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Ecuador, Peru or an island stay: where to combine with a Galápagos cruise?

Galapagos hammock view c casa playa mann

Let's start with the archipelago itself. For the greatest possible immersion into the Galápagos, we cannot recommend highly enough a post-cruise beachfront stay on one of the main islands.

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Ecuador galapagos islands espanola island galapagos with many sea lions sleeping on a beach

After a week of cruise schedules, for a few days you’ll have a lot more flexibility to explore at your own pace. You can hop on a bike, go for a hike or just choose to relax on the often deserted beaches.

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Ecuador galapagos islands improvised crew football match santiago island

You'll experience the local Galápagueño culture, perhaps finding out what it's like to live side-by-side with such incredible diversity. The money you spend here also helps boost the local economy.

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Ecuador galapagos islands kicker rock at sunset galapagos islands

And you can take small-group excursions to parts of the archipelago your cruise didn't visit. For example Kicker Rock, a world-class snorkel site where sharks, rays, sea turtles and sea lions abound.

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Galapagos beach scene credit Michael Edey Pura Aventura 1

How to do it: Take a look at Our Ultimate Galápagos Holiday: Cruise & Island Stay for our most in-depth experience of the archipelago. If it sounds like your sort of thing, please do get in touch.

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Ecuador quito flag flying chris bladon

Now for the rest of Ecuador, 600 miles away on the mainland. All of our Galápagos trips will spend at least a couple of nights in Quito, but oh boy is there much to enjoy if you can give it more time.

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Ecuador mindo hummingbird 2 chris bladon

The Galápagos has cheeky penguins, boisterous boobies and majestic albatrosses, but we think Mindo’s cloud forest is just as special. It is, afterall, among the most bird-rich ecosystems on earth.

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Ecuador Choco toucan at El Monte Mindo Chris Bladon

You can see toucans, quetzals, cock of the rocks, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and... well, the list of species spotted is over 400 long. And there's little crossover with the Galápagos.

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Ecuador mindo cloud forest canopy 2 chris bladon

You need not be a dedicated birder to love it. Like many places in Ecuador, it all feels pre-historic, untouched for centuries, trees thick with lichens, mosses, ferns and bromeliads.

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Ecuador mindo bath view c el monte lodge

Your base here is one of our favourite ecolodges, run by Tom and Mariela. Hummingbirds battle for nectar as you sip your morning coffee. At night you're lulled to sleep by the rushing river.

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Ecuador amazon amazon jungle yasuni ecuador

If we then add in a few days deep, deep in Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest, you have yourselves the makings of what must surely be one of the world's great nature and wildlife holidays.

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Ecuador amazon rocio sina ceiba tree chris bladon

Trees have buttress roots bigger than your average basketball player. There are frogs smaller than a fingernail, butterflies with wings bigger than a fist and tarantulas the size of a hand.

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Ecuador amazon frog night walk chris bladon

An unforgettable Amazon experience is a jungle night walk. Vivid tree frogs, night monkies and otherwordly insects are cloaked in the still of the rainforest night, uncovered by flashlight.

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Ecuador amazon rocio guiding walk chris bladon

It’s not just the wildlife that captivates here. Devil’s Blood, Strangler Fig, Wandering Palm and the assassin-like Lemont Ant trees and their Devil’s Garden have stories as vivid as their names.

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Ecuador amazon squirrel monkey near lodge chris bladon

How to do it: Please have a look at our Ecuador & Galápagos Wildlife Wonders Holiday, which can be enjoyed exactly as shown, made shorter or longer and tailored to suit you.

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Peru flag boat lake titicaca chris bladon

For full on nature and wildlife, you have the forests of Ecuador. For a balanced combination of local culture, epic history, world class walking and exotic wildlife, you might also consider Peru.

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an extraordinary place - a citadel in the clouds, lost to the world for centuries. It's one of humanity's most precious treasures, a masterpiece from the age of great civilisations.

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Peru machu picchu incan ruins of machu picchu

If you've never been to South America, the idea of pairing Machu Picchu and the Galápagos might settle the argument there and then. But gives us a minute to finish flying the flag for Peru...

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Inca Trail

The best way to reach Machu Picchu is on foot. For us, you simply cannot beat the feeling of arriving in the quiet afternoon calm having walked up through the valley on the one-day trail.

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Peru inca trail to machu picchu view from sun gate

Quite why few others seemed to have figured out the timing is beyond us, but we're happy they haven't. Look at this photo taken by one of our guests in 2019 - just try and spot the people!

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Peru sacred valley mercedes chicha c sarah pura

For local Andean flavour, Peru's Sacred Valley is hard to beat. We have friends there, lovely Mercedes in the chichería for instance, who share their lives with you in the most organic way imaginable.

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Pura our story 17b

Nilda is another great character, the head of the female weaving co-operative that we take huge pride in sharing with you before you walk across the high plains and down towards Cusco.

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Peru cusco from plaza san cristobal c chris bladon

In Cusco, of course there's all the Inca heritage and glorious Spanish churches to explore. This place was, afterall, the capital of the Inca empire until the Europeans showed up.

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Peru cocktail pisco sour

But we can also do some really fun things beyond the main Cusqueño sights, such as a private masterclass in preparing pisco sours and ceviche with Javier in his own reastaurant kitchen.

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Colca Canyon & Arequipa

Added to the Galápagos, you're looking at a trip of around 18 days. Of course, beyond the Sacred Valley Peru has much more to offer if you have more time - Amazon, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon...

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Peru sacred valley quenco village shepherd walking highlands

How to do it: Here's a trip we made earlier: Machu Picchu & Galápagos Holiday. As always, it's already an exceptional trip as shown, or we can tailor it to make it perfect for you. Let us know!

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Galapagos hammock view c casa playa mann
Ecuador galapagos islands espanola island galapagos with many sea lions sleeping on a beach
Ecuador galapagos islands improvised crew football match santiago island
Ecuador galapagos islands kicker rock at sunset galapagos islands
Galapagos beach scene credit Michael Edey Pura Aventura 1
Ecuador quito flag flying chris bladon
Ecuador mindo hummingbird 2 chris bladon
Ecuador Choco toucan at El Monte Mindo Chris Bladon
Ecuador mindo cloud forest canopy 2 chris bladon
Ecuador mindo bath view c el monte lodge
Ecuador amazon amazon jungle yasuni ecuador
Ecuador amazon rocio sina ceiba tree chris bladon
Ecuador amazon frog night walk chris bladon
Ecuador amazon rocio guiding walk chris bladon
Ecuador amazon squirrel monkey near lodge chris bladon
Peru flag boat lake titicaca chris bladon
Machu Picchu
Peru machu picchu incan ruins of machu picchu
Inca Trail
Peru inca trail to machu picchu view from sun gate
Peru sacred valley mercedes chicha c sarah pura
Pura our story 17b
Peru cusco from plaza san cristobal c chris bladon
Peru cocktail pisco sour
Colca Canyon & Arequipa
Peru sacred valley quenco village shepherd walking highlands

Nothing beats a small-ship cruise to showcase the variety and vibrancy of the Galápagos. Over the course of a week or more, each day brings new habitats, new wildlife and new experiences. But if that's one half of the double act, what's the other? The Inca citadels of Peru? The cloud forests of Ecuador? Or how about a relaxed beach stay on the island, soaking up Galápagueño life? Let's see if we can steer you through the options, and then perhaps into a chat with one of our specialists to talk further.

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