WHY THIS TRIP
Experience the best Inca sites on day hikes around Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and Machu Picchu, then relax in in comfortable, local boutique hotels at night. You will experience Peru like no other tourists and you will even get to hike the last day of the Inca Trail to arrive to Machu Picchu on foot via the Gate of the Sun, just like the Incas did centuries ago. World-class guides will entertain you and enhance your understanding of what you are seeing, giving you a very complete Inca Peru experience. The Cachalote Explorer is a top choice for those looking for a great Galapagos experience, with great itineraries, guides, and service, but who don’t need, or want to pay for, luxurious cabins and shared spaces.
After being met at the Cusco airport on Day 2, you will begin the trip with a local’s guide to Peru, a short walking tour of colonial Cusco to help you get your bearings in this fascinating city, and also to help you adjust to the high altitude.
On Day 3 you will hike in the hills above Cusco to explore the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman where huge stone rampart surround a beautiful grass amphitheater. Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay where you will enjoy a special picnic lunch. After checking out the Temple of the Moon you will descend a beautifully preserved section of royal Inca Trail back into Cusco.
You will hike to the circular ruins of Moray on Day 4, as you begin your journey towards Machu Picchu. The concentric circular terraces here were used as an experimental agricultural center by the Inca. From there you walk downhill through a series of fields where you may get to stop and chat with local farmers digging in their corn fields or planting potatoes. Finally you come to the Maras Salt Pans, where you can see locals harvesting salt the same way they have been for hundreds and hundreds of years, well before the Incas. Continue on foot to the Urubamba River, where you meet your driver and head to your hotel for the evening.
Next you catch the train towards Machu Picchu, where you get off at Kilometer 104 to begin the final stretch of the trek along the world famous Inca Trail, passing restored ruins and eventually arriving at the entrance to Machu Picchu at the Gate of the Sun. You will hike past perhaps the prettiest part of the Inca Trail, hiking on Inca stairways and through the tropical cloud forest. At Machu Picchu you will enjoy the overview from the Gate of the Sun, but then will head down to a hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo where you have the evening free to explore the extensive artisan market and lively bars and restaurants.
The next morning you explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu. You will arrive early, allowing you to explore the ruins in the company of your guide, before they get too busy. The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could hike to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face. Later you return via train and bus to Cusco along the spectacular Urubamba River.
While cruising around the islands on your 8 day Cachalote Galapagos Cruise, you’ll snorkel with the sea lions, observe blue-footed boobies, enjoy the scenery of volcanoes rising from turquoise waters, and perhaps spot dolphins and whales. Though there are no guarantees when it comes to wildlife, your highly trained naturalist guide will maximize your opportunities to see and learn about the fascinating animals you’re like to encounter in the Galapagos. Your guide will lead you on naturalist walks everyday, as well as provide daily opportunities to snorkel and explore the shoreline from a small zodiac.
This beautifully decorated motor yacht was rebuilt in 2018 to meet all international marine safety standards and provide comfortable accommodations for Galapagos passengers. Between excursions, you are free to relax and enjoy the Cachalote’s decks, perhaps soak up some equatorial sun, or read with the wind in your hair and salt in the air. The dining room and lounge area is where you will enjoy your family style meals and meet with your guide for your daily briefings. The Cachalote has eight double cabins, private bathroom with hot water, window (some with picture windows and some with portholes), and air conditioning. The ample deck space is great for relaxing and even whale watching.
Cachalote has also earned the “Smart Voyager” certification, which measures conservation standards and sustainable practices for cruises.
LOCAL TRIP OPERATORS
Amazonas Explorer (Peru)
For more than three decades Amazonas Explorer has led high-quality trips and alternative adventures throughout South America. Based in Cusco, its professionally trained guides, cooks and support crew bring their passion and skills to the travelers they serve and, in turn, build rewarding careers for themselves. This talented staff of local experts is focused on providing you with safe and comfortable adventures, all centered on making your holiday as memorable as possible.
Enchanted Expeditions (Galapagos Islands)
Over its 30 years in business Enchanted Expeditions has built a stellar reputation for enchanting active, conservation-minded travelers with excellent service and authentic Ecuadorian experiences both on land and at sea.
One of the first travel companies in the Galapagos, Enchanted Expedition owns two yachts: the spacious first-class motor yacht, the Beluga, and its tastefully decorated first class schooner, the Cachalote I. In an operation managed by a native of the Galapagos, each yacht has been awarded the Smart Voyager certification for adhering to conservation standards. The yachts accommodate 16 passengers each, a small exclusive group size that ensures an intimate experience.
In addition to the Galapagos Islands, Enchanted Expeditions operates trips throughout Ecuador. With the rich cultural heritage of Ecuador present on every trip, clients can choose where to focus their experience: adventure, culture, nature, markets, wildlife, or one of special interest to explore dining, archeology, education, arts, and important historical sites in Ecuador.