18 days in South America – the planning (Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Galapagos)

It’s been a long while since I updated, as my work took me to places across the globe. The last year in Shanghai was hectic, and now that I have a little more time in Surabaya, it’s time for updates!

So now, back to one of the greatest adventures in my life thus far!

The South America trip was probably the most challenging trip in terms of planning and execution. It was the honeymoon-adventure trip, with Machu Picchu and Galapagos as the two main highlights in this 18-day trip.

The planning only started in Oct, which was pure madness for a trip that began on 30 Nov.

We were trying to get spots on the Galapagos cruises which were expensive and filled up months ahead.

Flight details needed to be confirmed and there was so much uncertainty which drove us nuts.
So I hope this helps those who are keen to do a similar itinerary in a short time.


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We used Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Star Peru, LAN and LAN Ecuador. We chose to fly into Lima via Houston, but to get to Houston, the transit was done in Moscow. Within 18 days, we flew 12 sectors including transits.

1 Dec: SIN – DME – IAH on Singapore Airlines (Please note that this route has been revised SIN – MAN – IAH)
1 Dec: IAH – LIM on United Airlines.
4 Dec: LIM – CUZ on Star Peru (Start of a long journey to Machu Picchu!)
7 Dec: CUZ – LIM on Star Peru and LIM – UIO on LAN
8 Dec: UIO – GYE connecting to GPS on LAN Ecuador (Galapagos!)
15 Dec: GPS – UIO and UIO – LIM
17 Dec: LIM – IAH and then IAH – DME (with 10 hours in Houston, there’s time for NASA!)
19 Dec: DME – SIN


1. Have a minimum of 04 hours transit time when you are in IAH. We are naive and thought that 02 hours were enough, and had to make a mad dash by asking favours from the long queue of passengers at the immigration. And they were mostly sweet folks I should say.

2. Time your arrival in Baltra to catch your Galapagos cruise. Communicate with your cruise vendor, and consult them well in advance what are the suitable flights to arrive on. Cruises have fixed departure dates and schedules, so it does not wait for you if you miss your flights.

3. Type of currency to carry: US Dollar
The most used currency for most part of our trips. Peruvian Sol is available in neighbourhood money changers at a rate of 1USD to 3.2 PEN approx.

4. Accommodation in Lima, Peru was on AirBnB. Easy to get nice apartments in Miraflores, the affluent neighbourhood. My AirBnB host also recommended a English speaking guide, who drove us for some sightseeing at 100USD a day.


5. Transport from airport in Lima was pre-arranged, I used Taxidatum. It was great. Alternatively, you can try your luck with cabbing around if you can speak some Spanish.

It was worth it though, everything turned out pretty well, we caught all the flights and trains, met some helpful Peruvian folks and lovely tourists.


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