Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America

Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America

Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America

Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America

Travel information 17 days MS Roald Amundsen
Departure
10 April 2023
Price from
7944 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Start your adventure by being amazed by the biologically diverse Galápagos Islands, then continue to highlights along the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. Explore national parks full of scenic spots and varied animal life, and enjoy UNESCO-sites famed for archaeology, history and beautiful architecture.

Iguanas, tortoises, and finches 

You’ll begin in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Explore its UNESCO World Heritage historic centre and visit a museum right on the Equator. You’ll then fly to Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands. The next two days are spent exploring other islands in the archipelago, discovering unique flora and fauna such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas and the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. 

The expedition cruise begins

Travel to Lima, capital of Peru, and join a sightseeing tour before boarding your ship towards Puntarenas. If weather allows, we’ll stop at Salaverry for the opportunity to visit ancient city and temple ruins on an optional excursion. Puerto Bolivar is next, the ‘Banana Capital of the World’, and then we move on to Puerto López to explore Parque National Machalilla. Admire Panama hats in Montecristi near Manta and stroll empty beaches on Cebaco Island. In Golfito, walk to waterfalls in the rainforest or join an optional excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park in Quepos.

Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America Galápagos Islands & National Parks of South America
  • Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Top UNESCO historic centre

    10 April 2023

    Your expedition cruise starts in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the country’s most populous city. Situated on the eastern side of Pichincha, a volcano in the Andes, at an elevation of 2,850 metres above sea level, it is the second highest capital city in the world. It is also the closest capital city to the Equator, which of course when translated into Spanish is Ecuador. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Inca Empire before being refounded in 1534 by Spanish conqueror Sebastian de Benalcásar.

    Take a walk around the city’s historic centre to see splendidly restored period buildings and colonial-era churches lining the narrow, cobbled streets. You’ll understand why Quito’s historic centre is described as the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic areas in the Americas. For those reasons, it was among the first places to ever be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The first night of your adventure is spent at a centrally located hotel.

    Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Top UNESCO historic centre

  • Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the Middle of the World

    11 April 2023

    Once you have enjoyed your breakfast, we´ll take you to the charming colonial quarter and enjoy a sightseeing tour of the area. Starting with Plaza San Francisco, we´ll visit the  Church choir and patios of the Franciscan order. We´ll then stroll through the handsome streets to the Jesuit church of La Compañía with its stunning gold-leaf interior 

    A trip to Ecuador wouldn't be complete without a photo depicting one foot in the northern hemisphere and another in the southern hemisphere. Continue by coach to the Middle of the World City, located just 8.3 mi (13.5 km) north of Quito, that stands to honor the Geodesic Mission that established latitude 0 in the 18th century. Depending on the time available, you´ll be able to visit the surroundings of the small village. You will also have the opportunity to visit the the Intiñan Museum, offering an ecological and scientific discovery space that transports visitors back to ancient times, allowing them to learn about the worldview, customs and traditions of ancient cultures. 

    Lunch is served at El Crater restaurant which overlooks Pululahua Volcano.  

    In the afternoon you´ll return to your hotel in Quito.  

    Dinner will be served at the hotel and the evening is spent at your leisure. 

    Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the Middle of the World

  • Day 3
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island

    12 April 2023

    You’ll start your day with breakfast at the hotel before we drive to Quito Airport for the flight to the Galápagos Islands (via Guayaquil).  When we arrive at Baltra’s airport, our local representative will transfer you to Itabaca Channel where a small ferry brings you to the island of Santa Cruz.

    We’ll travel through a rural agricultural area surrounded by wild landscapes and many different species of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you might spot a few of the famous finches which inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. The highlands are one of the best places on the island to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Easy to spot, they lumber around eating grass and leaves and wallow in the small, muddy rain-formed pools. Younger ones tend to be smaller with shinier carapaces while the larger, older ones wear weathered and worn shells like the distinguished armour of a long life – over 100 years in the wild. Enjoy lunch in the Highlands.

    Once you’ve settled into your hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora, we’ll walk to the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station. The station hosts educational museums on both the history and development of the Galápagos Islands and the range of protections given to this natural heritage. Native giant land tortoises can also be observed here, and the station is the only place in the Galápagos where most of the different species reside at one site.  

