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This trip combines two of our most popular tours, exploring the mysterious lost city of Machu Picchu and cruising the famed Galapagos Islands. Your thrilling adventure takes you first to the bustling colonial town of Cusco, Peru to begin your Machu Picchu tour through the legendary Sacred Valley, stopping at villages and ancient Inca ruins along the way. A scenic train ride takes you to the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu where you’ll spend two days exploring the captivating ruins and the majestic mountains that surround them. Then you’ll fly to the magical country of Ecuador to embark on a Galapagos cruise of the "Enchanted Isles" that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution. The islands' unique ecosystem sustains extraordinary plant and animal diversity, where visitors on Galapagos tours may observe wildlife close up and take amazing photos. The combination of these two world-renowned destinations makes for the South America adventure of a lifetime.


Day 1: Arrive Lima

Arrival and transfer to your hotel. If you arrive early, we can arrange optional tours to explore the city, including museum visits, and other sites of interests.

Day 2: Lima - Cusco

Morning departure for your flight to Cusco, center of the Inca Empire. Your Peru tour begins as Southern Explorations' guides pick you up at the airport, stopping for a quick tour of the colonial Plaza de Armas. From there, you will be taken to your hotel and be free for the rest of the day to explore the city and acclimatize to the altitude (10,856 ft). (B)

Day 3: Cusco

This morning, your Peru travels take you on a guided walking tour through the colorful markets of Cusco, the colonial cathedral and Koricancha, the impressive Temple of the Sun. After a lunch of regional cuisine, depart for an afternoon tour of prominent Inca sights in and around Cusco. You'll see the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, with its megalithic stone terraces; Kenko, with its carved stone surfaces and subterranean altars; the small Puka Pukara fortress that protected the royal capital from attacks; and the water temple, Tambo Machay. In the late afternoon, return to your hotel to relax or further explore the fascinating mix of Cusco cultures. (B)

Day 4: Cusco - Sacred Valley

Today's day-long guided excursion journeys through snowcapped mountains to the legendary Sacred Valley of the Incas. Along the way, your Peru tour takes you past Inca terracing that climbs steep valley walls, then on through the ruined temples of Pisac with panoramic views of the jagged granite peaks before stopping in the town to visit one of the best textile markets in the Andes. There, you'll be able to browse for souvenirs and learn about the local culture. After lunch, the next stop is Ollantaytambo (9,185 ft.), a small town with an impressive Inca fortress. Stay overnight at a hotel in Ollantaytambo. (B)

Day 5: Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and take a refreshing walking tour of the Ollantaytambo ruins and surrounding town before heading to the Ollantaytambo train station for today's unforgettable trip. Making its way toward the Amazon and Machu Picchu, the train follows the Urubamba River into a magnificent cloud forest, arriving at the station. Here take a traditional lunch before meeting the bus waiting to take you the rest of the way to Machu Picchu (7,875 ft.). Spend the afternoon exploring the famous ruins, returning in the late afternoon to nearby Aguas Calientes where you'll be spending the night. You'll have time for a soothing soak in the hot springs and a tasty dinner before turning in early. (B)

Day 6: Machu Picchu - Chinchero Artisan Market - Cusco

Today, take the opportunity to see an unmatched sunrise at Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive and spend the rest of the day among the numerous ruins a climb to the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu or a picturesque walk to the Temple of the Moon. Return midday to the town of Aguas Calientes for lunch and your early afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. Meet your private van at the train station to travel to the collective Chinchero textile market, featuring an explanation of the traditional weaving methods of the Sacred Valley and some of the best textiles available in Peru. This is the ideal place for last minute shopping before returning to your Cusco hotel for the evening. (B)

Day 7: Cusco - Lima - Quito

In the morning you'll be taken to the airport for the return flight to Lima and your connecting international flight to Quito. Arrival and transfer to your Quito hotel. (B)

Day 8: Quito - Galapagos Islands

Morning transfer to the Quito airport for a flight to the Galapagos Islands to board your cruise. (B,L,D)

Day 9 - 11: Galapagos Islands Cruise

According to your chosen itinerary, you will visit between four and ten different islands. Each of the Galapagos Islands has its own particular topography, ecology and wildlife. Dinghies provide daily transport to shore for walking tours, enabling you to get closer wildlife views. All tours allow ample time for the activities included in the itinerary, whether snorkeling, scuba diving or swimming. If you prefer pure relaxation, you'll find it on the boat as well as under the equatorial sun on the beach. For more details, please refer to the individual vessel itineraries. (B,L,D)

Day 12: Galapagos Islands - Quito

Your final morning will include one last island visit before being transferred from the vessel to the airport for your return flight to Quito. Arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to your comfortable Quito hotel. (B)

