Current as of: April 25, 2024 - 04:45

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Machu Picchu & Galapagos Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures, Small Ship Cruises
  • Destination: Ecuador, Peru
  • Programmes: Culture, Small Ship Cruises
  • Activity Level:

    2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 14 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: APG

Trip Overview

Discover the Lost City of the Incas in Peru and the Enchanted Isles of Ecuador

This fascinating trip combines two truly outstanding places in South America. Flying into the Peruvian highlands, we explore Cuzco, a city replete with Inca and colonial architecture. A beautiful train ride through mountains and cloud forest then takes us to the extraordinary lost city of Machu Picchu. Then we visit Ecuador’s Galapagos archipelago, one of the leading ecological sites in the world, with incredible fauna on land and sea plus striking volcanic landscapes. We explore the islands from the comfort of our small catamarn, which grants us access to areas larger boats cannot reach.

At a Glance

  • Six nights in hotels, seven nights on a catamaran in air-conditioned cabins
  • Optional Inca Trail day walk: request on booking
  • Group normally 2 to 14 plus local leader/staff. Minimum age: 16
  • Spends time at altitude
  • Travel by flight, minibus, train and catamaran

Highlights

  • Visit Machu Picchu to discover the incredible Lost City of the Incas
  • Discover historic Cuzco, former capital of the vast Inca empire
  • Optional day walk on the Inca Trail at no extra cost (please request at the time of booking)
  • Spend seven nights on a small catamaran in the Galapagos Islands
  • Enjoy the wildlife and volcanic landscapes of the Galapagos

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

Please note, it is essential you read the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu regulations in the Important Information section of the Trip Notes before you book this trip.

This trip is great for wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and those with an interest in history or geology. Though you do not need to be particularly fit, there will be some walking on rough ground and sharp volcanic rocks due to the volcanic nature of the Galapagos Islands. The ability to withstand high temperatures and to swim will maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Due to local regulations, we have specific time slots for making our landings and site visits. There is usually very little disruption to the schedule, but this can mean little room for deviation in the event of poor weather or other circumstances.

Landings: Each day in the Galapagos will feature a mixture of walking, snorkelling and exploring the islands by boat. To get closer to the designated landing sites on each of the islands, we disembark into small pangas (motorised dinghies). Landings are divided into two types – wet and dry. For dry landings, the panga will take you right up to a landing stage or rocky outcrop where you can disembark without getting wet. However, where there is no landing stage, the panga will stop close to a beach and you will be expected to walk through shallow water (generally no more than ankle-deep) to the shore. The leader will always advise on conditions prior to leaving and it is possible to skip any excursion if you would rather relax on the boat.

Snorkelling: There are plenty of snorkelling opportunities in the Galapagos and this is one of the best ways to experience the marine life. A mask and snorkel will reveal an exciting underwater world with sea lions, rays, turtles, marine iguanas, and a colourful array of fish. On most days, there will be one or two snorkelling sessions. Snorkelling in the Galapagos does not require any special skills; however, at times, you will be snorkelling in open water where there are fairly strong currents. Before going into the water, the guide will evaluate the strength of the currents and the general sea condition to ensure they are right for a safe and enjoyable activity. The dinghy will remain very close at all times; if you get tired or feel like coming out of the water, you only have to raise your arm and they will pick you up so you can rest for a while before going back in or stay in the dinghy until it is time to return to the boat. Snorkelling equipment (snorkel, fins and masks) is provided; however, it is advisable to wear a wetsuit, which not only protects you from the cold but also makes floating much easier without as much effort.

Travellers: We offer this Galapagos cruise in conjunction with our Ecuadorian partners, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than Exodus’ minimum age for this trip.

This trip spends considerable time at altitude, Cuzco lies 11,155ft (3,400m) above sea level.

