on top of each other, barking sea lions along the beach, flightless cormorants, tiny penguins, and Sally Lightfoot crabs
Look out for the biggest predator of the Galapagos Island, The Galapagos Hawk
Snorkel in clear waters to see turtles and sea Lions swimming and feeding on the shore
Visit Urvina Bay - a very interesting place
Go for a walk and find shells, coral, Darwin´s Finches and the beautiful colour of the Galapagos cotton, as well as land iguanas and Galapagos giant tortoisesBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 13 - Isla Santiago - Playa Espumilla and Buccaneer Cove
Buccaneer Cove is a real-life pirate hangout. Well, it was during the 18th and 19th century at least. They used to anchor in the bay (a good hiding spot) to repair ships and head ashore to fetch salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. Yeah, they used to eat tortoises.
Puerto Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island
See volcanic tuff formations, along with marine iguanas, pelicans, finches, mockingbirds, oystercatchers, California sea lions, Galapagos fur sea lions and lava grotos
Visit tidal pools formed from ancient lava flow and home to sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish
Snorkel with California sea lions and Galapagos fur sea lions
Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, is an important nesting site for marine turtles, it also has waves and is also a favourite among beach lovers
Perhaps see Galapagos hawks up close, ghost crabs, blue footed boobies plunging for fish and brown pelicans, as well as the Palo Santo Forest and some lava formations
View the geology of volcanic ash (Tuff) of Buccaneer’s cove
Find remains of objects used by pirates in centuries past, hence the name Buccaneer Cove - Darwin camped for a nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife
Maybe snorkel againBreakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Day 14 - Daphne – Baltra – Fly Quito
Make one last opportunity to spot some high-flying bird action on Daphne before partaking in some high-flying bird action yourself on the flight back to Quito.
Visit Daphne island, a peculiar landscape shaped by volcanic activity
Do some bird spotting and find a variety of seabirds such as blue-footed and masked boobies, terns, petrels and even frigate birds
Farewell the Galapagos Islands and head to the airport for your flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour
Upon arrival in Quito Airport, transfer back to the hotel for an overnight stayBreakfast
Day 15 - Quito
Brekkie. Goodbyes. Home. Until next time, compadre.
The adventure ends today after breakfastBreakfast
What to Know
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What to know
On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$100 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park and a US$10 transit fee. A US$20 fee is also to be paid on arrival on Isabela Island.