Day 13: Quito - Home

Transfer to the airport for the international departure home, the end of Southern Explorations services. If you are interested in more Galapagos tours, trip extensions to other regions or extra days in Quito, we would be happy to arrange them. (B)

Weather (Galapagos Islands)

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

The great weather of the Galapagos Islands makes them a fantastic destination for travel year-round. Every month of the year is a good time to enjoy a tour of the region. The Galapagos Islands have a subtropical climate that is almost completely determined by sea currents. Although most believe the Galapagos to be a very hot destination, the cool water currents in the area keep the climate more temperate year-round. The islands’ equatorial location ensures twelve hours of sunlight daily, all year long. The mild variations in weather from month to month result in an overall climate of warm days, cool nights and low humidity. Anytime is a great time to travel to the Galapagos; while visiting one can expect to see plenty of sunshine, blue skies and a possible chance of light rain.

There are two seasons in the Galapagos:

  • The hot or rainy season arrives with the coming of the warm Panama current. The warmest months are December through June with temperatures ranging from 72-90°F (22-32°C), with February and March being the hottest and sunniest. The sea is at its warmest (in the 70°F range) and tends to be calmer during this time. Although the islands receive slightly more rainfall during these months, most of the lower elevations remain quite arid. Expect blue skies and sunshine and with a chance of short afternoon showers.
  • July through November is the dry or garua season, which begins with the arrival of cold ocean currents. One can expect cooler temperatures and a light mist in the morning during these months. The skies are also a bit cloudier and air temperatures a bit cooler, in the range of 60-75°F (15-24°C). The garua is a mist that forms in the highlands, providing moisture and usually tapering off by midday, leaving skies slightly overcast or sunny for the afternoon. The air temperature can be slightly lower, but the Equator is still a warm place to visit. During this time of year a cold ocean current from the south, called the Antarctic Humboldt current, causes the water temperature to drop slightly, ranging from 60°F- 72°F (15-22°C).

Within both seasons, there are other variants, like altitude, that affect the weather.
The lowest point of elevation is sea level and the highest is Wolf Volcano, Isabela Island (5,600ft or 1,710m). There are seven vegetation zones ranging from arid coastal zones to evergreen cloud forests to treeless shrubless pampa zones, all of which are affected by moisture levels, temperature and sunlight. During the garua season, the coast is very dry while the highlands are much wetter. The hot season may or may not have a rainy period which normally lasts four to six weeks, or in the event of El Nino, a longer period. During the hot season, the coastal zones remain arid. Prevailing winds from the southeast keep the southern sides of the major islands much moister then the northern sides, which fall into a rain shadow resulting in the arid zones reaching a much higher elevation. The months of May and December are changeover periods and weather and sea temperatures in these months tend to vary from year to year depending on the change in the water currents. Occasionally, one will feel humidity, predominantly on the south side of major islands. Compared to the humidity levels in the Amazon or the US South, the humidity in the Galapagos is very low and will not disturb activities.

Snorkeling is an activity offered on all Galapagos trips.
Wetsuits, available onboard most cruises and for all land tours, are recommended June through November. Though sea temperatures vary significantly from island to island, generally all travelers will use a wetsuit during this time. Snorkeling in shallow waters offshore or in protective coves tends to be warmer. Waters to the north, near Genovesa are warmed by the Panama Current, whereas snorkeling off the western island of Isabela is always chilly due to the cold Cromwell undercurrent. The Humboldt Current, or the South Equatorial Current, brings cold sub-Antarctic water that flows through the archipelago eight or nine months a year keeping sea temperatures low. One will experience a variance in sea temperatures while snorkeling on any trip during any time of the year. During the hot season, travelers tend to spend more time in the water, especially at midday when the temperatures are the hottest and wildlife is less active. Snorkeling is an optional activity and those who are not interested in snorkeling have other options.

Sea Conditions are a concern of many cruise travelers.
All Galapagos vessels are small; the largest accommodates only 100 passengers. Naturally, some movement will be felt on all vessels regardless of the time of year or the size of the vessel. The seas around the Galapagos are generally shallow and despite being the crossroads of several currents, the waters are not terribly rough. The seas are at their calmest January through April. December, May and June are transitional months during which one will experience relatively calm seas, though it varies year to year depending on the shift in the currents. July through November, one will find choppier seas, with August through October being the roughest. Certain vessels are more stable than others and cabin location can also help avoid seasickness. Most travel is done at night while passengers are sleeping with the only exception being the short midday transit (two hours or less). During the day, vessels dock in calm waters near shore. Passengers spend most of the day on land or snorkeling. These factors lessen the risk of seasickness. We recommend that you bring over-the-counter or prescription motion sickness medication, though many cruisers discover that the seas are much calmer than anticipated. If you are concerned about motion sickness, please contact us for more details on how to select the right vessel for you.


