Day 1: ARRIVE IN LIMA.
Welcome to Lima. This "City of Kings" was once the capital of Spain's South American empire.
Day 2: LIMA.
Today, your Local Guide focuses on the city's colonial heritage during a WALKING TOUR. Start at the Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and the Cathedral, where the remains of Francisco Pizarro, founder of Lima, are housed. From here, stroll to the venerable SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its splendid 17th-century cloister murals. This evening, visit the LARCO HERRERA MUSEUM, housing an impressive collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian artifacts, followed by a special welcome dinner at the museum with your fellow travelling companions hosted by your Tour Director. (B,D)
Day 3: LIMA-CUSCO-SACRED VALLEY.
Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Continue into the Sacred Valley to AWANAKANCHA, a local favourite, and learn the importance of the alpaca (llama) for Inca cultures, as well as the ancient weaving techniques still in use today. Next, visit PISAC, an old mountain village where you enjoy free time in the town centre to browse the local market and colourful stalls where vendors sell their handicrafts, ranging from fine alpaca sweaters and blankets to handpainted ornamental dishes and vases. Enjoy a relaxing dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 4: SACRED VALLEY-MACHU PICCHU.
This morning, visit the Inca fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO, followed by a Local Favourite visit to a LOCAL HOME to meet some native Incans and experience their way of life. Next, board the Vistadome TRAIN for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley, then ascend to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the "Lost City of the Incas," discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Your Local Guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures built by the pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. Return to your deluxe hotel in Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is found for dinner full of impressive culinary delights. (B,L,D)
Day 5: MACHU PICCHU-CUSCO.
Your entrance to Machu Picchu is included for a second day. Enjoy the tranquility of the morning while wandering the ruins at your own pace and experiencing the magic that is Machu Picchu. After lunch, return to Ollantaytambo by train and continue to Cusco. (B,L)
Day 6: CUSCO.
Today, learn more about the Incas and their struggle against the invading Spaniards. Visit the imposing CATHEDRAL and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY on your guided tour. Next, see the semi-circular Kenko Amphitheatre with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages and the ancient site of Puca Pucara before reaching the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones- with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons-was built. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 7: CUSCO-QUITO, ECUADOR.
Fly to Quito, capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and begin the Ecuadorian portion of your holiday. Enjoy an included dinner upon arrival tonight. (B,D)
Day 8: QUITO.
Excursion to Otavalo. An in-depth experience into the traditional ways of the Otavalo people is in store for you today. First, visit OTAVALO'S famous INDIAN MARKET, full of textiles, clothes, vegetables, and much more. Next, in Peguche, famous for its exquisite weavings, you have the opportunity to visit homes and observe handicrafts being made. Finally, enjoy Andean delicacies prepared the traditional way at a HACIENDA-HOSTED LUNCH and Local Favourite before returning to Quito. (B,L)
Day 9: QUITO.
Your Local Guide introduces this city on an included sightseeing tour that showcases its treasures: the historic stone murals of the Legislative Palace, Independence Plaza and the 16th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY, and the Jesuit's LA COMPANIA CHURCH with its stunning golden altars. Next, take a walk down one of Quito's oldest streets, La Ronda, which is home to many artist's workshops and galleries. Here, you will have the chance to meet some of the local artists and talk with them about their work before visiting a CHOCOLATE FACTORY to learn why Ecuador is considered one of the finest chocolate producers in the world. After seeing the chocolate-making process, a tasting is a must! Top off your day with a photo in front of the EQUATORIAL MONUMENT in the "Middle of the World." Stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously and test the effects of the earth's rotation through different experiments like balancing an egg on a nail. (B)
Day 10: QUITO-SAN CRISTOBAL-GALAPAGOS ISLANDS (EMBARKATION)-CRUISING: SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND
Take a morning flight to San Cristobal, one of the remote Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival, board the Treasure of Galapagos and enjoy five days of CRUISING among various Galapagos Islands. Each day, travel ashore to the remote islands with your expert Naturalist, who introduces you to the unique fauna living free and fearless of man. Giant tortoises, Galapagos fur sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigates, and finches are just some of the many endemic species you will find on land. You will also have the chance to snorkel in the turquoise waters with colourful tropical fish, playful sea lions, and maybe even an equatorial penguin or shark! This afternoon, travel into the highlands of SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND and visit the CERRO COLORADO TORTOISE RESERVE, where you will learn about the island's giant tortoise population and conservation efforts in place to help preserve and breed these endangered species. At the reserve, you can spot songbirds, such as the yellow warblers, the endemic Galapagos large-billed flycatchers and the Chatham mockingbird (unique to this island), that put Darwin on track of his evolution theory. Return to your boat and settle in with a briefing on the next day's adventure, followed by a Captain's welcome cocktail and dinner. (B,L,D)
NOTE: The ship's itinerary may vary according to Galapagos National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, and seasonal changes to create the perfect cross-section of sites visited.
