LIMA / CUSCO/ SACRED VALLEY/ MACHU PICCHU / CUSCO / LIMA / QUITO ( ECUADOR ) GALAPAGOS CRUISE / HOME
Itinerary: 14 DAYS
Day 01 : Lima.
Upon arrival to Lima Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the fashionable district of Miraflores by the sea. This district is very open and attractive with many restaurants’, shops and good walks as well as easy access into the centre of the capital, Lima. Overnight stay.
Day 02 : Lima. Half Day City Tour.
It is always in my opinion worth a day just to visit Limas’ historical centre and to dine in one of the many exquisite restaurant’s in and around the area of Miraflores. Peru has a high recognition in the world of international cuisine.
In the morning, visit Colonial Lima and its Cathedral, located on the main square. Originally built in 1555 it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1746 and then rebuilt on the same site under the direction of Jesuit priest, Juan Rehr, both its facade and interior are austere with its remarkable wooden choir stalls, altars and the tomb of Francisco Pizarro, who died in 1541. Latter you will visit the Church of San Francisco, its Convent, Art Museum, Cloisters and Catacombs.
Afterwards walk and enjoy the panoramic view of the main square with the Government Palace, the Municipal Hall and the old Victorian Train Station “Desamparados”, before driving through the old streets, with its spectacular and traditional old Mansions and overhanging Moorish styled balconies. Continue through classic and modern Lima before finally arriving back to Miraflores and the beautiful sea views of the Pacific Ocean.
After take an optional visit to the Rafael Larco Herrera Museu founded in 1926, which has the largest private collection of Pre-Columbian art in the world. The collection concentrates on the refined ceramics of the Moche Dynasty and the people who lived along the northern coast of Peru between 200 and 700 AD. You will learn about their religion, agriculture, transport, dance and music through their ceramic designs and shapes or free afternoon.
In the evening optional dinner in one of Limas’ well known restaurant’s and enjoy this very interesting cuisine or evening free. Overnight.
Day 03 : Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley.
At a co-ordinated hour transfer and fly to Cusco which lies at 3,500 meters. Upon arrival you will be collected from the airport and driven overland to the Sacred Valley, a journey which will take approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. On the way you will stop on route to take some pictures of the valley, the rural villages and admire the Pucara Bulls on the roofs of Andean houses. These small bulls are thought to be amulets that bring wealth to each family who owns them; they are usually given as wedding gifts. Upon arrival to our hotel, rest of the day free to acclimatise and to enjoy our new surroundings. Overnight
Day 04 : Sacred Valley. Full Day tour of the Valley and overnight stay.
In the morning visit the archaeological complex of Pisac, during the course of our hike around this area; appreciate the magnificent Andean Terraces, which were built to expand the agriculture lands. After visit the artisan market of Pisac a colourful local event that over the centuries has attracted local traders and remote communities from all over the valley, dressed in their traditional and colourful costumes. Enjoy the opportunity to interact with local people and appreciate their craftsmanship, handicrafts as well as local fruit and vegetable stalls.
Buffet lunch and after we will make our way to the historical town of Ollantaytambo, with its distinct Inca urban planning, visit the religious, astronomical and military complex and observe how the ancient Peruvians moved boulders of nearly 60 metric tons from one mountain to another and across the river and valley. Finally you will be transferred to your hotel in the Sacred Valley. Overnight
Please note that this program can be changed to include other attractions such as Chincheros and the Inca Salt Mines as well as Ollantaytambo.
Day 05 : Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the station to board the train to Machu Picchu, a great World Heritage Site. This archaeological site was hidden for centuries until it came to light during the early 1900s, by the famous discoverer Hiram Bingham. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the afternoon free to relax or explore the small village of Aguas Calientes and surrounding area. Overnight.
Day 06 : Machu Picchu / Cusco. Enjoy Sunrise at Machu Picchu and tour of the Sanctuary.
In the morning, early rise and journey by bus to the Sanctuary (approximately 20 minutes) to enjoy sun-rise. It is impossible to describe in words, how you will feel when faced with the citadel, a huge complex located between the mountains and the jungle and a wonderful challenge to your imagination. On arrival you will begin your tour of the Citadel where you will appreciate the history of this enigmatic and impressive place. It was built on a very special spot covered in vegetation between two mountains: the Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (young mountain), at the foot of which meanders the Urubamba or Vilcanota River (lower Jungle featuring abundant flora and fauna). In the afternoon at a coordinated time, you will be transferred to the station to board your return train to Cusco. Upon arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. Overnight.
