Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands! Two destinations that conjure up images of the exotic, the remote, the illusive, the mystical! We return to South America in 2014 to explore this magical combo with a couple new twists to the programs.
Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu begins and ends in Lima, but focuses on the Andean wonderland around Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. Our program provides access to some of the Andes’ most breathtaking scenery and some of the planet’s most impressive and mysterious architecture—the massive stone structures of the Incas! The otherworldly ruins of Machu Picchu are amazing, but they comprise only a fraction of the historical, cultural, and scenic connections we’ll make in Peru! To help with altitude acclimation, we drive directly from the Cuzco airport into the Sacred Valley, dropping from over 11,000 feet above sea level down to about 9,000 feet above sea level.
Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands program begins in Quito, Ecuador with walks and sightseeing in the old town area of the capital, at the equator, and in the charming and scenically stunning regions of Otavalo, high in the Andes Mountains. After this immersion in the Andean world, we fly to the Galapagos Islands for 4 amazing days in one of nature’s most delightful menageries. In 2014, we’ll be exploring the Galapagos aboard the M/V Santa Cruz, with all outside cabins!
“I could tell you were a first-class outfit, starting with the support personnel and up to their leading the group. You certainly do your homework!"
May 15 - 23, 2014** | 9 Days | $5475
**Second departure available with same dates
COMBO PACKAGE: Travelers opting for both Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu and Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands will receive an extra night in Lima and a $300 credit off the total price of the Adventure. A second departure of these tours is available, starting with Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands and finishing with Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu. The Ecuador portion for each departure is the same dates.
*Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice memo sent upon receipt of tour registration.
“This organization is well run, trips are well planned, and you feel like WAI really cares about your trip and what you think."
Upon arrival at Quito’s International Airport, a representative of Walking Adventures will arrange your transfer to our hotel in the heart of colonial Quito. Flights generally arrive late in the evening, so the first group activity is breakfast tomorrow morning at the hotel.
Colonial Quito Walk - 3 km, rated 1A
We begin our Adventure in Ecuador this morning with a relaxed stroll from our lovely colonial hotel through Quito’s historic district. Chief among the picturesque reminders of the Spanish colonial period is the impressive Company of Jesus Church, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Following time for lunch in bustling Plaza de San Francisco, the afternoon is free to explore the old town on your own.
Cascada Peguche Walk - 7 km, rated 2B
We drive north this morning, crossing the equator before arriving at the pleasant Andean town of Otavalo. After time for lunch, and a visit to the colorful indigenous markets, we depart for a walk in the nearby Peguche area. Our trail wanders through native villages and farmland with stunning Andean mountain panoramas as a backdrop. Time for shopping in the weaver’s village of Peguche is followed by a stroll through a lovely eucalyptus forest to Peguche Waterfall. Home for the next two nights is Hacienda Cusin, a delightful country lodge.
Laguna de Cuicocha Crater Walk - 8 km, rated 3C
Today’s main activity takes us to spectacular Lake Cuicocha, one of Ecuador’s most photographed lakes. We enjoy the panoramas from multiple angles during a rim hike along the crater of this volcanic gem. Following a break for lunch, we return to our lodge for late afternoon down time, followed by a second excellent hacienda dinner this evening!
Santa Cruz Island
We depart early this morning to catch the flight to the Galapagos Islands. Arriving around noon, we are welcomed aboard the M/V Santa Cruz for lunch and an introductory briefing. Strict regulations within the islands protect this amazing environment by requiring the use of dinghies (inﬂatable rafts) for all island landings. An afternoon wet landing (stepping from the dinghy into shallow water) takes us ashore at pristine, white-sand Bachas Beach, which provides an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Several nearby brackish lagoons are feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. Snorkeling is also possible from this beach.
After breakfast, we explore the coast along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove. While we cruise in our dinghies, our guides share the history of Santiago Island and its relevance for the whalers, pirates, and early researchers, including Darwin's epic voyage in 1835. This afternoon, a wet landing takes us ashore at Puerto Egas for a great birding opportunity with walking. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and there is usually a colony of fur-sea lions in the area. Snorkeling and swimming is possible after the walk.
Rábida Island & Bartolomé Islands
We start the morning on Rábida Island with a gratifying stroll in the company of several species of Darwin's finches, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers, greater flamingos, and a large colony of sea lions. Due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes, this is also a great place to snorkel. Dolphins are often spotted during navigation to our next stop at Bartolomé Island. After hiking to the summit of Bartolomé for outstanding views, dinghies take us around colossal Pinnacle Rock with time to enjoy the beach and snorkeling, possibly with Galapagos penguins. A glass bottom boat is available for non-snorkelers at both stops today.
The morning starts with a surprising boat ride along the cliffs of Genovesa Island, where we disembark for a short, steep climb up Prince Philip Steps. A memorable walk to the other side of this small island takes us among large colonies of Nazca boobies, red footed boobies, great frigate birds and storm petrels. Darwin Bay provides an easy stroll among hundreds of birds of several different species.
San Cristobal Island
A morning bus ride takes us to see the breeding program of giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado. Learn about this fascinating endangered species, and its promising recovery. Early this afternoon, we fly to Guayaquil for an abbreviated city tour, and perhaps a short walk through Ecuador’s largest city. Later this evening, we enjoy a final dinner before returning to the airport for late-evening departures back home. It has been an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience we will cherish forever.