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall


*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall


*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Weather (Peru)

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Peru is a diverse country. With beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert, there is no off-season. But it does pay to know a bit about where you're going, and what you'll need on your Peru tour:

The Andes - Though officially part of the dry season, April and May are considered the Andean spring, while June through October marks the Andean summer. Mid-day temperatures range from 70 to 80 F in the sun. Nighttime temperatures in Cusco range in the 40s F and can dip into the 30s F. Weather is usually clear in the morning with clouds accumulating in the afternoon. Rain can happen in any season, so quality rain gear is essential.

The Amazon - A rainforest environment, the Peruvian Amazon has varied weather conditions and frequent unpredictable rain showers. It is generally hot and humid during the day with more comfortable temperatures through the night. Daytime high temperatures average between 82° and 93° F, and the average nighttime low is between 62° and 73°. Nevertheless, in some areas cold fronts can sweep into the Amazon and push daytime high temperatures down to 50° F and nighttime lows to 43° F. Any time of year, one should always be prepared for cooler temperatures and rain showers. Around 80% of the annual average 79 inches of rainfall occurs during the rainy season (December through March) when heavy rain may continue for hours or days.

Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 68-79 0.0
FEB 69-80 0.0
MAR 69-80 0.0
APR 67-76 0.0
MAY 63-72 0.0
JUN 61-69 0.1
JUL 60-67 0.2
AUG 60-66 0.1
SEP 60-67 0.1
OCT 60-69 0.1
NOV 62-72 0.0
DEC 64-76 0.0

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 44-65 6.3
FEB 44-65 5.2
MAR 43-66 4.3
APR 41-67 1.8
MAY 39-67 0.3
JUN 33-66 0.1
JUL 32-66 0.2
AUG 35-67 0.3
SEP 39-68 0.9
OCT 42-69 1.9
NOV 43-69 3.1
DEC 44-69 4.7

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 38-62 5.2
FEB 38-62 4.3
MAR 38-62 3.8
APR 33-62 1.5
MAY 25-62 0.4
JUN 19-61 0.1
JUL 18-61 0.1
AUG 22-63 0.2
SEP 29-64 0.8
OCT 33-65 1.5
NOV 35-66 2.0
DEC 37-64 3.6

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 71-88 13.6
FEB 70-87 12.8
MAR 70-88 11.9
APR 69-87 6.1
MAY 66-86 4.2
JUN 63-84 2.3
JUL 62-85 2.2
AUG 64-88 2.5
SEP 66-90 3.9
OCT 69-90 6.5
NOV 70-89 9.3
DEC 70-88 12.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands Custom Combo Tour - 5D/4N Cruise

Starting at
TOURIST SUPERIOR$5095$5295$5795
FIRST CLASS$5140$5440$6020
CRUISE SHIP$5690$7080$6995
LUXURY CRUISE$6140$7240$7740

This tour combines any Galapagos cruise of your choice with our classic Experience Machu Picchu trip  Your trip costs depend on which vessel and cruise duration you select.  Prices listed here are per person starting at rates.

Internal Airfare:
Round Trip Quito / Galapagos: $560
Round Trip Guayaquil / Galapagos: $525
Round Trip Lima/Cusco: $375
Airfare Lima/Quito $425

Entrance to Galapagos to National Park: $100 Adult / $50 Child
Galapagos Transit Control Card: $20

Peru Single Supplement: $575
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy. A single supplement also applies to single travelers in a private cabin on Galapagos cruises. Single travelers willing to share a cabin with another passenger of the same gender can avoid the single supplement on certain vessels.

Included in tour cost
  • 2 nights' accommodations in Quito or Guayaquil
  • All meals on Galapagos cruise
  • Galapagos cruise
  • Local Quito or Guayaquil representative
  • Naturalist guide while on cruise
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Domestic airfare to and from Galapagos Islands
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100 Adult/$50 Child)
  • Galapagos Transit Control Card ($20)
  • Bar tab on cruise
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear

Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands Custom Combo Tour - 5D/4N Cruise

Trip Dates
Departure dates depend on the duration of your Galapagos cruise and the boat of your choice. Please contact us for more details.
Friday, January 1, 2016 to Saturday, December 31, 2016
Contact Us
Sunday, January 1, 2017 to Sunday, December 31, 2017
Aguas Calientes
Sacred Valley

One Day


We had such a wonderful trip. Thanks to Southern Explorations helping to plan every detail.   -Kathleen & Tony V. (Galapagos Island Cruise & Machu Picchu)

