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Galapagos Hawk: Peru and Galápagos

15 days from £4388pp

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Galapagos Hawk: Peru and Galápagos:
Trip Dossier

This is an inspirational group tour which includes some of the continent's most breath-taking highlights. The welcoming smiles of the Peruvian people, combined with the country's rich human culture, past and present, alongside the diverse and hauntingly beautiful landscapes make it an easy place to fall in love with. Survey the Inca temples of Machu Picchu, colonial Cusco, the bucolic splendour of Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca's vast expanse of shimmering waters. 

The grand finale of this unforgettable trip is a cruise around the greatest wildlife show on earth, the Galápagos Islands. On a similar trip 200 years ago Darwin returned from the archipelago to write the seminal book 'The Origin of the Species'. Step into his shoes and explore the aptly named Enchanted Islands. 

One of the joys of the Galápagos is that each island is unique, with varying landscapes from scorched lava to white-sand coves and forest-shrouded mountains, and each has its own array of wildlife. You can also make the most of the boat and your time at sea; relaxing on deck with a cocktail at sunset, snorkelling with angel fish or swimming with dolphins.


Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday arriving Lima, Peru, the same day.

Day 1

Overnight in the capital.

Day 2

Fly to the Inca capital of Cusco.

Day 3

Tour of Cusco and nearby archaeological sites.

Day 4

Excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas; overnight.

Day 5

By rail to Machu Picchu.

Day 6

Optional re-entry to ruins; return to Cusco by rail and road.

Day 7

Private road journey to Lake Titicaca.

Day 8

Boat trip to the Uros Islands and tour of Sillustani.

Day 9

Fly back to Lima.

Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil; guided city tour.

Day 11

Fly to the Galápagos Islands

Days 12-14

Cruise through the archipelago.

Day 15

Fly to Guayaquil and continue to your international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Friday.

Detailed itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday arriving Lima, Peru, the same day.
 

Day 1

Overnight in the capital.
 
Those passengers arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by your Journey Latin America tour leader or a local representative who will escort you to the hotel. The scenes from your window on the half-hour drive to the hotel through Lima encapsulate the invigorating bustle of a modern-day Latin American capital.

Lima, the City of Kings, was once the capital of Spanish America, and the vestiges of its glorious past can still be seen in the faded grandeur of the colonial churches and traditional wooden balconies in the city centre. The explosive growth of the last 50 years, so typical of capital cities in the developing world, has transformed Lima into a dynamic and chaotic low-rise city of over 6 million people. In crowded streets, throngs of traffic race out towards Miraflores, a modern middle-class suburb on the coast, where your hotel is located. You'll have time to explore in more depth on the final day of the Peruvian leg of your trip.

Lima

Day 2

Fly to the Inca capital of Cusco.
 

A flight of just an hour takes you to Cusco. The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire, which reached its zenith at the same time as England was fighting the War of the Roses. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Day 3

Tour of Cusco and nearby archaeological sites.
 
Today an experienced guide gives you a half day tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with extraordinarily intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. In 1536 a desperate and defining three-day battle was fought between the Spaniards and the Incas around this fortress. The first conquistadors to see it were awestruck, and centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

There is also free time to explore Cusco; to wander through its cobbled streets bracketed by impressive Inca walls, to explore its colourful, bustling markets and splendid churches, and to stop at some of the many excellent cafés.

Cusco

Day 4

Excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas; overnight.
 
Today, head out from Cusco over the high plains and descend to explore the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the Inca Empire, it was heavily populated in imperial times and scores of archaeological sites remain, where well-preserved ruins bear witness to the highly developed society that the Incas created. The drive passes through or close to several of the villages and temple fortresses which pepper the valley.

The Pisac complex, set high above and visible from the eponymous colonial village you will visit, is built on terraces carved into the steep hillsides. The engineering and preservation are unrivalled. From the flat valley floor this intricate hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens.

Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to the temple of Ollantaytambo. The snow-frosted Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop. Ollantaytambo, sitting strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin, was never captured by the Spanish conquistadors, but the inhabitants decided that the settlement was too vulnerable and would eventually fail, and so they abandoned it. The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the fertile valley. Spend the night in the tranquil valley.

