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Route

Technical Characteristics:

Route Profile:  Easy. The daily tours are not difficult but the high altitude adds challenge. Some surefootedness and experience with hilly terrain would be of benefit, especially for the cruise portion of the tour.

Travel Season: Any date on request from January 2 to December 31, 2021
*NOTE: Galapagos boat cruises start only on Mondays. In order to participate, the start date of the                                    tour will need to be organized around the Monday start of the boat cruise.

Accommodation:

3* and 4* hotels, ship

Cruise Ship Treasure of Galapagos

The cruise ship Treasure of Galapagos has four twin cabins and one master suite (triple) on the main deck. The upper deck has two double cabins and two twin cabins. There is a sun deck (shaded terrace and solarium area), shaded outside sitting areas, dining room and lounge/bar.  The ship comes equipped with ten experienced, trained and IMO (International Marine Organization) certified crew members, captain, two first makes, two sailors, two engineers, one chef, one sous chef, one barman and one national park certified multilingual naturalist guide.

 

Welcome to our Peru, Ecuador & Galapagos Tour with the most iconic highlights in just one journey! Start the journey in Peru, explore Lima, the Inca Culture, Cusco and Machu Picchu and continue to the Titicaca Islands. From here, travel to Ecuador. Visit Quito and the Otavalo region. End the tour on a seven day Cruise at the Galapagos Islands.

Itineraries

Day 1

Arrival in Lima

Arrival to Lima in the evening. At arrival, walk to the airport hotel, Costa Del Sol Ramada in front of the airport, where you will spend the night before heading to Cusco the next morning.

Day 2

Sacred Valley with Pisac and Ollantaytambo

Breakfast and walk to the airport for morning flight to Cusco. Arrival and meeting with the guide in Cusco. From here a transport will take you to a private tour to the Secret Valley. First visit is to the Pisaq ruins and then to visit the market. Later we’ll continue into the Urubamba Valley to Ollantaytambo, where we’ll spend the night.

Day 3

Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes

After breakfast visit to the ancient ruins and some of the greatest masterpieces of the Incas in Ollantaytambo. Afterwards we take the train to Aguas Calientes where we will spend the night.

Day 4

Macchu Picchu

Early morning transfer to the bus station and bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Morning tour to Machu Picchu with private guide. Afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo train station. From here transfer to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 5

Cusco and city tour

Today you will have a city tour in Cusco included. First we will visit the marketplace, San Pedro where there will be a lot of folkloric activities and great photo opportunities. From here we visit Sacsayhuamana. Once back in Cusco again we will visit San Blas (the neighbourhood of artist in Cusco), the 12 angles stone, Plaza la Armas and finally Qorikancha (Sun temple).

Day 6

Cusco

Free day in Cusco for own plans.

Day 7

Cusco – Puno

Tourist bus to Puno by “Camino del Sol”. On the way there are going to be guided visits to Andahuayllillas Church, Raqchi (the God temple) and Pucará. Lunch on the way in Sicuani (or maybe other location). Upon arrival to Puno, transfer to your hotel.

Day 8

Uros and Taquile Island

A two day tour to Uros and Taquile Islands with private guide.
This excursion begins with pickup from your hotel in the morning hours. Transfer to port and the boat trip begins. First stop is the Uros floating Islands. Stepping on the floating islands feels a lot like being on a waterbed but it is quite safe to walk on them. We see inside the houses and rides on traditional reed boats can also be arranged. We then continue the journey towards Taquile Island. At arrival, check in to a local hostel. Afternoon free to explore the Island with your local guide. In the afternoon, you will have an excellent opportunity to enjoy the peace at the island as all the main tourism will either continue to the neighbour island or return to Puno.

Day 9

Taquile Island and Puno

After breakfast, you have the morning to explore the local way of life by participating in the daily activities together with the locals. Departure from Taquile to Puno after lunch. Upon arrival at Puno (around 3-4 p.m.) transfer to your hotel.

Day 10

Puno – Lima (city tour)

Morning transfer to the airport in Juliaca and flight to Lima. Upon your arrival in Lima, transfer to your hotel. Afternoon private city tour in Lima. The tour to the colonial part includes visits to the archaeological site
Huaca Pucllana, the square “Plaza de Armas” and “San Francisco church” (the catacombs). There will also be time to visit the modern parts of
Lima, such as Larcomar and Miraflores. Transfer back to your hotel at the end of the day.

