Peru and Ecuador: Inca heritage and Darwin’s inspiration
Day 1-3 Lima
The Peruvian capital has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years with a burgeoning foodie scene. The Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535, and today it contains a fascinating mix of historical and modern sights. Head to upscale Miraflores, San Isidro and arty Barranco for the best the city has to offer.
Transfers to Cuzco 18h15m
Day 4-6 Cuzco
Enticing Cusco delights the visitor with its charming old city. Cobbled streets lined with Inca stonework lead to hillside neighbourhoods like arty San Blas, while at the heart of the action in the bustling Plaza de Armas the city’s cathedral squares up against the beautiful Jesuit church of La Compañía. Watching the action from its lofty position high above the city lies the well-preserved fortress of Sacsayhuaman.
Transfers to Sacred Valley 1h15m
Day 7-9 Sacred Valley
Once overlooked by travellers in a hurry to reach Machu Picchu, the towns of the Sacred Valley are now firmly established as tourist centres in their own right. The Incan storehouse that rises above the town of Ollantaytambo is without doubt one of the most impressive sights in the area, but you should also make time for the salt terraces of Maras, the characterful markets of Chinchero and Pisac and the amphitheatre of Moray, thought to be where the Incas experimented with new crops.
Transfers to Machu Picchu 3h43m
Day 10-12 Machu Picchu
Wonder at the construction of this, Peru’s most iconic site. Whether it was once an Incan citadel, university or town, its setting high in the mountains in the shadow of Huayna Picchu provides a photographic image famous the world over. Marvel at the craftsmanship that enabled stonemasons to do away with mortar and find a quiet spot to contemplate how it came to be abandoned to the jungle for so long.
Transfers to Quito 45h00m
Day 13-15 Quito
Explore Ecuador’s delightful capital, located in the Andean foothills and built over an ancient Incan city. Its old town is where you’ll find many of its best museums and historic buildings, but also make sure you visit the Casa de la Cultura with its collection of Ecuadorean art and the Museo del Banco Central which houses much of the country’s pre-Columbian gold. Close by, take a trip to the Mitad del Mundo where you can straddle the Equator.
Transfers to Galapagos Islands 1h50m
Day 16-18 Galapagos Islands
Considered one of the best places in the world for viewing wildlife, the Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago. The plant and animal diversity here is unequalled elsewhere and indeed, it’s the place that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. The blue-footed booby is one of the unusual birds you will see, but the islands are home to so much more: albatrosses, sea lions and of course, Galapagos giant tortoise, the largest species of tortoise alive today.
Transfers to Guayaquil 1h50m