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Michael is extremely proud and honoured to have been appointed as leader for two Smithsonian Journey "overland" tours to Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador, in September and October 2017, with Sue playing a key role helping with the logistics.
Since 1970, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has been organising these special tours, inspired by the Smithsonian’s mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” This dedication to lifelong learning and passion for exploring the world has ensured the reputation of these tours as authentic and exceptional cultural experiences.
The tours are based in top-quality hotels, with fascinating and fulfilling itineraries, led throughout by expert guides. As leaders, the job for Michael and Sue will be to ensure that everything runs smoothly and all the tour participants are fully engaged and happy with all that is going on. Michael has already visited the sites at Machu Picchu (below) and the amazing Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo (lower) and Sacsayhuaman, and looks forward to exploring these intriguing sites once more. Both Michael and Sue have long known about the famous wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, but for them it will be a first visit, so participants will be able to share with them their excitement at discovery and exploration amongst the charismatic wildlife of the islands.
The two tours begin in Lima, Peru respectively on 16th or 30th September 2017, and last 14 nights. We first fly up to Cuzco and travel from there down into the Sacred Valley with a stop in the Indian market at Pisac, with two overnights in the stunning Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel (which Michael hugely recommends). We then take the train to Aguas Calientes and the bus up the mountain road to Machu Picchu with the late morning and afternoon to explore, before a night in the Belmont Sanctuary Lodge, right outside the Inca village. This provides the opportunity for an early morning visit into Machu Picchu before other tourists arrive.
We then return for two nights in Cuzco, before flying to Quito and from there to the Galapagos Islands, where we stay in the Royal Palm Hotel on Santa Cruz Island for three nights. As well as exploring Santa Cruz, we spend two days sailing on the privately chartered yacht, Santa Fe, which gives plenty of opportunities to see the island's wildlife including the Frigate Birds and Marine Iguanas (below).
The tour ends with two nights in Quito, including a visit to a rose plantation and a farewell dinner in a local restaurant, concluding with a flight home on either 30th September or 14th October.
[THE PHOTOS ABOVE ARE TAKEN FROM THE SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS WEBSITE, WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT]