Erin Correia's 16-day Peru and Ecuador Itinerary

Peruvian woman weaving, The Sacred Valley, Chinchero, Peru
Photo: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Erin Correia is a member of Travel + Leisure’s A-List, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world, and can help plan your perfect getaway. Below is an example of the type of itineraries she creates. To work with Erin, you can contact her directly at

Day 1: Arrive in Lima

Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, walk across the street to the comfortable and conveniently located Costa del Sol Hotel.

Day 2: Cusco

Fly into Cusco, where Andean history comes alive. In the afternoon, you'll tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market. After tasting a few unique local foods, you will visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions.

Day 3: Sacred Valley

This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac, or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you will make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo where you can relax for the night.

Day 4: Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu

In the morning, visit the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco in 1537. The ruins feature expansive terraces and well-preserved architecture, and the town is still laid out as it was during the Incan empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries. Next, board your train to Machu Picchu and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon. Tour ancient canals that still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After your guided tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants or end your day soaking in the hot springs after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.

Day 5: Machu Picchu and Cusco

Today is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu, listening to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. You can choose to book a permit to climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins, or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the afternoon, you'll return by train to Cusco with your guide.

Day 6: Cusco

Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuaman ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets.

Day 7: Quito

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flights to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Day at leisure.

Day 8: Galapagos

An early morning flight from Quito brings you to the Galapagos Archipelago. Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to your yacht. In the afternoon afternoon, you will land at Mosquera Islet, located between North Seymour and Baltra Island. This flat, sandy island has a large colony of sea lions. It is also an excellent site to observe shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls. There is no trail on the islet, so you can enjoy the open area. Most of the islet is covered with sand and barren lava rock.

Day 9: Santiago and Rábida Islands

In the morning travel, to Santiago Island, stopping of at Egas Port, a black volcanic sand beach visited by Darwin in 1835. The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago shore is home to a variety of animals, including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron, and marine wildlife, including lobster, starfish, and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally light-foot crabs. In the afternoon, visit Rábida Island; dark-red sand covers the unique beaches of this island, home to sea lions’ colonies. Rabida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology.

Day 10: Isabela Island

In the morning explore the volcanic black sand beach of Urbina Bay, in search of giant tortoises, land iguanas, and the unusual flightless cormorant. After a short walk inland, it's snorkeling time, a chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, and countless tropical fish. In the afternoon, make your way over to Tagus Cove to learn about the volcanoes that formed Isabela Island. Follow a trail that leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater lake for excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations.

Day 11: Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Visit Espinosa Point, on Fernandina Island, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. In the afternoon, head over to Vicente Roca Point on Isabela Island, a great place to spot an abundance of marine life. Enjoy the opportunity to snorkel at one of the richest marine havens on Earth, the Bolivar Channel. Take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds: Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins, flightless cormorants. The upwelling of cold water currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life, a perfect place for deep snorkeling.

Day 12: Santa Cruz and Bartolome Islands

Visit the famous Pit Craters, a great place to spot vermilion fly catchers as you walk inside an endemic Scalesia forest. Here is a great opportunity to observe giant tortoises. In the afternoon, visit Bartolome Island and discover a fascinating landscape that resembles the moon. Afterwards, enjoy some beach time, do some snorkeling, and see the famous Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks among a great variety of colorful fish.

Day 13: South Plaza Islet and North Seymour Island

This morning, travel to South Plaza Islet, located east of Santa Cruz Island. Begin a journey along an impressive cactus forest where colorful yellow and red land iguanas live; the population numbers around 300 animals. Next, stop at North Seymour Island. This landmass was formed by a series of underwater volcanic eruption which deposited layers of lava on the ocean floor. Take a walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls; on a lucky day, you might even come across the endemic Galapagos snake.

Day 14: San Cristobal Island

In the morning, we head to Pitt Point and take a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together, as well as two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. In the afternoon, stop at Cerro Brujo, an eroding tuff cone, and a beautiful white sandy beach great for snorkeling and sunbathing. There is a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: black-necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, whimbrels, other sandpiper species, and white-cheeked pintails.

Day 15: San Cristobal Island

This morning, land at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and visit the San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. You also have the opportunity to visit the village’s port, where you can have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs. After the visit, transfer to the airport for your return flight to Quito.

Day 16: Fly home from Quito

Return to the airport in time for your departing flight. (It is also possible to catch a red-eye flight departing on the evening of Day 15 if this is more convenient for your plans.)

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