What to Expect
Each Vantage Adventure is designed to help you fully experience local culture and to get out and explore while keeping active. We find these are the two most fulfilling and rewarding ways to transform any trip into an adventure, and into the experience of a lifetime. To that end, we've rated each trip to indicate the level of cultural immersion and physical activity, with "1" being the lowest and "3" being the highest.
CULTURAL IMMERSION: This program provides many opportunities to interact with the local culture. We visit Inca ruins and small indigenous towns where we will enter local homes and markets and interact with artisans, musicians, and other local people. In fact, the whole time in Peru and on the mainland of Ecuador will be a fascinating Cultural Discovery for Vantage Adventure travelers.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Physical activity is very intensive in this South America travel program. Tours run on modern coaches, but in some areas air‐conditioned coaches are not available. The visit to the Inca ruins in Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru includes heavy walking, which may be affected by the cobblestone streets and high altitude in Cuzco (10,657 ft). There will also be steps and walking on uneven natural terrain in Machu Picchu and other ruins. On the Galapagos cruise there is heavy walking on natural, uneven terrain, including beaches with sand and rocks and trails up small hills. There will be Zodiac rides of about 15 minutes each to reach the shore. Galapagos tours include both wet and dry landings. On wet landings customers may expect to wade in warm and calm waters below knee depth. The sun may be quite warm at times, and some walks in the Galapagos may exceed 2 miles. There are generally two walks offered each day. This is an expedition‐type cruise, and you should be active and in good physical condition before you reserve it.
PACING: While we have made every effort to make this South America travel experience as comfortable as possible, please be prepared for intensive physical activity, including extensive walking, uneven terrain, and high altitudes. Visit 6 destinations in 15 nights: 2 nights in the Sacred Valley, 1 night in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), 3 nights in Cuzco, 1 night in Lima, 4 nights in Quito, and 4 nights on a Galapagos cruise.
About your flights: Your flight to South America will connect through Miami. Most flights from Miami to South America travel in the late evening. Depending upon your home city, you may have a shorter or longer layover in Miami before your flight departs (on Day 1 in some cases, early morning on Day 2 in other cases). At the end of your trip, your flight from Quito will have a late afternoon arrival in Miami, which may necessitate an overnight in Miami at an additional charge before your connecting flight home. Your trip also has four internal flights: Cuzco to Lima, Lima to Quito, and round trip from the mainland to the Galapagos Islands for your cruise. There will be some early departures to take the train to Machu Picchu ruins. The longest motorcoach rides include the transfer from Cuzco to the Sacred Valley and some of the tours on the Ecuadorian mainland. However, rest stops and sightseeing are scheduled. Also, some early morning departures from your ship to see some of the wildlife.
SACRED VALLEY Pre Extension: If you are enhancing your South America travel experience with our pre-extension, you will fly overnight to Lima, connect to Cuzco, and transfer to the Sacred Valley for lower elevations.
SPECIAL FACTORS: Be prepared for high altitudes in Cuzco (11,200 feet) and Machu Picchu (approx. 8,000 feet). The Sacred Valley and Quito are not as high, but some travelers may be affected. Your will have many suggestions for handling the altitude. The Peruvian portion begins at the lowest altitude of the Sacred Valley area so that acclimatization is easier. The altitude is rarely a problem
Specifically outfitted for navigating the waters surrounding the Galapagos, the Deluxe expedition vessel M/V Santa Cruz II has all the amenities of a large cruise liner, yet it is small enough for a close‐up experience with nature. She is a 90‐passenger luxury expedition vehicle with a crew‐to-passenger ratio of less‐than 1:2, allowing for personalized service and a more intimate experience. Although we will be in generally calm seas, depending on the weather conditions the sea movement might affect some guests. Depending upon when you travel, the Galapagos has a rainy season and a warm summer dry season.
Please note: Beginning on 9/1/2017, it will be mandatory for travelers to provide proof of health insurance in order to be admitted into Ecuador. Please make sure you have purchased travel insurance before departing for your trip and have written proof of coverage during your travels.
Important Notice: Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Director or regional expert.
Please Note: The Galapagos Islands portion of this itinerary is subject to change based on requirements of the National Park Authorities, and the order of site visits can be different than as outlined in the Full Itinerary. This is to preserve the environment and limit any impact by tourists.