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PERU & GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

  13 Days


Day 1 Flight to Lima
Board your flight to Lima, Peru. Upon your scheduled evening arrival, check into your hotel. 

Day 2 Lima
Meet your tour director and traveling companions this morning. Today's sightseeing focuses on Lima's colonial heritage. Founded in 1535, the "City of Kings" was once the capital of Spain's South American Empire. See the 11th-century San Francisco Monastery with its unique cloisters, and the Government Palace and Cathedral situated around the vast Plaza de Armas. Then a short drive south to visit the seaside suburb of Miraflores. Later tour the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, one of the best museums in South America, housing collections of ceramics, textiles and idols from a variety of ancient Peruvian cultures. Tonight enjoy an elegant welcome dinner at the 16th-century Casa Aliaga. 

Day 3 Lima-Cuzco-Yucay
A morning flight to Cuzco, the Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Spend the day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. First explore the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, perched on a hillside overlooking Cuzco, followed by the nearby Inca baths of Tambomachay, and the semi-circular Kenko Amphitheater. See the ancient site of Puca Pucara before reaching Pisac, an old mountain village whose buildings reflect the astounding precision of Inca stonemasonry. Free time in the town center to browse where the many vendors sell their myriad handicrafts ranging from fine alpaca sweaters and blankets to hand-painted dishes and vases. After lunch, visit the village of Ollantaytambo with its canchas (corral enclosures). Tonight relax in a charming colonial-style posada (inn) in Yucay and enjoy dinner. 

Day 4 Yucay-Machu Picchu-Cuzco
This morning board your train for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley. Then transfer to a motorcoach for legendary MACHU PICCHU, "The Lost City of the Incas," high above the steep valley overlaid with dense tropical jungle. Your local guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in the amazing structures built by the pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. After lunch, return to Cuzco in the late afternoon. Evening at leisure. 

Day 5 Cuzco
This morning a local guide tells you more about the Incas and their futile struggle with the invading Spaniards. Visit the imposing Cathedral and the fascinating Santo Domingo Monastery. The balance of the day is free. 

Day 6 Cuzco-Lima-Quito, Ecuador
Today fly via Lima to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and a World Heritage Site. Enjoy time at leisure before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 7 Quito-Baltra Island-Santa Cruz-Galapagos Islands Cruise
This morning's flight over the Pacific lands at Baltra, one of the remote Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival, transfer by coach to Itabaca Channel where you board a ferry to Santa Cruz Island. This afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. At the breeding center see giant tortoises and listen to a brief lecture given by one of the station guides. There is time to stroll through the village of Puerto Ayora before your late afternoon embarkation aboard the sleek MV Santa Cruz. 

Day 8 Cruising. Isabela and Fernandina Islands
Your panga (small speedboat) whisks you into Tagus Cove, a protected natural harbor on Isabela Island, the largest island of the archipelago. Flightless cormorants, pelicans, penguins, and boobies crowd the shoreline. Then cruise to Fernandina Island in the afternoon. From Punta Espinoza, you and your guide walk through a mangrove forest and across black volcanic rock to see marine iguanas and sea lions. 

Day 9 Cruising. Urbina Bay and Punta Moreno
Enjoy a unique experience at Urbina Bay--the chance to see a colony of yellow land iguanas and, possibly, giant tortoises. Watch for colonies of flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and penguins. After lunch, visit Punta Moreno to see impressive, 200-year-old lava floes. Amid brackish lagoons are flamingos, frigates, and pelicans, to name just a few of the myriad species of birds. 

Day 10 Cruising. Hood Island
This morning pull into Hood Island's Gardner Bay. This island is home to blue-footed and masked boobies, sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, and oystercatchers. At Punta Suarez, your naturalist will lead the way to observe a colony of red and green-spotted marine iguanas. You may also be lucky enough to see waved albatross and their mating dance. 

Day 11 Galapagos Cruise-Baltra Island-Quito
Your cruising adventure ends this morning at Baltra Island, from where you fly to Quito. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are at leisure. 

Day 12 Quito
This morning, a local expert showcases the city's treasures: the historic stone murals of the Legislative Palace; Independence Plaza and the 16th-century San Francisco Monastery; the Jesuit's La Compania Church with its stunning golden altars; and the impressive paintings at the Workshop and Museum of Oswaldo Guayasamin, one of Ecuador's most celebrated artists. Also be sure to have your photo taken in front of the Equatorial Monument, "the center of the world." This evening, a farewell dinner to celebrate the success of your Peruvian and Galapagos expedition.Day 13 (Wed.) Your homebound flight arrives the same day. Extend Your Stay in Ecuador Days 1 to 12 (Fri. to Tue.) 

Day 13 Quito-Otavalo
Head to the high valley of Imbabura, where inhabitants of centuries-old villages are masters of Ecuador's traditional handicrafts. Stop in Calderon, where famous bread dough figurines are made, and enjoy lunch. A highlight today is a visit to one of Ecuador's world famous Rose Farms. This afternoon, visit Peguche, whose Otavalenos Indians embroider beautiful scarves and weave brightly colored ponchos. Reach the village of Cotacachi, known for fine leather goods. Overnight in a beautiful hacienda in the Andean foothills.
 
Day 14 Otavalo-Quito
At the nearby village of San Antonio de Ibarra see skilled carvers fashion wood into delicate works of art. Then explore the colorful market of Otavalo, followed by lunch. Reach Quito by late afternoon. The balance of the day and evening are at leisure. 

Day 15 Home
Your homebound flight arrives the same day. Your Cruise Ship The 1,500-ton MV Santa Cruz is built exclusively for Galapagos Islands cruising. It features broad sun decks, a jacuzzi, spacious lounges, a large dining room, a cocktail lounge and bar, and an observation deck for dolphin and whale watching. The ship is fully air-conditioned, and all cabins have private showers and toilets. Each evening the ship's naturalist holds a film/slide presentation and a briefing on planned activities. As there are no docking facilities at the islands, small speedboats are used to transfer groups to shore. 

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