Galapagos And Machu Picchu Tours: The Best Options

Galapagos and Machu Picchu tours

Combining a Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour is a great way to get the most out of your South American getaway. 

The Galapagos Islands are world famous for being the inception point of Darwin's theory of evolution and many of the species he witnessed there are still prevalent. It's one of natures most revered natural wonders and the wildlife encounters you experience are simply breathtaking.

On the opposite side of the coin, Machu Picchu is one of mankind's greatest monuments. Built in the 15th century by the native Inca people, the citadel of Machu Picchu sits atop a 2,430 metre ridge in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru.

Although Machu Picchu can be explored in less than a day, the region surrounding it is also packed with fascinating sites. Most people who visit the famous citadel also explore the Sacred Valley, Cusco, and Lima.

Because both sites are not far from each other, many people these days are combining the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu in one trip. So what are your options for doing this? Read below for more information.

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How Long Does It Take?

This is where many people's plans become a little unstuck. To do a Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour properly you'll need around 12-14 days. This is often too much time for working couples.

Although you could theoretically do both in around 8 days, this really isn't enough time and you'd be rushed off your feet the entire trip! 

To experience the Galapagos properly, you'll want to take a cruise. These typically last around 5/6 days, but can be shorter or longer depending on your schedule. We recommend taking at least 6 days to explore the islands fully. 

As noted above, to visit the site of Machu Picchu takes less than a day - it's not as big as you might think from the pictures. However, with the Sacred Valley so close, there is a wealth of things to see and do in the region. 

You could easily spend a week visiting Cusco and the sites within the Sacred Valley such as the Inca ruins of Moray and Olyantambo. However, if you're short on time you could get see it all in 4 days maybe. 

When deciding how long to take off for your Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour, you'll also need to consider travel time. It takes a good day to reach Ecuador or Peru from North America (or further afield). You'll also need a solid day to get from Peru to Ecuador or vice versa.

If you want to keep your trip succinct, we would suggest a 5 day cruise in the Galapagos, 4 days exploring the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and 3 days travel. 12 days in total should be enough time to get the full experience - but longer will always be better and less rushed. 

Galapagos and Machu Picchu tours 1

What Are The Costs?

The price of visiting Machu Picchu is not significantly high. The thousands of backpackers who make the journey each year are a testament to this. 

The Galapagos on the other hand is an expensive destination. You can try and stay in a hostel and do a land-based trip of the Galapagos, but a cruise is will allow you to explore far more of the islands and its wildlife. Even for a basic level cruise of 4/5 days, you'll have to pay above $1,200. You can get some last minute deals, but you won't be able to plan your trip ahead that way. 

Most companies that offer Galapagos and Machu Picchu tours start at around $3,500 for a basic level and go upwards of $10,000 for a luxury version. These price include transport, hotels, cruise, entrance fees etc

If you were to do your own trip on a tight budget, you could potentially do the whole thing (including a cruise) for around $2,500. You would need to plan carefully for this though. If you were incredibly careful and decided to do a land-based trip to the Galapagos instead of a cruise, you could maybe get away with $2,000 visiting both sites.  

Book A Tour Or Do It Alone?

The real question of whether to do a Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour alone or with an operator comes down to price and hassle. 

As mentioned above, using a tour agency/operator will cost more than if you were to tackle the trip alone and book everything yourself. However, you will get a 24/7 tour guide with you wherever you go - so that should be factored in to the extra cost. 

The major reason why people book with travel companies is to save themselves the hassle of booking and arranging everything themselves. Although there is not much effort required in the Galapagos to book things, Machu Picchu does pose more difficulties. 

For example, you need to book flights to Cusco, hotel, train journey to Aguas Calientes, and a dawn bus up to Machu Picchu. Most of these things need to be booked well in advance. 

Another thing your company will do is book your entrance tickets to Machu Picchu. These need to be booked months in advance and can sometime prove a bit of a headache for first-timers.

Booking it yourself on the other hand does give you more freedom than you would get with a company. You can decide when to visit certain sites and for how long. You can choose your hotel and cruise and generally have more say over your trip.

As mentioned above though - please book your Galapagos cruise and entrance to Machu Picchu months in advance!  

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When To Go?

The Galapagos Islands are perfect to visit at any time of year. The warm season from December through to March gets more rain, but the water is warmer and visibility better. During the 'winter' season, you'll experience far less rain, but the water will be a little colder. 

Machu Picchu cannot be trekked during January and February thanks to rain and closures. However, it can trekked the rest of the year. Bare in mind that it gets super busy during the peak season between May and September.

To get the most out of your trip, we would suggest travelling in the shoulder months around April-May and Late September, October and early November. This is when Machu Picchu is less crowded and the Galapagos Islands are picture perfect.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


If you have any queries or questions regarding Galapagos and Machu Picchu tours, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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