Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Walk and snorkel among the abundant and fearless wildlife of the Galápagos Islands.
  • See day break over the ruins at Machu Picchu from the fabled Sun Gate.
  • Discover the monumental ancient fortresses of the Sacred Valley of the Inca.
  • Take in the splendor of Cusco's architecture, a rich mix of Inca and Spanish colonial styles.



Discover the natural wonders of the Galápagos and the magnificent cultural treasures of Peru. Explore the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, hike to ruins in the Urubamba Valley, examine pre-Columbian artifacts at Lima's renowned Larco Herrera Museum, and witness the sunrise on magical Machu Picchu.

This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.


Day 1: U.S./Guayaquil, Ecuador

Depart for Guayaquil and upon arrival, transfer to our hotel.

Accommodations:Hotel Hilton Colón (National Geographic Endeavour II) or Hotel del Parque (National Geographic Islander)
Day 2: Guayaquil/Galápagos

This morning, fly to the Galápagos Islands and board our comfortable expedition ship. During lunch, we begin our exploration of the islands.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 3-8: Exploring Galápagos

Our expeditions travel between Baltra and San Cristóbal and include Santa Cruz and a selection of the other islands listed below. You will have the opportunity to go on nature walks with local naturalists; swim; snorkel; or explore the waters by kayak, glass-bottom boat (Endeavour II only), or Zodiac.

Listed below are some of the islands we may visit during our expeditions:*

ISLA BARTOLOMÉ: Walk to the top of Bartolomé's volcanic cone for a stunning view of Pinnacle Rock and the surrounding white-sand beaches. You may also have the opportunity to swim with Galápagos penguins.

ISLA SANTIAGO: Follow a path along a series of tide pools and underwater caverns in search of Galápagos fur seals, marine iguanas, sea lions, and Sally Lightfoot crabs.

ISLA SANTA CRUZ: Visit the town of Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station. See endangered Galápagos giant tortoises at the captive breeding center run by the Galápagos National Park—and supported by the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Fund. Travel into the highlands to observe giant tortoises in the wild.

ISLA ISABELA: Spend time on the lookout for dolphins; whales; sea turtles; and the unusual sunfish, the mola. Explore caves and hidden lagoons by Zodiac, and snorkel among sea turtles.

ISLA FLOREANA: At Champion Islet, snorkel among sea lions, or peer into an underwater world in a glass-bottom boat (Endeavour II only) while keeping an eye out for the endangered Floreana mockingbird. Those interested can visit Post Office Bay—if you see a letter addressed to someone who lives near you, the tradition is to deliver it by hand.

ISLA FERNANDINA: Discover the marine iguana haven of Punta Espinoza as we hike over lava flows. Galápagos hawks and sea lion nurseries may also be also found as we explore this island.

ISLA ESPAÑOLA: See Darwin's finches, boobies, and waved albatross in this birder's paradise. Walk among vivid green and red marine iguanas, and observe sea lions up close on a pristine white-sand beach.

ISLA GENOVESA: Sail across the equator to this far-flung island in the northern realm of the Galápagos, and snorkel among parrotfish in warmer tropical waters. Climb Prince Philip’s steps, ride Zodiacs in search of fur seals, and kayak along the horseshoe-shaped caldera.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Day 9: Galápagos/Guayaquil/Lima, Peru

Depart the Galápagos this morning and fly to Lima, Peru via Guayaquil, arriving in the early evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport Hotel
Day 10: Cusco/Sacred Valley of the Inca

Fly from Lima to Cusco this morning and drive to the Inca site of Moray—believed to have been an agricultural laboratory where priests would test soils and crops. After a private lunch near the site, stop at the colorful local market in Urubamba.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Sol y Luna
Day 11: Sacred Valley of the Inca

After breakfast, enjoy a talk by National Geographic grantee Peter Frost*, who has been exploring the Andes for 35 years. In 2001 and 2002, Peter led National Geographic Society-sponsored expeditions into the remote region of Vilcabamba, Peru, finding and exploring the previously unknown Inca and pre-Inca site of Qoriwayrachina (National Geographic magazine, February 2004). Travel further into the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo and explore the massive stone fortress where the Inca won their greatest victory against the conquistadors. Visit the family-owned hacienda Casa Orihuela for lunch, then see the family's private museum filled with colonial artwork, and witness the delicate dance of paso horses during a presentation of traditional horsemanship. Back at the lodge, meet National Geographic grantee Nilda Callañaupa, who has helped preserve and revive traditional Inca textiles. Learn about her ancient craft and watch a weaving demonstration. Gather for a captivating performance of folkloric stilt dancing tonight.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Sol y Luna
Day 12: Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu

This morning, board a train for a breathtaking ride between Andean slopes, and enjoy panoramic views of ancient ruins and everyday life. Our destination is Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu—the Inca royal retreat famously introduced to the world by Hiram Bingham in the April 1913 issue of National Geographic magazine. Check in at our hotel, adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage site, and enjoy the rest of the day to explore with our guides, lingering after the day visitors have left.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13: Machu Picchu/Cusco

Perched on a hilltop at about 8,000 feet, the sanctuary of Machu Picchu is set amid cloud forests and steep peaks. Before sunrise, hike up to the Sun Gate, the final checkpoint of the Inca Trail, and watch day break over the timeless ruins of Machu Picchu. After lunch, board the train back to the Sacred Valley. Continue to Cusco, a city of astonishing charm and beauty that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Our home here is an exquisite 16th-century monastery just steps from the city square. Take a stroll in the elegant arcaded courtyard and admire the 16th-century antiques and paintings decorating the halls before a special dinner with opera singers in the vaulted dining room.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14: Cusco

Delve into the legacy of the Inca and the Spanish during a full day of exploration in Cusco. Examine the massive stone boulders that make up the 15th-century Sacsayhuaman fortress, site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Spanish conquest. See the Coricancha, a 17th-century cathedral and convent built atop the ruins of an opulent Inca temple. Then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to stroll around this beautiful city or relax at our historic hotel.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Day 15: Cusco/Lima

Return to Lima this morning. Browse pre-Columbian artifacts at the renowned Larco Museum, and wander across the Plaza Mayor. Following a traditional Peruvian lunch, the afternoon is free to enjoy the beautiful Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel and surrounding area.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Day 16: Lima/U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the Lima airport for your return flights.

Meals Included:Breakfast