Group

We have a Peruvian tour leader for days 1 to 5 of the itinerary, up to departure from Cuzco. In Quito, we have the services of a local representative for the airport transfers and the city tour. In the Galapagos Islands, a local naturalist guide, registered with the Galapagos National Park Authority, accompanies us on the boat.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 2

Max group size: 10

Itinerary

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Land Only

  • Start City: Cuzco
  • End City: Guayaquil Airport

Flight Inclusive

  • Start City: London
  • End City: London

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Cuzco; afternoon walking tour

Welcome to Cuzco! Set high amid the altiplano, the imperial city of the Incas, was the centre of a vast empire, which stretched from Colombia to Chile at its peak. After Spanish conquistadors invaded the city, they started building on top of the Inca structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of Spanish colonial and Inca styles. This afternoon, we have a short walking tour around the compact city centre to get our bearings.

It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival in Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (11,155ft/3,400m).

There is a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Day 2
Free morning in Cuzco; optional Sacred Valley tour

This morning has been left free to explore the city in more detail. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people watching, and the Koricancha Sun Temple, in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery, is worth a visit. Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. After lunch, we transfer into the Sacred Valley to overnight in the charming town of Ollantaytambo with an option to visit the ruins above the town.

Alternatively, you may wish to take an optional visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the incredible ruins at Pisac. Various other optional activities can be arranged from Cuzco ending in the Sacred Valley – your leader has the details.

Accommodation: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Train to Aguas Calientes; optional "One-day Inca Trail" hike via Wiñay Wayna ruins

This morning, we take the train to Aguas Calientes, a lively town in the valley below Machu Picchu. This afternoon and the rest of the day is free for visits to the hot springs or shopping in the large craft market. Our Machu Picchu entrance ticket is valid for tomorrow; however, should you wish to visit the ruins today as well, you need to purchase an extra ticket. Please inform your leader at the start of the tour if you would like to purchase an extra entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.

For those who wish to hike to Machu Picchu, there is an optional full-day trek that meets with the final section of the Inca Trail. The trail starts at Km104 and climbs 1.25mi (2km) to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, from where we continue to the Sun Gate for the iconic view of Machu Picchu and its magnificent backdrop. Although this optional hike is available at no extra cost, it must be pre-booked since numbers are strictly limited (and a permit is required). You should request this at the time of booking and note the first part of the hike is a steep climb.

A packed lunch is included today.

Accommodation: Hotel Hatun Inti Classic (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4
Morning tour of Machu Picchu; afternoon return to Cuzco

To beat the day-trippers from Cuzco, we get an early start for our 30-minute bus drive up the winding road to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is an architectural and engineering marvel with a mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it, the Incas left no records, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.

Please note, exploring the ruins involves a reasonable amount of walking, including up and down steep and uneven stone steps.

After our tour, we return to Aguas Calientes for lunch and the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30min). From Ollantaytambo, we continue by private bus to Cuzco (1hr 30min) and a well-deserved rest.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Andina Koricancha (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Fly to Quito

We depart Cuzco on a flight to Quito via Lima. Quito (9,350ft/2,850m) has one of the best-preserved colonial centres in South America and plenty of vibrant markets to explore.

Accommodation: Hotel Casona de la Ronda (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Quito city tour

We have a half-day city tour of Quito, one of the smaller and more attractive of the South American capitals. In the western cordillera of the Andes, it is the second highest capital in the world and, as always at altitude, it is a good idea not to do anything too strenuous at first!

We explore the colonial centre with its narrow streets and hanging balconies. The tour usually includes the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop palaces plus La Compañia Church with its impressive gold-leaf decorations. A short drive brings us to El Panecillo Hill for a panoramic view of the city and to admire the 145ft (45m) tall statue of the Virgen de Quito, the only original Madonna with wings. Please note, entrance fees are not included.

Accommodation: Hotel Casona de la Ronda (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Fly to San Cristóbal Airport and visit Interpretation Centre

Morning: Fly to Galapagos
Transfer to Quito Airport and fly to San Cristóbal Airport in the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival, you will pass through the airport inspection point to make sure no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the island, and to pay the national park entrance fee. Your guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbour where a dinghy will take you to the yacht.