Day 5

By rail to Machu Picchu.
 
Travelling for just 2hrs by train from Ollantaytambo, you reach the ruins of Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the bustling village of Machu Picchu (formerly known as Aguas Calientes), dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is perhaps the ruins’ location, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination. You will have a guided tour of the ruins.

Machu Picchu

Day 6

Optional re-entry to ruins; return to Cusco by rail and road.
 

There is the option to return to the ruins with time to walk one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge. You can climb the tortuously steep Huayna Picchu mountain on the other side of the valley (please enquire with the office, as spaces are limited and it's necessary to pre-book). Your tour leader will be on hand to talk through the various walking options. In the afternoon return to Cusco, arriving in the early evening.

Day 7

Private road journey to Lake Titicaca.
 

Travel by coach from Cusco to Puno, on Lake Titicaca, a spectacular 8 hr journey (including stops) which climbs to over 4,300m. Flanked by snow-capped peaks, the lonely road cuts its way through fields worked by men and oxen; an Andean landscape of adobe huts, and crops of corn and potato. After reaching the highest point of the journey, the bus crosses the altiplano, a large, windswept plain punctuated by occasional market towns, where bowler-hatted women tend their herds of llamas and alpacas. (Please note there is the option to upgrade this journey to travel by train. Please enquire for further details).

Day 8

Boat trip to the Uros Islands and tour of Sillustani.
 
Today you set out on the lake aboard a motor boat to visit the Uros Islands: gliding over the deep glacial waters on a sunny day is a definite highlight. You alight on the floating islands, constructed entirely from the lake’s tortora reeds – the same material used to build their canoes - and the ground moves almost imperceptibly beneath your feet. During severe storms, the islands may break up into smaller islets. Once devoted to fishing, the inhabitants now earn their living mainly through selling handicrafts to tourists and, while this is a unique experience, it has the air of a living museum.

In the afternoon, there’s a guided excursion to the Chullpas at Sillustani, towering stone tombs said to be the burial site of the ancient Hatun Colla chiefs. The towers are on the treeless shores of a lonely highland lake; the landscape, while unremittingly bleak, is spellbinding.

Lake Titicaca

Day 9

Fly back to Lima.
 

Take the morning flight to Lima (2 hours) where there is an optional tour of the colonial centre of the city, including the central Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by beautiful colonial and republican buildings. There may be time to visit one of the world famous museums. That evening, from Miraflores, you can sit with a pisco sour cocktail and watch the sun set over the Pacific, and contemplate the next phase of your adventure.

Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil; guided city tour.
 
You say goodbye to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who will take you to the airport for a morning flight to Guayaquil (2 hours). Ecuador's largest city is situated on the banks of the Río Guayas, and has gone through something of a transition in the last few years. The expanse of waterfront has been made into an outdoor architectural showpiece, and restoration work has taken place along the city's main thoroughfare and in the historical neighbourhood of Las Peñas.

A city tour will take you from the frenetic open-air market at La Bahia, and past the colonial naval shipyard to the Malecón (the waterfront promenade), Guayaquil's crowning jewel. Stroll past tropical gardens, bustling markets and cafés, and head to Santa Ana Hill and Las Peñas, a district of brightly-coloured wooden houses and ramshackle streets dating back to the 16th century. The local guide will accompany you to dinner (not included) before dropping you back at the hotel.

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Day 11

Fly to the Galápagos Islands
 
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands (2 hrs) where you will embark on the motor yacht for your 5 day cruise around the archipelago. Once you’ve paid your national park entrance fee (currently $100USD), your naturalist guide will be waiting to take you to the quayside.

The Galápagos Islands emerged in the Pacific Ocean six million years ago following a spate of volcanic activity and, isolated from the continental mainland, have become home to unique animal and plant species. The islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which formed the basis for his revolutionary book ‘The Origin of the Species’, published in 1859. Without fear of humans, they are sufficiently trusting to allow you to approach them and observe them up close.