Before their destinies were joined, Pat lived several years in Puerto Rico, Spain, Wales, and other areas of Europe where his father was employed as a teacher with the Department of Defense. Later, Pat and Denise returned to Europe with their young family, and Pat taught school for a couple years near Naples, Italy (can you say "gelato"?!). Their overseas exposure has made them naturals to lead our international Adventures.
To save yourself a spot on either or both Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu and Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, contact us with a $500 payment per Adventure as soon as possible. Reservations for both destinations will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis!
If you are among the travelers who submitted a $50 Early Bird deposit (or $100 for both programs), you have until May 8 to secure your spot with an additional $450 (total of $500) registration, or $450 additional for each program if you are participating in both.
These forms accompany this brochure (or are available online). To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!
Both Cuzco, Peru and Quito, Ecuador are Andean cities at elevations around 10,000 feet (Machu Picchu, contrary to common belief, is situated at a much lower elevation than Cuzco.). We have altered the flow of the program in the Cuzco area to start in the Sacred Valley, at the relatively lower elevation of 9,000 feet before moving up to Cuzco at around 11,000 feet at the end of the program. Travelers continuing on to Ecuador, therefore, will have already acclimated to the altitude for the Ecuadorian highlands portion of the trip. We will then finish the Adventure at sea level in the Galapagos Islands.
It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities. However, acclimation to these altitudes is an important aspect of a successful visit to the Andes for most of us who live near sea level.
The M/V Santa Cruz is a lovely 100-passenger ship, great for plying the equatorial waters around the Galapagos Islands. We have booked passage for a limited number of cabins in the standard category on the Main Deck. These are exterior cabins with portholes for windows. Upgrades are available to the Boat Deck, with standardsized windows for $249 per person for a double bed and $334 per person for twin beds. Other upgrades may also be available—please call for more information on cabin upgrades.
NOTE: The Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands Adventure price is based on two people sharing a standard cabin on the Main Deck. Our booking provides a limited number in each category of cabin. Though our desire is to accommodate all travelers in their cabin category of choice, cabins must be assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis! Unfortunately, no single cabins are available at this time.
National park regulations forbid the docking of any ships, and require that we use inflatable rafts for shuttling back and forth between the ship and the islands. Disembarking ashore is accomplished either by a “dry landing,” stepping from the raft onto rocks or steps, or a “wet landing,” rolling from the raft into knee deep water or higher and wading ashore. More details will be available, but travelers need to be prepared for this element of the Adventure as your experience with us in the Galapagos remains distinctly different from our flagship motorcoach mode of transport.
The official start and finish point for Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu is the Lima airport. The official start point for Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands is the Quito airport; the official finish point is the Guayaquil airport. IMPORTANT: Because of the way airlines are now pricing the flight from Lima to Cuzco and back, it is much more economical for you to purchase it with your international airfare. Our price is well over $200 per person. Included in an international ticket, it could be less than $50 per person. This ticket is therefore NOT included in the tour price. Travelers need to book this flight with their international ticket. Which flight you book is important! We will advise you of the flight we plan to use for the group once airline schedules become available in July. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!
We will be recommending that you contact the travel agent we work with to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, after you register for the Adventure.
NOTE: Travelers opting to combine both tours into one 17-day Adventure will receive a free extra night in Lima and a $300 credit off the total tour price. An additional flight is necessary for you to book on your own to connect the end of Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu from Lima, Peru to Quito, Ecuador, the start point for Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands. Again, it is important that we all fly together if at all possible. We will advise you of the Lima-Quito flight to book once schedules are available in July. Again, please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!
Because of the high demand for cruising in the Galapagos Islands, cruise companies can be somewhat aggressive in their cancellation policies. Normal WAI cancellation policies (see the General Tour Conditions form) are therefore superseded by those of the ship. We will therefore use the following tour payment schedule—all payments made are non-refundable at time of payment:
Walking Adventures has negotiated with an insurance carrier to provide travel insurance in the form of a Travel Insurance Preferred Platinum Plan through Arch. We are pleased to make this package available and believe that it will provide travelers with an important element of security at a reasonable price. (See the back of the General Conditions sheet for more detailed information.)
IMPORTANT: The insurance policy includes time-sensitive coverage provisions for some benefits, including pre-existing conditions and trip cancellation coverage for any reason (with additional fee), provided you purchase the insurance within 18 days of your registration. Should you choose to add the cost of your airline tickets to your insurance policy, contact our office within 18 days after you purchase your airfare. Airfare is NOT automatically covered by the insurance you purchase for the tour!!
If you are part of a Group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible to submit your name in writing to us before you register, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit, but a full deposit is needed to officially reserve your place.
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure for Peru & Mystical Machu Picchu only and January 31, 2014 for Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands; you will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior to that point, along with a fact sheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
These neighboring regions of Peru and Ecuador are brimming with a diverse array of attractions — amazing animals, spectacular scenery, captivating cultures, and spellbinding accounts of the story of South America. Join us for a walking adventure that will take you behind the scenes on a journey of discovery!
“Great company, great guides a fun adventure.”
Click on the link to view a slideshow for a previous edition of this Adventure.
“Great company, great guides a fun adventure.”