Day 11

Lima – Quito

Transfer to Lima airport and flight to Quito

Day 12

City Tour in Quito

Half day private city tour in the historical part of Quito, including La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and El Panecillo Hill. We leave the hotel by bus and will see the transformation from the new part of the city to the absolutely beautiful historical and colonial part of Quito. We will get off the bus and will have time to see all the interesting churches, plazas etc. and to simply enjoy the local atmosphere, the many shops and sellers. After these interesting sights, we continue by bus to “El Panecillo”, the hill in the centre of Quito overlooking the city and the historical centre. On clear days, we may observe several of the snow-capped volcanoes surrounding Quito.

Day 13

Quito – Otavalo – Quito

Full day tour to the Otavalo Indian Market and Cuicocha Crater Lake. We leave Quito early and have an approximately three hour drive to Otavalo. The drive is fascinating, driving through the relatively dry areas, caused by the “rain shadow” from the volcanoes and it is easy to observe the sediments suggesting the formation of this part of the Andes. We cross the Equatorial line and soon pass into the lush Otavalo region, where the Otavalo Indians have managed to continue their proud traditions. This valley is very beautiful and surrounded by smaller volcanoes and lakes. We visit the Otavalo market where you will find all sorts of souvenirs but it is perhaps even more interesting simply to watch the local people and the daily life. We later continue to Cotacachi, a small village, where we stop for Lunch. Before heading home, we pass by the beautiful Cuicocha Crater Lake. It is an absolutely beautiful view of this lake and the green mountains surrounding it.

Day 14

Galapagos Wildlife Cruise Morning - Arrival to Baltra Airport Afternoon Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)

Morning arrival at Baltra Airport, where you have to pay your Galapagos National Park entrance fee and your luggage is inspected. In front of the arrival hall, you will meet your naturalist guide and fellow passengers, and the airport shuttle will transfer you to the ferry across the Itabaca Channel. After arrival at Baltra your tour will start on adjacent main island of Santa Cruz, where you will cross the surprisingly lush highlands by bus, and reach its touristic harbor town Puerto Ayora. A visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the famous Galapagos giant tortoise breeding center is an interesting introduction to this unique archipelago. In the afternoon, after you are welcomed aboard M/C Treasure of Galapagos, and check-in, have lunch and the participate in the safety-drill, you will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service share same location on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. From here biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are directed. The complex houses a bunch of interpretation and information centres about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve around. The most memorable from your visit will probably be the successful breeding centre and the enclosures with Galapagos giant tortoises (even after the death of its world famous resident, emphatically called ‘Lonesome George’ († June 2012; the last known individual of the Pinta subspecies, who sadly failed to reproduce offspring)). Most remaining adult giant tortoises in the corals are former pets and many of them are accustomed to human company. Before boarding you will get some free time to stroll through the cozy town of Puerto Ayora. Before dinner your naturalist guide will give the first daily briefing, and the captain and his crew will present and share a welcome toast. Overnight navigation: Because we will visit nearby west coast Santa Cruz tomorrow, we will lift the anchor in the dead of the night and sail just about three hours clockwise around to Whale Bay.

Day 15

Morning Landing at Whale Bay Afternoon Landing at Dragon Hill for a guided walk, easy level 2.4 km

Morning arrival at Whale Bay (Santa Cruz). The visitor site of Whale Bay is a cove of green sand at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals, the same that originate from volcanic materials. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. Near the beach there are ceramic relics, which reflect the same antiques of human settlements that were close to the beach in 1846. According to the accounts of the French captain Genie, a path originated from this site to the top of the island, which was used to collect fresh water. It is thought that in this place lived a group of people who were dedicated to the collection of lichen, used for tinting. Afternoon arrival at Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz). Dragon Hill offers two key species very likely to be seen during each Galapagos visit, though not too commonly distributed throughout the islands: Galapagos land iguanas and American flamingos. You will climb a hill with giant opuntia cacti where these ‘dragons’ feed and breed. By 1975 this was one of the last populations of land iguanas on Santa Cruz, threatened by wild dogs. A rescue plan was executed and the iguanas even had to be relocated to the nearby undisturbed Venice Islets for over a decade, where they successfully reproduced. In 1990 the population was replaced; just three years before this scenic site was opened to tourism. Although they are quite shy and elusive, you stand a fair chance to see the success of this project with your own eyes. The short walk crosses the coastal vegetation zone, as well as the somewhat higher arid zone with vulnerable tropical dry forest. In the warm and wet season in the first half of the year all turns green. Evergreen giant prickly pear cacti with internal reservoirs followed a different survival tactic in this dry climate than the leaf dropping palo santo trees; finally both were successful. Moreover, this is a very photogenic spot as well, with breath-taking panoramas over the bay and towards an intriguing steep volcanic spout of red lava that overlooks the area. Lastly Dragon Hill has become popular because of its saline lagoons behind the beach; these contain algae and shrimp and attract seasonally foraging American flamingos. Dragon Hill is the best location on Santa Cruz to observe them. Overnight navigation: After dinner we will lift the anchor to cross about five hours southwest to Puerto Villamil, on the southern lob of Isabela.