Afternoon: Interpretation Centre
The Interpretation Centre provides a perfect explanation of this unique archipelago – the exhibition reveals what makes it so unique. Information panels, pictures, documents, maquettes and dioramas delve into the background and conservation stories of the islands.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Sante Fe and South Plaza

Morning: Sante Fe
Sante Fe is a jewel of the Galapagos, where the pale Barrington land iguana and practically every other creature is unique to the archipelago or this island alone.

Afternoon: South Plaza
Popular South Plaza is not to be missed! This Jurassic islet is the best place to see the emblematic Galapagos dragons, which crawl across it.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
North Seymour and Chinese Hat

Morning: North Seymour
North Seymour is another cruise highlight. It’s home to the most extensive seabird breeding colony in the archipelago and you can walk just a short distance from frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies.

Afternoon: Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat is a 170ft (52m) high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins have settled. Approaching Chinese Hat from the north, you will understand the meaning of the name. This is an excellent place to learn more about volcanoes, lava bombs and lava tunnels.

You arrive just in time to see how this barren islet is being colonised by pioneer plant species! Beautiful beaches of white coral sand and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled with lava sand, which enables rooting. Galapagos sea lions and countless marine iguanas contribute to fertilisation and thus create many favourable options for newcomers, such as saltbush and the sesuvium carpet.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Santa Cruz Island

Morning: El Chato Reserve – Twin Craters

The native scalesia forest of El Chato Tortoise Reserve is the best place to search for Galapagos giant tortoises in their most authentic setting! Despite the interesting breeding centres – where you are guaranteed to find tortoises in their corrals – there is nothing better than to observe them in their wild environment. Though it can be quite moist and muddy, your visit may turn into an adventurous quest when they have left their favourite pond silently.

The Twin Craters are found on either side of the road leading to Puerto Ayora. These impressive formations are not really volcanic craters but were formed by magma domes, which hardened on the outside while the lava flowed inside, leaving huge, empty magma chambers that eventually collapsed and left two large holes. The craters lie within a lush scalesia cloud forest, a high-altitude plant species that are endemic to the Galapagos. This area is also home to the carpenter finch, which uses tools to search for food. There may also be opportunities to see the vermillion flycatcher, a small red-breasted bird.

Afternoon: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center
On a tour of the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, you can see the tortoises of Española Island, ending in the tortoise exhibit corral. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans – an excellent chance to photograph them.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11
Isabela Island

Morning: Moreno Point

Moreno Point is on the north coast of Isabela Island, between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidified pahoehoe lava flow into a complex of coastal lagoons. The main attractions here are several bird species, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.

Afternoon: Urbina Bay

Urbina Bay runs along the west coast of Isabela, between Elizabeth Bay and Tagus Cove and close to Alcedo Volcano. It’s home to large, colourful land iguanas, giant tortoises, and lots of Darwin finches. Additionally, the coastline here underwent a major uplift in 1954, which caused the shore to expand 0.75mi (1.2km) out. As a result, you can now find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above the water.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12
Fernandina and Isabela islands

Morning: Espinoza Point (Fernandina)
Fernandina is the third-largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, at the northeastern tip. Here, marine iguanas gather in larger groups than on any other island. They bask in the sand, swim near the shore and sometimes block the way at the landing dock. Fernandina is also home to the flightless cormorant, which can longer fly but has wings, tails and feet perfectly adapted for finding food in the ocean.

Afternoon: Vicente Roca Point (Isabela)
While having lunch, we cross the Bolivar Channel for the last time to Vicente Roca Point, just at the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shape. While entering a dark cave below a spectacular arch, the roar of waves accompanies you and, just around the corner, the collapsed amphitheatre of Volcan Ecuador offers an impressive view. The calmer cove waters are well-protected against the ocean swell and are fairly cold, but a great place for snorkelling among various species of shark, penguin, puffer fish and even seahorses.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13
Santiago and Rabida islands

Morning: Puerto Egas (Santiago)
Puerto Egas is historic and the favourite site on Santiago for wildlife lovers; it’s even the best place in the archipelago to observe Galapagos fur seals.