Day 07 : Cusco. City Tour and Surrounding Ruins.
In the morning you will be collected for your City Tour visiting Cusco’s Historical Inca and Spanish Colonial Monuments, such as the main square and known in Inca times as Huacaypata or the Warrior’s Square; it was the scene for many key events in Cusco’s history. Then the Cathedral, originally built on the site of the old temple of Suntur Wasi (House of God), now the church of El Triunfo, with its choir cloisters, pulpit and the engravings on its altar and furniture. Continue onto the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, a Spanish construction belonging to the Dominican Order built upon the foundations of the Inca temple of Koricancha or Temple of the Sun. Koricancha (in quechua, site of gold) was the main religious building of the Incas who were dedicated to the worship of the Sun and whose walls, according to the chroniclers, were plated with sheets of gold. Magnificent blocks of finely carved stone were used in its construction.
After, you will visit the surrounding ruins of Cusco: Sacsayhuaman a huge Inca fortress built on three overlapping platforms, each of them over 360 meters long. Then we continue onto Tambomachay, known as the Inca baths, it was apparently a site dedicated to the worship of water and a resting place for the Inca monarch. Kenko, it is said to have been a worship site. There is a huge 5. 9 meter high stone block that looks like a Puma and there are also passages, canals and stairways with stone engravings representing animals. Finally, Puca Pucará, which was an administrative and military centre formed by terraces, stairways, passages, turrets and vaulted niches. Return to hotel and the evening free to rest or explore this magical place. Overnight.
Day 08 : Cusco / Lima. Fly to Lima and overnight.
At a co-ordinated hour transfer and flight to Lima, upon arrival reception and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day free. Overnight.
Please note: It could be possible to connect same day to Quito, but always important to take into account flight delays from Cusco due to weather.
Day 09 : Cusco / Lima / Quito.
Transfer and flight to Quito, upon arrival reception and transfer to your hotel. Overnight.
Day 10 : Cruise. Quito / Baltra to Cerro Dragón (Santa Cruz)
In the morning transfer and fly to Baltra. Upon arrival transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II where you will receive an introductory briefing, boat drill and lunch. In the afternoon, visit the north shore of Santa Cruz, which hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill). Walk past a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks and flamingos. Farther inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance to observe land iguanas. Overnight onboard. ( All meals included )
Day 11 : Cruise. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) & Punta Espinoza (Fernandina)
After breakfast, explore the coast by dinghy with a naturalist guide explaining the dramatic geology of the area. Punta Vicente Roca is a nesting place for several Galapagos highlights: flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, boobies and more. Depending on weather conditions, you may snorkel along the cliffs rich in marine life, seasonally-visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (mola mola).
The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which has no introduced mammals and boasts a very unique environment with a very high density of marine iguanas, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hawks, penguins and flightless cormorants. . Overnight onboard. ( All meals included )
Day 12 : Cruise. Darwin Research Station & Optional Activities (Santa Cruz)
In the morning, disembark (dry landing followed by a brief bus ride) for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Center, located within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following your visit, board a transport vehicle to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
There are several options available for this afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. Options include beach walks, kayaks, walks along the tortoise reserve, etc. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and the ship. . Overnight onboard. ( All meals included )
Day 13: Cruise. Baroness Tower, Post Office Bay, Champion Islet & Cormorant Point (Floreana)
After breakfast, enjoy a dinghy ride along the maze of channels on Floreana’s north shore. Continue to Baroness Tower with its breath taking views of Floreana. Land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries and where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Enjoy snorkeling off the beach before heading back on board for lunch.
Following lunch and a siesta, take the dinghies and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano regarded as one of the best snorkelling spots in the archipelago. Next make a wet landing at Punta Cormorant onto the olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish-water lagoon where bird species such as greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers and others gather. Continue your walk over to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (December to May). . Overnight onboard. ( All meals included )
Day 14 : Baltra / Quito / Home.
After breakfast and a farewell from the crew, disembark at Baltra Island. Transfer to the airport and flight to Quito or Guayaquil, connect with international flight.
Please Note : This is a sample itinerary with the Ship Santa Cruize II, further cruises / itineraries offered.