Marvel at the mother of all Inca cities, magical Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins and free time to explore on your own. Enjoy plenty of time in gorgeous Cusco, the perfect place to launch into further outdoor adventures, or simply relax and take in mountain views. The floating reed islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca are astounding in concept, construction and history. Take a boat tour on the world’s highest navigable lake and stay with a local family there.. Get acquainted with the beautiful churches and graceful boulevards of Quito, Ecuador’s capital
Visit Peru’s incredible natural and historical highlights on this awesome adventure. Retrace the steps of the Incas to Machu Picchu, admire colonial cities, explore vibrant markets and meet the locals in this South American country with a difference. Return home with incredible memories of the panoramas and people of Peru. Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, is the drawcard of the remote Galapagos Islands. Tour the Galapagos’ outstanding natural beauty and interesting history by foot, boat and bike on this active adventure. Trace Darwin’s theory of evolution, spot colourful, bizarre and beautiful creatures and have an experience that is completely out of this world as you discover the incredible Galapagos Islands.
Breakfast Included: 16 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 1
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru’s capital and one of South America’s most beautiful cities. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm, where you’ll meet your fellow travellers and tour leader. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. After the meeting, stroll the streets of downtown Lima and check out some of its main attractions on a leader-led walking tour. Enjoy free time before an optional group dinner this evening. The unofficial food capital of South America, there’s no better place to sample Peru’s national dish, ceviche, than at one of Lima’s excellent restaurants. As there's little time spent in Lima, you may like to arrive a few days early to see the sights, including the chic suburb of Miraflores, Central Park, Lovers' Park and the National Museum.
Catch an early flight to Cusco. Spend a little time acclimatising to the high altitude (3450 metres/11,320 feet) and then get acquainted with this charming town on a walking tour with your leader. Check out Cusco’s vibrant main square (Plaza de Armas). Witness the flurry of activity that characterises San Pedro market. Stroll past the slew of quaint restaurants and artisans found in San Blas Square. See Qoricancha (an Inca Sun Temple) and the famous 12 Angle Stone, then end your tour at the chocolate museum, where you’ll get a chance to sample hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. This might be a good opportunity to purchase some gifts or souvenirs. There’s a small store where you’ll find various handicrafts and a variety of artisanal chocolate products.
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approximately 2 hours) on the outskirts of Cusco. This lush valley was known as Wilcamayo to the Incas and has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls. You will visit a community in the valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities. If your visit coincides with market day you can browse the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos, and perhaps practice your newfound language, Quechua. Later in the afternoon, board a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. This extra journey ensures that we can travel to Machu Picchu as early as possible tomorrow morning.
Machu Picchu / Cusco
Take a bus up the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). This is your chance to decide for yourself whether Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility or is an ancient astronomical observatory. Enjoy a guided visit of the incredible site (1.5–2 hours) with plenty of free time afterwards to wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, return to Cusco.
Note: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking climbs of Wayna Picchu.
Visiting Machu Picchu:
According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cusco's sights, or simply rest your legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, a mountain bike adventure into the surrounding hills is recommended.
Travel by local bus across the spectacular Altiplano to Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca (approximately 7 hours). Mingle with the locals in this melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan cultures and see how traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. If you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, which see the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Lake Titicaca (Homestay)
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. Using the versatile totora reeds found in the shallows of the lake, the Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, you'll be welcomed into the home of a local community and stay the night. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities, communicating to them in Quechua or perhaps trying your luck with them at soccer.
Depart your homestay this morning and take a bus to Juliaca airport (approximately 2 hours). In the afternoon take an included flight flight back to Lima (approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes). Enjoy a last night out with your fellow travellers in Lima.
Today, transfer to the airport and board an included flight from Lima to Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Once arrived, there are no activities planned until another group meeting held at 2 pm, where you’ll be briefed on the next stage of your South American adventure. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America, sitting at an altitude of 2850 metres with a view of Volcan Pichincha on the horizon. Later on, you’ll have a city tour to show the beautiful Colonial style buildings and help you explore the nooks and crannies of cosy Old Town. We’ll be back in Quito at the end of the trip, giving you a chance to further experience the city.
There are a lot of optional activities that, if you have time, you may like to book into either today or at the end of your adventure. They include:
Cotopaxi Volcano: For something more active, head out to the 5897-metre-high Cotopaxi Volcano – drop by the National Park museum, then hike for around 2 hours and visit the picturesque Limpiopungo Lagoon.
Quilotoa Lagoon: if you’re into lagoons, maybe take a full day trip to the stunning Quilotoa Lagoon. Early in the morning, drive 3 hours south through the local communities and Andes views of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Then hike (2 hours return) to the beautiful Quilotoa volcano crater lagoon, before returning to Quito. Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano.
Papallacta: Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano.
Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos
Catch an early morning transfer to Quito airport (approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour) for your flight to San Cristobal Island, Galapagos. The flight will take approximately 3.5 hrs including a stop in Guayaquil to pick up additional passengers (you will not need to disembark the plane). The departure time will be between 8.20 am and 10.30 am depending on flight schedules.
Once you have passed through all the checks and formalities have been completed, transfer from the airport to the hotel (approximately 15 minutes). Soon after, travel to La Loberia where you'll put on snorkelling gear for the first time and go for a swim with sea lions, and maybe even some sea turtles! After an entertaining afternoon, continue back to town, where tonight you may wish to head out with your travel friends and enjoy some of the fresh seafood available.
Isla San Cristobal
Today begins with a 45-minute boat ride to Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock). On the way we might be able to spot nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies. There is also potential to swim among playful young sea lions. At Leon Dormido you can snorkel and look for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark. Currents can be quite strong so it's important you are a confident swimmer to participate in this activity. If you have any concerns, please ensure you speak with your leader. Eat lunch on the boat then head to the Interpretation Center. Learn about the history of the 'Enchanted Islands' and the conservation projects which seek to preserve them. Continue to Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tijeretas), which is located two kilometres from the Interpretation Center. It's quite a climb to the top, but well worth the amazing views of the bay. Return to town in the late afternoon or early evening.
Isla Floreana / Isla Isabela
Take an early morning boat ride towards Isla Floreana, which should take about 2.5 hours. Along the way keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins and whales. On arrival to the island, snorkel in the clear blue waters and then break for lunch. Afterwards venture to a black-sand beach which belongs to the Witmers, decedents of some of the first settlers on the Galapagos. The town here, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, has about 150 residents and an intriguing history involving deaths, disappearances and murders. Later in the afternoon, wave goodbye to Floreana and continue to Isla Isabela (approximately 2 hours). From Isabela Port it's a short transfer to the hotel where we will spend the night (approximately 15 minutes).