Afternoon: Rabida
Upon landing at this remarkable red beach, you will usually be greeted by a large bachelor colony of Galapagos sea lions.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14
Disembark Santa Cruz; fly Baltra to Guayaquil and end

Morning: Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz) and transfer to Baltra Airport

Our last adventure is brief but enchanting and takes place en route to the airport. Explore by dinghy the green landscape of Black Turtle Cove, which is mostly comprised of mangrove trees that host innumerable aerial and aquatic species. The quiet emerald lagoon and surrounding shallow bays enable the easy observation of sea turtles and groups of sharks.

Then, assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where we take the airport shuttle. From here, we fly to Guayaquil where it’s possible to connect with international flights from 6pm onwards.

Meals included: Breakfast

Altitude Warning

This trip includes one or more overnight stays above 9,850ft (3,000m) where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. Our itineraries are designed to allow most people to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected by AMS.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise, and thus will affect your performance at altitude and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing condition (eg heart problems), or unsure of your physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Accommodation

Hotels and catamaran

We spend six nights in comfortable hotels and seven nights on the catamaran, Archipel I.

Our hotels selected feature an excellent blend of three-star quality, comfort, and easy walking access to city and town attractions.  Our Cuzco hotel is centrally located in the historic centre, while our Quito hotel is located close to the historic district, and close to many restaurants and attractions.

Worth knowing

  • Single rooms can be arranged for a supplement for the six hotel nights in Peru, subject to availability – please enquire at the time of booking. Unfortunately, we cannot offer single cabins on the boat in the Galapagos, and you will be paired with another traveller of the same sex for the seven nights on board.

ARCHIPEL I

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

The Archipel I catamaran has an outside lounge and dining area, an inside lounge/bar and a spacious sun deck, perfect for relaxing and observing the incredible Galapagos landscape. There are two cabins with double beds and six twin cabins with two single beds. All cabins have air conditioning and private bathrooms. Beach towels are provided and there are two sea kayaks for passenger use.

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Please note, a lot of the travelling between islands is done overnight, so some cabin noise and movement should be expected.

Boat specifications:

  • Catamaran
  • 16-passenger capacity with two double cabins and six twin cabins
  • Crew: Nine plus one naturalist guide
  • Length: 88ft (27m)
  • Beam: 36ft (11m)

Virtual 360 Tour – Archipel I – https://catamaranarchipel.com/VR/ARCHIPELL.html

Single rooms can be arranged for a supplement for the hotel nights in Quito, subject to availability – please enquire at the time of booking. Unfortunately, we cannot offer single cabins on board the boat in the Galapagos, and you will be paired with another traveller of the same sex for the seven nights on board.

Single supplement from £ 430

Food & Drink

On the Galapagos boat, all meals are included and served as a buffet. There is a wide choice of food available, including vegetarian options.

For the rest of the trip, we visit a variety of cafes and restaurants for any meals not included in the itinerary. Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffets, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee wheat-/gluten-free products are available for breakfast in all locations – you may wish to bring your own breakfast food if you have an intolerance. We provide a packed lunch on Day 3, whether you are taking the train or doing the optional walk to Machu Picchu.

Drinking water is provided; please bring a reusable water bottle with you.

Transport

For the road sections of this trip, we use a private minibus or small coach, depending on group size.

We travel by train (with Peru Rail) between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) in expedition class. Seating is four seats to a table and the carriages have panoramic windows and air conditioning/heating.

The boat in the Galapagos is described in the accommodation section. The domestic flights from Quito to the Galapagos are often indirect, via Guayaquil.

Weather & Seasonality

The diverse geography of Peru results in a very varied climate. In Cuzco and the Andes, April to November is the dry season; during these months, the sky is generally bright and clear with strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses.

In the Andes, anything is possible at any time of year, including cloud rolling up from the Amazon basin, rain or even snow, and rapid and unexpected changes! During the dry season, temperatures can dip at night to around the freezing mark (and sometimes below).

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are in the cloud forest and, as such, attract large amounts of precipitation all year as clouds move up from the Amazon Basin. Rain here can be heavy but is seldom prolonged.

In Quito, it should be warm by day and generally dry. Maximum daytime temperatures are almost constant throughout the year at 20C (68F), nights 8C (46F). Expect some rain in February to May and October to November but storms, though heavy, are generally short, and Quito is considered to have quite a pleasant climate.

