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Wildlife Peru and Galapagos

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This wildlife-focussed  holiday in Peru and the Galápagos Islands offers a real variety of outdoor experiences in a natural environment with a vast range flora and fauna. 

From the Inca Imperial capital and Spanish colonial masterpiece Cusco you head down to the rainforest. Refugio Amazonas is a popular and well respected lodge in the Tambopata region, the most accessible area of Peru's vast Amazon territory. On this holiday, not only will you have the chance to view wildlife but you may also be able to observe the conservation-focused scientists and researchers in the jungle.

Continue by air to Guayquil, Ecuador's principal Pacific port, and fly on for an 5-day cruise around the Galápagos Islands. It was on a similar trip 200 years ago that Darwin returned to the archipelago to write the seminal book ‘On The Origin of  Species’. Step into his shoes and explore the diversity of land and marine life which inhabit the islands.

The  different ecosystems you will visit, from humid lowland jungle to the volcanic islands of the Galápagos ensure that you will observe a multitude of species. Just look at the statistics -Peru alone has over 1,800 species of birds (120 endemic to Peru), and 500 species of mammals and over 300 species of reptiles.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Cusco and transfer to your hotel in the city centre.

Day 2

Guided walking tour of Cusco.

Day 3

Fly to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon and transfer to jungle lodge.

Day 4

Continue by river deeper into the jungle to the the Tambopata Research Centre.

Day 5

Visit parrot clay lick.

Day 6

Return to Cusco, chocolate and pisco tasting tour.

Day 7

Fly via Lima to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Day 8

Guided expedition to a mangrove forest

Day 9

Fly to the Galapagos islands, board motor vessel for you expedition cruise.

Days 10-12

Land excursions from the cruise around the Galápagos Islands.

Day 13

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.

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What our experts say

This holiday is perfect for somebody who wants to experience some of Latin America’s most incredible and diverse wildlife all in one go: by combining the nature of Peru’s Amazon rainforest and the Galápagos Islands’ plethora of fearless creatures, we’ve created a wildlife-focused trip which reveals a vast range of flora and fauna.

Konrad M

Konrad Mludzinski

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Wildlife Peru and Galapagos

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Cusco
High in a fertile mountain valley at 3,399m and surrounded by the lofty ice peaks of the Andes, the former capital of the Inca Empire and Spanish colonial masterpiece, Cusco, was cut off from the rest of the world until about 100 years ago. Now it is recognised as one of the most enticing, unspoilt cities on the continent. The history running through its veins is exposed in the meticulous masonry of the Inca temples, the baroque intricacy of its golden churches and palaces and the lively markets, fiestas, art galleries, boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants of the present day city. Here you can immerse yourself totally in Peru’s rich cultural mix.
When to go
Cusco can be visited throughout the year. Most visitors will use climate as a criterion but others may be attracted by any one of numerous fiestas: Inti Raymi, Easter, Corpus Christi, Christmas. The dry season when sunny days can be expected runs May-Oct but in Jun-Jul it can be below freezing at night.  Rain falls Jan-Mar.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Numerous money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (few accept euros or sterling and the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, 53 km by road; Machu Picchu, 75km by road and rail; Tambopata and the lodges of the southern Amazon, 1 hour by air; Lake Titicaca, 6-9 hours by road or 10 hours by train; Colca Canyon, 236km by road.

Getting there

Flights to Cusco from Lima take 1 hour.

Key events

Inti Raymi:  24 Jun. Inca festival of the winter solstice celebrated at the temple of Sacsayhuamán.

El Señor de los Temblores:  Variable. Vast Easter Monday religious procession.

Corpus Christi: Jun. Statues of the Virgin Mary and saints have a day out from their churches and are paraded to the Cathedral.
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The Peruvian Amazon (south)
Peruvian Amazon

The Amazonian rainforest occupies 60% of Peru. The northern region, accessible from Iquitos, has flood plains and wide tributaries, a great environment for Amazonian river cruises. In the more closely forested south, with its faster flowing streams and ox-bow lakes, you are more likely to be based at a friendly jungle lodge, from where you can discover the forest magic, its abundance of exotic birds, monkeys, alligators and flowering tropical plants, with the opportunity to visit indigenous communities. 

The southern region of the Peruvian Amazon has as its gateway the busy, rapidly expanding river port Puerto Maldonado, situated on the banks of the river Tambopata where it has confluence with the river Madre de Dios, tributaries of what will, downstream, become the Amazon. A century-old market town, which has seen rubber, logging and gold prospecting booms, it is where visitors arrive on a flight from Cusco of just one hour, making the Peruvian Amazon very accessible for those visiting the Inca capital and Machu Picchu in the Andes.