    The afternoon is at your leisure to explore the small, picturesque Puerto Ayora and its many local arts and crafts shops. See the colourful murals at the churches around town or take a short walk to Tortuga Bay to look for marine iguanas, crabs, and white tip reef sharks among the mangroves. Dinner will be served at the hotel´s restaurant.

    Day 3
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island

  • Day 4-5
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping

    13 April 2023 - 14 April 2023

    After breakfast, we'll begin to explore the islands that have become synonymous with the theory of evolution and hailed as a natural laboratory for natural selection. The range of wildlife on display in the islands is mind-boggling, full of endemic species and subspecies from the wonderful to the weird and everything in between. Over two days, you’ll visit two islands out of a possible six, going to one island each day by boat. Which ones you’ll see will be on the say-so of the park authorities who regulate and assign visitors a month beforehand.

    Will it be Bartolomé Island, famous for the dramatic Pinnacle Rock and the rare colony of Galápagos penguins at its base? Or perhaps, it’ll be North Seymour Island, site of large populations of the hilarious blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigatebirds? Santa Fe Island is known to have some of the most beautiful coves in the archipelago with beaches covered in lounging sea lions. Or maybe you’ll go to South Plaza Island where a growing colony of land iguanas roam among the prickly pear cactus trees.

    It’s clear that whichever two islands you get to set foot on and explore, you’re in for a real treat! You’ll go on walks ashore and learn about the island’s geology, human history, and the exceptionally diverse wildlife all around you. After two days, you’ll understand just why Darwin was so impressed by the islands and why they inspired his world-changing theory.  

    Day 4-5
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping

  • Day 6
    Baltra Island/Lima

    From isolated islands to connected capital

    15 April 2023

    After eating breakfast at the hotel, it’ll be time to make our way to Baltra airport to fly to GuayaquilWe´ll continue from there to Lima, where our local guide will transfer you to your hotel in the city. Dinner will be served at the hotel before you spend the night there.

    Day 6
    Baltra Island/Lima

    From isolated islands to connected capital

  • Day 7
    Callao, Peru

    Lima – UNESCO World Heritage

    16 April 2023

    After a good night’s sleep in this historic city originally known as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or ‘The City of Kings’, wake up to breakfast at the hotel. Once you’ve checked out, you’ll take a half-day tour of Lima’s sights, including a visit to the city’s UNESCO-listed historic centre. Some of the tour’s highlights include Plaza San Martin, Plaza Mayor, the Government Palace and Santo Domingo Convent, the best-preserved colonial building in all of Lima.

    Lunch will be enjoyed in a typical Peruvian restaurant.

    Once on board, you’ll check-in, run through an important safety drill and have time to settle into your cabin and look around the ship. Later, meet the Captain, crew and your Expedition Team at the welcome dinner and raise a glass to toast to the adventures ahead. The day ends with a briefing from the Expedition Leader and Hotel Manager, and maybe a few more drinks in the Explorer Lounge and Bar with fellow guests!

    Day 7
    Callao, Peru

    Lima – UNESCO World Heritage

  • Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archaeologist’s dream

    17 April 2023

    Buffeted by the wind and waves of the Pacific, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If all goes to plan though, it will be a good transit point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city, as well as an array of archaeological sites scattered throughout the surrounding region.

    Trujillo sits in a fertile valley oasis irrigated by the Moche River. It boasts a colourful baroque 17th century cathedral, 10 colonial churches, and many neoclassical mansions, not to mention one of the longest mosaic murals in the world at the local university. However, it is more than likely that your focus will be elsewhere and on things not so modern.

    The city of Chan Chan was raised by the Chimu Empire which appeared in the region around 900 AD. The vast ruins of the 20-square kilometre complex include the Tschudi temple-citadel and Huaca Esmeralda. On the other side of Trujillo are the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon which pre-date Chan Chan by a few hundred years. Huaca del Sol in particular is the largest adobe structure on the continent while Huaca del Luna is more detailed with many of its pastel frescos still visible.

    Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archaeologist’s dream

  • Day 9
    At Sea

    At your leisure

    18 April 2023

    As we leave Peru behind and set sail for Ecuador, enjoy another day at your leisure aboard the ship. Take advantage of the many onboard facilities or join in on lectures as we prepare you for what’s still to come.

    To fully relax during your downtime on board, there’s no better place than the Wellness Center. Feel the knots in your muscles disappear during a massage or pamper yourself with a few skin-scrubbing treatments. And if the warm weather hasn’t opened up your pores, a session in the sauna is bound to do the trick. You could also slip into your bathing suit and lie back into the bubbles of the outdoor hot tubs or bask in a state of zen during a guided meditation class. Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to be stress-free and revitalised for the remaining adventure.

