THE LOST CITADEL OF THE INCAS AND THE NATURE LOVER’S PARADISE

This once in a lifetime trip takes you on a journey through varied and colorful Peru, where you will encounter an epic fantasyland, with forgotten temples and imperial tombs entangled in jungle vines with ancient bejeweled treasures beyond reckoning and Ecuador, one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world, with a dramatic topography where two cordilleras split the nation into coastal, Andean, and Amazonian regions with snow-capped volcanic mountains, fertile valleys and home of the world famous archipelago of the Galapagos Islands with its immense marine reserve known as the unique “living museum and showcase of evolution”.

PERU

For 6 days you will explore this heroic land, concentrating on the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world, and the Sacred Valley. Our local guides speak perfect English and will enchant you with stories of our legends as you become fully immersed in this long-lost great culture.

ECUADOR

This incredible 8-days tour will take you from Quito, the capital city high in the Andes with its picturesque colonial vibrant old town, to the untouched, natural and rare wildlife in the Galapagos on an unforgettable 5-days journey on board of the San Jose Yacht.

We have a wide variety of options available for your galapagos experience, please ask our experts

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TOUR CATEGORY
  • Archaeological
  • Cultural
  • Nature
  • Wildlife watching

LOCATION
  • Bartolome Island
  • Cusco
  • Ecuador
  • Espanola Island
  • Floreana Island
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Machu Picchu
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Peru
  • Pisac
  • Quito
  • Sacred Valley
  • San Cristobal Island
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Santiago Island

ACTIVITY LEVEL
  • Easy

DURATION
  • 14 days

WHEN TO GO
  • Year round

CUSCO

  • Wander the capital of the Inca Empire with your guide.
  • Take a horseback ride around archeological sites
  • Learn how to cook some of the finest cuisine in the world with local chefs.

SACRED VALLEY

  • Enjoy the vibrant and colorful markets full of beautiful hand crafted clothing or souvenirs.
  • Walk through ancient salt pans and meet native weavers as they create beautiful rugs or traditional clothing.

MACCHU PICCHU

  • Enjoy a leisurely train ride to Machu Picchu and visit “The Lost City of the Incas”
  • Climb Huayna Picchu or walk to the Sun Gate to sample breathtaking views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area.

QUITO

  • Wander the Capital of Ecuador and discover its colonial City Center with your guide.
  • Discover the cosmic Andean Culture of the Ecuadorian area entering in the Mystical Middle of the World.

GALAPAGOS CRUISE

  • A visit to the excellent interpretation center of San Cristobal and its botanical garden give you a perfect introduction to this unique archipelago.
  • Become an eyewitness of evolution having the opportunity to see endemic animal species.
  • Snorkel and swim with playful sea Lions and peaceful turtles.
  • Enjoy spectacular views of the surrounded landscapes from the comfort of your yacht.

DAY 01 ARRIVE LIMA

After arriving Lima and clearing customs, walk across the sky bridge to the comfortable Wyndham Costa del Sol Hotel to check in for the evening.

DAY 02 FLY TO CUSCO - WALKING CITY TOUR

Breakfast

After the short flight to Cusco, take some time to relax and adjust to the altitude. Next, it’s time to take a private guided walking tour to see and experience Cusco first hand. Your perfect English-speaking guide will help you explore and discover the Inca capital. Wander through this city of terra-cotta roofs, cobblestone streets, and colorful markets and visit the stunning bohemian area of San Blas, meeting the locals and taking in some of the key sites in Cusco as well as some off the beaten track.

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DAY 03 CUSCO SURROUNDINGS

Breakfast

In a private guided visit, you will get to enjoy one of the best and most renowned examples of Incan architecture, Sacsahyuaman. For those looking for an active itinerary, horseback riding, mountain biking or even whitewater rafting can be arranged.  The rest of the evening is free for you to relax, explore and shop with your private guide in this incredible cosmopolitan Inca capital also named as Navel of the World.  Explore the nightlife in Cusco´s varied and exciting pubs where there is plenty of live folk music and good food to enjoy in a lively atmosphere.

