Peru and Galapagos active holiday

“A burgeoning piñata of priceless adventures, hiking the Inca Trail one day, snorkelling in a volcanic crater the next. Sleeping in a tent one night, a yacht the next. Go on. Smash it.”

Highlights

Cusco | Inca Trail | Sacred Valley |Machu Picchu | Quito | 8 day Galapagos cruise on yacht | Isabela Island | Santa Cruz | Turtle Bay | North Plaza | Devil’s Crown snorkel

Description of Peru and Galapagos active holiday

hike to mountainous temple ruins - snorkel with sea lions - Machu Picchu in the afternoon light - spot unique wildlife as you cruise the islands - hike over fossilised lava flow

Combine two once-in-a-lifetime experiences at a balanced pace. Walk the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, avoiding the crowds, and get the most from colonial Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu with your local guide, getting under the skin of the incedible history and culture of the high Andes.

Then spend 8 days on a comfortable yacht cruise around the unique Galapagos Islands, maximising your wildlife experience with walks, snorkelling and kayaking. The Inca Trail involves high altitudes but the walking pace is very relaxed with rest stops and is fully portaged.

Although usually a tailor made holiday, we also operate small group departures from time to time - please contact us for available dates.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Arrive in Cusco today, meet your guide for the week and acclimatise to the altitude with a gentle walking tour, exploring the Inca sites in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Perhaps visit the market at Pisac, or a less well-known village well away from the tourist trail.
Day 2:Explore the rural culture of the high Andes, visiting markets and farming villages before a delicious lunch at an historic colonial hacienda stuffed with art and artefacts from the surrounding area.
Day 3:Hike to the ruins at Ollantaytambo, then on to a much lesser known but no less impressive ruin along centuries-old mule tracks. Take a circular route back to your start point, returning along the river through steep canyons and Inca terracing.
Day 4:Hike the Royal Inca Trail, arriving through the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu this afternoon when most people have gone. Wander amongst the ruins in relative peace before heading back to your comfortable hotel.
Day 5:After a leisurely morning in the village, enjoy a private guided tour of Machu Picchu this afternoon to really appreciate this incredible site.
Day 6:Visit the women's weaving co-operative to learn about this ancient and intricate craft, then walk through high grasslands, bird-filled lagoons and remote shepherd huts. Pass llamas, sheep and pigs being herded over the hills before settling in to your lovely hotel tucked into a quiet corner of Cusco.
Day 7:Head out to explore this incredible city with your guide, visiting the Temple of the Sun and the Cathedral, two of its most important and fascinating historic sites. Stop off at the market before heading out to experience the great dining scene, and perhaps nightlife, of Cusco.
Day 8:A final day to enjoy the museums, markets and scenery of Cusco - or to watch the world go by over a Pisco Sour.
Day 9:Travel to Ecuador. Fly to Quito today, where you are met for your private transfer to your comfortable hotel in the city's colonial centre. Settle in and relax after your journey before strolling out for a bite to eat.
Day 10:Your guide returns this morning to help you explore Quito, its history, culture and food, before an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps head up in the cable car to enjoy the views over Quito and the surprising birdlife.
Day 11:You are taken back to the airport this morning for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Walk among wild giant tortoises in the highlands before boarding your comfortable yacht for an 8-day live-aboard cruise.
Day 12:Snorkel with sea lions off a red sandy beach and follow a trail through giant cacti to cliffs full of blue footed boobies. Explore the fragile lava tunnels of Sombrero Chino before dropping back into the water among penguins, pelicans, marine iguanas, flamingos and sea lions.
Day 13:Visit the small and remote town of Puerto Villamil, explore the bird-filled lagoons nearby and then hike the impressive Sierra Negra, the world's second-largest volcano, for incredible views across Isabela.
Day 14: Visit the penguins on the youngest stretch of land in the archipelago and explore the coastline by boat. Cruise through red mangrove trees by zodiac spotting sea lions, tortoises and innumerable birds, and snorkel with all manner of marine life.
Day 15:Spot iguanas and giant tortoises in the wild, snorkel with rays, sea turtles and sharks, then walk a trail through lava formations to a salt-water crater lake, via some wonderful views of the surrounding volcanoes. Finish the day with a visit to the pirate caves, to see graffiti dating back to the 1800's.
Day 16:Walk among marine iguanas sunning themselves on the lava, then cruise the dramatic coastline in zodiacs spotting incredible wildlife both above and below the water. When the waters are calm you should spot seahorses, sea turtles, stingrays, puffer fish and sunfish.
Day 17:See Galapagos fur seal basking in pools along the shoreline. Climb the steps to the top of Isla Bartolome for superb views over the eastern Galapagos before a snorkel around Pinnacle Rock.
Day 18:Sail to North Seymour, home to large colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. Watch the sea lions and marine iguanas surf the waves from a shore littered with birds' nests, before it's time to disembark your boat. Consider extending your stay with a land-based stay, or fly back to the mainland to head home or continue your adventure.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be booked to depart at a time to suit your requirements from Mar to Nov
Our top tip:
As with all holidays that include the Inca Trail, book early, as permits go like hot cakes. And bring plenty of cash for tips.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Moderate, but tailor made to account for individual needs.
Accomm:
Mixture of tents, yacht and hotel.
Included:
Internal flights, accommodation, Inca Trail permits, camping equipment, porters and entrance fees, most meals, guides.
Solos:
Tricky, as prices depend on a group of min. 4 people for Inca Trail.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
We take longer to walk the Inca Trail, keeping you away from the overcrowded and environmentally depleted campsites. Instead you stay at peaceful campsites where numbers are very low and therefore environmental impact minimal. We are scrupulous about carrying everything out with us.