It is possible to visit the Galapagos at any time of year, though the weather patterns are complicated and cannot be reduced to easy formulas. The weather is controlled by the two main ocean currents of the region, the Humboldt, bringing cold water from the Antarctic, and El Niño, which brings tropical water from the Gulf of Panama. How close to Galapagos they converge (which varies from year to year) is the key to the weather.

Dry season

Generally speaking, late May to early December is the cooler dry season. In this period, it is not necessarily dry, as there is a persistent light mist (garua) and often light drizzle, and the higher mountain slopes are covered in cloud and fog or rain. At this time, the winds are in the southeast and are higher than at other times, so seas can sometimes be choppy and anyone worried about seasickness might be better advised to avoid it. Daytime maximum temperatures lie between 27C and 31C (81F and 88F), the cooler months being July to November. In July and August, the fairly strong winds introduce a chill factor, and it can feel quite cold at nights, though throughout the year the official night temperatures vary between 19C and 24C (66F and 75F).

Wet season

Depending on how close the convergence of the two currents comes to Galapagos, there may or may not be a wet season from January to April or May. Approximately every seven years, the El Niño current hits the islands and there are heavy rains in these months. In other years, rain usually falls sporadically from otherwise clear skies. The ocean temperatures are higher, with generally calm seas and strong sunshine: pleasant, but potentially very hot. Apart from an El Niño year, the weather is usually better from December/January to April/May than at other times even if there is some rain, and most people would regard these months as the best time to go.

When to Go: Animals in the Galapagos

There are plenty of wildlife highlights throughout the year:

January: Nesting land birds; green sea turtles arrive to lay eggs on the beaches; land iguanas breed on Isabela
February: Nesting marine iguanas on Santa Cruz; greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana
March: The bright-red throat pouches of frigatebirds are inflated during mating season on Genovesa and San Cristobal
April: Huge numbers of waved albatross on Española displaying courtship rituals; eggs of green sea turtles hatch; land iguana eggs hatch on Isabela
May: Courtship of blue-footed boobies begins on North Seymour; waved albatross on Española start laying eggs
June: Giant tortoises migrate to the lowlands and start nesting; migrating birds stop in the Galapagos to rest; migrating humpback whales can often be seen around the western islands
July: Dolphins and whales are more likely to be seen around the western islands; blue-footed boobies on Española start breeding
August: Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa Island; sea lions start giving birth to pups
September: Penguins seen in the water when snorkelling around Bartolome
October: Galapagos fur seals start mating; blue-footed boobies start raising chicks
November: Curious sea lion pups found in the water among snorkellers
December: Mating green sea turtles; waved albatross chicks fledge

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: Casa Andina Standard Cusco Koricancha, C. San Agustin 371, Cusco 08002, Peru
Phone: +51 84 252633
Recommended arrival time: By 3pm at the start hotel to check in for our orientation tour
Airport: Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ)

Getting to the start hotel

Our Cuzco hotel is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers. If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Collecting baggage in Lima
If you are flying via Lima, you need to collect your baggage in Lima, even if your bag has been checked all the way through to Cuzco. After collecting the bag, you are required to clear customs, and you should then drop it off at the bag drop for the onward flight. If you do not pick up your bag, there is a chance it may not reach Cuzco for the start of the trek. This is a requirement of Lima airport and also applies to your return flight.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the arrival transfer will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Catching your return flight

Group tour services end on last day upon arrival to Guayaquil Airport (GYE).

Important notes for land only
Land only prices do not include the cost of the flight from Cuzco to Quito on Day 5 of the itinerary and it is your responsibility to book these. Please ask your sales representative for details of the recommended flight from Cuzco to Quito.

Land only: the tour ends at Guayaquil airport on Day 14. If booking an onward flight from Guayaquil the same day, please ensure it does not depart before 6pm. This allows some contingency time should your flight from Galapagos to Guayaquil be delayed.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Cuzco
Location end: Guayaquil Airport

What To Take

Essential Equipment

A backpack or other smaller kitbag – you will be asked to pack a smaller overnight bag for the trip to Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu while your main luggage is kept in a secure location in Cuzco. This is because there is a luggage limit of 11lb (5kg) per person for the train journey between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes.

