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Luxury Peru and Galapagos: Machu Picchu and the Enchanted Islands

15 days from £8,155pp

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Luxury Peru and Galapagos: Machu Picchu and the Enchanted Islands

15 days from £8,155pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Lima and transfer to hotel in Barranco, the arts and music quarter.
 
You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel by one of our local representatives. The half-hour drive to the hotel through Lima is not the most enchanting introduction to this city of extreme contrasts, but it does encapsulate the invigorating buzz of a modern-day Latin American capital. Lima’s history is grandiose in the extreme, a vital capital in Spanish colonial times it has monumental architecture to match. The city is composed of contrasting districts, and your hotel is in Barranco, one of the most interesting, with a history of creative arts and many galleries and a lively music scene.
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Lima

Day 2

Guided tour of colonial Lima, visit Larco pre-Columbian art museum. Fly to Cusco.
 
In the morning visit the impressive Larco Museum, one of the finest museums in Latin America, housing a vast collection of pre-Columbian pieces. The majority of artefacts in the museum are ceramics, depicting a number of Peruvian cultures including the Moche, Sicán and Chimú and there is also an excellent collection of textiles, gold and silver work, and mummies.

Fly to Cusco in the Andes, and  climb by road out of the bowl in which Cusco is set and descend into the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the bread-basket of the 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. Overnight in the loveliest accommodation in the valley, with a magical location and ambience.

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Larco Museum

Day 3

Excursion to the Pisaq ruins, the Sacred Valley and a Peruvian pace horse show.
 
Guided tour of the Sacred Valley. Visit the Pisac complex, set high above the river, and visible from the eponymous colonial village you will visit. The “city” crammed with residences, temples and storehouses, was built on terraces carved into the steep hillsides. From the flat valley floor this intricate hillside rises up like a green staircase to the heavens.

Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to Ollantaytambo. This temple and garrison, sits strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin.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. The snow-capped Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop.

Later, head on to Wayra ranch for a presentation by Peruvian pace horses (caballos de paso) renowned for having 5 gears. You spend another night in the mystical surroundings of the Sacred Valley, beneath the dome of a vast, clear Andean sky.

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Sacred valley

Day 4

Morning at leisure, train to Machu Picchu.
 

Morning at leisure, or take one of the hotel's many excursions and adventure activities, or luxuriate with a spa treatment.  In the afternoon, travel for 1.5hours by train from Ollantaytambo to 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.

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Ollantaytambo

Day 5

Half day guided excursion of Machu Picchu ruins. Return to Cusco by rail and road.
 

Half-day guided tour of Machu Picchu. 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 soon became clear to excavators that the conquistadores had never found the city, and for many years it was mistaken for the legendary last refuge of the Incas, Vilcabamba. It is the ruins’ location perhaps, on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon, that most ignites the imagination. Return to Cusco by Vistadome rail service and road. 

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Machu Picchu

Day 6

Half day city tour of Cusco and Sacsayhuamán Inca temple.
 
The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. 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.

Today a guide leads you on a tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. The first conquistadores to see it were awestruck; centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

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Cusco

Day 7

Fly to Quito, Ecuador, overnight in Quito’s old city.
 
Fly to Lima (1hr) and connect to Quito (2.5hrs), the highland capital of Ecuador. The active volcano Guagua Pichincha, to the east, glowers over the dynamic city which, at 2,850m, is one of highest capitals in the world. Quito is divided into two contrasting districts. The modern zone is characterised by towering glass buildings, and houses banks, international companies, hotels, shops and restaurants, while the central colonial area has well-conserved and recently spruced-up white-washed architecture, open air markets and graceful Spanish-style mansions and churches. 
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Quito

Day 8

Guided walking tour of colonial Quito.
 
Half-day guided walking tour of old Quito. Visit the colonial centre of the capital, the first city ever to be named a World Heritage site. High on the agenda is a walk through the main plaza, the Plaza de Independencia, where you will see the government palace, the cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the 16th and 17th centuries, including the monastery of San Francisco.
Afternoon at leisure.
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Otavalo lady

Day 9

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, board MV Ocean Spray.
 

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands (2 hrs approximately) where you will embark on the catamaran MV Ocean Spray for your 6-day (5-night) cruise around the archipelago. Once you’ve paid your national park entrance fee (currently $US100 but under revision), your naturalist guide will be waiting to take you to the quayside.  Embark on the luxury motor yacht Ocean Spray.

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Ocean Spray

Days 10-13

Land excursions from the cruise around the Galápagos Islands.
 
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 plant and animal species. Without fear of humans, they are sufficiently trusting to allow you to approach them and observe them up close.

The islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which formed the basis for his revolutionary book ‘On The Origin of  Species’ published in 1859.

Although geologically constantly on the move, these islands remain suspended in time, with Giant tortoises, iguanas, penguins, Frigate birds, Waved albatross and Blue-footed boobies and a wealth of rare 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 your ship makes way through the ocean, often trailed by flocks of birds and playful dolphins.

Visits to Isabela and Fernandina islands are planned but the itinerary for your days in the Galápagos will depend on your date of departure and is subject to change. There are normally two landings each day to seek out the different wildlife that inhabits the islands. 

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Blue footed boobies

Day 14

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.
 

Fly back to Guayaquil, tropical port on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, with day use of a hotel to freshen up and rest before your international flight home. 

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15 days from £8,155pp

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