From Machu Picchu to the Galápagos Islands with Hurtigruten
Price: $16,583USD Per Person
(Price per person, based on double occupancy, on cabin category EH.)
Departure Date: October 22, 2023
Return Date: November 2, 2023
Photo: Machu Picchu-Peru-Photo_Getty Images
Peruvian historical gems
Peru’s natural and cultural treasures need no introduction. Lima’s historic center is packed with the immaculately preserved architecture you’d expect from a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go back in time in Cusco as you wander its cobbled streets and take in Inca engineering and Spanish-era architecture. Traveling up the Sacred Valley, you’ll discover the enigmatic Inca citadel Machu Picchu before heading to Ecuador to visit an active volcano.
In Darwin’s footsteps
Charles Darwin’s visit to the Galápagos Islands aboard H.M.S. Beagle led to his seminal work On the Origin of Species. On your expedition cruise, you’ll follow in Darwin’s footsteps, learn about his discoveries and make a few of your own.
Your Galápagos expedition features handpicked landings where you’ll see wildlife in a wide variety of island ecosystems. See sea lions basking in the sun on Mosquera Islet and giant tortoises on San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz. Gaze at the famous land iguanas of Santa Fe and South Plaza and discover the colorful bird colonies of Española, Edén Islet, and North Seymour.
Your expedition ship – MS Santa Cruz II
MS Santa Cruz II’s crafted itineraries give you some of the best island coverage and wildlife viewing opportunities in the Galápagos. Many excursions take place at exclusive visitor sites, meaning we’ll often have entire areas to ourselves. Having multiple naturalist guides aboard Santa Cruz II also means you’ll be able to choose from a wider range of activities each day.
Your ship is also one of the few vessels operating in the Galápagos that comes equipped with a full range of exploration tools, including zodiac boats, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and paddleboards.
- Flights in economy from Lima to Cusco, and from Cusco via Lima to Quito including all taxes
- Return flights in economy class between Quito and Baltra, and Baltra and Guayaquil including all taxes
- One night in Lima, two nights in Cusco, two nights in Quito before the expedition cruise, including breakfast. Dinner on days 2-5.
- Transfers in Lima from the hotel to the airport and Quito between hotel and airport
- Transfers between Baltra Airport and ship
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water)
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
- German- and English-speaking Expedition Team who guide activities and provide educational information on board and ashore
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Use of the ship’s Science Center which has a library, microscopes, and samples
- Citizen Science program allows guests to assist with live scientific research
- Professional onboard photographer gives tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
- Use of the ship’s hot tubs and gym
- Landings, hikes, coastal exploration, and activities including kayaking, snorkeling, and our glass-bottom boat
- Complimentary wetsuit rental
- Tour Package Cuzco and Machu Picchu, as described, including excursions with lunch, train tickets, entrance fees, and transfers within Cusco
- Galápagos Islands National Park admission fee
- Transit Control Card for Galápagos Islands
- Access to airport lounge at Guayaquil Airport upon return from Galápagos Islands
What's Not Included
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
Photo: From Machu Picchu to the Galápagos Islands Map
Day 1: Arrival to Lima
Welcome to Peru, one of the most fascinating countries in South America!
Lima's history predates the Spanish colonial presence in Peru. The present-day city was founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro as the new capital of Peru, and the Viceroy proceeded to build significant churches, monasteries, and mansions here. Today, Lima´s historical center, which is packed with elegant Spanish colonial architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth exploring if you have time.
Lima is considered the food capital of Latin America, so be sure to try some local dishes. There are a great number of restaurants to choose from, with everything from the ubiquitous street food of roast chicken right up to several Michelin starred restaurants serving gourmet fare. If you fancy it, try the Peruvian national dish ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice with onion and chili.
Day 2: City of the Incas and a cultural gem
In the morning, a transfer will take you to the airport for your flight to Cusco, the city of the Incas and the so-called ‘navel of the world’. Our local guide will meet you and take you to your hotel. After check-in, enjoy a bite of lunch at the hotel before heading on a guided tour of this enigmatic and historical city.
Few places in South America can compete with the sheer magical allure of Cusco. The Inca civilization flourished here, and you can still see their Sun temple Koricancha—Cusco’s spiritual heart—forming the foundations of the impressive Santa Domingo church. The sound of musicians playing Andean pipes in the narrow, cobbled alleys will transport you back in time to before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived.
