Peru to Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a chain of volcanic islands straddling the equator, 600 miles west of the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Due to their location and volcanic origin, all of the life there has traveled from the mainland in some way, and then has evolved into unique species of endemic animals. The Galapagos had a profound impact on Charles Darwin when he visited there in 1835, as he noticed that the animals on one island were different from those of the same species on another island.

These unique wildlife species are still on the Galapagos Islands in great numbers, and because they have never learned to fear man, they are very easy to see. Where else in the world can you see giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, penguins, and swimming iguanas all in one place?

98% of the Galapagos Islands are set aside as a National Park, and where you can go and what you can do are highly regulated. The traditional way to visit the Galapagos is on a 4-15 day cruise on a small yacht, going ashore in different sites each day with your trained and licensed naturalist guide. A newer type of trip is the island hopping trip, staying in one or more of the 4 inhabited islands, and taking day excursions to view the wildlife, although much of it is in or very near the towns. Also popular are multisport adventure tours where you kayak, hike, snorkel, and even bike each day to recreate and view wildlife.​

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu sits on a remote mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley, about 50 miles northwest of Cusco, Peru. It was built by the Incas around 1450, most likely as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. At the time, the Incas had expanded their territory to cover most of Western South America. They ruled this region in the 15th and 16th Century, before their defeat at the hands of the Spanish.

Machu Picchu had long been forgotten when it was "discovered" by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Much of the site has been reconstructed, and it is a magical place to visit, replete with great views and ancient mysticism. It is the best known and most recognized symbol of the Inca Empire.

Machu Picchu itself is not a big site and can be experienced in half a day, but it is remote and takes time to get to. Additionally, Cusco, the jumping off city for trips to Machu Picchu, and the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas are both incredibly interesting and worth visits themselves.

​You can get to Machu Picchu from Cusco either by taking the train to the valley below the citadel, then taking a bus to the site itself, or on foot by hiking the Inca Trail

Why Visit Both In One Trip

If you are interested in seeing and experiencing both the culture and history of Machu Picchu, and the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, and if you aren't likely to take another trip to South America, combining the two destinations into one trip makes a lot of sense as they are relatively close to one another on the western side of South America. But, you need a minimum of 10 days to even slightly begin to experience both destinations adequately, and we recommend at least 14 days to give yourself time to really enjoy your trip. In addition, there is additional cost to visiting two destinations as it requires more flights and hotel times.

Why Choose Only One Destination on Your Trip?

Assuming you are interested in both destinations, you may decide to choose to only visit one on your trip if your time (or budget) is limited so that you wouldn't be able to adequately experience either destination. We firmly believe in traveling more slowly to allow yourself to experience the true nature of a destination, rather than rushing to lots of destinations to get stamps in your passport and checkmarks on your dream destination list, but really only experience planes, trains, and automobiles wherever you go.

Keep in mind that combing the two destinations adds time and cost to your trip, as it requires additional flights and enough time to see both destinations properly. See more about this below. ​Machu Picchu is in the highlands of southern Peru near the town of Cusco​, and the Galapagos Islands are 500 miles west of the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. You cannot fly directly between the two destinations as you have to enter and depart Peru from Lima, and Ecuador from Quito or Guayaquil.

From Quito it is a 4-hour flight to the Galapagos Islands, and from Lima it is an hour by air, but then takes another 3-4 hours by bus and train to reach Machu Picchu. You will need to overnight in either Lima or one of the Ecuadorian citifies (Quito or Guayaquil) in order to combine the two destinations.

Galapagos BoobieHow Much Time do I Need To Visit Both Destinations?

You can combine the two destinations in as little as 8 days, but frankly that is too fast to do anything other than be able to say you've been there. You won't get a feel for either destination, and you will miss out on the reasons to go in the first place. You really need at least 10 days to start to do justice to the two destinations; 12-14 days, or longer, is much, much better.

Five days is really the minimum trip length for a Galapagos trip, as the first and last days of your trip are spent mostly getting to and from the islands, leaving only 3 full days to explore. The traditional Galapagos yacht trip has been 8 days, while the traditional multisport adventure trip is 7 days.

Plus, you need one night before you fly to the Galapagos in either Quito or Guayaquil, as flights to the Galapagos depart early in the morning. ​

If you start your trip in Peru, you could overnight in Guayaquil (or Quito) during your travel day between the two countries. If starting in Ecuador, you will need to add one day to your trip so you can overnight on the mainland before flying to the Galapagos.

​In either case, you need at least five days in the Galapagos, one day of travel between Peru and Ecuador, and then at least another four days in Peru. In four days you can visit Machu Picchu, see the ruins in and around Cusco, and that's about it. We highly recommend spending more time in this area, as it is worth

If you have less time than this we highly recommend visiting only one of the two destinations on this trip, so as to really experience it, and then plan a separate trip to visit the other. This may sound disappointing, but both sites deserve the time to really explore them, and you could easily spend 10 days to two weeks in either destination alone.


Here are the two main itinerary options for combining your trips; please note the transportation times and necessary stops along the way.

AND MACHU PICCHU (Less Active Cultural Tour)

Day 1: Arrive in Quito or Guayaquil, overnight in Quito or Guayaquil
Day 2 – 9: Galapagos Cruise or Galapagos Multisport (8 Days)
Day 9: Fly back to mainland Ecuador in the afternoon. Overnight in Quito or Guayaquil.
Day 10: Fly from Quito (or Guayaquil) to Lima in the morning. Connect with your Lima to Cusco flight. Rest Day in Cusco
Day 11: Sacred Valley Tour
Day 12: Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu
Day 13: Free morning at Machu Picchu. Afternoon train back to Cusco.
Day 14: Fly Cusco to Lima to home

AND INCA TRAIL TREK (Active Cultural Tour)

Day 1: Arrive in Quito or Guayaquil, overnight in Quito or Guayaquil
Day 2 – 9: Galapagos Cruise or Galapagos Multisport (8 Days)
Day 9: Fly back to mainland Ecuador in the afternoon, overnight in Quito or Guayaquil
Day 10: Fly from Quito (or Guayaquil) to Lima. Connect with your Lima to Cusco flight. Rest day in Cusco
Day 11: Cusco Ruins acclimatization hike
Day 12: Sacred Valley Hiking: Moray to Salt Pans
Day 13 – 17: Hike the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Day 17: Last day of Inca Trail. Tour of Machu Picchu. Afternoon train to Cusco
Day 18: Fly Cusco to Lima to home.


We do not arrange international or domestic flights in Peru. The only flights we arrange for you are flight from mainland Ecuador (either Quito or Guayaquil) to the Galapagos Islands and return as part of your overall Galapagos trip.

Backpacking from Ecuador to Bolivia via Peru - Including
Backpacking from Ecuador to Bolivia via Peru - Including ...
bnadoSA Galapagos Islands
bnadoSA Galapagos Islands
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