  • Good sturdy shoes or walking boots
  • Warm fleece jacket
  • Layers of warm clothing
  • Hats (for sun protection and warmth)
  • Waterproofs
  • Sunglasses
  • High SPF sunscreen
  • Waterproof sandals or canvas shoes (for wading ashore on wet landings in the Galapagos Islands)
  • Swimwear (for hot springs and Galapagos Islands)
  • Insect repellent
  • Sandals

Please note: The luggage allowance on internal flights in this destination is 44lb (20kg).

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Snorkel and face mask (these are available to hire on board, but it is much better to have your own if you enjoy snorkelling)
  • Camera with telephoto lens
  • Binoculars
  • Small sewing kit with safety pins
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Torch (flashlight) – headtorches (head lamps are ideal)
  • Cold-water detergent or laundry soap (biodegradable)
  • Water bottle

Please note, walking poles are not permitted inside the Machu Picchu ruins without a medical certificate detailing their necessity.

Practical Information

Visa

Peru

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Peru. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

Ecuador

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Ecuador. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

Peru

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, tuberculosis and yellow fever. Additionally, Zika fever, a mosquito‐borne viral disease, is a known risk in Peru. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so you should take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Please check all vaccination recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.

Amazon: If you are travelling to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, the risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice. We also strongly recommend that you obtain a yellow fever vaccination. Additionally, dengue fever and chikungunya are known risks in the Amazon region. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Ecuador

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis, typhoid and yellow fever. Please check all vaccination recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.
You will also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if arriving from Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda or if you have transited through those same three countries for more than 12 hours.

If you plan to visit the Amazon Rainforest, we recommend a yellow fever vaccination. Malaria is also a risk in some areas of the country (including the Amazon Rainforest) so we suggest you consult a doctor for more advice. Additionally, dengue, chikungunya and zika, all viral diseases spread by mosquitoes, are known risks in places visited. There are currently no vaccines or prophylaxes available, so take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Please note: All visitors to Ecuador will be required to show valid medical insurance on arrival and cannot enter the country without it.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Local Time

Peru and Ecuador’s time zone: UTC -05:00

Electricity

Peru’s electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins), B (three pins: two flat, one round) and C (two round pins)– 220V, 60Hz.

Ecuador’s electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins) and B (three pins: two flat, one round) – 120V, 60Hz

Machu Picchu & Galapagos

Money

Peru's currency: Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN)

Ecuador's currency: US dollar (USD)

ATM Availability

There are plenty of ATMs in Cuzco and Quito. Exchange rates are usually good and ATMs in Peru normally allow you to withdraw either soles or US dollars. Most international credit and debit cards are accepted, but you should inform your bank you are travelling to Ecuador and Peru and check if your card works in the local ATMs. There are several ATMs in Aguas Calientes, but they sometimes run out of cash so it is a good idea to take your spending money for Machu Picchu from Cuzco.

Credit card acceptance is increasing, but generally they can be used only at the large (and more expensive) restaurants and shops.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We recommend using local ATMs to obtain soles in Peru; if you take cash, most major currencies including British pounds, euros and US dollars can easily be changed into local currency at all exchange desks, although US dollars usually attract the best exchange rates. Torn, damaged or marked foreign bills are usually refused in Peru. Although it is possible to obtain Peruvian soles before you travel, you should carefully check the exchange rates as they can be lower than changing money locally.

You are best exchanging cash into soles as you go, so you are not left with excess at the end of your trip. It is a good idea to change a small amount into soles at the counters in the baggage hall. Change is often in short supply, so try to break up large notes at the earliest opportunity and ask for small denomination banknotes when changing money.

Some larger establishments in Peru accept US dollars but most places only accept soles.

US dollars are the official currency in Ecuador, but obtaining change for larger denomination banknotes (US$100 and US$50) can be difficult and, in some cases, they may not be accepted. You should carry a number of small notes (US$1 or US$5) for small transactions, as many small businesses and taxis do not carry large amounts of change.