MAKE IT DIFFERENT (OPTIONAL)

In a private guided visit, you will get to enjoy one of the best and most renowned examples of Incan architecture, Sacsahyuaman. For those looking for an active itinerary, horseback riding, mountain biking or even whitewater rafting can be arranged. The rest of the evening is free for you to relax, explore and shop with your private guide in this incredible cosmopolitan Inca capital also named as Navel of the World. Explore the nightlife in Cusco´s varied and exciting pubs where there is plenty of live folk music and good food to enjoy in a lively atmosphere.

ASK OUR EXPERTS TO UPGRADE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

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DAY 04 SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

Breakfast

This full day tour will take you through all the most famous and popular parts of the Sacred Valley. Its “Sacred” character (for which it was named) has survived the passage of time and that magic continues to amaze visitors today. Few places in the Inca Empire could compete against the beauty and wealth of this valley.

This private guided tour will become one of the highlights of your trip. Stopping in the famous and vibrant market of Pisac, take in the sights and sounds of this unique experience, test your bargaining skills and don’t forget to stock up on affordable souvenirs for friends and family!   You may also hike the amazing Pisac ruins located on a nearby mountaintop from where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley including hundreds of famous Inca agricultural terraces.

There are a number of additional sites worth exploring on this day trip, including the unique terraced crop fields of Moray, the seldom visited town of Maras, the Maras Salt Mines which were extremely important to the Incas as their supply of salt and still provides salt today that you can buy for a few soles. As well as their historical importance, the Maras salt mines are also a beautiful sight to see. You may also enjoy a colorful textile demonstration based on ancient Inca techniques, visit the living Inca town of Chincheros with its unique colonial church that was built on the top of an Incan palace by the Spaniards, or stop at Awanakancha or Textile Palace, where you can meet native weavers and see South American camelid species, including llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas. You will stay overnight in one of the principal villages of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Ollantaytambo or Ollanta (as the locals call it); a spectacularly beautiful place along the Urubamba River with a gorge lined by agricultural terraces and snowcapped peaks rising in the distance.

MAKE IT DIFFERENT (OPTIONAL)

We highly recommend having an extra day in the Sacred Valley. Many visitors without a lot of time on their hands almost race through the valley’s highlights and markets on a daylong guided tour. Seeing it this way is certainly a worthwhile experience, but it really doesn’t compare to experiencing everything the valley has to offer at a more leisurely pace that allows you an overnight stay or two in the valley and the chance to soak up the area’s immense history, relaxed character, stunning scenery, and in the dry season, gorgeous spring weather.

ASK OUR EXPERTS TO UPGRADE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

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DAY 05 OLLANTAYTAMBO RUINS AND TRAIN TO MACCHU PICCHU

Breakfast

The huge, steep terraces that guard Ollantaytambo’s spectacular Inca ruins mark one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle. Early in the morning you will visit this formidable temple-fortress. A finely worked ceremonial center sits at the top of the terracing. Stone quarried from the mountainside 6km away, high above the opposite bank of the Río Urubamba was used to build surrounding walls at the time of the conquest, which were never completed. Transporting the huge stone blocks to the site was a stupendous feat. The Incas employed an ingenious technique to move massive blocks across the river by moving the blocks to the riverside and then diverting the entire river channel around them.

After this visit you will hop on board of one of the prettiest train rides in South America destined for Machu Picchu which sits majestically among the massive Andes, swathed in clouds. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting on the eastern slopes of the Andes encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.

