We’ll be the first to say you should take your time and not hurry through Peru. What you’ll see on a leisurely cruise of the Galapagos is far different than what you’ll see on a few short stops. Not everyone has unlimited vacation time, however, so for many working stiffs even getting two weeks away is a rare luxury.
So a shorter combo trip to Peru and the Galapagos with an organized tour is the best way to get your mind blown on a work-friendly schedule.
If you want to see how this works, you can go onto the websites of tour companies that set up combination trips in South America. Here’s an example from Lost World Adventures, for example, that gives you a day-to-day itinerary of how it plays out on the ground. It’s 11 days, 10 nights in one tidy package. Remember, however, that you’ve got to get to South America and back, which could involve an overnight flight or two. So you’re looking at two weeks.
That tour starts in Lima then goes Sacred Valley > Machu Picchu > Cusco > Lima > Quito. On Day 7 you fly to the Galapagos, spend four nights on the ship, then fly back to Quito. On day 11 or 12 you fly home.
How Much is Your (Planning) Time Worth?
The Peru part of that itinerary makes me tired just looking at it, but it does give you a flavor of Peru and hits the main sites in and around Cusco. As you can imagine when seeing the schedule, however, this would be no easy task to arrange on your own. It would take hours and hours of planning and lead you down rabbit holes of internet research about things you didn’t even know you had to worry about. Things can and will go wrong now and then, but if you book with an experienced agency that has experienced partners on the ground, there’s a much better chance of small problems staying small instead of starting a domino effect of missed flights and cancelled hotel rooms.
Speaking of hotels, we do a great job of describing the best luxury hotels in Peru in detail, but maybe you don’t need a luxury hotel every night. If you’ll only spend six hours in it before you have to get up again for the next leg, something more modest is probably fine. The tour company will know when it matters and choose accordingly. They’ll also often give you an option of upgrading along the way.
The same goes for the ship you’ll be traveling on in the Galapagos. We’ve run stories on many Galapagos Cruises in Ecuador, but there are more than 100 ships authorized to ply those waters. Are you going to sift through all of them to decide? No, I didn’t think so. Let an expert figure that out for you based on their far more extensive knowledge of what’s available. Your experience on land will be similar no matter what, but you do get what you pay for on the cruising part.
Do you have more time or do you hate the idea of being herded around Peru and the Galapagos in a big group? That’s no problem, because even the largest agencies are willing to set up a custom tour for you and you can string several areas together that interest you. See this page for ideas on more than 20 Peru travel itineraries.