Legendary Machu Picchu & the Galapagos Islands - 2017

Sacred Valley • Machu Picchu • Cuzco • Lima • Quito • Galapagos Islands
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Itinerary at a Glance (Nov. 21)

Set off to discover South America's most extraordinary works of nature and humankind on this spectacular small-group adventure. We'll explore the Sacred Valley of the Inca and Cusco, capital of the Inca and Spanish‐colonial empires. In between, we'll travel by rail on a breathtaking journey to the architectural marvel of Machu Picchu, where an overnight stay allows us to explore in depth on two guided tours. We'll also celebrate Thanksgiving in style with an Incan shaman ceremony and special Thanksgiving dinner.

We then venture to the historic capitals of Peru and Ecuador, Lima and Quito, before embarking on an unforgettable five day cruise around the Galapagos Islands, one of the most pristine natural areas on the planet. Your spacious cruise vessel is a specially outfitted eco‐cruise ship that combines comfort of a large ship with a full array of naturalist‐guided shore excursions and small‐group wildlife encounters, as well as numerous opportunities for active adventures such as swimming, snorkeling, and "panga" rides.

South America travelers will thrill at the opportunity to combine Machu Picchu travel with a Galapagos cruise aboard a luxury expedition vessel. Add the chance to follow the final section of the Inca Trail, take in regional wildlife, interact with local people, observe authentic local culture, and more — and you have a small‐group Galapagos adventure that is a wonder in itself!

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DAYS 1-2:

Depart home / Overnight flight / Lima / Cuzco / Sacred Valley

After arriving in Lima, you'll fly to Cuzco and be transferred to the Sacred Valley of Incas, arriving on Day 2. Check in to your hotel and attend a Welcome Briefing, where we have a chance to get acquainted with our travel mates. Or, if you've selected the pre‐trip adventure in Iquitos, Peru, you'll depart four days earlier.

DAY 3:


A remarkable day of discoveries awaits us in Peru’s mythical Sacred Valley. We’ll begin in the town of Moray, home of the mysterious agricultural terraces of the Incas. As we wander these fascinating ruins, we'll study their unique layout and capabilities. While the exact purpose of these concentric circles isn’t fully known, many believe these remarkable terraces once served as an agricultural laboratory. Vantage Cares: We journey next to Chinchero, where we’ll participate in a weaving demonstration on the traditional backstrap loom and shop from a colorful array of beautiful blankets, garments, rugs, and other community-made goods during a visit to the indigenous Chinchero Weavers Community.

Cultural Discovery: After lunch, we continue on to a typical chicheria, a family-run café, for some local flavor. Typically marked by a red flag or bag hanging from the door, a chicheria is the perfect spot to sample chicha, Peruvian homegrown maize beer, and share stories with the town’s indigenous residents. We’ll depart for Urubamba this evening, arriving at our hotel in time to celebrate Thanksgiving in style. We'll witness a special Incan-style Shaman blessing before enjoying a delicious holiday dinner that combines traditional American Thanksgiving food with Peruvian fare.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Urubamba / Aguas Calientes

Our small‐group journey to Machu Picchu is a highlight in itself. Vantage Adventures has upgraded our seats aboard the Vistadome train in 2017 for even greater comfort. Enjoy a spectacular trip along the roaring Urubamba River watching the landscape transition from highland plateau to forrest of clouds, with mountain peaks appearing around every bend. We arrive in Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, “Lost City of the Inca,” where we will spend the night. Spending the night at the base of the mountain gives us more time to explore the magnificent citadel. Our first visit takes place in the quiet of the late afternoon, after daytime crowds and larger tour groups have departed. You'll also visit again in the morning before the day trippers have arrived. Dinner is included at a local restaurant tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Machu Picchu/ Ollanta / Cusco

Today, our early arrival at Machu Picchu will be rewarded with the thrilling, once‐in‐a‐lifetime opportunity of watching the sun rise magnificently over the ruins. Alternatively, you can join a guided hike along the Inca Trail to Inti Punko, the Sun Gate, at dawn. After returning back to the hotel for an included lunch, we’ll board the Vistadome train and set off to explore the archeological site of Ollantaytambo, a remarkable surviving example of Inca city planning. We’ll take a guided tour of the lower temple, with time to wander the impressive temple remains and shops found on the upper level.

