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Hike over mountain passes to ancient temples and snorkel with sea lions. Immerse yourself in an in-depth discovery of the Sacred Valley of the Incas (with the One Day hike to Machu Picchu included) with the curiosity and wonder of a week spent with the fearless wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a tailor-made itinerary
Fly to the Peruvian capital, Lima. Depending on your flight times, you may or may not need to spend the night in Lima. For daytime flights you would arrive very late and so probably stay at the airport hotel. For overnight flights you land early tomorrow and connect straight through to Cusco.
Fly to Cusco this morning and transfer into the Sacred Valley, stopping en route to visit the Incan ruins at Pisac. You are looked after by a Pura Aventura guide throughout your time in Cusco and on the Inca Trail so they will be there to meet you off the plane. Today is really all about acclimatising to the high altitude (3,326m). This afternoon take a guided stroll through the picturesque streets to get your bearings.
Spend today with your guide experiencing life in the Sacred Valley as lived by the people, away from the tourist trail, where the rural culture of the high Andes is very much in evidence. Guinea pigs stuffed with black mint are roasted over open fires by the side of the road. Women weave the most beautifully complex and colourful patterns using age old techniques. Tonight you visit the house of a local family for dinner, very humble, but with a typically warm Peruvian welcome.
Today is your chance to get out walking as you discover Huchuy Qosqo, an Inca Fortress high on the side of the Sacred Valley. As one of the most inaccessible Incan sites in the valley, you are unlikely to see many other people here at all. There is plenty of time for you to explore the site in the company of your guide before the last, hardest, part of your walk. A steep switchback path takes you all the way down into the foot of the valley.
Catch the train towards Machu Picchu this morning, getting off near the end of the line to walk the one-day, ‘Royal’ Inca trail. The trail takes you up along the side of a valley to the ruins of Winaywayna, where you stop for a picnic lunch, and then follow the paved Inca road through the cloud forest, with orchids, hummingbirds and butterflies. After a final push up a steep stairway to the Sun Gate, you meet your first views of Machu Picchu.
This morning is yours to relax and perhaps arrange a birdwatching tour in the grounds of the Inkaterra hotel. Your full guided tour of Machu Picchu takes place in the calm of the afternoon, when the light is often at its best. If you want to walk, you can head up the hill towards the Sun Gate, or even just from the path towards it, you get some lovely views down onto the terraces and central plaza as well as the peak of Huayna Picchu.
Set off early this morning from Machu Picchu by train back into the Sacred Valley. You are collected for the drive up to Chinchero to visit a fascinating weaver's cooperative, and see the new life breathed into this ancient skill. From here you walk across the wide-open, rural plains to Tambomachay, an Inca staging post above Cusco. From this peaceful spot you head down into the buzz of Cusco, former capital of the Incas, and a vibrant home for your next few nights.
Cusco has been known historically as, ‘the navel of the Andes’, and was the unquestionable hub of the Inca Empire. Take some time to relax this morning before you meet your guide for a walking tour to orientate you to this picturesque city, visiting three of its most important historic sites, the Cathedral, the Temple of the Sun and the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
You should arrive in the Ecuadorian capital early this afternoon so will have time to settle in to your charming and very comfortable hotel before heading off to discover some of Quito's nice bars and restaurants. The colonial heart of the city has been transformed in recent years to arguably the finest in South America.
Our guide comes to find you this morning and lead you through Ecuador’s capital and its surroundings. Quito is positioned on the flanks of the Pichincha Volcano, and is home to perhaps the best-preserved colonial centre in Latin America. Explore the historic centre to learn about the city’s colonial past, perhaps dropping into the Government Palace en route. Whatever your particular interests though, the day will evolve to suit you.
The Galapagos are around 600 miles off mainland Ecuador so the flight takes a good couple of hours. Meet your guide who takes you to board your chosen boat. After lunch, set sail the short distance to North Plaza where you walk close to the fearless wildlife: Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions and land iguanas. Note that here we describe a representative week in the islands rather than a specific boat's itinerary. Different boats follow different routes.
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station first thing today to learn about its amazing breeding, conservation and education programs. Given how long they live, breeding these tortoises is a lifetime's work! After lunch, drive to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to an area where giant tortoises live. Walk amongst these lumbering giants to get an appreciation of how enormous they are.
Start today with a landing on ‘sea lion beach’, so called because, all along the sands are sea lions basking in the sun. Wander along the beach and enjoy watching them play in the surf, this is also your first chance to get into the water and have a swim alongside them. Return for lunch on board and an hour or so navigation to the next landing site on the west of the island which is famous for its wonderful marine birdlife.
Cross Floreana Island by foot to enjoy the somewhat incongruous sight of flamingoes feeding in a lagoon before coming to a sandy beach where you can spot rays and sea turtles. Return to the boat mid-morning to go snorkelling at the distinctive Devil’s Crown crater offshore. This afternoon land at Post Office bay to hear how this informal sailors' postal system has worked for hundreds of years - it's still very effective!
