The charm of this holiday tour is in combining the magic of Cusco and Machu Picchu during Christmas week and a relaxing cruise of the exotic Galapagos Islands to celebrate the New Year. Experience the typical and traditional colors, costumes, local handicrafts and the holiday festivities of the Andes during Christmas week in and around Cusco.
Next enjoy an intimate Galapagos Cruise aboard a yacht with a small crew and naturalist guide to explore the islands 603 miles west of Ecuador on the equator. This a wonderful cruise and a return to a time lost to witness the many endangered species that still live on and swim around the waters of all the islands. A Galapagos Islands’ tour will provide you an alternative, unforgettable, paradisiacal New Year’s experience.
Note: You can customize and modify the dates and tour programs according to your wishes.
Arrival in Lima
Our staff will greet you in the Lima airport and transfer you by private transportation to your hotel in Miraflores or equivalent.
City Tour in Lima
After breakfast you will be met in your hotel and taken on a guided tour of Lima, the fabulous "City of the Kings". The tour visits the Plaza Mayor Lima and the 16th century Cathedral of gold, followed by a tour of the catacombs at the Convento San Francisco and the Museum of Gold.
These are the most popular tourist attractions in Lima. The tour comes to a close in one of the wealthiest and most beautiful residential districts in Lima, Miraflores. There you will visit the only pre-Inca ruin remaining there, Huaca Pucllana. Constructed in the 2nd century AD, it was constructed by the Inca people as a "Sacred Town" and was a busy ceremonial and administrative center.
The Pacific Ocean is 5 blocks away. In the evening visit the beautiful ocean side Larcomar mall complex where there are movie theatres, many restaurants and shops. Overnight Miraflores.
Lima – Cusco – Cusco City Tour
You will be greeted by your driver and taken to the Lima airport for your 55-minute flight to Cusco. You will be greeted in the Cusco airport and taken to your hotel by private van. Check-in and relax for a few hours to acclimate to Cusco’s elevation (11,000 ft or 3,300 meters). Rest for 4 or 5 hours after arriving to Cusco.
In the afternoon, after resting, you will be able to take the Cusco City Tour to archeological sites in and around the city. The tour includes visits to the main square; Plaza de Armas and The Temple of the Sun (Koricancha). Then take a short ride north to visit the famous archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman with its magnificent monolithic stones, Quenqo, the fountains at Tambomachay and Pucapucara. You will be delivered to your hotel’s front door after the city tour.
Tour in the Sacred Valley-Aguas Calientes
One of the most important tours recommended by ILE Tours is the full day Sacred Valley Tour. Here you will learn of the Inca’s impressive legacy left to us by learning of their unprecedented knowledge of building in accordance with the sun and nature.
After breakfast you will be greeted in your hotel and driven north out of Cusco to Pisac. Stop periodically at scenic overlooks for pictures of the dramatic landscape before continuing on to Pisac, known for its indigenous craft market (on Sunday, Thursday and Tuesday).
Pisac was also the easternmost fortress of the Sacred Valley that can still be seen high above the town square to the north. Next we will continue west through the Sacred Valley to the picturesque town of Urubamba where we will stop to enjoy an excellent Andean buffet lunch in one of the best restaurants. You have the option of staying in Ollantaytambo, continuing on by train to Aguas Calientes or returning to Cusco for the night. L
You will be greeted in your hotel and taken to the train station for you train to Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. Here your guide will greet you.
Machu Picchu is one of the most remarkable and enigmatic archaeological sites in the world. Few works made by man were built in harmony with nature as the Citadel of Machu Picchu. The “Lost City” is located at the top of a flattened mountain. Enjoy the wonders of Machu Picchu with your guide: the Sacred District, the Popular District to the south, and the District of Royalty in the urban sector.
Visit the Temple of the Sun, the Room of the Three Windows and Temple of the Condor. Besides the outstanding archaeological remains see the spectacular panoramic views of the Jungle Mountains and the Urubamba River 400 meters below. If you arrive early enough you can climb Huanya Picchu. After the tour return to Aguas Caliente by bus and board your train back to Cusco. You will be greeted at the train station and taken back to your hotel.
Cusco - Lima - Guayaquil or Quito
After breakfast you will be greeted in your hotel and taken by private car to the Cusco airport for your flight to Lima and connection to Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. Our staff in Guayaquil or Quito will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. Free afternoon to rest, buy last minute items and get ready for your next day departure and Galapagos cruise.
Fight to Galapagos - Baltra / Santa Cruz Island - Charles Darwin Station
Morning arrival on Baltra or San Cristobal Islands where you will first pay the National Park Entrance Fee before being greeted by your guide. In the afternoon you will reach Puerto Ayora on Island Santa Cruz. Besides being a home for sea lions and pelicans, the marina is a popular starting point for round-the-world-yachtsman. The island itself has come to be both a tourist and scientific center of the archipelago.
The Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park offices are based on Santa Cruz Island. The station encompasses an information centre, a museum, a library and the tortoise breeding station as well. Here you will have an opportunity to visit some of the best scientists, park rangers and park managers of the Galápagos.
Their conservation work and goal is to preserve this Unesco World Heritage Site. In the tortoise breeding and rearing centre you can encounter tortoises of different subspecies, which are being prepared for reintroduction into their natural habitats. The most popular inhabitant of this island is probably Lonesome George. He is the only survivor of his specific turtle species.