Day 16

Morning Whitetip Reef Shark Channel (Isabela/Tintoreras) Afternoon Wetlands & Wall of Tears (Isabela Island)

Just outside the harbor of Puerto Villamil (Isabela), a group of rocky islets protrude just above sea level. These are remnants of a lava flow that was demolished by the waves. A collapsed lava tube forms a channel that fills up on high tide, while the entrance is closed on low tide. Marine life gets trapped, including turtles and elegant white spotted eagle rays or golden rays. In the crystal clear water of this unique site you can also observe whitetip reef sharks (called tintoreras in Spanish; to which the islets are named after) resting from their nocturnal hunts. This species of shark is fairly common in the archipelago, and often spotted on the seabed when snorkeling, but here you can see them dry and comfortably from the bank. Unlike the beaches of Puerto Villamil, tiny plagues along these black rocks offer undisturbed breeding places for marine iguanas. Over here the largest Isabela subspecies (up to 1.5 meters tall!) can reproduce successfully and thrive by hundreds. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life also attracts sally light foot crabs, lava herons and occasional Galapagos penguins. Galapagos sea lions occupy the sand beach and complete this stereotypical Galapagos image. Afternoon arrival at the Wetlands & Wall of Tears on Isabela Island, is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We land in Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in Galapagos with approximately 3,000 inhabitants. First, we will visit the Flamingos Lagoon; this place is the largest coastal lagoon found in Galapagos and is one of the main reproductive sites for the greater flamingos. Afterwards we will follow a trail to the “The Wall of Tears”; from 1946 to 1959 Isabela was designated a penal colony by the Ecuadorian government. Prisoners were obligated to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as “El Muro de las Lagrimas”. There are a number of interesting sites along this route, such as the Cerro Orchilla, El Estero, Poza Escondida, Playa del Amor and Pozas Verdes. The tempting white sand beach of Puerto Villamil counts far more marine iguanas and sally lightfoot crabs than bathing guests. Its overgrown beach wall hides the largest salty lagoon of Galapagos, which attracts lots of aquatic bids and wintering shore birds (about November to February); some have arrived from arctic regions! This lagoon is part of a swampy coastal zone known as the wetlands, with an old mangrove forest, and more salt and brackish ponds in collapsed lava tubes. These lagoons are home to the largest concentration and breeding site of American flamingos in Galapagos! Overnight navigation: After dinner the anchor is lifted for rounding the southern lob of Isabela clockwise to its far west coast (about six hours).

Day 17

Morning Moreno Point (Isabela) Afternoon Urbina Bay (Isabela)