Although geologically constantly on the move, these islands remain suspended in time, with a wealth of rare fauna and flora all thriving there. For many, the fascinating and unique wildlife and natural beauty of the islands are matched by the thrill of being at sea. Find a spot on deck as you make your way through the ocean, often trailed by flocks of birds and playful dolphins.

The boats are relatively small, creating an informal atmosphere. The service is of high quality; the crew are attentive and the food delicious. Cabins with en suite facilities are compact but comfortable for your 4 nights on board. There is a common bar/lounge area as well as a sun deck. Beach towels are provided, and basic snorkelling equipment is available and wetsuits can be hired.

Days 12-14

Cruise through the archipelago.
 
The itinerary for your cruise is subject to change due to National Park rules. There are normally two landings a day to seek out the different wildlife that inhabits the islands. Below is a summary of the animals and birds that can be found on each of the islands that you visit on this journey. There will also be the opportunity to snorkel both from the islands and the boat itself, and 2 kayaks are also available for use by passengers.

Santa Cruz Island is home to the settlement of Puerto Ayora, and has the largest human population of the five inhabited islands. Some 4,000 residents are distributed between the cattle farming communities in the lush highlands and the coastal town, which is mainly dominated by tourism. Stops here take in Dragon Hill on the northwestern tip of the island, frequented by an new colony of land iguanas, the lush and verdant highlands a natural habitat for the giant tortoise and Black Turtle Cove, where rays and sharks can spotted from the comfort of a panga or kayak.

Chinese Hat is a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the south-eastern tip of Santiago Island. It is a recent volcanic cone, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from north side. On the west it can be seen lava formations, formed under the sea and raised upward, this is why coral heads are found on the lava. This is an excellent visit for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lions colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

Genovesa Island is a favourite island for birdwatchers: red footed-booby, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels Yellow-crowned, black-crowned and lava herons, with and yellow warblers can be seen in the area.

Bartolome Island has an altitude of 114 meters, from where you can observe one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands such as: Volcanic cones, lunar like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island. It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles exist and at the base of the pinnacle, as well as a very small colony of Galápagos penguins.

James Island is one of the most loved of all the islands. At Puerto Egas the shoreline is inhabited by Sally Lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas and Galápagos fur seals, towering above the white sandy coves and black lava flows. Sugar Loaf Volcano offers spectacular views from its 395m summit.

Galapagos

Day 15

Fly to Guayaquil and continue to your international flight or extension.
 
After disembarking you fly back to Guayaquil (1.5 hours) and continue to your international flight or extension.

If you would like to break your return journey back to the UK a night in Guayaquil after your cruise can easily be arranged. Please speak to one of our consultants for the extra cost involved).

UK clients arrive home the following day, Friday.
 

Essential information

Transport

5 flights (longest 2 hours); 2 train journeys; 1 road journey (8 hours, including stops); 4 nights on board the Galápagos M/Y Sea Star. The journey from Cusco to Puno is by bus. If you would prefer to travel by train please contact one of our consultants for further information.

Accommodation

On this tour we use mid-range and superior hotels and a small motor yacht with private facilities and air-conditioning.

Examples of hotels include:
• Lima: Hotel Casa Andina Classic Miraflores 2016/Hotel Casa Andina Select Miraflores 2017
• Cusco: Novotel
• Sacred Valley: Hotel Pakaritampu
• Machu Picchu: Casa Andina Classic 
• Lake Titicaca: Posada del Inca  
• Guayaquil: Oro Verde 
• Galápagos Islands: M/Y Galápagos Sea Star

On board the cruise all cabins have lower berth beds, panoramic windows, air conditioning, safes and hairdryers. There is the option to extend your cruise to 9 nights should you wish.

The hotels are subject to change and are dependent on availability. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily; lunch day 4; full board cruise days 11-14.

Included Excursions

• Cusco: city tour and Sacsayhuamán 
• Sacred Valley: tour of ruins and villages 
• Machu Picchu: guided tour of the ruins 
• Lake Titicaca: Uros Islands and Sillustani 
• Guayaquil: city tour 
• Galápagos Islands: guided island visits and snorkeling

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Lima 1; Cusco 2; Sacred Valley 1; Machu Picchu 1; Cusco 1; Puno 2; Lima 1; Guayaquil 1; Galápagos cruise 4.