Isabela island is the largest of the Galapagos, there is amazing species diversity. Today you will explore on foot, by boat and swimming in the water. You might see sea lions in a mangrove tree or penguins swimming alongside sea turtles. Marine iguanas sharing a rock with a blue-footed booby. These are things that you can experience nowhere else in the world so enjoy it.
Start today with a walk on Isabela Island to see if you can see giant tortoises. You will almost certainly see land iguanas along the way. Return to the beach to swim or snorkel directly offshore possibly with rays, sea turtles and sharks.For those of you less inclined to swim, you can take time to simply relax and read a book on the beach. This afternoon discover the marine iguanas and flightless cormorants of Fernandina Island.
Walk along the coastline of Santiago Island to see Galapagos fur seal basking in pools along the shoreline. There is time for snorkelling at the end of the walk, through a reef which has some of the best and most varied marine life of the week. This afternoon, sail to the lava mound of Bartolomé. Here you climb 365 wooden steps to the top of the island - for the views.
Get up early this morning to paddle through mangroves in the dawn light. Observe the delicate marine life in the sheltered cove before returning to the boat for breakfast. Disembark at around midday to fly back to the mainland – either to Guayaquil or back to Quito. Depending when your international flights leave, you may need to spend the night on the mainland. Please note: international flights not included.
If you want to experience the best of Peru’s Sacred Valley landscapes, people and culture at a slower pace, and combine it with the curiosity and wonder of a week spent with the fearless wildlife of the Galapagos Islands then hopefully this is the one for you yes.
The trip is certainly active, though not overly strenuous. The Royal (1-day) Inca Trail is the toughest hike; it's a walk of around seven hours at an easy pace, starting at the train line at the bottom of the valley, and heading slowly up through beautiful scenery and past Inca ruins. This trail brings you to the Sun Gate and your first views of Machu Picchu in the afternoon, when the light is at its best and there are fewer people around.
In the Galapagos, wildlife viewing is the main activity. There is some gentle walking though the islands are volcanic which means that you are often walking on quite sharp lava. If you enjoy swimming and snorkeling then you will find some incredible wildlife underwater too.
Every Pura holiday is unique, so we would love to have a conversation about the things that are important to you, and the things you don’t need, before we get started on a personalised proposal for you to consider.
For instance, if you would prefer to hike the full four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu then we can include this instead, or you might like to take the train all the way. For the Galapagos Islands we discuss with you to select the best choice of boat or indeed, land-based trip for you.
To be able to make the trip personal to you we’d also like to take the time to get to know you and what you like, or dislike, doing on your travels. You can let us know a bit about you by clicking on the link below, or if you’d like more details about the trip before we get to that stage, you can also request a full PDF itinerary to be sent to you.
This is a tailor made trip which can depart any day between March and December, depending on availability. Temperatures and weather on this trip vary considerably. The Galapagos Islands lie on the equator, so temperatures and weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant year round. The water temperature and conditions do vary with colder, choppier waters from June through October giving way to warmer and calmer seas for the rest of the year.
In Peru, the driest time of year is winter so April through October/November. In general you can expect daytime temperatures of somewhere between 10°-20° in Lima, Cusco and at Machu Picchu though temperatures plunge at night. On the Inca Trail you can and should expect temperatures to be sub-zero at night.
The price is per person based on two sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and some lunches and dinners
7-night Galapagos cruise with all meals and activities
Private airport transfers throughout
Private guided walks and excursions as described
Entrances and permits
Peru & Galapagos Holiday Guides with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into Lima (LIM) and out of Guayaquil (GYE) or Quito (UIO).
Throughout this journey, you stay in a carefully chosen selection of first-class small hotels and lodges which we feel offer the best combination of a sense of place and a high level of comfort.
The Cusco hotel is tucked away down a side alley. From the restaurant and living room on the first floor you gaze out of huge windows at panoramas across the rooftops of the historic quarter to a backdrop of the Andes.
This sample itinerary is based on a first-class Galapagos sailboat for 16 passengers with 8 small cabins, each with en suite bathroom. Levels of comfort vary greatly depending on the boat you choose, if indeed you choose to explore the Galapagos by boat (land based is also an option). There is a wide range of boat accommodation, from small cabins with bunk beds on the sailboats to balcony suites on premium catamarans.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
Because we have our own office in Peru, our personal connections in the Sacred Valley allow us to introduce you to local people who are keen to share their ways of life with you in a thoughtful and mutually-beneficial way. Want to have dinner with a Peruvian family or head into a thriving market to buy potatoes? We can do that, and much more.
In the Galapagos we support the tireless work of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the only UK organisation dedicated exclusively to protecting the archipelago. Their work includes habitat protection, species monitoring and the eradication of plastic pollution. Everyone who travels to the Galapagos with Pura Aventura is offered a six-month free membership, which you may extend post-trip should you wish to continue your support.