Andean and Pacific discoveries

Perched on the Equator, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are where you can find a wealth of Andean heritage and wildlife. Follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps as you travel by boat between the Galápagos Islands, spotting the area’s legendary wildlife with your guides, experts in the fields of biodiversity on the islands.Then travel through Cuzco by horseback and to end your journey sleep in the Scared Valley before trekking to the Ruins of Winay Wayna to rough camp by night. Trek through some of South America’s finest trails in sub-tropical climates along the renowned Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at 2,430 meters along the mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Perú.

Start your South American discovery in the historical hub of Quito, a capital city spread across a spectacular Andean valley making for some pretty impressive viewpoints. You’ll spend a few nights here holing up in the luxurious and colonial surroundings if Casa Gangotena, situated in the flourishing historic center of the city. Spend your days in Quito exploring the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s brimming with Museums and stunning cathedrals.

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Being in the heart of the world’s longest mountain range means you’re surrounded by dramatic volcanic peaks, so we say pay a visit to Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s second highest peak. Hop on horseback and explore the breath-taking Cotopaxi National Park before heading to the coast to start your Galapagos adventure.

Next up you’ll fly to one of the world’s most famous ecological sites, the Galápagos Islands, which represent the birthplace of modern evolutionary theory. As well as the wonderful array of wildlife, these volcanic islands floating in the midst of the Pacific Ocean are some of the most startling landscapes we’ve ever laid eyes on. More akin to the moon than the palm tree strewn islands of the South Pacific Islands, the Galapagos Islands are characterized by dark volcanic rock set against incredibly clear, blue waters, it really is a photographer’s dream.

From when you land in Baltra, you’ll quickly learn that the Galápagos are all about wildlife-spotting. Once you’ve landed, visit the Charles Darwin Centre for a catch-up on the islands’ history and to meet your expert guide for the trip, before you board your catamaran boat, your very own floating home for the next few days. On this mini-cruise, explore the land and sea around the Galápagos Islands. First, you’ll be taken over to San Christobal for a walk across this easternmost island, home to the largest freshwater lake in the archipelago. On your private yacht the route around the Galapagos Islands is flexible – the recommended route for the best wildlife spotting takes you from Daphne Mayor to Seymour Norte and through Playa Santiago, Puerto Egas, Espumilla & Caleta Bucanero. Safe to say, you’re guaranteed to get up close and personal with some truly unique wildlife – aquatic and on land all alongside one of our guides to ensure you are fully educated on the area and its inhabitants. Throughout, the yacht will anchor in the various bays for a spot of snorkelling and a chance to see the flourishing underwater world around the islands.

Leaving the Galapagos Islands behind, we’ll whisk you off to Lima, the vibrant capital of Peru. Once you’ve touched down in Lima, you’ll be driven by your guide to one of our favorite city boltholes; Hotel B in the artsy district of Barranco. For art and design lovers this corner of Lima is bursting with museums and galleries and examples of colonial architecture. Lima is also the culinary hub of this great nation, so we’ll let you in on a few favorite restaurants in the city where you can dine on Ceviche, Cuy, and Lomo Saltado, washed down with a Pisco Sour. Once you explored the city, it’ll be time for you to head up into the heartland of the Andes to the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco.

At a breath-taking altitude of 3,300m above sea level, you’ll enjoy the first couple of days in Cuzco relaxing and acclimatizing to the altitude. Your base in Cuzco will be Palacio Nazarenas, a centrally located former monastery which is tucked away from the busy streets right in the heart of the city. To learn about the fascinating history of this region take a short walking tour of this ancient former Inca capital, then lounge by the pool or on one of the secluded terraces.  Setting out from Cuzco, you’ll travel by vehicle to the Sacred Valley of the Incas visiting indigenous markets and archaeological sites or explore the hills, valleys and villages surrounding Cuzco by horseback.

The following day is the start of your next challenge, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Departing from Ollantaytambo train station in the Scared Valley on the Vista dome train to Km 104 from where you begin a 3/4 hour walk through the spectacular valley to the Ruins of Winay Wayna. Our guides will set camp here beside the ruins themselves for your evening to end.

Waking up early to an hour’s walk through the cloud forest, we will reach the breath-taking views of Machu Picchu itself from above – through the impressive “Sun Gate”. Have the entire day to explore the sacred city of Machu Picchu before return by train back to Cuzco where you’ll begin your journey home.

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