Avalon Waterways - Ecuador & Its Galapagos Islands

Fantastic treasures await on this vacation to Peru and the Galápagos Islands. Enjoy a walking tour of Lima; guided sightseeing in Quito and Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire; and an excursion to Otavalo’s famous Indian market. Also visit ancient Puca Pucara, the Temple of Sacsayhuaman, the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, and mystical Machu Picchu. Then, fly to Baltra Island for a fantastic 4-night Galápagos Islands cruise. In the company of a local Naturalist, you’ll encounter indigenous plants and animals found only in the Galápagos Islands. For travelers who want to see ancient ruins, learn about new cultures, and be awed at the amazing natural world, this trip is not to be missed!

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Avalon Waterways - Ecuador & Its Galapagos Islands

Day-By-Day Itinerary


Day 1 - Arrive In Lima

Welcome to Lima. This “City of Kings” was once the capital of Spain’s South American empire.

Day 2 - Lima

Today your Local Guide focuses on the city’s colonial heritage during a walking TOUR. Start at the Plaza de Armas to see the Government Palace and the CATHEDRAL, where the remains of Francisco Pizarro, founder of Lima, are housed. From here, stroll to the venerable SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY with its splendid 17th-century cloister murals. Also visit the LARCO HERRERA MUSEUM, housing an impressive collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian artifacts. This evening, meet your Tour Director and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant with your fellow traveling companions. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 3 - Lima–Cusco–Sacred Valley

Fly to Cusco, the impressive Andean city that was once capital of the Inca Empire. Continue into the Sacred Valley to AWANAKANCHA, a local favorite, and learn the importance of the alpaca (llama) for Inca cultures as well as the ancient weaving techniques still in use today. Next, visit PISAC, an old mountain village where you enjoy free time in the town center to browse the colorful stalls where vendors sell their handicrafts, ranging from fine alpaca sweaters and blankets to hand-painted ornamental dishes and vases. Continue to visit the Inca fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO, followed by a Local Favorite visit to a LOCAL HOME to meet some native Incans and experience their way of life. Enjoy a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 4 - Sacred Valley–Machu Picchu

This morning, board the Vistadome TRAIN for a short journey through the lush Urubamba Valley, then ascend to legendary MACHU PICCHU, the “Lost City of the Incas,” discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Your Local Guide will bring you closer to the lives and mysteries still hidden in these amazing structures built by the pre-Columbian masters of this sacred land. Return to your deluxe hotel in Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is found for dinner full of impressive culinary delights. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5 - Machu Picchu–Cusco

Your entrance to Machu Picchu is included for a second day. Enjoy the tranquility of the morning while wandering the ruins at your own pace and experiencing the magic that is Machu Picchu. After lunch, return to Ollantaytambo by train and continue to Cusco. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 6 - Cusco

Today, learn more about the Incas and their struggle against the invading Spaniards. Visit the imposing CATHEDRAL and the SANTO DOMINGO MONASTERY on your guided tour. Next, visit the semi-circular KENKO Amphitheater with its stone altars and labyrinth of passages, and see the ancient site of PUCA PUCARA before reaching the TEMPLE OF SACSAYHUAMAN, perched on a hillside overlooking Cusco. It remains unfathomable how and when this fortress of gigantic stones—with some blocks weighing more than 350 tons—was built. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 7 - Cusco–Quito, Ecuador

Fly to Quito, capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and begin the Ecuadorian portion of your vacation. Enjoy an included dinner upon arrival tonight. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 8 - Quito

Your Local Guide introduces this city on an included sightseeing tour that showcases its treasures: the historic stone murals of the Legislative Palace, Independence Plaza and the 16th-century SAN FRANCISCO MONASTERY, the Jesuit’s LA COMPANIA CHURCH with its stunning golden altars, and the impressive paintings at the WORKSHOP & MUSEUM of Oswaldo Guayasamin, a Local Favorite! Be sure to have your photo taken in front of the EQUATORIAL MONUMENT, the “Center of the World.” (Breakfast)

Day 9 - Quito. Excursion To Otavalo

An in-depth experience into the traditional ways of the Otavalo people is in store for you today. First, visit OTAVALO’S famous INDIAN MARKET, full of textiles, clothes, vegetables, and much more. Next, in Peguche, famous for its exquisite weavings, you have the opportunity to visit homes and observe handicrafts being made. Finally, enjoy Andean delicacies prepared the traditional way at a HOME-HOSTED LUNCH and Local Favorite before returning to Quito. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 10 - Quito–Baltra–Galápagos Islands (Embarkation)–Cruising: Santa Cruz Island

Take a morning flight to Baltra, one of the remote Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, board the sleek Isabela II and enjoy five days of CRUISING among various Galápagos Islands. Each day, travel ashore to the remote islands with your expert Naturalist, who introduces you to the unique fauna living free and fearless of man. Giant tortoises, Galápagos fur sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigates, and finches are just some of the many endemic species you will find on land. You will also have the chance to snorkel in the turquoise waters with colorful tropical fish, playful sea lions, and maybe even an equatorial penguin or shark! Visit the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, where you will see and learn about the rearing and conservation of the endemic giant tortoises. After time exploring Puerto Ayora, embark your ship and settle in with a briefing on the next day’s adventure, followed by a Captain’s welcome cocktail and dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
NOTE:The ship’s itinerary may vary according to Galápagos National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, and seasonal changes to create the perfect cross-section of sites visited.

Day 11 - Galápagos Islands Cruising: Floreana Island

After breakfast, disembark at FLOREANA ISLAND to visit historic Post Office Bay, which has been serving as a post office for over two centuries. The “post office” is just a barrel where letters are left in hope that other visitors returning home will take letters if the addressee is not far from their own and deliver them or drop them at a normal post office. Next, explore the island’s channels by panga or take your first swim with the playful sea lions. This afternoon, join your Naturalist at CORMORANT POINT on Floreana Island in search of greater flamingos, blue-footed boobies, and sea turtles. There is another opportunity for snorkeling or riding in the glass-bottom boat to view reef fish, turtles, and even sharks! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12 - Galápagos Islands Cruising: Española Island

Today, join your Naturalist for excursions to Gardner Bay and Punta Suárez on ESPAÑOLA ISLAND, one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. Here you will see the famous blowhole, as well as unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (Apr.-Dec.), Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and Darwin’s finches. Also look for red, green, and black marine iguanas and a rookery of sea lions right at the landing site. This afternoon’s site is prime for snorkeling or kayaking to look for rays, parrot fish, reef sharks, and other colorful marine species. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13 - Galápagos Islands Cruising: San Cristobal Island

Wake up at PUNTA PITT, the easternmost point in the islands. Your Naturalist leads you from the beach to the top of a volcanic tuff to the only place in the archipelago where all three species of booby exist, nesting next to both types of frigates. This is also an excellent area for panga or kayak rides and snorkeling. At CERRO BRUJO this afternoon, walk the same beach that Charles Darwin first walked in September 1835 in search for migratory bird species, including sandpipers, stilts, pelicans, and flycatchers. While here, watch for the Chatham (San Cristobal) mockingbird and Chatham lava lizard—both species are endemic to this island and seen nowhere else in the Galápagos. Return to your ship for a captain’s farewell cocktail party and dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 14 - Galápagos Islands (Disembarkation) San Cristobal–Quito

After breakfast, disembark in SAN CRISTOBAL and head to the airport for your return flight to Quito. (Breakfast)

Day 15 - Quito

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)