I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful experience we had with Marisa and Southern Explorations on our trip to the Galapagos and Peru. Every reservation and transfer and hotel was perfect. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and cannot recommend them highly enough. You are truly in for a perfect trip if you let Southern Explorations help you!   -Shirley and family (Galapagos Island Cruise & Machu Picchu)

Great trip -- we had a wonderful time. Thank you for the help in organizing a wonderful trip.   -Dennis and family (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

This was the first organized tour that we have ever taken, but now that we have experienced what a great job Southern Explorations does, it will not be the last. We are now spoiled and will expect any other trip we take to measure up to their standards.   -Dan & Randy Busch, Arkansas (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

We cannot tell you how much we appreciated the extraordinary job Southern Explorations did to coordinate the logistics of the complicated travel arrangements required for our Peru and Galapagos trip (and you did it all on very short notice). The travel, accommodations, and food arrangements were generally seamless and the guides where knowledgeable, resourceful and fun! Thank you for the adventure of a lifetime! - Becky Jessen & Tom Moore (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

We were amazed how Marissa had it all so organized. We traveled with 4 couples for the first half of the trip and then 4 of us went on our separate way. It all worked perfectly. There was always someone there to meet us and guide us to our next step. All of the guides were great!   -Caroline Pettit, Washington (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

The all day hike to Machu Picchu was one of the hardest things I've done physically. The guide paced us really well, I always felt safe and nothing could have prepared me for how awesome the view was when we came through the Sun Gate. It was worth every inch of the trek and all the more satisfying that I had worked hard to get there. Breathtaking! Best guide we could have asked for. Thanks Southern Explorations for making this trip of a lifetime everything I'd hoped it could be.   -Karin & Michael Johnston, USA (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

I just wanted to thank whoever set us up with our guide. He was an absolutely incredible guide!! We all felt so blessed to have him with us to show us Peru. He was extremely knowledgeable, organized, prepared, willing to share recommendations for our dinners out, approachable, and warm. Our entire experience was enhanced by his passion for his country, his history, and his people. One more "Thank You" for the experience of a lifetime. I would also like to give a shout out to the Southern Exploration agent. Without exception, every time I called SE to talk with her, about something concerning the trip, she was very helpful, and truly and assisted me in creating a trip that was fashioned to my particular wants and expectations. Thank you for your guidance, it was greatly appreciated.   -Ellen & Ronald Blickenstaff, USA (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

Our trip to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos arranged by Southern Explorations was a trip of a lifetime. We were looked after every step of the way in a professional and caring manner. Thank you Southern Explorations!   -Karen & Dwight Guy, Canada (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

Our guide in Cusco and Machu Picchu, was one of the best guides I have ever had. He was knowledgeable, accommodating, and gracious. He made the trip extra special with his considerable knowledge.   -Mary Helen Smith (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

We just wanted to let you know we had a great time on this trip. We saw the birds in the Amazon, the Incan history in Cusco/Machu Picchu and all the animals/landscape in Galapagos. The highlights were the macaws in the Amazon, and the dolphins (hundreds), penguins, turtles and birds in the Galapagos. The food was excellent the entire trip. The guides were fantastic.  -Joseph Polli, USA (Machu Picchu & Galapagos Island Cruise)