The “Lost City of the Incas” is one of the most spectacular sites on earth and a place that retains its mystery, allure and mystical appeal, despite its enormous popularity. Exploring the site remains a thrilling experience, especially at sunrise, when dramatic rays of light creep over the mountaintops. After a private guided tour, we then take a late afternoon bus to the town of Machu Picchu where you spend the night. Hit the bars along the railroad tracks to share stories with some of the backpackers who’ve survived the Inca Trail, or end your fantastic day soothing your muscles in the hot springs.

IMPORTANT TIP

If you do want to see the beautiful scenery and ancient buildings of Machu Picchu, book your trip early. The Peruvian government has placed a limit on the number of people allowed to hike the trails to the city per day. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance. The high season tends to book up quickly!.

MAKE IT DIFFERENT. (OPTIONAL)

Take the option of a full day Inca Trail or the 4 days trekking Inca Trail.

ASK OUR EXPERTS TO UPGRADE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

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DAY 06 MACCHU PICCHU FREE DAY TO EXPLORE AND BACK TO CUSCO

Breakast

Without a doubt the best time to view Machu Picchu is at dawn before the crowds arrive on the train. We drive up to the ruins in time for the opening and savor the views and the atmosphere as the light changes as the sun rises. We have the rest of the morning to explore the ruins at our own pace and perhaps walk up the famous Inca Trail to the ‘Gateway of The Sun’ (Inti Punku) or hike the Huayna Picchu Mountain for the best view of Machu Picchu. During the afternoon we descend from the archeological site to the railway station, and embark on the afternoon train, which slowly winds its way through the Andean countryside to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to our hotel in Cusco.

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DAY 07 FLY CUSCO - QUITO

Breakfast

Transfer for your flight Cusco/Quito.  Arrival to the capital city of Ecuador and transfer to your lodging.

Free.

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DAY 08 FULL DAY EXCURSION IN QUITO AND THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD

Breakfast

In the morning your guide and driver will pick you up from the hotel. First you’ll pay a visit to the colonial center of Quito. The guide will tell you about the Inca Empire, Spanish invasion the independence phase, and finally about Ecuador and Quito’s ancient history in Colonial times.  You’ll pass some of the most famous squares, churches and colonial buildings. “La Plaza de la Independencia” with the Presidential Palace, Archbishop Palace, Municipal building, the Independence Monument and the Cathedral. Close to this main square you’ll visit a very nice colonial building which used to be part of the Jesuit monastery and which afterwards converted into the Central University of Ecuador. This building houses one of Quito’s most interesting colonial museums “Museo Alberto Mena Caamaño”, where you’ll observe impressive paintings of Quito’s Art School from the 16th and 17th century. In the dungeons of this amazing building a historical scene is displayed with waxwork images, representing the cruel slaughter of some high society Colonial Quito’s citizens by the Spanish Conquerors.  You’ll continue to the San Francisco Square and San Francisco’s Church and Convent. You’ll have a look inside the church and will be marveled by the exuberant amount of gold used to decorate the oldest church in Quito.

Afterwards you’ll arrive to Santo Domingo Square and to the church by the same name. You’ll admire the statue of Mariscal Sucre, the hero who leaded Ecuadorian army to defeat the Spaniards at the Battle of Pichincha in 1822, the same battle that ended the Colonial era in Ecuador. The driver will to take you to the “Panecillo” and the statue of the Virgin of Quito. From here you’ll have the best views of Quito and the surrounding snowcapped volcanoes.

You’ll continue towards Mitad Del Mundo where you’ll have lunch at a typical restaurant (lunch not included). Mitad del Mundo is one of Quito’s most famous attractions situated about 10 km to the north of Ecuador’s capital. In 1736 a French scientific expedition came to Ecuador to determine the position of the Equator. On the side there is a monument, which houses the Ethnographic Museum. Here you’ll learn about life styles, clothing and utensils of different ethnic groups of Ecuador. Just outside Mitad del Mundo there is an interesting open-air museum called Inti-Ñan, which explains the solar system, the position of the equator and its effect on gravity as well as ancient cultures and their characteristics.