In the past all efforts to find a partner for him failed. But in July 2008 the scientists found a carved nest with nine eggs from a female tortoise. Only three of the eggs were saved thus leading to strict synthetic incubation practices to preserve more eggs in the future. L/D
DAY 08: Santa Cruz Island - Highlands / Santa Fé Island
In the morning you will visit the highlands of Santa Cruz. Its lush landscape is a welcome contrast to the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. On your way you will cross the different zones of vegetation, from the dry lower region full of cactuses to the woods of scalesia in the highlands. Points of interest are the famed lava tunnels, a fun and geologically informative visit. The trip to the highlands ends with a visit to the Twin Craters.
The vegetation around them is very special and is renowned for its approximately 300 fern species and the many sunflowers. In the afternoon you’ll visit Santa Fe Island, a small rocky peninsula covered by little Palo Santo trees and up to 6m high opuntia cacti. Inhabitants of this island are a specific species of large yellow land iguanas, the Galápagos buzzard, some blue-footed boobies and pelicans.
After the hike you can swim or snorkel in the bay in the company of sea lions and marine turtles. Finally you can observe the tropical underwater world. B/L/D
Española Island - Suarez Point – Gardener Bay
Española is the southernmost and oldest island of the Galápagos archipelago. Because of its isolated position you can explore a lot of endemic wildlife. In the morning you will have an excursion to Point Suarez, which is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago. It has a long list of species found along its cliffs and sand or pebble beaches.
In addition to five species of nesting seabirds there are the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds, Galapagos doves and Galapagos hawks. Several types of reptiles, including the marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard are unique to this island. When heavy swells are running, Point Suarez is also the site of a spectacular blowhole, with thundering spray shooting 30 yards into the air.
The walkabout on a stony path is about 2km (duration about 3 hours). Gardener Bay is on the eastern shore with turquoise colored water and a magnificent beach. Around the small islets nearby, snorkelers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of sea lions, which like to swim with you. Birds, like the endemic Hood-Mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent. B/L/D
Floreana Island - Comorant Point – Devil’s Crown – Post Office Bay
Floreana Island is perceived as one of the most exotic islands of the archipelago. At Cormorant Point you’ll land on a green olivine sand beach. Following a 100 m long path you will soon reach a lagoon with flamingoes, white-checked pintail ducks and other shorebirds.
Then you will reach Devils Crown (Corona del Diablo), a broken volcanic cone, which is one of the most beautiful places to go snorkeling in the Galápagos. You can dive or swim between riff sharks, star fishes, marine turtles, sea lions and many tropical ornamental fishes.
Afterwards you will visit the famous Post Office Bay, which keeps the legendary post barrel that whalers historically used to post their mail in. Nowadays you can leave a letter and hope that it will make its destination via another tourist. B/L/D
North Seymour Island / Santa Cruz Island - Las Bachas Beach
After a dry landing, you will have a short walk along the coast of the northernmost island of Seymour. Guests will encounter swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions and cliff crabs.
This site is also known for being a major nesting colony of blue-footed boobies and the largest colony of the magnificent frigate bird, not to be confused with the great frigate bird. You can also spot both endemic species of iguanas, the marine iguanas and land iguanas.
You will enjoy this relaxing hike around the nesting sites. In the afternoon you will visit the long sandy “Las Bachas” Beach. Here you’ll encounter sea lions, herons and marine iguanas and with some luck, penguins. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim offshore of the soft white sand beach. Snorkelling enthusiasts can explore the fascinating underwater world as well. B/L/D
Rábida Island / Bartolomé Island
Today you will make an excursion to the small volcanic island of Rábida with its dark red beach. A small path there leads you to the little lagoon, which is often visited by flamingos. On your way to this lagoon you will pass nesting pelicans and other sea birds.
The beach of Rábida Island is considered one of the most beautiful places to go snorkeling because of its huge richness of fish and sea lions. Arriving at Bartolomé you will ascend a lookout point from which you can admire the spectacular panorama of the Sullivan Bay and the famous needle shaped Pinnacle Rock.
The beaches at the foot of the Pinnacle Rock boast some fine snorkeling spots from which you can discover the marvelous underwater world with a good chance of encountering penguins or the softly gliding turtles. B/L/D
Genovesa Island - Prince Philip’s Steps – Darwin Bay
Your destination for today is Genovesa Island. Genovesa is considered one of the wildest and most untouched spots within the National Park of Galápagos. It is also known as “Bird Island” or “Tower Island”. On your way to this island you will cross the equator.
After a panga ride along the cliffs of Genovesa Island you will make a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps at a carved out of stone stair. This will lead you to a wide plateau, where you can observe large colonies of masked boobies, frigate birds, storm petrels and bahama ducks. During this easy stroll you will cross a little Scalesia wood, in which you can observe the short-eared owl.
The same path will lead you back to your boat. After lunch make a wet landing onto Tower Island at Darwin Bay for an easy stroll observing seemingly thousands of birds, mainly frigate and red footed and masked boobies. On the beach you can see the interesting spectacle how the frigates try to catch the prey of the boobies. B/L/D
South Plaza Island / Baltra - flight back to mainland
Today you will explore South Plaza Island which is the more southerly island of both Plaza Islands. It is located east of Island Santa Cruz. On this island, so full of life, you will encounter colonies of sea lions and land iguanas.
On the steep banks it is possible to see a great number of birds such as nesting tropicbirds and fork-tailed seagulls. But most of all enjoy the beautiful view from atop the steep banks or strolling along the base of the cliff. This is an extremely pleasurable experience.
The Opuntia cactus and red coral bushes grow here and the vegetation changes color according to the seasons of the year. Afterwards you will be escorted to the airport of Baltra island and from there you will fly back to the Ecuador mainland and Lima B
END OUR SERVICES.
B: Breakfast / L: Lunch / D: Dinner