This evening, we'll continue on to Cusco, the former capital of both the Inca and Spanish Colonial empires and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After arrival, you'll check into the hotel and enjoy dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 6:


This morning, we set out on a walking tour of Cusco that encompasses the Plaza de Armas, the Incan Temple of the Sun, and the 17th‐century cathedral, a fine example of colonial baroque architecture. Cultural Discovery: After our exploration of Cusco’s historic center, we experience life in the present as we join a local family in their home for lunch. Then, delve further into Inca history on a visit the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a massive walled fortress.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 7:


Today is at leisure to explore this interesting city and have lunch on your own. If you like, join an optional "Cusco Behind the Scenes" tour to learn how ancient practices carry their echo into the culture of today, with lunch included at a local restaurant.

Included Meals:

Optional Tour: Cusco Behind the Scenes

Cusco Behind the Scenes

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 5 hours
  • Location: Cusco, Peru
  • When: Half-Day Tour

Visitors to Cusco marvel at the city’s amazing Inca ruins and stroll the charming Spanish colonial heart, but most come away wondering what the lives of the inhabitants are really like when, behind the “tourist curtain.”

Join us on this unique optional tour, and you’ll glimpse a different side of life in Cusco. This special “behind-the-scenes” experience includes a fascinating visit to the local cemetery, where you’ll see tombs and mausoleums that serve the unique burial customs of this ancient region. You’ll then visit a local fruit and vegetable market, where the people of Cusco do their daily shopping. You’ll also have the opportunity to witness a traditional Andean healing ceremony conducted by a shaman, or priest. Plus, you learn about local cuisine at a cooking lesson, followed by lunch.

Please note: This tour is only available to travelers who have purchased the post extension. 

DAY 8:

Cusco / Lima

After breakfast this morning, we head to the airport for our flight to Lima. We arrive in time for lunch at a local restaurant, then explore the historic center of the Peruvian capital — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — on a walking tour. Cultural Discovery: Our tour takes in the Larco Museum, renowned as one of the best museums in Latin American for its collections of pre‐Columbian art and artifacts, where we’ll enjoy a behind‐the‐scenes tour.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 9:

Lima / Quito, Ecuador

We fly to Quito after breakfast this morning to begin the next phase of our Galapagos adventure. Enjoy a Welcome Drink and an included dinner after our arrival in Ecuador's capital. The evening is at leisure.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 10:


We straddle the continents this morning as we journey north of Quito to La Mitad del Mundo, the "Middle of the World" — a monument marking the exact spot where the Equator passes through. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of Quito, including the historic town center, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the largest intact Spanish colonial city centers. Stops include Independence Plaza, the presidential palace, La Compañía de Jesús temple, and other important sites. Your evening is at leisure with dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 11:


You may explore Quito at your own pace today. If you wish, you can join us on an optional tour of Cotopaxi National Park, where you can enjoy stunning vistas, admire views of one of the world’s highest volcanoes by horseback, and savor lunch at a local restaurant.

Included Meals:

Optional Tour: Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park

  • Approximate Cost: $199 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 8 hours
  • Location: Quito, Ecuador
  • When: Full-Day Tour

The most popular nature reserve in Ecuador is also its largest. Join us on an excursion to Cotopaxi National Park, whose centerpiece is one of the world’s highest volcanoes. Active travelers will revel in the opportunity to explore the park by horseback and enjoy lunch in this beautiful setting.

DAY 12:

Quito / San Cristobal Island

This morning, we fly to the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin during his 1835 visit. Upon landing, transfer to the M/V Santa Cruz II, a ship designed specifically for the Galapagos. Our voyage takes us to six islands. On each, set out on naturalist-led guided shore excursions. Our itinerary is determined by Galapagos National Park and is subject to change, and the schedule detailed here is not necessarily the final one. The plan is to arrive on San Cristóbal Island. Disembark this afternoon on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, the only spot in the Galapagos where all three species of boobies are found together. You can enjoy a "panga" ride along the coast and some time for snorkeling or swimming.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Santa Fe Island / South Plaza Island

Take a Zodiac to the idyllic white‐sand beach on Santa Fe Island. Watch for the many sea lions that populate the beach and look for endemic land iguanas, native to Santa Fe, as we walk amid the giant prickly pear cacti. While you're here, you can snorkel or swim. If you prefer, get on board the glass‐bottomed boat for a different perspective on the marine life. After lunch and a rest, head to South Plaza Island. Disembark in the channel, where turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shore. Watch as land iguanas sit patiently beneath a grove of luminescent prickly pear cacti, waiting for pears to drop. On the opposite coast, sea lions bask in the sun, while frigates, swallow‐tailed gulls, and shearwaters glide. Cultural Discovery: This evening on board, observe the stars (weather permitted).

