A spectacular journey travelling the historical Inca Road in the footsteps of the great Chasquis and on to the stunning wildlife haven of Galapagos.
For this adventure we immerse you in the mystical world of Incan history and travel the Great Inca Road between the ancient sites of Choquequirao and Machu Picchu, before transporting you to the magical sanctuary of the Galapagos Islands. Our journey through Peru follows in the footsteps of the legendary Chasqui runners who supported the vast Incan empire, delivering communications along the 38,000km Inca Road. As we trek between these two lost cities we will witness spectacular landscapes, explore high Andean villages and travel through five climate zones – including Andean Puna and Cloud Forest where endangered condors are through the eyes of these historic messengers. And from one breathtaking setting to another, we end your incredible journey with four unforgettable days at one of the planet’s most incredible wildlife destinations, Galapagos.
Our journey is one of historical and spiritual significance, as we traverse along one of the most spectacular lengths of the Inca Road, between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu. Our final leg through Galapagos celebrates life of all forms, as we witness the incredible natural triumphs of our planet.
Welcome to South America
We begin our journey in Santiago, Chile, where you have a chance to explore this fascinating city that rarely sleeps. Buzzing with the life and energy on every South American street corner, we make our way on Day 2 to the captivating history and grandeur of Cusco, Peru, where you will uncover its past with a tour of the city’s historical precincts. We will enjoy a good rest in a luxury hotel and a free day to explore the city and rest before your Inca Trail journey begins in earnest on Day 3.
In the footsteps of legends
We begin our journey on the path between Cusco and Chiquisca, following in the footsteps of the heroic Chasquis. They were known as some of the greatest runners in history, capable of relaying messages at speeds of over 320km per day at altitudes above 13,000 feet. While these great athletes were endowed with incredible strength and stamina, they also had wisdom and a way of connecting with the land and its inhabitants that helped propel them along the steep mountainous terrain. For our journey, we will be supported by porters and mules, camping for 7 nights in four-season tents in established campsites, the first of which is in the ancient setting of Chiquisca.
Ancient and remote ruins
Waking up to spectacular views, we continue on Day 5 towards Choquequirao, with our route traversing one of the most stunning sections of the Inca Road between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu. Choquequirao is considered one of the most remote ancient ruins in the world and is currently visited by fewer than 70 people per day, which the Peruvian Government plans to change, with plans to build a road and tram system to the site. Currently the site is only accessible by a two-day walk across a 5,000-foot deep canyon.
Solitude in the clouds
Situated at 10,000 feet, Choquequirao is located in pristine cloud forest and features extensive waterways, temples and agriculture terracing as impressive as Machu Picchu. While the site is only 30% excavated, the energy of the site is profound and there are ample opportunities to find solitude as we explore the origins of this remote lost city. While at the site we will work with local shaman and participate in a traditional Despacho ceremony, giving gratitude to the spirit of Pachamama.
Flora and fauna paradise
Day 7 and we leave Choquequirao to travel towards Maizal. As we explore the rich history of the Andean people, we also discover the diversity of the land. Peru boasts the highest concentration of microclimates in the world and our journey takes us through five climate zones, including a rare cloud forest, which is home to one third of Peru’s birds, mammals and frogs. Here we will see an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, including bromeliads, orchids, butterflies, giant hummingbirds and the Andean condor.
Honouring the spirits
As we venture deeper into the Andean highlands, the landscape opens into high alpine Cordillera, as we pass near permanent glaciers and high villages. The mountains here are sacred to the Andean people and we honour these great spirits as we pass within view of the Apus Kiswar, Quriwayrachina and Pintuyu. Here we begin to appreciate the greatness of the Chasqui runners as we climb elaborate stone paths constructed centuries ago and still in use by local people today as they pass these steep mountains.
Supporting the local community
Day 8 and we descend Victoria Pass at 14,000 feet to discover the small village of Yanama where we will connect with the local people through the practice of Ayni as we participate in a service project to improve the local school. Day 9 takes us up through a majestic valley surrounded by high peaks, climbing to our highest point at 15,272 feet as we cross Yanama Pass. From here we get our first glimpses of Salkantay, the second most dominant peak in Peru, known as the Savage Mountain and the ruler of weather and fertility, and on to Collipaoampa.
Lush forests and hot springs
The climate changes quickly as we descend 7,000 feet from high alpine landscapes into lush tropical vegetation passing fruit groves and coffee plantations that have been present since Incan times. On Day 10 we have the opportunity to visit the hot springs near Salkantay before descending the Santa Teresa river valley, passing many small villages. We then venture back up into cloud forest to the ancient site of Llactapata. Here we will enjoy a beautiful moss covered forest and explore the ancient observatory which is perfectly aligned with Machu Picchu across the valley. Day 11 and we are now within site of our final destination as we make our way down to Aguas Caliente, travelling through abundant forests filled with parrots and orchids. Upon arrival we will have opportunity for a soak in the hot spring and enjoy a fine meal as we explore this quaint village and relax in preparation for our visit to Machu Picchu the next day.
Ascent to the Temple of the Moon
Day 12 is our chance to fully explore the magic of Machu Picchu. In the morning we travel up to the citadel and spend the day exploring this expansive site, connecting to its energy and learning the role this ancient ruin played in the Andean cosmology. While here we will have the chance to climb Huayna Picchu, the steep prominent mountain that defines the site, and hike to the more remote Temple of the Moon which few visitors experience. Here we will hold our final Andean ceremony. After a special overnight camp at one of the world’s most historic sites, we board our train back to Cusco to enjoy a comfortable hotel stay and final celebratory group dinner at one of the finer restaurants in Historic San Blas, before beginning our journey home.
Journey to Galapagos Archipelago
Day 13 is a day of transition as we fly to Guayaquil Ecuador and the following day, take a 2 . hour flight to Baltra Island, to arrive in the Galapagos and board our stunning floating home for the coming days. First stop is the Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center to witness the incredible successes of the Galapagos giant tortoises and land iguanas breeding programme.
Sea lions, shorebirds and blue-footed boobies
Today we travel from Baltra to North Seymour Island to visit a large colony of sealions living amongst herons and lava gulls and thriving on the isolation and richness of their natural habitat. In the afternoon we have more incredible up-close wildlife encounters, with a two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and swallow-tailed gulls. You will also meet sea lions, land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across a Galapagos Snake. There is the option to snorkel on both encounters.
Cactus forests, land iguanas and mockingbirds
A ‘wet’ boat landing on Santa Fe Island makes it a perfect day for a deep water snorkel. Surrounded by sea lion colonies on landing, we will head ashore to venture through endemic cactus forest – home to the Santa Fe land iguanas, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, finches and mockingbirds. A climb to the highest point above South Plaza Islet will take us through impressive cactus forest and more iguanas, to discover tropicbirds, a Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls. Day 17 will be a relaxing walk around Kicker Rock – home to many Galapagos sea animals – followed by a visit to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve on San Cristobal Island, to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs, before the return flight to Guayaquil.
Day 18 and it is time to leave one of the planet’s most extraordinary wildlife destinations for home, with a happier and more courageous heart, a fulfilled mind and soul and an enriched view on this incredible planet we call home.