Jewels of South America: Machu Picchu, Amazon & Galapagos Tour

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Total Trip:

13 Days
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Countries Visited:

Peru, Galapagos / Ecuador
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Places Visited:

Cusco, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Machu Pichu, Aguas Calientes, Amazon Rainforest, Galapagos Islands, San Cristobal Island, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Espanola Island,

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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
In this alluring Machu Picchu, Amazon and Galapagos tour, connect three iconic South American highlights, destinations shrouded in mystery and dancing with enchantment. A lost city, a thick enigmatic jungle, the endemic world of volcanic islands on the equator... each destination blurs into the surreal as you travel between Peru and Ecuador. Cultural and natural history combine as this handcrafted luxury tour unveils the best of a continent, culminating in a four-day cruise through the Galapagos

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Walking Through a World Heritage City

Cusco's streets blend the tales of indigenous tribes and colonial conquerors, the two histories coming together as you explore the city on foot. Spanish palaces reveal a pomp and opulence while ancient Incan buildings suggest mystery and culture lost from the world. You'll be picked up at the airport and transferred to a five-star boutique hotel in the heart of the city. Relax, enjoy the atmosphere that flickers through the town, and have a welcome lunch with your guide. Then head out on a tour of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that blends intimate detail with impressive scale. Start in the center, an area dominated by colonial relics, then marvel at Saksaywamam, a large stone citadel that was once the heart of Incan culture. The afternoon tour will combine the city's major highlights before you enjoy a relaxed evening at leisure.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Lunch

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Day 2

Exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Incan ruins cascade out from Cusco, the last remnants of a civilization winding across mountains and into sweeping valleys. Today you discover the finest collection of ruins outside Machu Picchu. Huge circles of stone fill the Sacred Valley, hypnotic from a distance and even more inspiring when you inspect the detail. As your guide narrates you're able to sense and feel what life might have been like during their time. As a contrast, the small towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo reveal life in a historic colonial town. Charming buildings hang over a central square, and there's many colorful market stalls and shops to explore. This full-day tour is led by a private driver and guide with lunch included.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 3

First Impressions of the Ancient Wonder

Domineering peaks gaze down as you take the train from Cusco, every mile leading you deeper into a wild mountainous landscape. Keep ascending, walking the final steps until you reach the Sun Gate for those first unforgettable views of Machu Picchu. It lays out like a dream, neat rows of stones filling the green plateau. Slowly you walk, heading past the llamas and into the heart of this perfectly-preserved city. It's as if the whole city is waiting, frozen in time as it expects its inhabitants to return. Today you're guided around the major Machu Picchu sites and offered a narrative that lies beneath the stone. But there's so much to take in; ceremonial baths and the Sacred Plaza, the carved niches of the Sacristy, the marvelous Principal Temple, and then more outstanding views from Funerary Rock. You spend the afternoon at Machu Picchu before returning downhill and spending the night in Aguas Calientes. Visit the Peru tours page on Zicasso for more ideas on Machu Picchu tours.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 4

Another Day to Explore Machu Picchu

Early risers are rewarded as Machu Picchu is quiet during the morning hours. Dawn light paints the stone bewitching colors, and iconic photos can be taken without interruption from other tourists. Today you enter without a guide and can explore the streets and temples before they begin to get crowded. Those feeling energetic can make the steep climb up Wayna Picchu at the back of the ruins, where you're treated to stunning panoramas of the lost city and its mountain backdrop. Return to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Cusco where you spend the night at a hotel in the heart of the old city.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Colonial History in Ecuador

Cusco is far from the only South American history where Incas clashed with Spanish conquerors. Sensing danger, the Incas destroyed the city of Quito before the colonialists could arrive. So hiding underneath your feet in Ecuador's capital are more fabulous tales of indigenous tribes. You fly to Quito via Lima and land in the late-afternoon, where you're greeted at the airport and transferred to a luxury hotel in the heart of the old city. Your balcony overlooks the central plaza and historic streets of intrigue. There should be time to take a wander and explore the fascinating facades of the buildings, many of them reflecting a rich tapestry of imported styles. Dine alfresco on a famously atmospheric street before retiring to the hotel and watching the city wind down from your balcony.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Following the River in the Jungle

Mysterious sounds arrive from the canopy as you canoe into the Amazon. A cacophony of howls from a monkey troop, the elegant call of an endemic bird, ambient tweets from a branch in the distance gloom... these sounds indicate where you're heading, into the world's largest rainforest and wilderness. You first drive from Quito to Shell, a small town on the edge of the trees, where it's a 35-minute micro flight into the thick jungle. Transfer to a traditional canoe and an indigenous tribesman takes you further into the enigma and myth of the Amazon. A thousand layers of green tumble across your panorama and there's little sound of anything but nature and the paddle. Like the first view from the Sun Gate, this two-hour river journey is an unforgettable introduction to a world famous wonder. Arrive at a luxury lodge and check into your wooden-framed room. Wildlife calls to you as you relax on the balcony and dinner is served to the immersive sounds of the jungle.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Flight

