Take in the natural and cultural highlights of the Galápagos and Peru on a compact trip that combines the legacy of the Inca with the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos. Explore the ancient imperial capital of Cusco, delve into the fabled Sacred Valley of the Inca and its stone fortresses, and ponder the mysteries of Machu Picchu. Then journey to the Galápagos Islands for four nights aboard the National Geographic Islander, and walk and snorkel among the famously fearless wildlife that thrives there.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Land at the Lima airport and transfer to our hotel nearby.
Fly to Cusco and enjoy lunch overlooking the elegant Plaza de Armas. Travel through the Urubamba Valley, known as the Sacred Valley of the Inca, to our base for the next two nights. Attend a demonstration of Andean weaving by Nilda Callañaupa, a National Geographic grantee.
Explore the stone fortress of Ollantaytambo before boarding the train to Machu Picchu, introduced to the world by Hiram Bingham in a 1913 issue of National Geographic magazine. Spend this afternoon exploring the spectacular ruins, lingering after most visitors have left. This evening, take the train back to the Sacred Valley.
Return to Cusco and fly via Lima to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. Transfer to our boutique hotel, surrounded by gardens.
This morning, fly to the Galápagos Islands. Meet our naturalist staff for an introduction to the islands and their diverse wildlife; then board our ship.
National Geographic Islander for the remainder of the trip
The Galápagos portion of our expedition begins and ends in Baltra. Each day we will have the opportunity to go on nature walks with local naturalists; swim; snorkel; or explore the coast by kayak or Zodiac. Listed below are some of the islands we plan to visit during our expedition.
ISLA SANTIAGO: Get a close up look at a range of lava formations, from the smooth pahoehoe to spatter cones, and delve into the geology of the archipelago. Snorkel or kayak around Sombrero Chino, and keep an eye out for Galápagos penguins and marine iguanas.
ISLA SANTA CRUZ: Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station in the town of Puerto Ayora, and tour the neighboring captive breeding program for endangered Galápagos giant tortoises run by the Galápagos National Park Service and supported by the National Geographic–Lindblad Fund. In the highlands, observe and photograph giant tortoises in the wild.
ISLA SOUTH PLAZA: Encounter a greeting party of boisterous sea lions and land iguanas. Thread your way through an impressive forest of cactus trees. Walk along seaside cliffs, where swallow-tail gulls and red-tailed tropicbirds perform aerial displays.
ISLA SANTA FE: Swim from the secluded cove at Barrington Bay, and follow a trail through the island group’s largest cactus trees. Spot the Santa Fe land iguana and Galápagos hawks.
ISLA GENOVESA: Sail north across the Equator into a flooded caldera. Go on hikes, search for fur seals in Zodiacs, kayak along the caldera, and snorkel among rainbow-colored parrotfish.
After breakfast, disembark the ship in Baltra and fly to Guayaquil. Settle into day rooms at the Hotel del Parque before your evening flight, or continue on to Quito for an optional two-night extension. Or, take advantage of a complimentary night at the hotel and fly home on Day 10.
- Quito & Otavalo Extension2 days from $425
After your Galápagos voyage, discover the magic of mainland Ecuador on an adventure to colonial Quito and the celebrated Otavalo market. Stroll down cobbled streets and admire stunning Spanish-style architecture in Quito’s historic center, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage–designated sites. Then head into Ecuador’s Andean highlands to visit Otavalo, a town renowned for its exquisite textiles and rich indigenous heritage.
At the conclusion of your Galápagos expedition, continue by air from Guayaquil to Quito, the capital and cultural heart of Ecuador, and check in to our hotel overlooking the tree-filled Parque El Ejido. This evening, venture into Quito’s historic center for a festive welcome dinner at a restaurant with a panoramic view of colonial plazas and churches.
This morning, cross the Equator and travel north through the spectacular Andean highlands to the town of Otavalo, situated in the shadow of the towering—and extinct—Imbabura volcano. Spend the morning exploring Otavalo’s celebrated markets, strolling down aisles adorned with vibrant fabrics and textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and much more. Then visit a nearby village to observe the traditional weaving technique, and relax over lunch at a historic countryside hacienda. Return to Quito later this afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure to explore on your own.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Quito to connect with your flight home, or extend your stay in Quito at an additional cost.