Day 11: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISING: ESPANOLA ISLAND.
Today, join your Naturalist for excursions to Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez on ESPAnOLA ISLAND in the southeastern section of the archipelago. In the morning, visit GARDNER BAY with its striking white coral beach teeming with playful Galapagos sea lions. Galapagos hawks, hood mockingbirds, marine iguanas, and the three species of Darwin finches are also commonly spotted here. This is a prime spot for snorkelling to see the colourful reef fish, reef sharks, and the Pacific green turtles who come here to breed. After lunch, visit PUNTA SUAREZ where you will find sheer cliffs and a spectacular blowhole that sprays a fountain of seawater high into the air. This site is also home to the waved albatross who come here to breed and raise their young from March to December. This site also serves as a massive breeding ground for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and redbilled tropicbirds. Keep an eye out for male marine iguanas who turn bright green and red during mating season which has given them the nickname, Christmas iguana. (B,L,D)
Day 12: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISING: FLOREANA ISLAND.
After breakfast, disembark at FLOREANA ISLAND to visit historic Post Office Bay, which has been serving as a post office since the 18th Century. The "post office" is just a barrel where letters are left with the hope that other visitors returning home will take letters if the addressee is not far from their own and deliver them or drop them at a normal post office. Next, explore the island's channels by panga or take your first swim with the playful sea lions. This afternoon, join your Naturalist at CORMORANT POINT on Floreana Island in search of greater flamingos, blue-footed boobies, and sea turtles. There is another opportunity for snorkelling to see reef fish, turtles, and even rays! (B,L,D)
Day 13: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISING: SANTA FE & SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS.
Wake up at Barrington Bay on SANTA FE ISLAND, home to one of the most ancient volcans in the Galapagos and many animals that can only be found on this island. A walk with your Naturalist reveals a forest of giant prickly pear cacti called opuntia. The endemic land iguanas found here, and only here, feed on the cactus which makes up about 80% of its diet. Other endemic species found here include the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, and Galapagos mockingbird. You may also snorkel with playful sea lions and tropical fish here. Your afternoon visit brings you to Tortuga Bay on SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, which is a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, marine iguanas, and even the giant Galapagos tortoises. Return to your boat for a final evening on board and a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 14: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS (DISEMBARKATION) SANTA CRUZ-QUITO.
After breakfast, disembark in SANTA CRUZ ISLAND and travel to the highlands to visit EL CHATO TORTOISE RESERVE, where you have the opportunity to see the Galapagos giant tortoises roaming in the wild. Most of their long lives is spent grazing slowly and silently, except for a warning hiss, or loud screams during mating, which can be heard from afar in the first half of the year. Subsequently, females leave the highlands and descend all the way down to the beaches to dig holes and lay their eggs. It is estimated that about 32,000 tortoises live in the wild in the entire archipelago. Continue to the airport for your return flight to Quito. (B)
Day 15: QUITO.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)