Have you ever thought about combining the best of two South American destinations and creating a trip of a life time? Well many people do, and by far the most popular choice is combining Peru and Ecuador to create a Machu Picchu and Galapagos Tour.
There are many things to consider when planning a Machu Picchu Galapagos Tour, so we have put together a top ten list of things to research to help things run a little more smoothly.
1) How many days have you got? – This is really important to know, as you will probably need a minimum of 10 days, ideally 12 or more. Don´t try to fit too much in a short period or you won’t do any destination justice.
2) What time is best to travel to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu? – In the Galapagos you have high and low seasons, meaning that tariffs for cruises will change depending on when you travel. Check with your travel agent or cruise operator to see when the tariffs change; by playing around with your travel dates you may save yourself some money. Also in the Galapagos, the wildlife and seas change depending on the season. Check out our month by month guide to the Galapagos for further information. At Machu Picchu it is best to avoid November through until April as this is the rainy season.
3) Galapagos or Machu Picchu first? – This is really a personal choice, but it is probably worth getting a quote on the flights between Peru and Ecuador, as flights can be expensive depending on the route you take. Budget $250 – $600 for a return / one way flight.
4) Big Boat or Small Boat in the Galapagos? – Again this is probably a personal choice and there are pros and cons to both sizes. Bigger cruise ships typically offer more communal spaces, more services plus more spacious cabins and types. Smaller boats can offer a more intimate experience with a more personalized service. The decision is really yours. Some also say that catamaran boats offer more stability in bumpy waters, so this might also be something that you might want to consider.
5) Additional hidden costs for Galapagos Cruises! – There are some costs which are not always obvious when travelling to the Galapagos. If you are booking your trip through a travel agent, then you might want to ask what is included and what is not.
$90 upwards: fuel surcharges. Several years ago, when fuel prices rose suddenly, cruise companies introduced a fuel surcharge. Although prices have fallen since, the surcharge remains in place. Prices vary depending on the cruise company and cruise duration.
$100 Galapagos Park Tax: this is a local TAX which most travel agents will not include within the price of tour. This tax is paid in person at either Quito or Guayaquil airport. It is $100 per person.
$10 INGALA Tourist Control Card: any person visiting the Galapagos must pay this additional fee. Price per person. This may or may not be included in the price of a tour.
Ask about what meals and drinks are included.
Confirm if snorkeling equipment is included within the price or not. Most cruise companies will rent
6) Flights for my Galapagos Machu Picchu Tour – You will need to include several carefully planned flights in your tour itinerary for the trip to run smoothly. Remember, try to avoid too many flights in a row, and plan your tour so that you have a couple of buffer days to absorb any unforeseen delays that you might encounter. LAN and TACA Airlines are the two principle carriers between Peru and Ecuador. Flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos are best purchased with your Galapagos Cruise or with your travel agent. Galapagos airlines have special agreements and tariffs with most cruise companies. Flights to the Galapagos only operate from Guayaquil and Quito in Ecuador (you must fly to Ecuador mainland first). All Galapagos flights follow the same route: Quito – Guayaquil – Galapagos – Guayaquil – Quito.
7) Hotels in Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu is located 4 hours by train from Cusco the nearest major city, and therefore you will probably want to stay one night. The citadel of Machu Picchu is perched high above the Urubamba Valley, and therefore all but one of Machu Picchu´s hotels are located in a small village called Aguas Calientes 30 minutes below the citadel. Aguas Calientes is a rather unique village, and all hotels there are extremely over priced for what they offer. To avoid disappointment it is best to be prepared to pay 2-3 times more for a hotel here than you would in Cusco. The Sanctuary lodge hotel is the only hotel located at the citadel of Machu Picchu, and although very good it is very expensive. Expect to pay from $700 per night. See our Peru guide section on hotels in Machu Picchu.
8) New Rules for Entrance to Machu Picchu – In July 2011, the governing body of Culture in Cusco (DRC) changed the entrance rules for Machu Picchu. Now entrance to the citadel is limited to 2500 people per day, tickets for hiking Huayna Picchu must be purchased in advance, and are limited to 400 people per day, split into two entrance times 7-8am and 10-11am. Talk to your Peru travel agent about what is included in your package.
9) Land based Galapagos – Not many people know that there are also many hotels in the Galapagos, and that land based tours are possible. Often visitors to the Galapagos prefer the facilities and comfort of a modern hotel to that of a cruise ship. Daily excursions to other islands nearby can easily be arranged through your hotel or a local travel agent. Land based tours are also a superb option for scuba divers as most diving companies operate from Land based premises.
10) How much does a Galapagos Machu Picchu Tour Cost? – This is a really big question! There really are many options to choose from, including hotel level, class of cruise, duration of cruise, additional tours in Peru and Ecuador, flight tariffs etc….expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 – $8,000 per person, including all internal flights but not your international flights from home.
Peru Guide – www.theonlyperuguide.com
This site has been put together by travel professionals living and working in Peru, and is full of destination ideas, things to do, places to stay and restaurant reviews! Take some time to read through our Peru guide for other ideas, and contact us should you have any questions.
For travel in Peru and mainland Ecuador, we highly recommend Peru Hop and Ecuador Hop, a couple of excellent hop on hop off services which allow travelers to explore these two countries independently.