Trip Inspiration

15 Days + 2 South America Icons: Galápagos & Machu Picchu

Island Exploration, Cultural Discovery

South America is home to countless natural and cultural treasures, but two spots repeatedly stand out as highlights: the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador and Machu Picchu in Peru. Starting in Ecuador, you will sail the majestic Galápagos Islands for seven nights. Spend your days photographing wildlife, enjoying scenic walks or engaging in more active adventures like kayaking, snorkeling or hiking on the islands. After your cruise, you will head to Peru to explore the historic city of Cusco, discover the deep culture of the Sacred Valley and journey to the Machu Picchu Citadel.

Trip Highlights

Locations

  • 1 night in the Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil
  • 7 nights in the Galápagos Islands aboard M/V Evolution
  • 2 nights at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley
  • 1 night at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
  • 2 nights at Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco

Activities

  • Excursions by ship, kayak, rail, and on foot
  • Exploration of the landscapes and wildlife on many Galápagos islands and islets
  • Visits to Peru’s local villages, colorful markets and historical highlights
  • Exploration at Machu Picchu
  • Privately guided city tours of Lima and Cusco
What does “Trip Inspiration” mean?

At Travel Beyond, we believe your trip should be designed just for you, not for the masses. Our travel consultants create a custom itinerary for each client, offering recommendations for places and experiences that best fit your style. The itinerary below was planned for a past client, but we’re sharing it for travel inspiration and as an example of what a trip to the Galápagos Islands and Peru might look like. Let us know when we can design a trip just for you!

Day 1

Arrive Guayaquil, Ecuador

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival in Guayaquil, you will be met for your private transfer to Hotel del Parque. Accommodations will be reserved for one night, including breakfast.

Hotel del Parque is located in the exclusive Samborondón neighborhood, on the banks of the Daule River. Your room will be comfortable and fashionably furnished with Ecuadorian pieces, truly a tropical oasis!

Hotel del Parque Meals: N/A

Day 2

Guayaquil to Galápagos Islands

~Embark M/V Evolution~

This morning you will be met for your private transfer to the Guayaquil Airport for your flight to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to the M/V Evolution.

Your exploration begins with a circumnavigation of Daphne Major Islet, home to a variety of birds including Galápagos martins, blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies, short eared owls and red billed tropic birds, among others.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 3

Galápagos Islands

This morning you will visit Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Snorkeling is incredible here as a result of the nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current that bathe the western side of the archipelago. You will likely see colorful fish, sea lions, penguins and sea turtles in the water.

This afternoon will bring you to Fernandina Island, home to La Cumbre volcano, which erupts frequently. Visit Punta Espinoza, a narrow spit of land, where a number of unique species such as flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, sea turtles, Galápagos Penguins and Galápagos hawks can be seen in close proximity.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

 

Day 4

Galápagos Islands

Urbina Bay is directly west of Isabela’s Volcano Alcedo, where you will make an easy, wet landing (a hop into a few inches of water). You will walk on a three-mile stretch of the marine reef that has been uplifted by as much as 13-feet out of the water. A highlight of this excursion are the giant land iguanas and giant tortoises, as well as the opportunity to go snorkeling among the marine creatures, or just relaxing on shore.

 

In the afternoon you will visit Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. A wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance and continues around Darwin Lake through a dry vegetation zone, and ends in a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views of Evolution’s anchorage in the bay, as well as Darwin and Wolf Volcanoes. Underwater, the cove’s green algae pastures offer the chance to snorkel with marine iguanas, sea turtles, penguins and sea horses.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5

Galápagos Islands

In the morning you will visit Bartolome Island, famous for Pinnacle Rock, where we will see Galapagos Penguins and sea lions. You will also hike a trail to Bartolome’s summit where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock and the beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle your yacht.

 

This afternoon, visit Sullivan Bay, one of the most fascinating volcanic sites in the Galápagos. In the nearly 100 years since the Sullivan Bay Flow, only a few plants such as Mollugo and Lava cacti have managed to take root in this harsh environment. Oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and mollusks in the nearby tide pools. Explore the lava flow, swim, and snorkel with playful sea lions off the two small coraline beaches.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6

Galápagos Islands

Visit Las Bachas, a sandy white-coral beach and a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. The name ‘Bachas’ refers to the remains of the landing craft left behind at the end of World War II. Ashore, marine iguanas mingle with flamingos and other wading birds in another of the many super saline lagoons found in the Galápagos.

