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The best of South America: From Machu Picchu to Galápagos
Hike to Machu Picchu, explore Incan heritage in Cusco and encounter the wildlife delights of the Galapagos Islands
About your trip
Looking to combine the best of Peru with the wild splendour of the Galápagos Islands? We crafted this adventure for you.
This 12-day itinerary will see you uncover some of South America’s most celebrated sights: Machu Picchu, Cusco and, of course, the renowned Galápagos archipelago.
Explore the very islands that inspired Charles Darwin to conceive his theory of natural selection, with sea lions, flamingoes and giant tortoises acting as your gracious hosts.
Back on dry land, learn how to cook regional recipes (sure to delight your friends at home) and craft the perfect Pisco Sour.
- Local transport
- Most meals included
- Max 14 Flashpackers
- Atol protected
- Private airport transfers
Remember, flights aren't included. We're happy to help you find the best ones for you.
Day 01 Explore lively Lima
Welcome to Lima. Upon arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel by a private transfer – then it’s time for the fun to begin. After meeting your fellow travellers, head out together to explore the bohemian district of Barranco, the stomping ground of the city’s artists, musicians and makers. Stroll through the streets as evening settles in, weaving through colonial-era buildings, stylish boutiques and restaurants. Head to a local bar with your group, sharing platters of piqueos and drinks as you get to know each other.
Day 02 A food tour through Lima’s streets
This morning will see you explore Lima’s streets by bike. Passing through the elegant districts of Miraflores and Barranco, there’ll be plenty of stops to sample local food and drink. Eat and drink to your heart’s content (all that cycling allows for some guilt-free indulgence). Then, as evening arrives, head out to experience the splendour of the Magic Fountains Show, marvelling at the shooting waters as they glow in the black night.
Day 03 To the Sacred Valley
This morning, you’ll start making your way to the Sacred Valley, beginning with your flight to Cusco. Up in the highlands, enjoy a taste of contemporary Peruvian cuisine, from roasted meats to freshly-picked produce. Then you’ll continue your journey to the Sacred Valley, arriving in the late afternoon. We’ve left the evening free for you, to allow you the chance to acclimatise to the altitude and catch up on some rest.
Day 04 Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
This morning, hop on a train to Ollantaytambo – a village built into the slopes of the Sacred Valley. The morning is yours to explore the fortress, with a dedicated guide to talk you through the chapters of history. Later in the morning, head to the town itself, where there are plenty of options for lunch. You’ll have a couple of hours to explore the town at your own pace, from its handicrafts market to its restaurants and bars. Then it’s time to hop on a train that will take you to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. Settle into your new surroundings and freshen up, before heading out for dinner with your fellow travellers.
Day 05 Hike to Machu Picchu
Today is yours to experience Machu Picchu in its full splendour. Located at 2,430 metres above sea level, the lost Inca citadel looks out over the ridges of the Andes Mountains. Led by an expert guide, uncover the legacy of the Incas as the condors soar overhead. Then hop on a bus to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, renowned for its medicinal thermal waters. Scattered with restaurants, boutiques and an artisanal craft market, lose yourself in the streets of this little mountain pueblo. Come evening, you’re off to Cusco.
Day 06 Explore Inca heritage in Cusco
After filling up on breakfast, it’s time to hit the streets of Cusco. Journeying through a series of historical landmarks, from the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman to the Qenqo Temple, explore the city’s rich heritage with your fellow travellers. Later in the afternoon, head out to discover the sights of San Pedro market. Feast your eyes on an abundance of local produce and lose yourself in a maze of beautiful traditional textiles. Then, get to grips with the basics of contemporary Cusco cuisine in a local kitchen. Learn all about local ingredients, flavours and preparation from professional chefs working in the city – then enjoy dinner with your fellow travellers, as the sun fades over the Andes.
Day 07 Arrive in Guayaquil
Today will see you arrive in Guayaquil, a lively city overlooking the Pacific coast. After checking into our hotel – a beautiful historic building in a city park – the rest of the day is yours to explore the city at leisure. Unwind in the hotel, stroll along the Malecon or head out to buy some souvenirs. Then, as evening settles in, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, soaking up the atmosphere of your coastal city.