Galapagos Islands - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the best time to go to the Galapagos?
A: The Galapagos is truly a year-round destination. The most busy times in the islands coincide with holidays and school breaks when people are free to travel, rather than a particular season. However, if you are interested in seeing a specific type of wildlife, especially for those interested in the Galapagos’ birdlife, it is best to research and plan your tour accordingly. Our Galapagos experts will be happy to help you pick the best time depending on your interests.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Because of the Galapagos Islands’ location at the equator, air temperatures remain consistently in the 70s and 80s year-round. Water temperatures vary during the year because of the changing ocean currents. The cold Humboldt Current keeps water temperatures in the 60s and low 70s from May – November. Wet suits are available to rent on almost all cruises and are very useful during this time of year. You can expect water temperatures in the 70s from December - April. The Galapagos is generally a dry climate, with the months of December – June seeing slightly more rain than the rest of the year. Although the islands receive more precipitation during these months, most of the lower elevations remain quite arid. Expect blue skies and sunshine with a chance of short afternoon showers.
Q: How do we get to the Galapagos Islands? Do we arrange our own airfare?
A: All flights to the Galapagos depart from Quito or Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador. Travelers need to arrive in either of these cities at least a day before their Galapagos flight, which departs early in the morning. Flights from the mainland fly into one of two Galapagos airports, either on Baltra Island or San Cristobal Island. Your guide or the boat’s crew will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the start of your Galapagos adventure. Please keep in mind that it is always best to book your international flights after arranging your Galapagos tour. Also, do not book your own Galapagos flights, as these are arranged through the boat or land tour in order to coordinate with your guide and the rest of your group.
Q: What’s the difference between a land-based itinerary and a live-aboard cruise itinerary?
A: During a land-based itinerary you stay at hotels on the islands, while all nights during a cruise are spent onboard the vessel. Cruise-based trips allow you to spend a short amount of time on many islands, including the more remote, uninhabited islands on the outer edges of the archipelago. Land-based tours explore the four populated islands of the Galapagos (San Cristobal, Floreana, Santa Cruz, and Isabela) in greater depth. Cruise-based tours tend to run at a more leisurely pace, as time is required to cruise between the many visitor sites, and include easy hiking, snorkeling, and sometimes kayaking. Land-based tours have less down time and are much more active, usually offering biking, kayaking, snorkeling, and more strenuous hiking. Land-based tours allow you to explore Galapagos towns in the evenings and experience more of the local culture. On cruises you will spend your evenings on the vessel, either anchored at a visitor site or motoring to the visitor site you will visit the next morning.
Q: What is a typical day like on a Galapagos cruise?
A: The vessel anchors offshore at two visitor sites or islands each day. Passengers will go ashore once after breakfast and return to the boat for lunch, and will then visit another visitor site in the afternoon. For these excursions, visitors are ferried from the boat to the island via small motorized boats locally called pangas. Once everyone has reached the shore, the guide will lead the passengers along marked trails established by the National Park Service, walking at a leisurely pace with stops to explain the unusual landscapes and wildlife. Usually, two to four hours are spent at each site, allowing plenty of time to explore and take photographs. There are also opportunities to swim or snorkel at the visitor sites or off of the boat each day. Every night, your guide will give a short briefing including information about the Galapagos wildlife and what to expect for the next day.
Q: How physically fit do you need to be to enjoy a Galapagos trip?
A: Travelers should be reasonably fit and able to walk a few hours a day without assistance in order to fully enjoy the Galapagos Islands. It is also important to feel healthy and sure-footed enough to get in and out of the pangas (zodiacs) that take you from the boat to shore. Excursions on cruises are not especially strenuous and are conducted at a slow pace. Most visitor sites include a half mile to two mile walk, but you can expect frequent stops to observe wildlife. A few visitor sites require more physical activity with short steep climbs or longer walks in hot, unshaded areas. If you don’t feel up to an excursion, you are always able to opt out of it. Your guide will be happy to help you evaluate your ability to complete an excursion ahead of time. Some of our land-based tours are more rigorous and include biking, kayaking and more intense hiking. These trips generally require a higher level of fitness than the cruises.
Q: How much time should we spend in the Galapagos?
A: All of our tours in the Galapagos range from four days to fifteen days, with the most popular lengths being between five and eight days. Eight day cruises are a great option as they allow you to visit about half of the visitor sites in the islands and see a great variety of wildlife. However, how much time you decide to spend on the islands depends on your level of interest in the wildlife and your budget. We recommend all of our travelers stay in the islands for at least five days if possible because of the time and money it takes to reach the Galapagos.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: The Galapagos is an extremely popular and highly regulated destination. Cruises and accommodations have been selling out further in advance each year, so the sooner you can finalize your travel plans, the better. We recommend aiming for at least six months in advance for travel during non-peak times and nine months or more for travel during holidays or summer vacation. We can occasionally find last-minute availability and deals, but your selection will be best when you can book several months or more in advance.