Our morning arrival at Moreno Point tells the continuing story of the famous lunatic lava fields of Sullivan Bay. This once lifeless lava field becomes dotted with tidal pools and filtration lagoons since parts of the crust have broken and fallen into the undermining lava tunnels. Pioneer life takes advantage; finally the lava cacti get company of two more species of cacti, from which the candelabras can grow up to seven meters, and dominate the rest of the shrubby vegetation. Fringes of reed, sea grass and mangrove bushes transform the picturesque lagoons in lush oases. Your pictures get the perfect finishing touch when bright American flamingos forage in the largest lagoon as well. The fresh promising pioneer vegetation seems on the winning hand; just until the Sierra Negra volcano spits a new layering cover, and the story starts all over again. Tidal pools form natural traps and attract scavengers and hunters, such as bright orange sally lightfoot crabs, oystercatchers and herons. During a dinghy ride along the jagged shoreline, you can spot marine iguanas that wait patiently for their turn at lowest tide to graze weeds on the seabed, and a breeding colony of brown pelicans in the mangroves. In the afternoon, Urbina Bay presents you Isabela’s latest geologic curiosity. In 1954 tectonic forces lifted the former seabed several meters above sea level and formed present coastal plain. The tilted seabed ran dry at once and six kilometers of coastline was shifted outward. Pretty far inland you can find marine remnants, such as fish bones, shells, scales from lobsters, urchins and corals. Far behind you will reach the original coastline and the typical palo santo bush from the arid zone. This very wide beach provides ample nesting places for iguanas, turtles and even for Galapagos giant tortoises that descend all the way down from Alcedo volcano in the wet season. The marine and land iguanas of Urbina Bay are the largest of Galapagos. Navigation: Before/After dinner we will continue the short stretch to Espinoza Point (Fernandina, about two hours), while actively looking for whales. You will be able to enjoy a relatively quiet floating night.

Day 18

Morning Espinoza Point (Fernandina) Afternoon PM: Tagus Cove (Isabela) guided morning walk (easy/moderate level, 2 km)

Espinoza Point is Fernandina’s only terrestrial visitor’s site, and one of the few locations where you will find some bizarre outgrowths of natural selection. Figurehead is the emblematic flightless cormorant that lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos, and could be considered as the ‘holy grail of evolution’. The cormorant does not fear terrestrial enemies and lets you approach very close. Next generations gradually lost their flying capabilities and become excellent divers. Together with its neighbor, the Galapagos penguin, these are two of the rarest and most vulnerable bird species, with less than 2000 in the world. Besides the endemic wildlife, you will also love the almost unworldly views with the dominating cone of Volcán La Cumbre (= the summit) as a spectacular backdrop. The narrow headland that you walk on is the end of a lava tongue that has reached the coast and solidified on contact with the cold seawater. The black rocks are not yet covered by more vegetation then lava cacti and mangroves, but are teeming with hundreds of dragon like marine iguanas that breed and conglomerate in larger groups than in any other island. In the afternoon, right on the eastern shore of the Bolivar Channel are two tuff cones containing ultra-saline crater lakes: Tagus Cove and Beagle Crater. Both present spectacular layered cliffs at their sea faces, providing plenty nesting places for sea and coastal birds. From the inflatable dinghy you can observe marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins and storm petrels. It’s impressive to see flocks of blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans plunge diving from considerable altitudes. Explosive eruptions have blown out a part of the outer rims of both tuff cones, creating their characteristic horseshoe shapes. On one of these events the sea has entered the caldera of the northern cone and has formed Tagus Cove. The inner crater rim has remained intact and spared the region for an even more violent detonation when the seawater would have mixed up with the boiling volcanic materials. Nowadays it contains emerald Darwin Lake (though Darwin visited the neighboring crater lake). On the ground you can find small little lapilli-balls, which have rained down when ash particles solidified in the air. Traditionally sailors started to write the names of their vessels on the eastern cliffs of Tagus Cove and inside caves. The oldest graffiti dates back from 1836, a year after Darwin’s visit. The crew of HMS Beagle didn’t find the necessary fresh water, but nevertheless the young naturalist was very impressed by this spot. Less thirsty, you will also begin the somewhat strenuous and sometimes hot hike, following the inner ridge around Darwin Lake. On the inland side of the crater you can continue the last stretch to a great viewpoint on the outer caldera rim, with views to the nearby and outstretched lava slopes of Darwin Volcano (1280 meters). On clear days you can even distinguish the Ecuador and Wolf volcanoes, the highest point of Galapagos (1707 meters located exactly on the equator). The arid zone of the inlands is overgrown with characteristic tropical dry forest vegetation such as a special variety of palo santo, Galapagos cotton and yellow cordia (muyuyu). Depending on the months of your visit these trees and bushes will be leafless; or abundant and green in the wet season (first half of the year). During the hike you can spot different Darwin’s finches, flycatchers and Galapagos hawks. Overnight navigation: Before dinner we will start our 10 hour’s navigation around the North Cape of Isabela to Santiago (crossing the equator two times).