Afterwards your Driver and guide will take you to your hotel for the overnight.

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DAY 09 FLY TO QUITO SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND - INTERPRETATION CENTER - GALAPAGOS CRUISE ON BOARD ON THE SAN JOSE M/Y

WE HAVE A WIDE VARIETY OF OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR GALAPAGOS EXPERIENCE, PLEASE ASK OUR EXPERTS

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

After an early breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport in order to take your flight Quito to San Cristobal.

At San Cristobal Airport your guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital town of the Galapagos province. M/Y San Jose has anchored in Wreck Bay.

The Interpretation center just outside the provincial capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a perfect introduction as well as an interesting complement to the field-explanations and briefings of your naturalist guide. Information panels (English/Spanish), pictures, maquettes and true to life dioramas tell the background story of the islands in a different way, which helps you to get overview and learn what makes Galapagos so unique. The properly maintained botanical garden with native species from the arid zone (including giant prickly pear and candelabra cacti) is worth your visit as well; and probably you will spot the Chatham mockingbird, endemic to this island, that put Darwin on track of his evolution theory.

The attractive exhibition is quite complete and explains a series of natural circumstances that create Galapagos’ unique environment: such as the volcanic genesis of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, its ocean currents, its special climate, the arrival of different species, and their establishment, among others. It also recounts historic discovery and attempts of colonization; and shows a diorama with ancient mail barrels from Post Office Bay. Extensively it concludes how times have changed with current conservation and the many ways in which this is tried to achieve, and environmental challenges that proceed.

Before dinner your guide will give the first daily briefing for tomorrow, and he/she will explain the yacht’s and National Park rules. Then the captain and his crew will present and toast with a welcome cocktail to celebrate your first evening on board.

DAY 10 GALAPAGOS CRUISE ON BOARD ON THE SAN JOSE M/Y - GARDNER BAY - PUNTA SUAREZ - ESPANOLA ISLAND

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

In Española Island, you’ll make your first stop to make your first ‘dive’ in the alluring turquoise-colored Gardner Bay, and admire colorful reef fish, snorkel side by side with a Pacific green turtle, or find yourself in the middle of playful Galapagos sea lions.

The striking white coral sand beach is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. But without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony. Females stay year round in this nursery, suckling their pups up to an age of 3 years, although these start to learn fishing already after 5 months. During the breeding- and mating season the colony becomes even more populous. The strongest bachelors and elder males return from their secluded bases and start again to conquer and defend their part of the 1300m/4250ft long beach. Pregnant females choose the best territory to give birth, and will mate again with their landlord within a month.

In the afternoon, huge ocean waves bang on the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, and form a spectacular blowhole, where a fountain of sea water sprays meters/feet high into the air (depending on the tide and how strong sea breeze pushes the waves). Take a meditative break in silence on this emblematic viewpoint to convert this unforgettable moment in a lifetime experience.

Waved albatrosses soar most time of their lives far out at sea and just come to Española (March-December) to breed and nurture their huge chick. This spectacular seabird is the only tropic albatross (critically endangered species). Besides some strayed individuals on Isla de La Plata (out of the Ecuadorian coast) it only breeds on Española, where you can witness its synchronous courtship dances, which include bowing, whistling and even a stylized form of ‘sword fighting’ with their bills (especially in October)!

Suarez Point is also a massive breeding site for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirdsBlue-footed boobies don’t bother to breed in the middle of the trail. Especially during the food-abundant garúa-season (2nd half of the year) you can admire amusing courtship dances, mating, breeding, emerging from the eggs, nurturing or first flight-attempts.