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 7 - 8

Luxury and Wildlife Beneath the Canopy

The Ecuadorian Amazon offers perhaps the easiest and most luxurious escape into the world's greatest wilderness. Your lodge effortlessly blends into its raw surroundings, but there is comfort and elegance you'll struggle to find elsewhere in the Amazon. All meals are included, served in a spacious dining room that's occasionally visited by endemic birds. Indigenous people are your hosts and guides, your helping hand in revealing the beauty and complexity of the Amazon. From lighting fires without matches to eliciting soap from leaves, these guides illustrate the local lifestyles of those that inhabit the rainforest.

You have a private guide who will discuss and create a menu of activities based on your preferences. Take canoe rides through the rivers in traditional craft, watching out for the flickering of vibrant birds and the appearance of stealthy marine hunters. Hike along trails and learn about the endemic flora that hides beneath the canopy. Village elders shake your hand while strange capybaras appear at the riverbank. Walk to viewpoints that reveal the sheer scale of the jungle where local communities invite you for lunch and drinks made from unusual fruit. Learn traditional hunting techniques like using a blowgun or join local women in preparing snacks from the jungle. For these two days, you can focus your time towards the indigenous community or the endemic wildlife found within the trees.  All meals are also included during your stay here.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 9

A Dramatic Journey Out of the Amazon

Leave the Amazon via a different route, taking another river and watching as the canopy's density slowly rescinds. There's never a quiet moment in the Amazon, and even as you traverse the fringes of the jungle, there's a great chance to see wildlife. A short flight takes you back to Quito where you're transferred to a spa hotel for some luxurious soaking after the jungle experience. Relax in the pools and enjoy a massage as you return to the modern world. But there's still wildlife abound. Llamas roam the gardens and are known to have a peek through the cottage windows. A private airport transfer is included, and you stay at one of the closest hotels to the airport.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 10

Tortoises and a First Night on the Water

After a short transfer you fly from Quito and land in the Galapagos Islands, where you head straight to your yacht, one of the archipelago's most luxurious boats. The cabins are amongst the largest of any boat in the Galapagos, and there're three naturalist guides on board. Have a look around; admire the large sundeck and its views over cliffs filled with seabirds, go to the lounge for welcome drinks and a briefing from the captain, then enjoy your first lunch in the restaurant. After lunch, you spend the afternoon at Cerro Colorado, a breeding center for the world's biggest giant tortoises. Nestled amongst the thick deciduous forest, these tortoises can be distinguished by their shells, with each particular to the island it came from. There are ten endemic giant tortoises sub-species in the Galapagos (at one time there was 15). You'll also see the peculiar San Cristobal lava lizard and encounter an eclectic variety of birds. Return to the yacht for some relaxed time before a sumptuous three-course dinner.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Cruise

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 11

Sea Lions, Boobies, and More Iconic Wildlife

Wake on the eastern tip of San Cristobal, anchored beside a beach consumed by the cacophonous grunts of bachelor sea lions. After breakfast, you tiptoe past their boisterous antics and ascend along a rugged trail. Both frigate species are found here, and there's a good chance of spotting their strange appeals for a mate. Males wait patiently with inflated bright-red chests, presenting them to females who fly above. Keep walking and you find another bizarre bird, hundreds of red-footed boobies nesting on the remains of an ash cone. Red feet dance to a strange beat, the males hoping to show that theirs are brighter and healthier than their rivals. Following the walk, you see another side of this Punta Pitt wildlife site. Snorkel from the shore and get first glimpses of the marine world, a rainbow of colors swarming around corals and abundant reef. Reef sharks might be spotted, along with stealthy rays or sea turtles.

After the morning activities, there're a few hours of tranquil time on the boat. Enjoy the buffet lunch, read a book on the sundeck, relax in the jacuzzi, or snooze on one of the sun-loungers. The next excursion is to Cerro Brujo, a white-coralline beach that glistens in the afternoon sun. Sunbathers aren't alone here. There're a few Galapagos sea lions also basking on the sand. An easy walk offers great views of sea and shore birds; and then you can ride in a glass-bottom boat for great opportunities to spot sharks. Return to onboard to watch the sunset with a drink before dinner in the restaurant.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Cruise

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 12

Marine Worlds and White Beaches

This Eastern Galapagos itinerary explores the oldest of the islands, those most evolved and beaten by the weather. Waves have transformed volcanic cliffs into fine white sand, and you'll visit the best Galapagos beaches as well as encounter the most iconic bird species. This morning you visit Punta Suarez on Espanola Island, where you wander across lava terrain to spot the breeding ground of the critically endangered waved albatross. Only 25,000 can be found in the world, and they all nest here. Blue-footed boobies and swallow-tail gulls also hang on these cliffs, while the rocks along the shore are dotted with red-green marine iguanas.