On this trip there is a compulsory Galapagos Tax of US$100 (increasing to US$200 as of August 1st, 2024) which can only be paid locally in cash (US dollars) and will be collected by the National Park Service on arrival at San Cristóbal. In addition, all visitors to the Galapagos are required to obtain an immigration control card (Ingala card) in mainland Ecuador – these cost US$20 per person and will be supplied and paid for locally in cash (US dollars). Galapagos taxes are subject to increase without notice, and any such increase will be collected in Quito or Baltra.

Food, drinks and similar incidentals can vary in price enormously in Peru and are relatively expensive compared to other developing nations. Allow about US$15-US$20 per meal not included to eat at good restaurants (excluding alcohol). Cheaper food is abundant at small local cafes, although sanitary conditions at these places cannot be guaranteed. Bottled water and soft drinks are readily available for around US$1-US$2 each.

All food is provided in the Galapagos. For the days in Quito, we provide breakfast only and you should budget around US$60 for all meals in Quito. Drinks and incidentals are quite expensive in the Galapagos, as everything is imported from the mainland (although there is limited opportunity for purchasing food, drinks and beverages onshore); however, your only expenditure for this portion of the trip is likely to be souvenirs and alcoholic beverages.

Snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins) plus wetsuits are available free of charge on board. Alternatively, you can bring your own equipment to ensure a good fit.

A credit card can usually be used for incidentals on the boat although it does depend on the strength of the internet connection, which is not always reliable. It is better to have enough cash to cover costs on board just in case of any issues. Only cash is accepted for the Galapagos tax, the migration card and any tips for staff. Only US dollars are accepted on board.

Airport taxes are included in the price of your flight ticket, so there is no need to pay these locally.

Peruvian passport or identity card holders
The cost of Exodus trips in Peru are based on the assumption you do not hold a Peruvian passport or resident’s card. If you are officially resident in Peru or are a Peruvian passport holder, you are liable to an additional 18 percent tax on most services, and this extra sum is payable locally to our local partner. Other nationalities are exempt from this tax. Please notify us at the time of booking if you are legally resident in Peru or hold a Peruvian passport so we can advise you of the total cost of these taxes.

Optional excursions

Your tour leader can tell you about the full range of optional excursions available throughout your trip; however, the most popular ones are below:

Please note, a Partial Tourist Ticket (BTG) is required for entrance to the sites in and around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley – this is not included in the excursion prices below but can be purchased locally from 70 soles (approximately US$21).

City tour and four ruins (five hours): From US$48 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. This includes visits to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and Puca Pucará plus a tour of the city itself, including: the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral is located; Qorikancha Sun Temple (entrance included); and San Pedro Market.

Sacred Valley tour (eight hours): From US$58 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Drive to the Sacred Valley, stopping at El Mirador viewpoint en route. Visit Pisac Market and fortress and Ollantaytambo; return to Cuzco.

South Valley tour (seven hours): From US$66 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Visit the little-known valley to the south of Cuzco, including the terraces at Tipon, the pre-Inca ruins of Pikillaqta and the Sistine Chapel of the Americas in Andahuaylillas (entrance included); return to Cuzco.

Prices of excursions vary depending on the number of people taking part. The prices given within these Trip Notes are based on four participants and are intended as a guideline only. Actual prices are more for smaller group sizes and less for larger group sizes. All tours use private transport and there is an English-speaking guide. Please note, cash is the preferred method of payment for any of the optional activities.

For some activities, a minimum number of participants may be required. Some activities may not always be possible due to weather, seasonality, national holidays, or unforeseen circumstances.

Tipping

Peru: In Peru, it is customary for local staff to receive tips and these tips can be an important source of extra income for hard-working crew. Whether to tip and how much to tip is a personal decision. As customers often ask us for a suggestion of how much is appropriate for different individuals, we have prepared some guidelines together with our local partner – your leader will provide a handout which we hope will be useful to your group. Please note, Peruvian sol is the preferred currency for tips.

