Mysteries of the Inca Empire with Peru's Amazon & Galapagos Cruise (1308) - 2015

22 Day Tour from Lima to Guayaquil

Mysteries of the Inca Empire with Perus Amazon & Galapagos Cruise
A beautiful Blue Butterfly found in the Amazon
A beautiful Blue Butterfly found in the Amazon
The Middle of the World located in Quito, Ecuador
Enjoy beautiful views of Lake Titicaca
Quito, the capital of Ecuador in South America
Visit the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, with intricate stone walls
The “Lost City of the Incas”
See the beautiful Lily Pads in the Amazon
Lake Titicana Huts
Ecuadorian farmers market

Vacation Overview

Capture the mystery and grandeur of one of the most iconic places in the world on this full journey of the Inca Empire—Peru, then venture north to Ecuador and its fascinating Galápagos Islands. Begin your journey in the rich and stunning biodiversity of Peru’s Amazon. From your eco lodge you’ll enjoy time with a Naturalist on day hikes to spot a wide variety of species, like monkeys, birds, and colorful butterflies. You’ll also have the chance to witness the nocturnal species on a night walk and view turtles, caimans, and other birdlife from the Tambopata River. Enjoy the Amazon rainforest from atop the canopy and from the waters by canoe.

Take to Peru’s largest city and capital, Lima. Starting with a city tour, you’ll gain a sense of the colonial heritage of the Peruvians with its world-class museums and Spanish colonial architecture. Then, head to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, two of the most stunning and mystical places on Earth. Glimpse the ancient history and culture, and enjoy the unique opportunity to stay overnight in both the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, where you’ll have two included entrances to the site, visit a local Inca home, and traditional Indian market. From the charming city of Cusco, where you’ll have a full-day introduction to the city and the Temple of Sacsayhuaman, you’ll head to fascinating Titicaca, a lake of floating islands, maintained over centuries by the local Indians who build their islands and homes from the continuously sinking reeds.

Finish your vacation by flying to Ecuador and its Galápagos Islands for a cruise unlike any other. Just like Charles Darwin, you’ll be able to see many species of animals and birds that call the Galápagos their home. On your 4-night cruise, watch for blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, sea lions, land iguanas, flamingos, giant tortoises, and more. For even more fun, consider swimming and snorkeling in search of sea life.

This well-rounded exploration of Peru, Ecuador’s famed Galápagos Islands, and the dense jungle wildlife of the Amazon is sure to leave you with memories for a lifetime.

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In Lima, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Peru’s Amazon: Tambopata River, Quito, and Galápagos Islands Cruising

Scenic Highlights:
Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Peru’s Amazon, Galápagos Islands


Local Guides for sightseeing in Lima, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Quito, and Naturalist in the Amazon & the Galápagos; services of a professional Tour Director.

Day 1Arrive In Lima, Peru

Welcome to Lima, where you will be met by a Cosmos representative.

Day 2Lima–Puerto Maldonado–Tambopata Eco Lodge

Fly to Puerto Maldonado, entry to Peru’s Amazon Jungle. Take a MOTORBOAT journey up the Tambopata River to view turtles, caimans, monkeys, and birdlife. Arrive at your Amazon Jungle lodge within Tambopata National Reserve. This afternoon, head out with your Naturalist into the forest in search of saddleback tamarins, brown capuchins, agoutis, blue-morpho butterflies, trogons, toucans, and many other species commonly spotted here. As night falls, head out on foot to search for nocturnal wildlife. (B,L,D)

Day 3Tambopata Eco Lodge

Enjoy a Naturalist guided CANOE RIDE & WALK to see the flora and fauna that thrive in the Amazon. After lunch, ascend one of the CANOPY platforms to view plants and animals that live in the rainforest canopy. This evening, venture back out by CANOE with your Naturalist to appreciate the sounds of the jungle at night. (B,L,D)

Day 4Tambopata Eco Lodge

For more insight into the Amazon, let your Naturalist know what included adventure you would like to take advantage of today—it’s your choice! (B,L,D)

Day 5Tambopata Eco Lodge–Puerto Maldonado–Lima

Return to Puerto Maldonado and fly to Lima. Heralded as the “City of Kings” by Spanish conquistadors, Lima retains vestiges of its opulent past with its colonial buildings and world-class museums. (B)

Day 6Lima

Sightseeing today focuses on Lima’s colonial heritage. Founded in 1535, Lima was once capital of Spain’s South American Empire. Visit the baroque 11th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY, with Spanish and Moorish architecture throughout. Continue to Plaza Mayor, where you will see the Government Palace that houses the presidential palace and was once the home of Francisco Pizarro, founder of Lima and conqueror of Peru. Nearby, see the Cathedral where Pizarro’s remains are buried. The remainder of your day is free to explore. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening. (B,D)

Day 7Lima–Cusco–Sacred Valley

Fly to Cusco high in the Andes and upon arrival, descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Stop at AWANAKANCHA and learn about the importance of Camelids (llama, vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco) for Inca cultures. See them up close and learn how their coats are transformed into precious weaving fibers used in ancient weaving techniques still in use today. Continue to your hotel in the peaceful Sacred Valley. (B,L,D)

Day 8Sacred Valley

Start the day with a visit to the village of OLLANTAYTAMBO and the Inca ruins of the same name. Explore the archaeological site that was the scene of the Inca resistance during the Spanish conquest—the only place ever to resist Spanish attacks. See how the temple area at the top of the terraces was the perfect defensive stronghold, then visit a LOCAL HOME in this Incan town to experience life in a traditional village, which has been remarkably well preserved. Continue to PISAC, a charming village with an infamous INDIAN MARKET, where you have plenty of time to browse the many colorful stalls selling handicrafts ranging from alpaca sweaters and blankets to painted vases and sterling silver. (B)