Q: What immunizations are required?
A: No immunizations are required to travel to the Galapagos from the United States. However, travelers who are also visiting other parts of Ecuador, or who are coming from other countries, may need yellow fever or other immunizations. Please consult with your doctor or local travel clinic for details.
Q: What sort of clothing/shoes should we bring?
A: We recommend packing as lightly as possible for all of our trips. Shorts or lightweight pants, swimwear, t-shirts and tank tops are recommended for during the day. Quick drying clothing is best so that it can be rinsed and worn again if necessary. A long-sleeved shirt, sweater or fleece is advisable for cool evenings on the water. Dress is casual on Galapagos cruises, so you can feel free to wear the same clothes as you wear on your island excursions to any meals on the boat. Sunscreen and a sunhat are imperative for the intense equatorial sun. A raincoat is also good to have in case of brief showers. As for shoes, we recommend comfortable walking shoes or sandals with a sturdy tread. Quick drying sport sandals such as Keens, Tevas or Chacos are ideal for stepping off the panga into shallow water and exploring beaches, as well as for the light hiking required. All passengers must have a different pair of shoes to switch into on the boat. Any pair of comfortable shoes with a non-slip bottom will be suitable for wearing on board. Please remember all shoes should be broken in prior to your trp. A complete packing list will be provided upon booking.
Q: Will I get seasick?
A: As an archipelago, the waters in the Galapagos are shallower, and therefore less rough than you will find on the open ocean. However, due to varying ocean currents, Galapagos vessels will experience moderate motion when navigating. Larger vessels and catamarans are more stable in the water than the smaller, single-hulled boats. We recommend that all passengers who are prone to motion sickness consult their doctors to obtain preventative medication suited to their individual needs.
Q: What kind of electrical outlets are used in the Galapagos?
A: The Galapagos cruises use the same voltage (110v) and outlets as are used in the United States. Two prong plugs fit Ecuadorian outlets, but if you have anything with three prongs you will need an adaptor.
Q: How much should I budget for extra costs in the Galapagos?
A: Upon arrival in the Galapagos, travelers still need to account for the Galapagos National Park fee, tipping, a bar tab, extra meals in mainland Ecuador and possibly wetsuit rental, depending on the boat. • All visitors to the Galapagos will need to pay the $100 Galapagos National Park Fee in cash upon arrival. (This fee is $50 for children under 12.) • Tipping varies based on service and the level of cruise, but we recommend between $16-$22 per person, per day for the guide and crew combined. • Beer and alcoholic beverages on board range from $4-$8 and a bottle of wine is $15-$25. Soft drinks and juices are $1-$3. • In Ecuador, like any location, you can eat very inexpensively or you can spend a lot of money on a meal, depending on your tastes. You should be able to get a nice sit-down meal in Quito, Guayaquil or the Galapagos for about $15 per person. • Wetsuit rental costs vary by boat, but average around $5 per day. Please check the amount listed for each individual vessel.
Q: Can we pay for extra expenses with a credit card?
A: Credit cards are widely accepted in the major cities of mainland Ecuador. Most shops and restaurants in the Galapagos accept credit cards as well. Many cruises in the Galapagos do not accept credit cards for on board expenses, and some that accept cards charge an extra fee for using them. Please inquire with us about your specific cruise if you would like to use a credit card.
Q: What is the currency? Are there ATMs?
A: The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador. ATMs are readily accessible in the major cities of Quito and Guayaquil. There are ATMs in the two major towns on the Galapagos Islands, but they are not always working. We recommend withdrawing any cash you will need for the islands before leaving mainland Ecuador. Also be sure to have a lot of one-dollar and five-dollar bills because many shops will not make change for larger bills. Small bills can also be useful for tipping in mainland Ecuador.
Q: Will I have cell phone service?
A: Cell phone service depends on your cellular provider and coverage plan. Please contact your cellular provider directly to see if you are able to use your phone in Ecuador. Even if you do have international coverage, service in the Galapagos is limited and does not reach the more remote areas of the archipelago. All of the vessels in the Galapagos are equipped with radios and satellite phones in case of emergencies.
Q: Is there a doctor on board?
A: A few of the larger ships have doctors on board, but the majority of Galapagos cruise vessels do not. All boats are equipped with a basic first aid kit for minor ailments, but most cannot handle serious medical conditions. Passengers are advised to obtain medical or travel insurance that covers medical evacuation.
Q: Is the water safe to drink?
A: You cannot drink the tap water in mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos; however, all Galapagos cruises and most hotels provide safe, filtered drinking water. It is a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill from the tank onboard the vessel or at your hotel.
Q: Is there Wi-Fi on the ship?