Rabida Island, commonly known by its English name of Jervis, is unique for the very red color of the beach and cliffs, beneath which one can find gliding sea turtles and perched blue footed boobies. A thick forest of Palo Santo trees sits back from the beach sheltering a yellow saltwater lagoon. Pelicans perch in the thickets, brightly colored pink flamingos graze the lagoon. and a sea lion colony lazes on the red sands of the beach. Hike up a tiny peninsula for a wonderful view of the beach and lagoon. Perhaps visit the nearby sea caves, ready for exploration just down the coast.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7

Galápagos Islands

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galápagos and its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the economic center of the islands. This morning you will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit the Giant Tortoise and Land Iguana Breeding and Rearing Program. This is where Lonesome George, the last of his particular race of tortoise, lived before his death.

 

Later you will visit the Highlands, where the dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Your destination is the Tortoise Reserve, where you will see these animals in the wild.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 8

 

Galápagos Islands

Española, also known as Hood Island, is the southernmost island of the archipelago and is a favorite for visitors. Its popularity is due to the breathtaking variation and shear numbers of animals inhabiting the island. Visit Punta Suarez to witness the largest variety of marine iguanas in the islands, masked boobies and blue footed boobies perched along the cliff’s edge, and the nesting site of the famous waved albatross. Later you will visit Gardner Bay, a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore, and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals.

Aboard M/V Evolution Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9

~Dismbark M/V Evolution~

Galápagos, Ecuador to Lima, Peru

Today your cruise comes to an end, but before you bid farewell to the Evolution and your crew you will pay a visit to the Galapagos National Park Visitor Center on San Cristobal Island. The Center presents a comprehensive exhibit of the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna. Your naturalist guide will use the exhibits to provide an illustrated overview of life on the islands. A short trail takes you to Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony. You will then head to the airport for the flight back to the Ecuadorian mainland.

Upon arrival in Guayquil, you will make your way to your connecting flight to Lima, Peru. Upon arrival in Lima, you will be escorted to the Wyndham Costa del Sol, located just in front of the airport. Accommodations will be reserved for one night, including breakfast.

Wyndham Costa del Sol Meals: Breakfast

Day 10

Lima to Sacred Valley

This morning you will be escorted back to the Lima Airport for your commercial flight to Cusco.

Upon arrival in Cusco, you will be met by your guide and driver for a private transfer to the Sacred Valley. Your guide will stay with you for all of your scheduled excursions until you depart Cusco at the end of your trip.

You will travel through a spectacular panorama of patchwork fields en route to the “Sacred Valley of the Incas.” The route includes picturesque Andean towns, agricultural terraces, and archaeological sites. The mild climate, the varied and dramatic scenery of snow-capped mountains, flowering meadows, lush green hills and spectacular flora and fauna, make the Valley a prime adventure destination in South America. At a lower elevation than Cusco, the Valley is a warm and comfortable environment to begin your exploration of the region.

You will first visit will be at Wayra Ranch where you will be greeted by the aromas of freshly baked bread and tasty empanadas. Enjoy a variety of potatoes grown in remote Andean communities, whose inhabitants preserve these potatoes as a part of their own personal histories and culture. You will be amazed by the many varieties and their unusual tastes, prepared with local herbs grown in the nearby gardens. Local dishes, including tamales, anticucho kebabs, roast lechón (suckling pork), baby chicken and salmon trout are cooked to your taste and served at your table. The finale will be the Peruvian desserts, such as picarones made on the spot and served with abundant chancaca honey, Limeñan suspiro pudding, alfajores biscuits filled with dulce de leche, among other inspirations of the chef!

During lunch, you will witness a spectacular equestrian exhibition featuring horses trained with their graceful gait and set to the rhythm of live marinera music. This special breed of Peruvian horses has been an important part of the Criolla culture for more than 400 years, and this is a legacy that the locals proudly share with visitors.

Following your tour, you will be transferred to Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, where you will spend two nights. Breakfast is included in your stay.

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 11

 

 

Sacred Valley

This morning after breakfast, you will be met by your private guide for a day of exploration in the Sacred Valley, including lunch.

Marvel at the fascinating archaeological site of Moray, where you will find circular terraces descending to about 100 ft, creating microclimates to grow various food supplies. Explore the ancient colorful salt pools of Maras. Originally mined by the Incans, these pools are now individually owned and tended by the local people. After lunch, continue to Ollantaytambo, a charming village built on top of original Inca foundations. Visit the ruins situated on a hilltop landscape with surrounding terracing, cyclopean rock carvings and extraordinary views of the countryside.