We work with a selection of boats in the Galapagos, carefully chosen for their sustainable credentials. In all cases we pay for you to become a benefactor of the Galapagos Conservation Trust for a full year. The GCT issues guidelines as to the sorts of tourist visits that have least impact on the sites - those guidelines are that small boats, owned and operated locally, are the best bet for the preservation of the Galapagos.

Most of our boats are SmartVoyager certified. Boats are only able to gain this accreditation by meeting a set of strict conservation standards for protecting the environment & wildlife. In general, the boat owners and most of the crew on our boats come from the islands, which makes the enterprise sustainable.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

We only run our own dedicated Inca Trail departures exclusively in conjunction with a small family business in Cusco. We have our own team of local guides and porters in place in Peru. We can be sure that we are only working with the best and most experienced guides. It also means that we work with a single community to provide portage services thus ensuring a stable and reliable source of income for local families.

Our porters come from the community of Chacllanca, about 45km from Cusco. Generally they are subsistence farmers who supplement their earnings by working on the Inca Trail. Our two head chefs, Virgilio and Herlin are in charge of getting the teams together and are therefore the bosses. Your team of porters is usually therefore made up of friends, family and neighbours who respect one another and work well together. Needless to say, we adhere strictly to the Porter Protection Policies in place on the Inca Trail.

Climate

4 Reviews of Peru and Galapagos active holiday

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 29 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The bus ride to Machu Picchu.....hair-raising but not to be missed.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Try to prepare for the difference in altitude, especially if staying in Cusco.
All hotels provide coca leaf or tea which is very helpful, or purchase coca sweets.
A light diet is essential.....and don't drink too many "pisco sours"..... Alcohol at altitude will ruin your holiday !

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think the local people benefit in many ways from visitors to their countries, apart from economically they form friendships .
I am not sure that the environment of the Galapagos Islands is being sufficiently protected, the resident population should be encouraged to learn more about conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was the culmination of lifetime dream.......top of my 'bucket list'.....
Definitely NOT to be missed......Fabulous !!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Sandra,

Many thanks for taking the time to write your review of your recent holiday to Peru and Galapagos. To hear you had such a great time on your top bucket list trip is absolutely wonderful.

I'm very glad that our efforts in working closely with local people were apparent to you. Forming a connection with the people who live in the destinations we work with is something we hold as fundamental to all of our trips, we believe travellers should come away with a clear sense of each destination, more than anything that means getting to know the locals.

Regarding your point on the protection of the Galapagos, while I'd absolutely agree much more is needed, there is a good deal of work being done to encourage their conservation locally. Much of this is in fact funded by visitors to the islands, for example with the national park tax, (although it's true that this is not always in a very visible way)!

Thanks also for sharing those tips for other travellers, hopefully many others in our holiday information proved just as useful.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to post your review, and I hope we can tempt you to another trip of a lifetime soon!