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Santa Cruz Island

This morning, disembark for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station's giant tortoise breeding center, set within a large prickly pear cactus forest that is home to many land birds. Here at the center, young tortoises are hatched, reared, and readied for reintroduction to their natural habitat. Then, head to the cooler highlands of the island for lunch in this completely different ecosystem. The highlight of the day will be a visit El Chato Reserve to see the giant Galapogos tortoises in their natural environment before returning to the M/V Santa Cruz II.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Española Island

Discover colonies of waved albatrosses, Nazca boobies, blue‐footed boobies, and swallow‐tail gulls, as well as marine iguanas, on a nature walk on Española Island. We also get a look at the Galapagos "blowhole" that spurts a geyser‐like blast of water 50 to 100 feet in the air. In the afternoon, observe sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches on Gardner Bay's white coral beach, or take advantage of great snorkeling and kayaking opportunities in the area.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Disembark ship / Baltra Island / Quito

After disembarking the ship, we'll board a flight back to Quito, where we'll enjoy our Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 17:

Quito / Return home

After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, remain in this historic city on your post‐trip extension.

Included Meals:


Important Notice: The above 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 Leader 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 above. This is to preserve the environment and limit any impact by tourists.

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CALL 1-800-848-5773

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Vantage Tauck Tours Vantage Advantage
Journey Legendary Machu Picchu & the Galapagos Islands Peru and the Galapagos Islands
Cruise-Only Prices $0 $9,920 (not including on-tour air of $1000 per person) Save $3,921 per person
Trip Length 0 days 15 days The best value in the industry.
Per Diem $0 per day $661 without air Save $648 per couple per day
Cabin sizes 166 - 250 square feet. Average stateroom is 139 square feet Larger cabins and more space - better value with Vantage!
Cabin Upgrades Cabin jumps from $150 Cabin jumps from $200 Lower priced cabin upgrades for more spacious cabins
Included Tours and Special Features 24 sightseeing tours & Cultural Connections - a $3,500 value per couple! Including 2 Galapagos shore excursions with experienced Naturalists every day while on the cruise! 18 sightseeing and included tours.Includes 2 daily shore excursions in Galapagos Most sightseeing plus exciting Cultural Connections planned to enhance your experience of nature and the Incan culture!
Single Travelers Single Supplements from only $3,000! Plus Free Guaranteed Share on select dates and Roommate matching on all dates! Single cabins from $13,997, a single supplement of over $4,000 Single friendly pricing - Save over $1,000! Plus, FREE Single Supplement on the Iquitos extension - a value of $69!
Extend Your Trip Amazon Rain Forest, 4-days from $1199; Quito, Ecuador, 3-days from $299 None specified.Will make hotel; reservations only for pre- and post- trip stay Best value and extension option!
Small Group travel Yes! No more than 28 travelers per departure! Up to 40 travelers per departure All the benefits of Small Group Travel!
Ship Accommodations Galapagos Islands cruise aboard m/v Santa Cruz II, a 90 passenger expedition ship – with daily shore excursions (average 2 per day). Pax-to-crew ratio of better than 2:1 Specifically designed for cruising in the Galapagos. Large Observation platform to observe wildlife. Galapagos Islands cruise aboard m/v Isabela II, built in 1979 with a speed of 10 knots. Pax-to-crew ratio of better than 2:1 The M/V Santa Cruz is built exclusively for Galapagos cruising and due to its larger size provides more stability while cruising. Features a team of onboard naturalist guides plus a glass bottom tender to view marine life! NEWER SHIP!
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*Prices are subject to change & based on comparable March or November departure dates
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