Galapagos Islands to Machu Picchu Getaway 12 Days

Trip Overview

Affordable trip for active travelers looking to explore Inca culture and heritage including Machu Picchu ruins in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Combined with land-based tours and marine activities in the remote and slightly developed Galapagos Islands

12 Days

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Itinerary Highlights: Land-based comfort  \ English-speaking guides \ Snorkeling \ Cusco Tour \ Sacred Valley Tour \ Machu Picchu Tour

Day 1: Arrive Lima - Fly Lima to Cusco - Walking City Tour (Tuesday)

It's ideal to arrive Cusco between 10AM-12N  where your guide will greet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel. Once you're checked in, you begin a walking tour of Cusco  The tour begins at the main Plaza de Armas where the statue of King Pachacutec greets everyone. Continue on foot to the great temple of the sun, known as The Golden Qoricancha, (subject to closure on holidays.) This impressive temple is considered a sacred and treasured Inca structure. It is said that the temple housed a large group of Inca priests responsible for worshiping  the moon and the sun gods. And at the time the conquistadors arrived, the walls were covered with solid gold and so many gold ornaments and gold  jewelry, that it took weeks to melt all the gold for shipment to Spain. We continue the tour stopping along the ancient Inca streets. See the remarkable achievements of ancient Peruvians that include stone arches, Inca walls, cobbled streets, and many examples of exotic architecture. Observe the impact of colonial invasion and how the collision of two very different societies fused into one enchanting hub of modern Peruvian culture Tour ends at your hotel or the city center if you choose. (Pack a small bag to take with you on the train. Store excess luggage at your hotel in Cusco)
(flights arriving Lima late evening can overnight at Wyndham hotel at the airport.  Walk from terminal to hotel lobby over short skybridge)

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: none

Day 2: Cusco - Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes

08:30 AM Your day starts with the usual Peruvian buffet breakfast before we start our van ride to explore the Sacred Valley. Pickup from hotel and drive about 30-40 min to Chinchero, home to the famous colonial style church and archaeological ruins and the backdrop for Qechua women & girls who demonstrate traditional dyeing and weaving.  (One of the best indigenous markets is on Sunday in Chinchero) Continue 20 KM to the greenhouse ruins of Moray to learn about the sophisticated botanical practices of the Inca. Then drive about 11 KM over dirt roads to Maras Terraced Salt Ponds. Here you learn how salt is harvested and the importance of salt for economic exchange since Inca times. Each town offers its own unique view of life and traditions established long ago. Finally arrive in Ollantaytambo, the oldest still-occupied town in Peru where you visit the prominent ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley.  Board late afternoon train for 1.5 hour ride through Urubamba Valley to the village of Aguas Calientes where you walk 10 minutes to your hotel for checkin.  (B)

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 3: Guided Tour of  Machu Picchu - Return to Cusco

7-8AM. Adios tour guide will meet you at your hotel and walk to the bus stop. Travel 30 minutes by bus to the entry of the Machu Picchu National Park where your tour guide assists you into the park. Begin a private tour on one of 4 one-way circuits, lasting about 2-3 hours depending on your preferences, Get up close to real functioning fountains, walk through original Inka houses, observe religious and astrological features, and learn about the many sacred elements and mysterious carved rocks of one of the noblest ancient civilizations to inhabit the earth. After you exit, take the shuttle bus back to the village where you have time for lunch (at your expense) before you return by train and by car to Cusco by 6-7pm.

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 4: Cusco Historical Outskirts Tour (on foot or by car)

8:30 AM to 12-12:30 PM Adios tour guide and driver will meet you at your hotel to begin the 15 minute drive to the ruins of Tambomachay, where you enjoy a short walk to see the ancient Inca royal baths. Stop at Pukapukara, a military outpost and the first defense of Cusco. Continue to the ruins of Qenqo, a site of mysterious caves and an altar where it is believed the Incas mummified their dead. Then drive (or walk downhill through small farms and pastures) to Sacsayhuaman, one of the most significant archaeological legacies of the Incas. Due to the complexity of the layout of the massive blocks of stone, some bigger than a car, it is said that the construction of Sacsayhuaman lasted more than 50 years and employed over 20,000 men. During the tour, be sure to notice the amazing views of Cusco. Return to your hotel where you have time to explore the city on your own for the rest of the day. 

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 5: (Saturday) Fly Cusco - Quito, Ecuador 

Transfer from hotel to the Cusco airport for your flight to Ecuador. All flights stop in Lima for international connections to Quito or Guayaquil. Arrive in Ecuador where you take a taxi at your expense to arrive at the hotel in the center of Quito. 