Española marine iguanas become bright red with a turquoise-colored crest and legs at the start of the breeding season (starting from Christmas). Hood lava lizards are the largest of the 7 endemic species in the islands, as well as endemic mockingbirds that have turned to carnivorous behavior!  About midnight San Jose will drop the anchor at the north cape of Floreana

DAY 11 GALAPAGOS CRUISE ON BOARD ON THE SAN JOSE M/Y - CORMORANT POINT - CHAMPION ISLET - POST OFFICE BAY - FLOREANA ISLAND

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Today we’ll connect with the peninsula of Cormorant Point which forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which is pockmarked by numbers of smaller volcanic cones and covered by tropical dry forest (predominantly palo santo). Please don’t expect to spot the flightless cormorant at Cormorant Point. This emblematic example of evolution lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos on Fernandina and Isabela (Route A). Instead, its salty lagoon is one of the best places in Galapagos to observe a breeding colony of American flamingos. Though, when breeding is done and the lagoon dries up, these exotic birds tend to be on the move to look for shrimps and algae from other saline lakes.

At the landing beach you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The green sand contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the south side of the peninsula feels very smooth to your feet; this is pulverized by parrotfishes. Schools of sting rays in the surf love this powdery sand to hide themselves, and Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs in it at night (first months of the year). Next morning you can notice their tracks from the dunes, or eventually still catch an exhausted, delayed one, crawling back to sea.

To complete the emotion of this day Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort our passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the wakes! It is just the prelude of an unforgettable snorkelling excursion. Galapagos sea lions turn under water into playful acrobats that become definitely the number one attraction. There are also lots of reef fish, and perhaps a Pacific green turtle.

An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of sea birds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins (at its extreme eastern distribution border; in danger of extinction), blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and red-billed tropicbirds. swallow-tailed gulls and lava herons.

Most desired on every serious birder’s wish list is to get a glimpse of the Charles mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti (take binoculars!). To the unschooled eye this unique variant may look hardly different to their relatives on other islands, but it is almost extinct (less than 250 birds, depending of dry or wet years); so you need some luck to spot it from seaside. This mockingbird is a scientific and historic key species because it put Darwin on track of his theory of ‘adaptive radiation’.

In this afternoon tour, bring your unstamped postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. Together with James Bay (Santiago) this used to be a popular base to complement stocks. Present barrel commemorates the improvised mail service between British 16th century whalers and poachers. Returning vessels also picked-up letters for home delivery. Finally this post box became the termination of the flourishing British whaling industry in this region (Moby Dick), because it let the American frigate USS Essex easily locate and hijack British whalers during the Anglo-American War (1812-1815).

The arm of a submerged tuff cone protects the turquoise bay at Baroness Lookout. Besides Galapagos sea lions, Pacific green turtles and golden cownose rays you might spot Galapagos penguins! This is the only place in the south-eastern archipelago where some penguins reside; best chances however tomorrow on Bartolome or in the remote west on Fernandina and Isabela (Route A).
Climb the miniature basaltic cone of Baroness Lookout and dream away at the paradisiacal coast-scape. This viewpoint was the favorite spot of one of Floreana’s first colonists, the eccentric Baroness and self-proclaimed ‘Empress of Galapagos’ Eloisa von Wagner Bosquet, who even built her house a few meters behind. She and one of her lovers were the first in a series of mysterious disappearances and deaths in the 1930s.

After quite a long stretch northward, San Jose will anchor between two unique sites.

DAY 12 GALAPAGOS CRUISE ON BOARD ON THE SAN JOSE M/Y - SULLIVAN BAY AND BARTOLOME - SANTIAGO ISLAND

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Setting foot at the lava stream covering Sullivan Bay is like landing on the moon. The desolate, stretched-out fields seem mostly lifeless, but there is enough to see on this highly popular site amongst photographers. Graphical bas-reliefs of rope-lava in the crust are unique to Galapagos and Hawaii.
There is even some life! Pacific green turtles seasonally burry eggs in the tiny white sand beach, where you may also encounter crabs, a strayed blue heron or oystercatcher. On the lava flow only sparse pioneer vegetation such as lava cacti and carpetweed can hold. You might encounter a lava lizard, locusts (!) or a small snake-species (Galapagos racer) hunting for them.