Tipping kitty: We recommend running a tipping kitty. A tipping kitty means we tip as a group, and individuals don’t need to worry about giving out small tips to various people who have helped during the trip (ie drivers, local guides, boatmen, hotel staff). The contribution per person per day we suggest is 15 soles (US$5).

Tour leader: Leaders are fairly paid for their role but are grateful for recognition of their skills and hard work. Tips for your leader should be based on their performance and engagement with the group. If you are happy with the leader’s work, we recommend somewhere around 15 soles (US$5) per person per day, but customers are encouraged to contribute what they feel happy giving – either less or more than the amount suggested above.

Ecuador: Tipping is an optional but customary practice in Ecuador and forms part of the service culture. Due to the dominance of US visitors in the destination, tips are reasonably high and this is likely to add up during your stay. Please remember you are never under any obligation to give a tip and you should only do so when you are happy with the service you have received.

To show appreciation to local guides on the mainland, a tip of around US$3-US$5 per day from each group member is sufficient. Drivers and other local staff may be given closer to US$1-US$2 in tips per day.

It is also usual for groups to tip the boat crew in addition to the guide. It would be reasonable for each group member to contribute about US$20-US$25 a day for the crew and staff in the Galapagos. You may also wish to tip the naturalist guides directly and this is at your discretion, but US$5-US$6 per person per day is a good gratuity.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers are well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • Although much of the Galapagos portion of this tour is spent on the boat or in nature, clients are encouraged to use local businesses and to engage with people they meet to promote positive cultural exchange wherever the opportunity arises.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • When visiting Machu Picchu, the costs of permits and for our guided tour will go towards to the upkeep and maintenance of this architectural site.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • We adhere to all Machu Picchu regulations. There are limited permits to reduce overcrowding and damage due to footfall, but our guides are still very mindful of how we treat the environment. We work with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, meaning we have respect for wildlife and the landscape, separate rubbish and take all waste back to a proper disposal place.
  • Our local operator in Peru has been certified and verified by Rainforest Alliance since 2015.
  • The Archipel I is equipped with a wastewater treatment plant to ensure no residue goes into the sea. There are also tight regulations to prevent ecological damage such as: restricting use of electrical products, use of biodegradable products (such as shampoo, detergent, soap), and recycling of contaminants (oil and fuel), which are sent back to the mainland for disposal and water treatment.
  • We visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz Island. This centre is dedicated to protecting and conserving the ecology of the islands and carries out educational projects in support of conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Our entry fees contribute to all the work here by improving demand, facilities and creating employment opportunities for scientists.
  • We are also careful to adhere to National Park guidelines, which, among other things, ask we keep a safe distance from wildlife at all times.
  • Our Animal Welfare Policy ensures all our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regards to working animals and wildlife viewing.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Through our Planet Promise, we have pledged to halve the carbon footprint of our trips by 2030 and made rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in Peru use locally sourced food, which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian options are available on the Archipel I as well as at majority of accommodation and restaurants.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Machu Picchu regulations

  1. Tickets are valid for one entry
  2. We spend approximately three hours at Machu Picchu and our guided tour lasts about two hours
  3. Upon finishing our one-way Machu Picchu guided tour, we must exit the site

Please note, we visit Machu Picchu in the morning or afternoon to avoid the peak entry time (10am to midday).

Inca Trail regulations

There are several important Inca Trail regulations we would like to make you aware of:

  1. Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first-come, first-served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible.
  2. If you cancel your booking more than eight weeks before departure and wish to transfer your deposit to another departure or another trip the transfer fee is approximately £150 (US$210 / CA$252 / AU$308 / €191) as we will lose the permit we have purchased on your behalf. This is an amendment to our Booking Conditions. No transfers are possible within eight weeks of departure.
  3. Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.
  4. Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify Exodus immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to Exodus in advance of travel and pay an administration fee of £25 (US$35 / CA$42 / AU$52 / €32). For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking and keep it somewhere safe.
  5. Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and Exodus is not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
  6. There is a possibility the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.

Please note: While your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If you’re travelling within the current year, we try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. If we are unable to get your permit, we will contact you to discuss your options.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.