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 6: Day of Leisure in Quito - 6PM Pre-trip briefing with your Tour Guide and Group Members

Explore the city on your own or we can arrange guided tours and activities. 6PM meeting with local tour guide and other group members, in the hotel, to prepare for your trip to the Galapagos Islands. Pack 1 roll-on luggage + 1 personal bag, and store excess luggage at the hotel. Excess luggage will be delivered to you at the Quito airport after you return from Galapagos on the following Saturday. (Groups are limited to 10 people age 8 and up)

Hotel: 3* Boutique with private bath, breakfast and free wifi
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 7: Fly from Ecuador Mainland to Baltra Airport on Santa Cruz Island - Galapagos

After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the Quito airport for a three hour flight to Baltra Airport.. Then begin transfer by road and speed boat, to Isabela Island, one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos. Isabela is mostly uninhabited and remains a sanctuary for wildlife, including marine iguanas, flamingos, giant tortoises and even penguins. Once we arrive we will check in at the hotel and enjoy the sunset.

Hotel: 3* Cormorant or similar with private bath, breakfast and free wifi (wifi is subject to interruptions due to remote location)
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 8: Explore Isabela Island by Bike

After breakfast we begin exploring by bike along a flat road around the side of the island. Each stop on our journey will take us to leisurely walking trails with impressive views of the different landscapes aand diverse ecosystem of the island. Highlighting our ride are stops at Playa del Amor and the Tortoise Breeding Center. Playa del Amor, or Love Beach, is home to the largest population of marine iguanas on the Island. These land-based marine creatures are exclusive to the Galapagos and have the ability to forage underwater. At the Tortoise Breeding Center, we observe the ongoing efforts of workers at the National Park in the preservation of the tortoise population. After an average of five hours of exploration though richly diverse environments ending at the Flamingo lagoon, we return to town to enjoy the golden sunset and the gentle sounds of rhythmic waves.

Hotel: 3* Cormorant or similar with private bath, breakfast and free wifi (wifi is subject to interruptions due to remote location)
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel

Day 9: Hike to a Volcano - Snorkeling at Tintoreras Islet

After breakfast in your hotel, the morning begins with a drive to the highlands of Isabela, where we hike to the rim of Sierra Negra Volcano for a total of 10 miles. There you can see fresh volcanic material from the last eruption in 2018, and with clear weather you have a spectacular view of Elizabeth Bay. Following the hike you return to the hotel to prepare for your snorkeling adventure. (Lunch is provided) In the afernoon we will go by small motorized boat to Tintoreras, an islet of jagged volcanic rock and small underwater canyons, to explore on foot. Here, white-tip sharks known as “tintoreras” come daily to rest on the bottom of the sea. We can also observe penguins, sea lions, and marine iguanas, as well as go snorkeling with sharks and other colorful tropical fish.  Return to hotel to explore the village on your own in the evening.

Hotel: 3* Cormorant or similar with private bath, breakfast and free wifi (wifi is subject to interruptions due to remote location)
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel and lunch included

Day 10: Day boat trip to The Lava Tunnels - Snorkeling

After breakfast, pickup for transfer to the dock for day boat trip to The Tunnels. Includes box lunch. Striking geological formations are home to collection of sea creatures including Blue Footed boobies, sea horses, star fish, sea lions, hammerhead sharks. Trek on lava arches & bridges then 2 snorkels.  Return to dock and transfer to hotel by mid-afternoon. Free afternoon to explore village. (BL)

Hotel: 3* Cormorant or similar with private bath, breakfast and free wifi (wifi is subject to interruptions due to remote location)
Meals included: breakfast in your hotel and lunch 

Day 11: Boat Transfer to Santa Cruz - Explore Charles Darwin Center

Early transfer by speed for two hours to the Island of Santa Cruz, home of the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about the struggles and acheivements of researchers and conservationist helping to repopulate the islands with various species of tortoise. Then we begin a tour by van to El Chato Reserve in the highlands for an up close experience to see giant tortoises in their native habitat with time to also explore the lava tunnels that dot the property. The tour ends back in the village of Puerto Ayora where you can enjoy the evening on your own. We recommend heading down to the boat docks at night as sharks and rays can be spotted playing in the lights below.

Overnight: Galapagos Inn Hotel or similar with private bath, breakfast and free wifi (wifi is subject to interruptions due to remote location)
Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12:  Transfer to Airport - Flight to Mainland - Make International Connection After 22:00PM (Saturday)

Transfer to airport  (1 hr/ 20 min) at least 3 hours prior to scheduled departure. The van will stop at the Itabaca Channel where you will transfer your luggage to a ferry boat which costs $1 USD pp and takes 5 min to cross. Then you will board a large bus for 5 min ride to airport. (no added cost)  Flight to Quito where you make your international connection later the same evening (or book nearby Wyndham hotel and take shuttle bus for overnight if needed. at your expense.)