Day 9Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu

Board the VISTADOME train that cuts a path through the picturesque Urubamba Valley bound for Aguas Calientes, the quaint town closest to the “Lost City of the Incas.” Ascend the mountainside through tropical forest to the sacred refuge of MACHU PICCHU. Listen as your guide recounts the many accomplishments of the Incas as you tour the terraced ruins dating back to the 15th century. The ruins went undiscovered for nearly 400 years after they were abandoned when the Inca Empire fell to the Spanish. Many mysteries surrounding Machu Picchu remain to this day. (B,L,D)

Day 10Machu Picchu–Cusco

Awaken early and use your included second entrance to MACHU PICCHU to see the sunrise over the ruins. You will be awe-struck as the sun first illuminates the ruins, free of crowds. Later, return to Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire. The remainder of your day free to relax. (B)

Day 11Cusco

Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of Cusco that focuses on the city that was once the political, military, and cultural epicenter of the Incas until the Spanish toppled it. In fact, Inca foundations can still be found in Cusco, with the Spanish baroque structures built on top. Visit the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY, where these two forms of architecture are melded together with the temple of both cultures atop one another. Also see the CATHEDRAL in the Plaza de Armas, housing a magnificent collection of artwork, including a depiction of The Last Supper that portrays the apostles dining on cuy (guinea pig). Continue to the hillside overlooking Cusco for a visit to the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN. Some of the best examples of Inca masonry can be found at this fortress, where stones weighing up to 350 tons are pieced together to form a complex that could house up to 10,000 men. Learn about the ceremonies and battles that took place here, then see the ruins of Kenko and Puca Pucara before returning to Cusco. (B,D)

Day 12Cusco–Juliaca–Puno

Fly to Juliaca, then transfer to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Legend says the first Inca, Manco Capac, arose from the waters of the lake by the power of the Sun God to found the Inca Empire. (B)

Day 13Puno. Lake Titicaca

Experience fascinating LAKE TITICACA today as you embark on a motorboat tour of the highest navigable lake in the world and its manmade islands. On TAQUILE ISLAND, see how the local people integrate their Inca and Spanish past. This is evident by the Spanish peasant dresses made of Andean textiles—the islanders make some of the finest in all of Peru. Continue to the UROS FLOATING ISLANDS, a group of approximately 40 artificially made islands. Learn how the Uros Indians construct their islands, homes, boats, and many other resources completely of tortora reed, a centuries-old practice. Enjoy a farewell dinner hosted by your Tour Director this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 14Puno–Juliaca-Lima

Return to Juliaca, stopping at the pre-Incan burial grounds of SILLUSTANI en route. See the above-ground tombs, chullpas, in which the Aymara Indians buried their high priests. You will be welcomed into one of the locals’ HOMES for an inside look at life here. Later, a short flight returns you to Lima, where you will transfer to your hotel. (B)

Day 15Lima–Quito, Ecuador

Board a flight for Quito. (B)

Day 16Quito

Included sightseeing showcases Quito’s treasures: Independence Plaza and the 16th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY, and the Jesuit’s LA COMPANIA CHURCH with its stunning golden altars. (B)

Day 17Quito–San Cristobal (Embarkation)–Galápagos Cruising

Fly to San Cristobal in the Galápagos, embark the Santa Cruz and enjoy five days of cruising among various Galápagos Islands. This afternoon, arrive at PUNTA PITT, the easternmost point in the islands, the only place in the archipelago where all three types of booby exist (blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca), nesting next to both types of frigates. (B,L,D)

Day 18Galápagos Cruising: Santa Fé & South Plaza Islands

Wake up at SANTA FÉ Island, where you are met by sea lion harems and the endemic land iguana. The beach offers great snorkeling. At SOUTH PLAZA, wildlife includes sea lions, land iguanas, and hybrid iguanas—the result of a cross between male marine iguanas and female land iguanas. This is also a bird-watcher’s paradise, where you will see nesting swallow-tailed gulls, masked and blue-footed boobies, and many more. (B,L,D)

Day 19Galápagos Cruising: Santa Cruz Island

Visit the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, established to help conserve the famous giant tortoises. Next up: the highlands of SANTA CRUZ, marked by extinct volcanoes and astonishing plants. (B,L,D)

Day 20Galápagos Cruising: Española Island

Excursions to Gardner Bay and Punta Suárez on ESPAÑOLA ISLAND, one of the oldest islands in the archipelago, feature the famous blowhole, as well as unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (Apr.-Dec.), Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and Darwin’s finches. (B,L,D)

Day 21Galápagos Cruising: Baltra (Disembarkation)–Guayaquil

Disembark and fly to Guayaquil. (B)

Day 22Guayaquil

Your vacation ends after breakfast this morning. (B)

Private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring; travel by boat to Amazon lodge

PERU’S AMAZON Tambopata Eco Lodge (NP)
LIMA San Agustin Exclusive (F)
SACRED VALLEY Hotel Inkallpa (F)
MACHU PICCHU El Mapi Hotel Machu Picchu (F)
CUSCO Jose Antonio Cusco (F)
PUNO Eco Inn Puno (F)
QUITO Grand Mercure Alameda (SF)
GUAYAQUIL Unipark Hotel Guayaquil (SF)

21 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 12 dinners

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As recommended by Budget Travel