All the best,

David

Reviewed on 30 Apr 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Standing at the sun gate looking down upon MP exhausted but elated after completing the Inca Trail hike

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The Inca Trail hike is not a walk in the park! Whilst there is not much pre-work that can be done to overcome the altitude issue, plenty of walking with poles beforehand will be very helpful


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes definitely. Wherever possible our guides made sure any benefits went back to the local community.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very well structured between 3 South American countries and 3 very different
experiences. Apart from flight delays which were out of anyone's control, the whole holiday went extremely smoothly

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Bruce & Kerry,

Many thanks for taking the time to post a review on the RT site, we're delighted to hear you had such a great trip.

I'm so pleased that it was apparent that the holiday benefited local people, this is something we work hard to make sure is the case with all our holidays. Having put this trip together myself though, I'm conscious that it was a journey with particularly close ties to local communities, both in terms of the Inca Trail and on your land-based Galapagos experience.

It sounds like you found the Inca Trail about the right mix of effort and reward. Hopefully our different way of pacing the trail helped make that difference with acclimatising to the altitude. Lovely also to hear that your arrival at the Sun Gate was the highlight - having hiked there 4 times myself, I couldn't agree more that it's a magical moment.

We look forward to having you travel to one of our other destinations soon, I understand that you might be looking to explore some of Spain…

All the very best,

David

Reviewed on 28 Jun 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It is hard to pick out any particular part that was any more memorable than any
other, given that there was an almost endless supply of sights and experiences
that were breathtaking. It was incredible to be surrounded for eight days by a
pure and unique eco system seeing all birds/creatures that have adapted to their
surroundings.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The boat was quite bumpy when going between islands which tended to be at night, so sleeping can be awkward, maybe wear ear plugs (engine can be noisy). But to travel to so many islands this needs to be done. Would recommend to take collins galapagos book to help identify birds etc.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I felt that all crew and guide on our boat were very environmentally conscious
and made us aware of any action we could take to reduce impact. I feel that our
holiday did benefit local people ie crew/guide.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was truly the holiday of a lifetime with unique experiences that i will
treasure. That was helped by a very well organised crew and an inspirational
guide who was in love with his islands.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Debbie,

Thank you for taking the time to review your holiday on the Responsible Travel site. We're absolutely delighted to hear you had such a wonderful time in Galapagos, it sounds like you really appreciated it for the unique place it is. We always want our clients to come back from holiday feeling refreshed and reinvigorated - but 'reborn' is truly a testament to a great trip!

Thanks again for the review, and for choosing to travel with us.

All the best,

David

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The utter fearlessness of all the animals -birds, mammals and amphibians in the Galapagos -nothing had prepared us for this. There is nothing like standing eyeball to eyeball with a fluffy white Booby chick and it doesn't try to run -or fly-away. All other wildlife viewing will be ruined forever after that!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We also went to Machu Picchu and walked the Salkantay trail prior - we recommend that you ensure a full day at Machu Picchu and/or the local town of Aqua Calientes at the end of the trek in order to have an opportunity to visit the local museum and see the spectacled bears and vist the Sacred Valley and maybe even take in a bit of a shopping -we never had time to do any of thse things with only half a day to visit Machu Piccu and then the train journey back to Cusco.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutley -some barely spoke english, and those we communicated with were clearly from the local area. One of our most memorable and sublime meals was on a hillside looking across the steep valley to Machu Picchu. We ate at the table of a local farmer who had no electricity and no running water. We were served an entre of avocado with some vegetables, a main of trout caught in the river in the valley below with potatoes. And for desert a perfectly ripe banana grown near by. We hear a lot about 'food miles' and using local produce in trendy restaurant guides -but these local people live the dream and have been doing so since time immemorial -it is time we all looked at our priorities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic -it was everything we expected. Sometimes reality does not meet expectations but not so this time and we are both fairly well travelled. Everything went like clock work -we were met by guides at the airport and it was refreshing to stay in stylish, locally run and owned small hotels and not the big hotel chains. However -the clincher for us and what separates the men from the boys in any business is what happens when something goes wrong.

Due to a volcanic eruption in Chile a lot of flights to Buenos Aires were cancelled and it appeared I would not make my connection back to Australia. It was difficult to try and rebook flights over the phone with recorded messages in Spanish! However the tour operator of this holiday stepped in and organised new flights and the connection was made after all.

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