Day 19

Morning Puerto Egas (Santiago) Easy Level Walk Afternoon Rabida Two Easy Level Walks less than 0.5 km

Moring arrival at Puerto Egas. Dominated by Sugarloaf Hill (395 meters) and named after a former salt mine (1960s), Puerto Egas is the southernmost visitor’s site along James Bay. Its masterly sculptured coastline of black basalts and polished multi-coloured ash layers forms a photogenic scenery with collapsed lava tunnels, natural arches, caves and blowholes such as ‘Darwin’s toilet’. In a grotto right below a spectacular rock arch at the end of the beach, a colony of Galapagos fur seals occupies the shade, sheltering from the equatorial sun. Unlike more common Galapagos sea lions this smaller species of seal is no beach lover at all, due to their adorable, but insulating coats. This refuge is the very best place to see these endemic, shy and once heavily hunted marine mammals. Especially at low tide Puerto Egas teems with extremely varied intertidal life. Ossified night herons and lava herons keep an eye on the tidal pools that are refilled every flood again with small fish, octopuses, star fish, snails, urchins, shells, green algae and many other snacks. Hundreds of sally light foot crabs seem even brighter orange against the pitch-black rocks (immature are dark-coloured). Afternoon arrival to Rabida. The anchorage site at the northern headland of Rabida is the only point in its shoreline that is not guarded by a barrier of rocks and armed with giant prickly pear cacti. The sharp corner of the bay holds a striking red beach that adds color to your photo album. Walk to the end of the beach, blocked by spectacular brick reddish cliffs that contain oxidized iron. Especially shortly after sunrise and shortly before sunset, colors become more intense, and the rusty sand and rocks seem to blaze! Outside the mating season this remarkable red beach is occupied by a large bachelor colony of Galapagos sea lions that will welcome you. The beach wall on this compact spot holds a small and shallow, green fringed lagoon. Although the water is salty, this pool is the most fertile place on the otherwise very arid islet, so it attracts all kind of aquatic and wading birds such aspintails (or Bahama ducks) and sometimes even American flamingos (although these seem to have found better foraging places). In the surrounding mangrove bushes many different species of songbirds are looking for hiding and breeding places between the evergreen foliage. Palo santo trees that drop their leaves in the dry season cover the rest of the island. The outstanding attraction is the major breeding colony of brown pelicans, and one of the best places in Galapagos to approach them. Their brown plumage becomes striking white with chestnut markings on head and necks and a yellowish crown in the breeding season (period shifts on our calendar). Both parents breed about four weeks and nurture some ten weeks more. Brown pelicans are the only pelicans in the world that plunge dive. From the beach you can see their spectacular hunting V-formations, low above the surface of the sea. Juveniles don’t learn this fishing technique easily, resulting that many of them will starve short after fledging. It is interesting to compare the superficial dives of the pelicans with the rocket like plunge dives of the boobies. Navigation: Before/After dinner M/C Treasure of Galapagos will cross the last short stretch to the north coast of Santa Cruz, where we will anchor after about two hours for a relatively quiet floating night’s sleep.

Day 20

Departure

The cruise ends in the morning hours. Transfer to airport and flight to Guayaquil. From here international connection.

Prices

    Included:

    Land Portion of Tour:

    • All transfers
    • English speaking guide during activities/tours
    • All activities/tours in private services
    • All entrance fees
    • Bus Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
    • Voyager Train Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
    • 360 Train Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo
    • Accommodation
    • Meals as described in the itinerary (19 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 7 dinners)

    Galapagos Cruise Portion of Tour:

    • All meals while onboard
    • Water, coffee and tea
    • Double/Twin cabin accommodation with private facilities
    • All excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (itinerary subject to change) with English speaking naturalist guide
    • All transfers in Galapagos

    Not Included:

    Land Portion of Tour:

    • Domestic and international flights
    • Galapagos entrance fees: Galapagos Park Entrance fee ($100.00 USD), Ingala ($20.00 USD) and Isabela Island Local Taxes  ($10.00 USD)
    • Meals not mentioned in the program
    • Alcoholic and soft drinks
    • Personal expenses
    • Tips
    • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list

    Galapagos Cruise Portion of Tour:

    • Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100. 00 USD per person, subject to change)
    • Transit Control Card ($20.00 USD per person, subject to change)
    • Wetsuit rental
    • Soft and alcoholic drinks
    • Tips
    • Travel insurance or other items of personal nature
    • Everything not mentioned in the “included” list

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