Different cultures have left their mark on Cusco. The buildings around the Plaza de Armas (the city’s central square) and its ornate Cathedral date back to Spanish colonial times. Yet just a few yards away, in an alley named Loreto, you can find Inca walls built from huge multi-cornered stone blocks with an engineering precision that would pose a challenge even today.
The Inca engineering at Sacsayhuaman is even more impressive. This 15th-century ceremonial compound is a magnificent example of military power. There you’ll find the Qenqo Amphitheater, a ritualistic site with subterranean galleries that form an underground maze; the defensive Puca Pucara, or Red Fortress; and the Inca Baths and water worship center of Tambomachay.
After you tour the highlights of this cultural and architectural gem, we’ll return to the hotel for dinner. Relax with a pisco sour (a Peruvian cocktail made from local spirits, lime juice, sugar, and egg white) and soak up the atmosphere of this special place.
Day 3: Back to a lost world
An early morning transfer will take you from your hotel to the train station at Ollantaytambo, an Inca town situated in the Sacred Valley that’s rich in archeological remains. From here, hop aboard the classic train that runs along the narrow-gauge line to Machu Picchu, passing through stunning Andean highland scenery as it heads up the valley.
Around two hours later, the little train stops at the village of Aguas Calientes, where we disembark and take a short bus ride up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. This iconic Inca stronghold is situated on a mountain top at around 11,154 ft., in a position unassailable for enemies. It was abandoned by the Inca empire and hidden by the encroaching jungle for centuries, only to be rediscovered in 1911 by the American archeologist Hiram Bingham.
Enjoy the guided tour of this so-called ‘Lost City of the Incas’. It may be this ancient empire’s most amazing urban creation, with its giant walls, terraces and ramps, which appear as though they have been cut naturally into the rock escarpments. Keep an eye out for the llamas wandering around the ruins and keeping the grass short. Lunch will be served in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we’ll return to Cusco by train and then a bus transfer. Enjoy dinner at your hotel and your second and final night in Cusco.
Day 4: Quito – city of eternal spring
The day begins with breakfast at your hotel. We then drive to Cusco Airport for the morning flight via Lima to Quito, Ecuador. You'll arrive in the afternoon.
Arrive in Quito, a city that straddles the equator, and where spring is always in the air. Beautifully situated at 9,350 ft. above sea level in a high valley, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world. Views of the nearby mountains are a constant reminder of your location in the Andes.
Quito was founded on an ancient Inca settlement and today is a bustling and modern city. But you don’t need to look too far beneath the contemporary façade to find the past, and the Old Town, for example, is a showcase of classical Spanish architecture. In fact, the city’s diligent preservation of its history warranted it to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978.
Take a stroll and visit Calle La Ronda, an age-old pedestrian street with links to poets and artists who have lived here. It’s full of shops and cafés, and there are also plenty of handicrafts for sale.
There are also several museums and beautiful churches to explore in Quito. The Basilica del Voto Nacional is a stunning neo-Gothic church in the center of the city and is the largest of its kind in South America. For fans of contemporary art, visit the home of Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, preserved as the Casa Museo Guayasamín.
As night falls, take in the sparkling city lights that extend into the surrounding hills and mountains—a truly mesmerizing sight!
Day 5: Cotopaxi Volcano
Today, see one of Ecuador’s natural wonders up close as we visit an active volcano and walk to a height of almost 12,800 ft.
First, we’ll stop in at the photogenic Sangolqui open-air market, where you can sample different Andean specialties. The local indigenous people sell their produce here, and you´ll see colorful legumes, fruits, and vegetables. At the market you can also purchase clothing and other handicrafts, which will give you the opportunity to chat with the friendly stallholders. Cotopaxi National Park, set amid gorgeous mountains, is only an hour-and-a-half drive from Quito. This mostly treeless landscape is characteristic of the Andean moorlands, or páramo—you might even see herds of llamas roaming wild. Birdlife includes the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird, and with some luck, the majestic condor. We’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, a beautiful lake that mirrors the dramatic surrounding peaks.
Meaning ‘Neck of the Moon’ in the local Quechua language, at 20,000 ft. high, Cotopaxi has an almost perfectly conical form and is one of the highest volcanoes in the world. Its yawning crater measures 2,620 ft. and features one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. The first recorded eruption of Cotopaxi was in 1534, terrifying both locals and conquistadors alike, and the last major one occurred in 1904. For lunch, you’ll enjoy delicious traditional dishes prepared by some of the region’s best chefs in San Agustin del Callo. In the late afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel and enjoy a nice dinner before calling it a night.