A: There are only a few vessels that offer wireless Internet, and even then it can be slow, unreliable and expensive. Many of the hotels have Wi-Fi, but it is also not always reliable. We suggest travelers look at their time in the Galapagos as a rare chance to unplug from the outside world and enjoy the scenery and the wildlife. There are Internet cafés in the three major towns of the Galapagos where you can check your email, etc. Many cruises stop in at least one of these towns during each voyage.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: All of the guides on boats offered by Southern Explorations are experienced, fluent in English and knowledgeable about Galapagos wildlife, geology and human history. Tourist superior boat guides may be slightly less experienced and formally educated than first class, luxury and cruise ship guides. First class and luxury boat guides are the best available in the islands and usually have a degree in a related field. Guides in the Galapagos are freelance, so one guide may work for several different yachts throughout the year. In the past, guides underwent a certification process that evaluated education, experience and language abilities and were identified as Class I, Class II, or Class III guides. This process is no longer used for most guides in the Galapagos, as it is expensive and time consuming, but some boats still use this terminology. Class I guides are inexperienced and do not speak fluent English. These guides are only used on budget vessels, which we do not offer. Class II guides are knowledgeable, educated, fluent in English and experienced and are used on many tourist superior and first class boats. Class III guides have generally completed a degree in a related field, speak more than two languages fluently and have many years of experience.
Q: Can we snorkel, kayak or scuba dive during our cruise?
A: Snorkeling is available on all Galapagos cruises. Snorkeling experiences are incorporated in each ship’s day-to-day itinerary and you can expect to snorkel almost every day on any boat. Kayaking in the Galapagos is highly regulated and only permitted in certain areas. Only some Galapagos cruises have kayaks on board, so it is important to check the inclusions of the boat you are considering. We do not offer scuba diving on naturalist cruises. However, we do offer a dive-intensive live-aboard cruise or we can arrange extra days for diving from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island before or after a cruise or land-based tour.
Q: Can you accommodate a vegetarian, vegan or other special dietary requests?
A: Chefs on Galapagos cruises are used to accommodating dietary restrictions of all types. Please make sure to notify us of any restrictions upon booking so we can inform the chef and crew.
Q: Will we be able to do laundry?
A: Some longer cruises offer laundry services on board, but it is generally not offered onboard Galapagos cruises. We recommend that passengers bring quick-drying clothing that can be rinsed out and hang-dried if needed. All hotels offer laundry services and fast, reasonably priced laundry services can be found in Quito and Guayaquil.
Peru - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the best time to go on a Peru tour?
A: Peru is a diverse country with beaches, mountains, rainforest and desert. For this reason, there is no off-season in Peru. One can travel to Peru any time of year and find good weather in certain areas
Q: How safe is Peru?
A: Petty theft in Peru's cities is no more prevalent than in any large American city. Travelers should take the same precautions that they would while traveling elsewhere. Listen to the advice of your tour leader and hotel reception staff and take common sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night. Use the safety deposit box at your hotel for your passport and extra money (carry only as much as you might spend) and leave jewelry and expensive watches at home. Peru has a stable government and tourism has boomed in recent years. With the added tourist dollars, the government has made a concerted effort to keep travelers and their valuables safe. Current safety information can be obtained from
Q: How concerned should I be about the altitude?
A: Travelers to the Cusco (elevation 11,400 ft) and Andean areas need to take common sense measures to acclimatize to high altitude. Visitors are encouraged to limit exertion for the first few days and stay adequately hydrated. Coca tea assists in the acclimatization process and is available at all hotels. Individuals with coronary or other health problems should consult their physician before deciding to travel to Cusco and other high altitude locations. Ask your doctor about preventative high altitude medications and herbal remedies such as Ginkgo biloba.
Q: What if I have a medical emergency on the trip?
A: Our guides are trained in mountain/wilderness first-aid. To ensure the safety of our travelers, our guides are linked with outside services 24 hours a day in all locations to provide assistance when necessary. Depending on the circumstances, a vehicle, horse or helicopter may take an injured or ill person to the nearest medical facility. English-speaking doctors and clinics are available in all major cities (Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo, Lima, etc.). While hiking in wilderness areas our guides also carry satellite phones in case of emergency. Passengers are advised to obtain medical or travel insurance that covers medical evacuation.
Q: What is the best way to get money on the trip?
A: The Sol(es) is the official currency of Peru. Current exchange rate information is available on our website. Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most recognized credit cards in Peru. American Express is not widely accepted. Please note that when using credit cards, merchants will often charge a transaction fee in order to cover their costs. ATM machines (Visa/MasterCard/Cirrus/Plus), with directions in English, are a popular choice for exchanging currency at the official rate of exchange (user fees may apply). They debit your account, distribute the money in Soles and are widely available 24 hours a day 7 days a week in all major cities and large towns. Money can also be exchanged at your hotel. For operating hours of money exchange offices (Casas de Cambio) and other money tips, see pre-departure information.
Q: If I need to bring extra luggage with me to South America, where can it be stored?
A: On all of our trips, excess luggage may be stored in the hotel where your trip begins or at our operator’s offices. Luggage may not be stored at the airport.
Q: How will I do laundry during the trip?
A: Peruvian hotels charge very affordable rates for doing a guest’s laundry. You will also have access to laundry facilities on most days in major cities. You can hand wash it yourself; however, please use biodegradable soap.
Q: Do I need a converter/ adaptor for the electricity?