There, eco-friendly jungle lodges of all standards, discreetly positioned amid the exuberant jungle foliage are accessible by motor boat in 2-5 hours. A little further afield is Manu, a biosphere reserve and national park reached by air or a spectacular, sinuous road descending from Cusco, where the jungle canopy is untouched: it takes longer to get there but you are rewarded with a real wilderness experience.  

When to go
The Peruvian selva enjoys a hot (30°C), humid tropical climate all year round, though there may be cold snaps. The high water, rainy season is Dec-May, a few degrees cooler than the rest of the year. At this time all waterways are navigable including small creeks, so opportunities to spot mammals are more frequent than during the sunnier dry season. From Jun-Nov the low water reveals many jungle trails, where you can get close to the vegetation, and this is a good time to spot migratory birds in flight.
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Peruvian Nuevo Sol. There are banks and ATMs in Puerto Maldonado where notes in local currency or US dollars can be withdrawn using a UK credit or debit card. Several money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash but the rate may be poor).
Time difference

GMT -5 hours.

Combines with

Cusco (1 hour by air) and Machu Picchu (1 hour by air and 4 hours by land); Lake Titicaca (1 hour by air to Cusco and 6-9 hours by road or 12 hours by train).

Getting there

The southern Amazon: flights to Puerto Maldonado from Cusco take 1 hour. From Cusco to Manú by air is about 1 hour and 6-9 hours by road and boat. Longer by bike!

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Guayaquil
Until quite recently a scruffy Pacific port with a dubious reputation, Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city is a newly emergent commercial and cultural centre, showing off freshened up plazas and boulevards, a charming waterside malécon (promenade), good hotels and trendy restaurants. Always a flamboyant place in comparison with the upland cities, it has a vivacious atmosphere. The river Guayas is chock-a-bloc with boats jostling for space, some laden down with tropical fruits and sugar cane, others offering transport to distant villages. The historic quarter of Las Peñas nearby is an arty district with a tumble of toybox multicoloured houses, galleries and bars.
When to go

Guayaquil is a hot, humid place where the temperature seldom dips below 28°C all year round. Heavy rainfall can be expected from Jan-Apr but hardly any outside this period.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Ecuador uses the US dollar. There are a number of banks in Guayaquil. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs using a UK credit or debit card, but the permitted withdrawal may be a lower amount than at home.

Time difference

GMT -5 hrs.

Combines with

The Galápagos Islands, 1.5hrs by air; the southern upland city of Cuenca, 175km (2hrs 40mins by road).

Getting there

Average flight time is 12 hrs. There are no direct flights from the UK to Ecuador, popular routes to Guayaquil involve a change of plane in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid. The city is a 50min flight from Quito.

Key events

Fiestas Julianas:  Guayaquil, 24-5 Jul.  Parades, fireworks, beauty pageants and other events to celebrate the city’s foundation and Simon Bolivar’s birthday.
Dia de Independencia & Dia de Raza: Guayaquil 9-12 Oct.  Various cultural events.

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Galapagos Islands
Sunset on the islands

The Galápagos Islands.  There’s something magical about the name - they are, of course, known as the Enchanted Isles  - and they sit adrift of mainland Ecuador in isolation in the Pacific Ocean, for centuries far removed from the influences of mankind. Up to the middle of the 20th century only a colourful array of pirates, whalers, convicts, eccentrics and fishermen dropped anchor on their shores.

Born from volcanoes thrusting their way through the surface of the waters, the clutch of alternately sun-baked and misty islands of twisted lava, jagged cliffs and scrubby forest seem an unlikely habitat for wildlife. But a phenomenal array of trusting bird and reptile species, not to mention undersea marine animals, have settled and evolved here, to the delight of visitors from Darwin onwards.

Watch the lumbering giant tortoises, nesting albatrosses, flirting frigate birds, comic boobies, wrinkly iguanas and frolicking sea-lions from a cruise or land-based adventure. Climb a volcano, kayak to a white sand beach or swim with hammerhead sharks:  so many unique experiences to get involved in are at your feet.   

When's the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?

At any time of year some of the fauna species will be breeding, nesting or in some other way particularly active. The climate is not extreme and even in the wetter months the rain usually only comes in afternoon showers. Dec - May the weather is hot with warm, calm seas and more chance of showers. Jun - Nov it is cooler with morning mist and choppier, colder seas.

What's the official language of the Galapagos islands?

Spanish

What is the official currency in the Galapagos Islands?

Ecuador uses the US dollar. The bank in Puerto Ayora may offer advances on a UK credit or debit card but you are well advised to bring US dollars cash sufficient for your needs on the islands with you.

What is the time difference between GMT and the Galapagos Islands?

GMT -6 hours.

Which other countries combine well with the Galapagos islands?
A land tour on the Ecuadorian mainland; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (daily flights Quito to Lima 2hrs 20mins).      
How long is the flight from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands?

Flight time from Quito is 2-3 hours, 1.5hrs from Guayaquil. Quito flights normally touch down in Guayaquil.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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