Photo: Cotopaxi Volcano-Ecuador-Photo_Hurtigruten
Day 6: Your cruise begins
After breakfast, we’ll go to the Quito Airport for our morning flight that takes us across the Pacific Ocean to our adventure. After only a couple of hours, we land at the Galápagos Ecological Airport on Baltra Island. This airport runs on renewable power and is said to be the world’s ‘greenest’—most environmentally friendly—airport!
After landing in the spectacular Galápagos Archipelago, you’ll head straight to the port and your home away from home for the next few days: our comfortable expedition ship, Santa Cruz II.
We start our oceanic expedition with a short, mandatory safety briefing. Check in and get settled before meeting for lunch in the restaurant, where the captain will propose a toast and wish everyone an exciting adventure. The cruise gets underway right after lunch. Our first stop is only four nautical miles away, at the southern tip of Mosquera Islet. This small piece of volcanic uplift sits between the larger islands of Baltra and North Seymour. A long, narrow sandbank is surrounded by lava reefs, home to one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the Galápagos.
You’ll take a small boat (RIB) to land ashore, where you’ll see sea lions basking in the sun. This will be your first glimpse of the amazing wildlife diversity and richness of these islands, and the islet is filled with many seabirds, including Blue-footed Boobies, as well as Sally Lightfoot crabs. The walk is easy—only a few hundred yards across flat, sandy dunes. As we explore, you’ll learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Galápagos.
Day 7: Visiting the giants
Today we'll dock in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the archipelago’s capital. It’s a 40-minute drive to Cerro Colorado, where you’ll visit a breeding center for the highly endangered giant tortoise. This Galápagos icon has a natural lifespan estimated at over 100 years.
The Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve is working to boost the numbers of these giant reptiles and bring them back from the brink of extinction. They live in conditions similar to their natural habitat and are able to thrive here. The tortoises amble around under the cover of a 15-acre forest, which is also home to dozens of other endemic species, including the San Cristobal Mockingbird and the San Cristobal lava lizard. In the afternoon, our small boats (RIBs) take you to Punta Pitt at the eastern tip of the island. This unusual point consists of an eroded volcanic cone. Take the trail here for spectacular views of the coastline. Punta Pitt is the only site in the Galápagos where you might see three species of boobies. The Blue-footed Boobie is easily recognized blue feet!
Enjoy a nature walk on land or explore the coast aboard one of our small boats (RIBs). The snorkeling and swimming are excellent in the clear water here. You might see sea lions performing underwater acrobatics over the reef, so remember to bring your swimsuit and some good walking shoes.
Photo: Kayaking-Blue-footed Booby-Galápagos-Photo_Ashton Ray Hansen
Day 8: Blissful beauty and evolving iguanas
After breakfast, we'll head for an idyllic white-sand beach on the island of Santa Fe for a scenic nature walk. A colony of sea lions calls this island home, as well as the endemic Barrington land iguana, which is usually spotted sitting among giant prickly pear cacti or lounging on rocks in the sun.
The island has a blissful feeling about it, and we further enjoy it by swimming or snorkeling offshore from our small boats (RIBs). If you want to get a peek at the underwater world, consider joining a ride in a glass-bottom boat. Or, take out a kayak and explore this beautiful and wild island at your own pace. After our excellent onboard chefs whip up a nice, long lunch, we’ll head to our next destination: South Plaza Island. On the way, we’ll pass through a channel where turquoise waters line the white-sand beaches, which in turn contrast sharply with the black lava rocks. Along the shore, we might spot frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and shearwaters, gliding on the breeze.
South Plaza Island may be very small, but it hosts a stunning array of flora, particularly the flowering succulent sesuvium and dense patches of prickly pears. Land iguanas laze sleepily by the shore, while marine iguanas slip in and out of the water. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a hybrid of the two—the result of intergeneric breeding between the two subspecies—evolution in action!
Day 9: Giant turtles and island activities
This morning we’ll head ashore at Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the archipelago, situated on Santa Cruz Island. Here, we drop in on the Charles Darwin Research Station, where over 200 scientists and volunteers are working to conserve the wildlife of the Galápagos.
Visit the breeding enclosures where you can see baby tortoises in incubators, and look upon Darwin’s famous finches with your own eyes—the birds he used as a basis for his theory of evolution.