Spend the afternoon at Gardner Bay, an almost blinding white beach that's also a favorite place for sea lions. They don't bite, although they will twist their necks and inquisitively stare as you arrive. Endemic mockingbirds and Darwin's finches provide a diminutive contrast to sea lion bulk, fluttering across the endemic flora along the beach. And high in the sky soar Galapagos hawks, the apex predator waiting to betray an iguana's camouflage. There's outstanding snorkeling from the beach plus the chance to kayak in the bay, a memorable option when the sea lions are playing in the shallows.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Cruise

included

Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast

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Day 13

Departure

Machu Picchu, the Amazon, the Galapagos, and now back home. But before you leave there's a few farewells to make. Stop at the Charles Darwin Research Station for a last experience with giant tortoises. Say goodbye to the sea lions that hang on the jetty as you transfer to Baltra Airport. Then wave farewell to Ecuador as you land in Quito and take your international return flight.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Marvel at the lost city of Machu Picchu and spend two days at these incredible Incan ruins
  • Discover more indigenous history with a journey through the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Wander through the charming streets of Old Quito, the world's first ever World Heritage Site
  • Ride downriver into the thick jungle canopy of the Amazon, a world of mystery slowly enveloping your traditional canoe
  • Combine luxury with wildlife exploration at a sumptuous Ecuadorian jungle lodge, where the sounds of the wild flicker through to your balcony
  • Spend four days cruising through the Galapagos on the luxury Yacht La Pinta
  • Lounge on the archipelago's finest beaches, with the sunbathing space shared with vast colonies of sea lions
  • Giant tortoises welcome you to the Galapagos and there are more rare reptiles to find, like land and marine iguanas
  • Discover the nesting sites of iconic birds like giant frigates, red-footed boobies, and Galapagos hawks
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Detailed Description

South America's three revered highlights are laced in the mystique of history. They're the places of myth and legend, locations that struggle to seem real as they dance before your eyes. Machu Picchu, a lost city, an ancient site seemingly left in perfect state for its people to return. Then the Amazon, where strange wildlife and atmospheric calls arrive from beneath a thick jungle awning. And the Galapagos Islands, exemplars of evolution and dramatic showcases of nature's historical theater. These three unique destinations combine on this handcrafted luxury tour. Five-star accommodation and private guides accompany you in Peru and Ecuador's Amazon, before four days on the luxury Yacht La Pinta take you sailing through the Galapagos. Then some additional treats wrap their charm around the itinerary, like the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the ancient city of Quito.

Take the train and then climb the hill and the first views of Machu Picchu come like a dream. The old Incan city stands perfectly preserved and on the first day you're wowed by how pristine it's been left. So return the next morning and soak up the detail, every street etched with the intimate detail of a forgotten culture. In Peru, you'll see more Incan ruins in the Sacred Valley and World Heritage Cusco. From here you fly to Ecuador and overnight in Quito, a UNESCO-designated city filled with odes to Spanish colonial times.

Now the Amazon, a short flight and a traditional canoe taking you beneath the thick green canopy. Settle into a luxury lodge and relax to the sound of strange birds tweeting from hidden branches. Private indigenous tribes create a program of activities, including meeting local communities, canoeing along mysterious rivers, hiking to lookout points, and discovering the eclectic wildlife of the trees. With the elegant lodge as your base, it's an easy and idyllic showcase of the jungle's tropical beauty. Return to Quito on day nine and overnight in a spa before your cruise begins.

Yacht La Pinta is one of the islands' finest luxury boats, offering space and comfort but also intimate encounters with the characters of the archipelago. Giant tortoises come first as you fly to San Cristobal, followed by sea lions sunbathing on white-sand beaches and marine iguanas nesting along cliffs. Visit the bird paradise of Punta Pitt, the only place on the island where you'll find all three booby species plus the magnificent frigate. Then enjoy a day exploring the sites of Espanola Island, with marine and land activities offering an iconic snapshot of what the Galapagos has to offer. Before returning home, there's a chance to stop at the Charles Darwin Research Center and see how evolution has shaped the shells of different tortoises. While these three world-famous destinations are popular for tourism, this handcrafted Machu Picchu, Amazon and Galapagos tour ensures you have your space to explore.

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Starting Price

$9745 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is  customizable for your   private travel.

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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip

The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a  custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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