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader (Peru)
• Naturalist guides in the Galápagos Islands and a local guide in Guayaquil
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Use of snorkel and fins in the Galápagos
• Meals as specified with full-board in the Galápagos (excluding all drinks)
• Excursions as specified

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• Wetsuit for snorkelling ($7USD a day)
• Galápagos Islands entrance fee $100USD

Optional excursions

There are optional excursions which are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $100 should cover participation in the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest: 

• Machu Picchu: revisit the ruins (additional cost)
• Machu Picchu: climb Huayna Picchu (this excursion must be pre-booked due to availability issues so please let the office know before travel)
• Lima: city tour
• Galápagos Islands: All your excursions during your cruise are included, although you may choose to do some extra snorkelling or swimming from the boat or beaches

Currency

The unit of currency in Peru is the sol and in Ecuador is the US dollar.

Budget

A budget of around $45USD per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday price, drinks and the odd souvenir.
Your costs for the Galápagos trip will be a $100USD national park entrance fee, which is payable locally and subject to increase. To hire a wetsuit in the Galápagos Islands is $7USD a day.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can change into local currency in Peru or use as valid currency in Ecuador, and possibly some travellers’ cheques (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Credit cards are not accepted onboard the cruise.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $2 per person per day for guides and r drivers. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

On your Galápagos cruise, there is often a single 'kitty' tip organised for all on board. The convention is usually $15 per person, per day, although this is a suggestion, and tipping is of course a personal choice. You will be given specific guidance on board. 

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Given the limited facilities in the islands and the costs related to air evacuations, visitors to the Galápagos are strongly encouraged to obtain travel insurance which includes air ambulance services.

Airport taxes

International departure tax from Lima and Guayaquil is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are some very early mornings and a couple of long days of travel on this trip. All walks are optional, and you can discuss with your tour leader which are suitable for you around Machu Picchu. The streets in Cusco are cobbled and steep and you must be cautious at altitude. Whilst on the Cruise, to visit the islands you will have to transfer onto smaller 'Zodiac' crafts. The crew will be there to assist.

Climate

The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and April when there are showers most afternoons. The dry season is in June, July and August when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (from freezing point to 10°C). May, September and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells.

Lima is covered in a dull grey mist for much of the year, although the sun does break through between November and March. It almost never rains in Lima, and temperatures are moderate. 

In Cusco and the highlands, June to September can be very cold at night, but days are usually extremely clear with sun. November to April are the wettest months of the year – note that rains tend to be in short, heavy bursts, rather than continual showers, with rains clearing towards the end of April. Nights are cold throughout the year at altitude.

In the Galápagos, from January to April it’s hot and the sun is strong, with some sudden showers. May to July, and October to December is cloudier; August and September it’s often cloudy and cool, and a stiff breeze makes the waters choppier. High and Low seasons reflect demand rather than the best time to go. Many boats are in dry dock in September

Altitude

Your stay in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Lake Titicaca is at high altitude (2,800-4,000m). A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to your tour leader; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of suffering any symptoms.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information. 

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well on the Galápagos Islands. Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from insects. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellent, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for ocean swimming (Galápagos). You can hire snorkelling equipment but may prefer to bring your own. Aqua-socks or rubber sandals are useful for embarking and disembarking on wet landings. Bring a light waterproof jacket in case of rain. For June to November departures, wetsuits are recommended (which can be hired), as the waters can be chilly for snorkelling.

Don’t forget your binoculars, camera, charger and cards.

Due to luggage restrictions on the train to Machu Picchu, you will leave the bulk of your baggage in the Sacred Valley, which will be waiting for you on your return to Cusco. You can take up to 10kgs per person on the train. An overnight holdall is recommended to separate your luggage for the time spent away.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America and Galápagos.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.   Clients with a different nationality should enquire or check with the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Consulates.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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