Machu Picchu to the Galapagos
Explore the wonders of the Galapagos and the mysteries of Machu Picchu on this exclusive small group Columbia Alumni Travel Study Program. Limited to just 20 participants, this intimate travel experience promises to be an exhilarating discovery of lost worlds.
They rank as two of South America’s greatest treasures, and a small group tour is the natural selection for both: the enigmatic ruins at Machu Picchu, where we spend the night at an intimate on-site hotel, and the fascinating Galapagos Islands, Darwin’s “living laboratory,” where we cruise aboard a privately chartered boat. It’s an exhilarating discovery of lost worlds.
Begin your journey in Lima, where you’ll visit the Larco Herrera Museum and enjoy a local city tour. Spend two nights in the Sacred Valley, exploring this region of important Inca sites and indigenous villages. Travel by train for an unforgettable excursion to Machu Picchu, the stunning “Lost City of the Incas.” In a small group, move nimbly through the ruins, and enjoy an overnight stay at the on-site Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge affording you virtually private access. Returning to Cuzco, explore this archaeological hub of the Americas and enjoy lunch in the home of a local family. Fly to Quito and then to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, where you board a privately chartered yacht. For the next five days, explore the islands’ astonishing wildlife which you’ll discover on guided nature walks and while swimming and snorkeling. Discover the unique geologic features and natural history of the islands, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station before returning to Quito on the mainland for the final night of your journey.
Dates & Prices
Trip Dates: January 21 - February 4, 2014
Day 1: Depart U.S. for Lima, Peru
Day 2: Arrive Lima
Upon arrival in Lima very early this morning, we transfer to our hotel for breakfast and to rest until noon (rooms are ready for our early arrival). Then we tour the Larco Herrera Museum, whose ceramics collection includes a renowned set of erotic pre-Columbian pots. This afternoon we take a city tour of the Peruvian capital followed by dinner at local restaurant. B,D
Day 3: Lima/Cuzco/Sacred Valley
Today we fly to Cuzco, where upon arrival we stop for brunch then continue on to the beautiful Sacred Valley, a region of Inca sites and indigenous villages. After visiting the Indian market at Pisac, we reach our hotel mid-afternoon. Before dinner we attend a native Offering to the Earth ceremony. B,L,D
Day 4: Sacred Valley
Today’s tour begins in the Incan farming town of Chinchero, where residents live much as their ancestors did, wearing traditional clothing and engaging in age-old customs. Next we tour the important salt pans in the lovely colonial town of Maras, where we also have lunch. We spend the afternoon exploring Ollantaytambo, a living town and site of massive Incan ruins that continue to inspire wonder to this day. B,L,D
Day 5: Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu
Early this morning we travel by train for the 1½-hour journey to Aguas Calientes, where we board a bus for Machu Picchu. Our first guided visit of the stunning “Lost City of the Incas” begins late this morning. Thanks to its small size, our group will move nimbly through the ruins and have the leisure to absorb the beauty and mystery of this site whose original purpose has been lost to time. Following our tour, we check in at the 31-room Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, just 20 yards from the entrance to the ruins. While most visitors see Machu Picchu on a day trip, we have the rare privilege of spending the night and seeing the ruins after all the tourists have left. B,L,D
Day 6: Machu Picchu/Cuzco
Today before the day trippers arrive we take our second guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Then we return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and free time before our mid-afternoon train to Cuzco. B,L
Day 7: Cuzco
This morning we tour the archaeological hub of the Americas, the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and UNESCO World Heritage site. We stop at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an Incan masterpiece, then enjoy lunch in the home of a gracious Cuzco family. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure. B,L
Day 8: Cuzco/Quito
Early today we fly via Lima to Quito, arriving late afternoon. This evening we have a briefing and dinner at our hotel. B,D
Day 9: Quito/Baltra/Galapagos Cruising – Santa Cruz Island
Our Galapagos adventure begins with an early departure for Baltra, where we board the privately chartered M/Y Coral II. After a briefing and lunch on board we head to Santa Cruz, where we visit a lagoon frequented by flamingos; ride a train up Dragon Hill for views of the bay; and take a dinghy ride to see land iguanas and Pacific green sea turtles, among other local residents. Back on board we enjoy a welcome cocktail party and dinner. B,L,D
Day 10: Galapagos Cruising – Rabida and Santiago Islands
This morning we make a wet landing on a red-sand volcanic beach visited by sea lions, brown pelicans, boobies, and nine species of Darwin’s finches. Next up: a dinghy ride to a nearby reef for snorkeling (if we choose). This afternoon’s visit to Santiago reveals a landscape of tuffstone layers and lava flows. B,L,D
Day 11: Galapagos Cruising – Fernandina and Isabela Islands
At Fernandina this morning we come face-to-face with the islands’ largest colony of marine iguanas, plus flightless cormorants, sea lions, and Galapagos penguins. This afternoon we visit Tagus Cove on Isabela, the largest of the 13 major Galapagos islands. B,L,D
Day 12: Galapagos Cruising – Bartolomé and Santa Cruz Islands
On our first stop today we see a variety of volcanic formations on a guided walk to the summit. At Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz this afternoon we ride a dinghy through the primeval mangrove to observe marine turtles, white tipped reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and yellow rays. B,L,D
Day 13: Santa Cruz Island/Guayaquil/Quito
This morning we see interpretive displays on Galapagos geology, marine and animal life, and climate at the Charles Darwin Research Station. After some free time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora we fly from Baltra back to Quito (via Guayaquil). B
Nestled in a valley surrounded by staggering Andes peaks, Quito boasts the largest historic center in the Americas and was the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site. We discover this magnificent capital on today’s tour, including the main square of Plaza Grande, the Presidential Plaza, and San Francisco Church. After lunch at a local restaurant we visit Middle of the World Monument, where we can straddle two hemispheres. Tonight we toast our exhilarating adventure at a farewell dinner. B,L,D
Day 15: Depart for U.S.
This morning we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain. Also, there are both wet and dry landings in the Galapagos. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. In addition, Cuzco’s high altitude (11,150 feet) could pose problems for travelers with certain health conditions. Please consult your physician if you have concerns.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included
Tour Price Includes:
- Round-trip air transportation from select US cities; all flights within itinerary
- 3 nights’ accommodations: 4 nights aboard privately chartered Superior First Class boat M/Y Coral II; 9 nights in Deluxe and Superior First Class hotels
- 34 meals: 14 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
- Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees; Galapagos National Park fee of $100
- Services of local Professional Tour Directors; experienced naturalists aboard M/Y Coral II
- Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
- Luggage handling for one bag per person
- Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
What’s not included:
Taxes; passport, visas and associated fees; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; excess baggage charges on aircraft; transfers and baggage handling to/from hotel on day of arrival and/or departure if you have booked as a "land only" participant or if you are arriving earlier or later than and/or departing earlier or later than the scheduled group transfer(s); any overnight on land due to flight schedule(s); meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services not specifically mentioned in the “Included Features” section of the program brochure.