You can try your hand at using a trapiche, a sugarcane grinder used to extract the juice, which you can drink or ferment into liquor. To visit the sugar cane mill you can take a bus or ride a bicycle, if you’re feeling more active! Then, after experiencing the forest of Opuntia Cactus Forest, sometimes called the Galápagos prickly pear, we’ll enjoy lunch in the highlands. This ecosystem is entirely different from the coastal plains, with green foliage and a moist, cooler climate. It’s also where the most giant tortoises roam. You’ll have the opportunity of seeing these giants in their natural habitat. They are certainly not hard to spot lumbering around, munching on grass, and wallowing in pools.
After lunch, you can continue to seek out tortoises in the region or choose from several different activities, including mountain biking or kayaking in Tortuga Bay. You could also hike the 1.3 miles to a beautiful bay and stop at Playa Brava, a beautiful snow-white–sand beach that’s a nesting site for green turtles.
On the same walk, Playa Mansa is a secluded natural mangrove cove, with clear and tranquil waters ideal for swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking. Or simply enjoy the view from the shade of a mangrove! Conservation measures limit the number of guests in Tortuga Bay, so be sure to coordinate your interest in attending with the Expedition Team.
Photo: Nature Hike-Galápagos-Photo_Getty Images
Day 10: A conservation success story
At four million years old, Española is said to be one of the oldest islands and is the farthest south in the archipelago. A magnet for birders, almost the entire world population of Waved Albatross breeds here between January and March. Be on the lookout for Nazca Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tailed Gulls, which are all present here. Keep your eyes peeled for the Española lava lizard, which has a strikingly red hue. You could also spot the very colorful marine iguanas, which are an endemic subspecies found only here.
They did have some very good wildlife news here in 2020 when a rare tortoise was found to have sired over 900 children. Diego, who is over 100 years old, was on loan from San Diego Zoo, and may have almost singlehandedly saved his subspecies from extinction. His remarkable achievement earned him retirement in Española with his extended family. He is expected to live to around 150 years of age! You’ll also get to witness the famous blowhole, El Soplador (meaning ‘the blower’), which blasts water 75 ft. into the air. The effect is caused by waves crashing into a lava fissure at high tide and blowing the water out through a crevice. Afterward, we’ll head back on board the ship for another lovely and relaxed lunch.
In the afternoon, we visit the postcard-worthy coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby Osborn Islet. These are beautiful settings for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches, as you take time to relax or slip into the water for some excellent snorkeling. Kayaking activities are available here, too.
Day 11: A small slice of Eden
Eden Islet, off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, is a sliver of volcanic cone poking up through the sea. The wildlife here is abundant. The clear, shallow waters are great for spotting Galapagos green turtles, rays, and friendly reef sharks. We bring the snorkeling gear, so remember your swimsuit if you want to do some reef exploration. Weather permitting, you can also take a trip aboard our glass-bottom boat or paddle along the coast of Eden on a kayak. Look out for the frigatebirds on shore and their characteristic rubbery red throats.
Later, after lunch on the ship, we’ll head to the island of North Seymour. This small and mostly flat piece of land was created when a volcanic eruption lifted up the seabed, which is why it looks so smooth and eroded. There’s a small forest of silver-gray palo santo trees (also known as Saint’s Wood) just above the landing site. These trees are typically leafless and remain dormant for half of the year, waiting for the rains as their cue to burst into bloom. The wood is famously used to make incense—see if you can detect the scent!
This is a great site to observe colonies of Blue-footed Boobies, frigatebirds, and Swallow-tailed Gulls. Sea lions and marine iguanas also call North Seymour home—they are more than happy to feast on the sea life found in the rich waters here. When a young Darwin first laid eyes on marine iguanas, he described them as ‘clumsy lizards’ and ‘hideous-looking’. We beg to differ but see for yourself!
Day 12: End of the expedition
As your expedition cruise comes to a close, it’s time to bid farewell to the bounteous wildlife and amazing scenery of one of the world’s most incredible nature destinations. We’ll also say farewell to our wonderful crew and Expedition Team as we will disembark at Baltra Island.
A transfer will take you to the airport, where your waiting flight will bring you to Guayaquil. Upon arrival in Guayaquil, a representative will assist with the international flight connection. Alternatively, continue from Guayaquil to Quito to catch your international flight from there.