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Luxury Peru and Galapagos: Machu Picchu and the Enchanted Islands

15 days from £8361pp

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Luxury Peru and Galapagos: Machu Picchu and the Enchanted Islands:
Trip Dossier


This two-week luxury holiday in Peru, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands offers a real variety of experience in comfort and style, staying in some of the most exquisite boutique-style historic hotels and travelling on a top of the range cruise motor yacht. 

The warmth and friendliness of the Peruvian people, combined with the country’s rich traditions and diverse, extraordinary scenery, make Peru an easy place to fall in love with. Here we take you to its best known sites: the ancient Inca temples of Machu Picchu and the Inca capital and colonial treasure house of Cusco. Continue by air to Quito, the highland capital of Ecuador, and fly on to embark on a 5-day cruise around the Galápagos Islands, to see the greatest wildlife show on Earth. It was on a similar trip 200 years ago that Darwin returned to the archipelago to write the seminal book ‘On The Origin of Species’. Step into his shoes and explore the diversity of land and marine life which inhabit these enchanting islands.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Lima and transfer to hotel in Barranco, the arts and music quarter.

Day 2

Guided tour of colonial Lima, visit Larco pre-Columbian art museum. Fly to Cusco.

Day 3

Excursion to the Pisaq ruins, the Sacred Valley and a Peruvian pace horse show.

Day 4

Morning at leisure, train to Machu Picchu.

Day 5

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

Day 6

Half day city tour of Cusco and Sacsayhuamán Inca temple.

Day 7

Fly to Quito, Ecuador, overnight in Quito’s old city.

Day 8

Guided walking tour of colonial Quito.

Day 9

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, board MV Eclipse.

Days 10-13

Land excursions from the cruise around the Galápagos Islands.

Day 14

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

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.

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.

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.

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.


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. 

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.


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. 

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.
Otavalo lady

Day 9

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, board MV Eclipse.

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands (2 hrs approximately) where you will embark on the MV Eclipse 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 Eclipse.

MV Eclipse

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 San Cristobal, Bartolomé and Santa Cruz 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. 

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. 

Essential information


5 flights (longest 2.5hrs); 2 rail and road journeys (longest 4hrs).


This holiday incorporates first class luxury boutique hotels with plenty of history and special features. They have excellent locations and top-of-the range facilities.  


Breakfast daily, lunch days 3, 5, 8; dinner day 4; full board days 9-13.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• Half day city tour of colonial Lima, visit Larco pre-Columbian art museum.
• Full day excursion to the Pisaq ruins, Sacred Valley and watch a Peruvian paso (pace horse) horse show at Wayra Ranch.
• Half day excursion of Machu Picchu ruins.
• Half day city tour of Cusco and visit Sacsayhuamán Inca fortress ruins.
• Full day excursion to Otavalo market, visit indigenous village of Peguche.
• 5 night cruise around the Galápagos Islands.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Lima 1; Urubamba 2; Machu Picchu 1; Cusco 2; Quito 2; Galápagos 5.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions


The unit of currency in Peru is the sol.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost  drinks and the odd souvenir, and of good quality meals on those days in the holiday itinerary when not on the cruise.. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

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 exchange into local currency, 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.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

 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.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


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

Given the limited medical facilities in the Galápagos Islands and the costs related to air ambulance services, you are strongly encouraged to obtain travel insurance which includes air ambulance services.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors. The sea can be choppy around the Galápagos islands. The streets in Cusco are cobbled and steep.


The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and March 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 relentless, 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.


Your stay in Cusco and the Sacred Valley is at high altitude (2,800-3,300m). 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 our representatives; 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 waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for pools and ocean swimming (Galápagos). The ship provides complimentary use of  snorkelling equipment and 3mm ‘shorty’ wetsuits but you 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, the waters can be chilly.

Due to luggage restrictions on the train to Machu Picchu, main luggage must be left in Cusco. You can take up to 10kgs per person on the train and an overnight holdall is recommended to separate your luggage for the night spent away from Cusco. 

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.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

For admission to the Galápagos a yellow fever certificate is required for anyone over 1 year old coming from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 


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.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

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, and 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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