Following your tour, you will be transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 12

Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu

This morning after breakfast, meet your guide and driver for your private transfer to Ollantaytambo, where you will board the Vistadome train for your journey to Machu Picchu.

Your 1.5-hour journey aboard the Vistadome train begins in Ollantaytambo and ends in the village of Aguas Calientes. As the name suggests, this train offers passengers picturesque views though its panoramic windows. Gaze at the bountiful scenery that surrounds you as you traverse the Sacred Valley. Whether you capture this experience mentally or by photo, this scenic adventure will leave a lasting memorable impression.

Upon your arrival in the village of Aguas Calientes, you will board the bus for a winding, uphill journey to Machu Picchu. Here you will spend the afternoon with your guide, who will lead you through the mysterious maze of stone buildings at this magnificent site.

Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain,” is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven new wonders of the world. Lose yourself in awe in the “lost city of the Incas” as you admire the ruins. You may feel as though you’ve been transported into a work of art as you marvel at the landscape of this iconic Inca civilization. Discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, and believed to have been built to control the economies of neighboring communities, these ancient ruins depict a time of innovation, artistry and expansion of one of Latin America’s most notable historic empires. Believed by some historians to be a sacred religious site due to its location, there is certainly a spiritual energy on this green mountaintop cloaked in clouds.

When you have finished your exploration for the day, you will return by bus to Aguas Calientes and make your way to the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, where you will stay for one night. Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast are included.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13

Machu Picchu to Cusco

In the morning, you will return to Machu Picchu for another half day of exploration with your guide. After, you will return by bus to Aguas Calientes, where you will head to the train station for your rail transfer to Poroy aboard the Hiram Bingham Train.

Travel through the Peruvian Andes in opulent style aboard the Hiram Bingham Train. Your 1.5-hour journey begins in Aguas Calientes and ends at the Poroy Station, just outside of Cusco. Named after the explorer who rediscovered the Inca citadel, and designed to emulate the Pullman cars of the 1920s, the train combines old-world class with modern day luxury. The train is equipped with four cars, including two dining cars, a bar and observation car, a kitchen, and a staff attentive to ensuring you receive the highest levels of comfort and personalized service. Sit back, relax and delight in the breath-taking scenery on your journey through the Sacred Valley and Andean villages aboard the train that is synonymous with luxury travel and truly is in a class of its own!

Upon arrival at the Poroy Station, you will be transferred to Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco. Accommodations will be reserved for two nights including breakfast

Inkaterra La Casona Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 14

Cusco

This morning after breakfast, you will be met by your Travel Beyond guide for a half-day private city tour of Cusco.

Start with a visit to the main sites around the Plaza de Armas, including the Cathedral, the Inca walls, and the Sun Temple of Koricancha, located inside the Santo Domingo Church. Experience the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where you will view the impressive architecture of the Incans. You can form your own theories about how the Incans managed to move – and perfectly cut – the massive stones used in the fortress overlooking Cusco. Visit Qenqo, a labyrinth with carved stone walls, believed to be used for Incan rituals and worship. Continue to Puca Pucara, believed to be a defense fortress and is made up of large walls, terraces, and staircases. End your visit at the Incan bath and water temple of Tambo Machay.

Your guide will also direct you to the best shops, museums, markets and restaurants, based on your personal interests. Spend the remainder of the day shopping, dining and exploring!

Inkaterra La Casona Meals: Breakfast

Day 15

Depart Peru

This morning, you will be met for your private transfer to the Cusco Airport for your commercial flight to Lima. Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide and driver for a private half-day Lima city tour, including lunch.

Get to know the most iconic sights of Peru’s capital city. Visit Museo Larco, where you will learn more about the fascinating history of ancient Peru. Housed in an 18th-century mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens, the museum boasts an extensive and fascinating collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Enjoy lunch at the museum as you take in its lovely grounds overflowing with bougainvillea. Lima’s Plaza de Armas is located in the historic center of Lima and is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city. From here, you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, and the Municipal Palace. The architecture here remains largely the same as when Lima was founded, complete with a beautiful fountain in the square.

Following your tour, you will be transferred to the restaurant of your choice for dinner (not  included). Tasting menus at “World Top 50 Best Restaurants” Central, Astrid y Gaston or Maido are especially recommended.

After dinner, you will be delivered to the airport for your overnight international flights home.

N/A Meals: Breakfast / Lunch