Meals included: Breakfast

(itinerary subject to change)


Tour Options

12 Days

12 D / 11 N
Difficulty Level:
Every Tuesday
Starting From$3623per person

Sgl Supp - add $792 pp

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Visas and Vaccinations Required to Travel to Peru and Ecuador?

For US passport holders, visas and vaccinations are not required. We suggest you follow the recommendations of your medical professional or the CDC regarding your personal needs for shots. 

Who can travel on this trip to Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands?

Active people age 8 and over are able to participate in all activities as indicated. In case there is an activity you don't want to do, just let your tour guide know in advance. In some cases, you may enjoy exploring a city or town on foot on your own. 

What About High Altitude in Cusco?

Cusco is about 11,000 ft / 3350 m above sea level. And Machu Picchu is 7972 ft / 2430 m. Our tours are designed for people coming from sea level. You do not need to add extra days. Keep in mind that these trips require walking every day. It's customary to walk to museums and restaurants. You can expect steps and inclines in Cusco and of course Machu Picchu. Everyone is advised to drink extra water before arriving in Cusco to reduce the affects of high altitude. Please consult your medical advisor if you have questions about medication for high altitude.

Why Is IT Important To Pay Attention To Passport Expiration Dates?

The most important thing to do before planning a trip abroad is to check the expiration date of your passport. Passports are essential for buying entry tickets to Machu Picchu, train tickets and your flights in South America Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months arrive your arrival date of the first day of your trip.  If you plan to renew your passport it's essential that you tell us at the time you make your reservation. With advance notice, we can plan around travelers who need to renew their passports.

This Adventure Includes

    • 1-way Cusco airport transfer to hotel on arrival
    • Alirport transfers for flights we book to Galapaogos Islands
    • All accommodations in comfortable 3* hotels based on dbl occupancy (upgrades available)
    • Meals as indicated 
    • All land transportation including taxis, buses, private vehicles & trains.
    • All entry fees to all the places listed EXCEPT the entry fees to the Galapagos Islands National Park on arrival in the Baltra airport - $100 & $10
    • Shared excursions up to 10 people ranging in age from 8 and up.
    • English-speaking, licensed guides
    • RT Domestic flight between Ecuador & Galapagos (begins and ends from Quito, Ecuador) Luggage is limited to 1 roll-on + 1 personal carryon bag.

Not Included

    • International and Domestic flights -(except to Galapagos)
    • Cusco airport transfer on departure
    • Quito airport transfers on arrival and departure
    • Hotel in Lima if needed
    • You will need to book the following flights: 1) One way from your home to Lima, Peru, 2) One way from Lima to Cusco 3) One way from Cusco, Peru to Quito, Ecuador  4) One way from Quito, Ecuador to Home or other destination
    • Many airlines allow you to book multi-city flights which allows you to travel one way to several cities
    • It is possible to reverse the itinerary and start your trip in Ecuador as long as you arrive in Quito, Ecuador no later than Sunday by 4PM on Day 1
    • Galapagos National Park Entry Free $200 USD CASH pp age 12 and over / $100 under age 12 / $20 Visitor Card All Ages
    • Lunches & dinners and all meals during transfers (recommended budget $35 pp, per day)
    • Travel Insurance - mandatory. As a courtesy we offer a link to SQUAREMOUTH Trip Protection. Or choose any provider you like.
    • We are not responsible for expenses incurred in case of delays or cancellations.for any reason. 
    • Bottled drinking water - readily available for purchase. We offer a link to our favorite water filter for travelers. 
    • Airport departure taxes if applicable.
    • Excess luggage fees
    • Tips 
    • Hotel in Quito, Ecuador airport on return from Galapagos (optional)
    • Sgl room supplement. Add $792 per person for entire trip


    • Travel Time between Peru and Ecuador requires 24 hour window including 1 overnight in Quto as a buffer between segments
    • 12-Day trip begins in Cusco, Peru and ends in Quito, Ecuador 
    • Excursions may be shared in small groups up to 10 people
    • We ask you to book a1-way domestic flight from Lima to Cusco and 1-way international flight between Cusco, Peru and Quito, Ecuador. Latam Airlines is recommended.
    • During the train ride to Machu Picchu, you can store excess luggage at your hotel in Cusco.  (CLICK HERE to READ MORE)
    • Excess luggage can be stored in mainland hotel during trip to Galapagos Islands. 
    • Flights to the islands begin and end from Quito, Ecuador
    • Single supplement cost per person- add $792 for entire trip