A: In all of Peru, the electricity is 220 volts and 60 cycles standard to Great Britain. If you need to use electricity in Peru (recharge batteries for digital camera, hairdryer etc.), bring plug adapters and a voltage transformer that will allow you to use the equipment on the 2-pin 220 volt outlets. Please note that while some hotels have hair dryers for guest use, most do not.
Q: Will I be able to use my cell phone?
A: Each company is different. Check with your cell phone provider for the most up-to-date information.
Q: What’s the average group size on the scheduled trips?
A: We operate our scheduled group trips with a minimum of two and a maximum of eight guests, except on the Inca Trail trips with a maximum of 12 guests. This policy minimizes our environmental impact, allows us to travel to areas less visited and makes the sightseeing experience more personal. It allows our guides sufficient time to attend to the individual needs of each visitor. Traveling in small groups also increases the likelihood of encountering wildlife in some areas, such as the Amazon.
Q: Who travels on your group trips?
A: While travelers of varying ages from all over the world take our trips, most are Americans between 20 and 60. The more rigorous itineraries tend to attract slightly younger travelers than our other trips.
Q: When will I receive the airline tickets for the flights included in the trip?
A: Tickets will be given to you at the airport or the hotel the morning of your departure for that day’s destination. Some airlines use E Tickets. For these, you’ll just need to present your passport at check-in.
Q: What are the guides’ qualifications?
A: Our exceptional guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We hire only guides who are native to the destination and are licensed and/or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English, and some also speak the indigenous Quechua language. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, Andean culture or another related field. Our team of congenial guides offers priceless insights into the true nature of their homelands, adding immeasurably to the enjoyment of the trip.
Q: What are the meals like?
A: Staple foods in the highlands include several varieties of potatoes and corn, rice, quinoa and meat dishes, often with a spicy sauce. In jungle areas, fresh fruits, fried plantains, and other vegetables are also common. Meals served during all of our Peru adventures are nutritious and plentiful. Hotel breakfasts usually include fresh fruit, breads and eggs, as well as coffee, tea and juices. On the hiking portion of our trekking tours, you will awake to a fresh cup of tea brought to your tent and be served breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by expert trail cooks with years of experience. Dinners usually consist of fresh vegetables, beef and chicken. During our Amazon adventures, the lodge menus generally include a selection of seafood, beef, fresh salads and soups as well as dessert and hot drinks.
Q: Are you able to accommodate special dietary requests?
A: Though vegetarians can be easily accommodated in all areas, Peruvian vegetarian dishes typically just leave out the meat rather than substituting a vegetarian protein source such as tofu, beans, or nuts. If you are concerned about the meals, please bring supplement supplies. If you require a special diet (vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, etc.) or are allergic to any foods and did not indicate your needs on the trip application at the time of booking, please contact us so we can make special arrangements before your departure.
Q: What type of aircraft is used on domestic flights?
A: Most domestic carriers use Boeing 727s or similar jets with a capacity of 80-120 passengers.
Q: How do we get from one tour destination to another?
A: In Peru, we use a mix of private and public transportation to get travelers to their destinations safely and efficiently. This includes local air carriers, trains, private vans/cars, comfortable tourist buses and canoes, etc. For short distances, we may get around in unusual ways such as human-powered rickshaw or bicycle taxi or the wildly fun “chicken bus” to give our guests the local flavor.
Q: Can I extend my stay?
A: We try to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meals. Meals are included on tour days spent off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited (e.g. Lake Titicaca and the Amazon.) In major cities with a wide variety of restaurants, meals are generally not included to allow our travelers to make their own dining choices. On these days, your hotel will provide a light continental breakfast. Southern Explorations will provide you a list of recommended restaurants for these cities. Your local guide will be a wealth of information about great restaurant options and is usually available to accompany groups that wish to eat together.
Q: How much should I budget for tips?
A: Tipping is a personal matter, and guests are encouraged to tip what they feel is appropriate. Please refer to the pre-departure information for our tipping suggestions.
Q: Are these Peru tours suitable for children?
A: It depends on the trip. Our Peru tours have received rave reviews from families visiting the Amazon, Machu Picchu and even hiking the Inca trail. If children enjoy wildlife, learning about other cultures and meeting new people, Peru may be a great choice. To make family tours more flexible, we often recommend putting together a private group instead of booking one of our pre-set group trips. This works especially well with younger children. We are happy to answer all of your questions to give you the most accurate impression we can of what to expect.
Q: What airport do your passengers fly to?
A: Passengers fly into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport. Our Peru tours all begin in Cusco.
Q: What are the accommodations like in Peru?
A: All of our Peru accommodations have private baths and hot water. They are located within walking distance of the town center, and most of the reception staff speaks English. Our standard adventures feature 3-star accommodations. If desired, 4 and 5-star accommodations are available upon request. We personally inspect the rooms and amenities of all potential hotels and lodges in each tour location and select only those that meet our rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort, convenient location, safety, customer service and ambiance. We support lodges and hotels that employ sustainability practices and are owned and operated locally.