Day 08 Hello, Galapagos
Today, you’re off to the Galapagos Islands. With unique wildlife roaming its shores, from giant tortoises to inquisitive sea lions, this is an area of intense biodiversity and natural splendour. Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, head straight to the Itabaca Canal to explore the coast by kayak. Paddle through red mangrove forests and along cliff banks formed through ancient lava flows, keeping an eye out for sea lions and reef sharks as you go. Later in the afternoon, head up into the highlands to a giant tortoise reserve, conveniently located beside our glamping site. Bordering the National Park, this vast habitat is home to the island’s iconic creatures, where they roam freely without any threat of predators. Then, settle into your camp for the evening, with dinner and drinks overlooking the hills – with perhaps a wandering giant tortoise for company.
Day 09 Adventures on the archipelago
This morning will see you explore the remote islands of the archipelago by boat, uncovering distant shores under the guidance of a naturalist. Disembark to explore one of the islands of the national park, with time to appreciate the spectacular wildlife and pristine natural surroundings. Lunch will be served aboard the boat, with the refreshing sea breeze keeping us cool. Back on Santa Cruz, head out with your group for a unique dinner in a lava tunnel that has been adapted into a cosy restaurant. Bon appetit.
Day 10 Spectacular wildlife sights
After a very early breakfast, make your way to Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos islands but also one of the least inhabited. Upon arrival, you’ll bike to the island’s breeding centre, where the local giant tortoise population is slowly recuperating. Here, you’ll learn about the process of breeding, as the guide talks you through the challenges facing conservation and reintroducing these creatures to the wild. Continue your bike journey, exploring a network of paths winding through the island. Uncover the island in its full biodiverse beauty, weaving through different varieties of mangrove trees amid colonies of marine iguanas and flamingos en route. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant in town, before heading out to explore the Tintoreras islets. Spend the afternoon snorkelling alongside playful sea lions, who are inquisitive and friendly by nature.
Day 11 Hike to the caldera of Sierra Negra
Wake up early this morning – you’ll be hiking up to the caldera of Sierra Negra. Isabela is one of the youngest and most volcanic islands of Galapagos – and the mighty Sierra Negra is a testament to the island’s intense volcanic nature. At the peak, you’ll encounter the world’s second largest caldera – a colossal crater impossible to capture in an image. Absorb spectacular views over the archipelago, before returning to town just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, hit the beach for a few hours of relaxation. You’ll also have the option to kayak around the bay – a great spot for seeking out penguins and sea lions. In the evening, head out with your group for your last dinner on Isabela.
Day 12 Adiós, Galápagos
After breakfast at the hotel, head back to Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador, where this journey comes to its end. It’s now over to you to make your way to your next destination. Not quite done with South America? Why not extend your escape with our bestselling Chile adventure?
Our Favourite Hotels
Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.
Magic Galapagos, Santa Cruz
Highland campsite with doorstep access to incredible wildlife
Located high in the wilderness, sink into the natural surroundings of the island secluded from the town.
Why we stay here
Bed down beneath the stars in beautiful safari tents, with giant tortoises roaming around you. This campsite will allow you to experience a unique wildlife phenomenon in the heart of the Galapagos.
Hotel del Parque, Guayaquil
Beautiful restored building located in the heart of the historic park
Surrounded by leafy boulevards and colonial buildings, this hotel blends comfort and elegance to enchanting effect.
Why we stay here
Sleep in luxurious comfort with the park at your doorstep, with experiences from chocolate harvesting to coffee roasting at your disposal.
Fly into Lima Airport (LIM) and depart from Guayaquil Airport (GYE).
We suggest that you arrive in Lima before 2pm on day 1, although we will arrange an airport transfer for you at whichever time you arrive. We suggest departing after 10am on the final day.
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll do our best to ensure it has little impact on your adventure. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting.
We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures, read more here.
Joining the Flash Pack community comes with a few special guarantees...
Our trips are for like-minded people in their 30s and 40s – and 98% of them join us solo. It’s almost a given you’ll make friends.
We know the world’s best bits, so your adventure will always be immersive and authentic, and your accommodation hand-picked.
Our guides on the ground know their destinations better than anyone, so expect unprecedented access to local living and cultural secrets.
We take all the hassle out of travel planning for you. Unique accommodation? Activities? People? Sorted.
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