The barely eroded lava flow seems to have been solidified for short, and suggests that you are just able to set foot on it. The baking sun completes the sensation of heat. The winding and rippled pahoehoe rope-lava has preserved intriguing traces that tell flaming stories about vaporized leatherleaf trees and miniature cones of volcanic glass.
Distinctive tuff cones pockmark the new-formed lunatic landscape. Their rusty, oxidized colours and vegetation reveal that these are from an older generation. Originally these were volcano islets on their own that have become part of Santiago during latest eruption (1897), when the hot flood of ooze filled up large parts of the bay, which is the black crust you walk on. For the time being only the opposite islet of Bartolome escaped from incorporation. Ecologically these cones still can be considered as islands, though no longer surrounded by sea, but by wide infertile lava fields.

The wild romantic volcano islet of Bartolome is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale just recently born out off fire. Although tiny (only 120ha/300ac) and at first sight lifeless, Bartolome offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas in the entire archipelago. To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to climb the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island (114m/375ft). Enter suddenly a dramatical world of threatening (though extinguished) nearby spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets that have been spewed out by fiery fountains. The Summit Trail is also ideal to witness how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus is struggling to take root in the bare virgin lava fields.

From the summit you suddenly face a second, paradisiacal world; Galapagos’ landmark ‘Pinnacle Rock’ towers prominently over an isthmus with crescent sand beaches on each side, and dunes with evergreen mangrove bushes in between.
Underwater, a third, completely distinctive world opens up to you, resembling a tropical aquarium. Its shallow, clear and warm waters are ideally for snorkeling between coral-grinding parrot fishes, shoals of surgeonfishes, harmless whitetip reef sharks and Pacific green turtles. If you are lucky you can even catch the sight of fishing Galapagos penguins.

Tonight, you will share a farewell dinner with your trip companions and crew members in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

DAY 13 BLACK TURTLE COVE - SANTA CRUZ ISLAND AND FLY TO QUITO

Morning snack

After early breakfast it’s time to leave the yacht and say goodbye.

The ancient mangle at Black Turtle Cove has grown out to forest proportions and forms the backdrop for a distinct adventure. You might even feel yourself a while in the Amazon rainforest instead of close to sea; though on a closer look vegetation mainly exists of red mangroves with characteristic aerial roots that let them survive in salty and brackish water. By inflatable dinghy you will explore the calm emerald lagoon and enter the surrounding shallow creeks of these salt-water marshes. The outboard engine is sometimes turned off, so that you can enjoy the ambiance at its fullest. You have to keep your eyes peeled when looking around and staring into the crystal clear waters to observe all the life that is flying and swimming around.

You can spot silently hunting lava herons on the banks and brown pelicans nesting on top of the mangroves. Various species of ray and shark come to this nutritious cradle to give birth; scaloped hammerhead sharks come back to the place where they’ve born and their babies tend to be close to the surface. Pacific green turtles (black turtles was their former name) visit this cove in their reproduction season (November-January); if you’re lucky you can catch them mating at the surface! Afterwards their eggs are deposited on coral sand beaches along this north-western coastline of Santa Cruz.

Afterwards, assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where you will take the airport shuttle. Your guide will accompany you until the check-in counters in the departure hall in Order to take your flight back to Quito.

Arriving in Quito your private transfer will be there to pick you up to your hotel and last night in Ecuador.

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DAY 14 QUITO AND INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT

Breakfast

Transfer to the airport for your international flight

We expect that you will return home with stunning pictures and unforgettable memories for life!

MAKE IT DIFFERENT (OPTIONAL)

Ask our experts about an extension to beautiful Lake Titicaca, the great Amazon, the mysterious Nasca lines in Peru or take the 8 days trip in Galapagos, visit the colonial jewel of Cuenca or the Ecuadorian rainforest.

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