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The Galapagos archipelago is such a thrilling and exceptional place that you’ll want to make the most of every minute, whether on land or in the water. Everything is provided for you, from snorkel gear and wetsuits to walking sticks. All Galapagos cruise excursions are led by Galapagos National Park naturalists who are highly qualified in their fields. They’re able to point out diverse wildlife, from the tiny finches that led Charles Darwin to formulate his famous theory of evolution to dinosaur-like marine iguanas, spotted eagle rays, and Galapagos sea lions.
You could be observing sea lions and sea turtles at Gardner Bay, Española, or hiking at Punta Suarez in search of the graceful waved albatross that nest here. Join a coastal exploration around Elizabeth Bay to explore the mangroves, home to stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, and the enchanting Galapagos penguin. At Urvina Bay, also on Isabela, your naturalist guides will lead you on a hike over a former reef that’s been forced upwards by magma intrusions.
Jagged, black Fernandina is the place to spot the largest colony of marine iguanas on the islands, while on scrub-covered South Plaza, you could join a hike through forests of prickly pear to see land iguanas, sea lions, and hundreds of seabirds. From Cerro Dragon, embark on a guided deep-water snorkel to observe the spectacular underwater life, from sea turtles to schools of tropical fish.
On a Galapagos shore excursion to the buzzing little town of Puerto Ayora, your guides will take you to the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about the conservation work that protects the giant tortoises of the Galapagos. And for the best views, join your guide on a hike to the high point of Bartolomé’s lunar-like landscape, gazing down over a brilliant blue sea and the sheer-sided spike of Pinnacle Rock.
Voyages to the Galapagos can be combined with all manner of tours. Spend time in Quito, Ecuador’s colorful high-altitude capital, where you can admire the 17th-century facades, ornate churches, and Spanish colonial houses of the Old Town.
Combine a Galapagos adventure with an escorted tour to Lima, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. You’ll explore Lima, Peru’s cosmopolitan capital, with a guide, learning more about the country’s exciting culinary scene and sampling the national drink, pisco sour. In Urubamba, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you’ll be able to visit ancient temples and the ruined citadel of Ollantaytambo, which clings to a steep hillside.
A highlight of this adventure is the extraordinary Incan city of Machu Picchu, perched on a lush escarpment and hemmed in by jagged mountains. It’s a vision that’s infinitely better in real life than in the countless images you’ll have seen. Finally, join your guide on a tour of beautiful Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. High in the mountains, the ancient city is dotted with cobblestone squares and a magnificent cathedral.