    Day 9
    At Sea

    At your leisure

  • Day 10
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

    19 April 2023

    Machala’s main claim to fame is Puerto Bolivar, an important Ecuadorian port for the export of coffee, cocoa, shrimp and bountiful bananas which the locals call oro verde – ‘green gold’. As part of a choice of optional excursions, you can visit a local banana plantation and also try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets and howler monkeys in Buenaventura Nature Reserve to the south. Puyango Petrified Forest is nearby with one of the largest collections of fossilised trees in the world, thought to be about 100 million years-old, as old as the Andes Mountains themselves.

    At Puerto Bolivar, you can feast on fresh seafood at one of the many harbour restaurants and enjoy views of the natural mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli opposite. Machala itself has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city, including friendly locals, cute plazas and unusual monuments dedicated to sort-fish and bananeros. The restaurants are evolving and beginning to dabble in the hip modern cuisine which Ecuador and Peru are increasingly known for.

    Day 10
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

  • Day 11
    Puerto López, Ecuador

    Tropical dry forests and archaeological sites

    20 April 2023

    Named after the Machalilla culture, that thrived in the region during the second millennium BCE, Machalilla National Park is one of the most extensive protected areas on the Ecuadorian coast. Created in 1979, the National Park comprises a continental section covered in dry forest and some picturesque islands, including Isla de la Plata. Home to a rich and divers wildlife that includes more than 270 species and birds and 81 of mammals, Machalilla has also been declared an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention, recognising its great ecological importance. Archaeology is the other highlight of Machalilla, and the park is considered an outdoor museum of pre-Columbian history, with such important sites as Agua Blanca. 

    The Headquarters of the National Park are in Puerto López, a fishing village of about 10.000 souls located in the southern coast of Manabí province. Founded by local fishermen in 1810, Puerto López is actually a bay open to the Pacific Ocean, with no conventional port facilities. If weather conditions allow, we aim to anchor off the long sandy beach and use our small expedition boats to land. Once ashore, you’ll enjoy an included excursion to the National Park with time to visit the Agua Blanca archaeological site and explore the tropical dry forests of Machalilla. 

    Day 11
    Puerto López, Ecuador

    Tropical dry forests and archaeological sites

  • Day 12
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf… and tuna?

    21 April 2023

    Manta is a busy and prosperous port city with high-rise buildings, resort hotels, and a couple of casinos. It is well known in the world of water sports for its long stretches of beach that are blessed with the kind of wind and waves that draw surfers, body-boarders and kitesurfers from across the globe. Casual beachgoers normally hang around the shops, restaurants and bars of Malencón Escénico at Playa el Murcielago. You can also head to San Lorenzo for surfer-sweet swells or to Playa Bonita at Santa Marianita to watch kitesurfers take off into sea and sky.

    Aside from tourism, the city thrives on an industry of tuna fishing and canning, and typically for a coastal city, seafood is the speciality of many restaurants in the area. Expect wild-caught succulent shrimp, black clams, octopus, red snappers and so on. You should make a point to try a bowl of the local encebollado broth made with the fresh tuna Manta is so proud of. The Museo Municipal Etnografico Cancebi showcases Ecuadorian art and artefacts from local pre-Colombian civilisation, including ancient fishing tools. You might also like to visit the nearby handicraft town of Montecristi where traditional Panamanian straw hats were first created and still hand woven to this day.

    Day 12
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf… and tuna?

  • Day 13
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

    22 April 2023

    A day at sea means you can attend interesting lectures, learn basic expedition photography, attend an art workshop, and enjoy the fresh sea air out on deck as you scout for wildlife. You can also use microscopes in the Science Center to analyse samples taken during the cruise. As we cross the Equator, it’s the tradition of Norwegian sailors to hold a ceremony to seek King Neptune’s blessing. If we’re in luck, he may even make an appearance.

    By this stage of your journey, you’ll have made friends with your fellow explorers, finding that you have much in common in terms of your interests and passion for nature. You can spend time chatting with them over a snack at the bistro-like Fredheim, perhaps recalling the best bits of your expedition so far. The Explorer Bar is also open for drinks and you might catch the crew and Expedition Team here in the evening for some friendly banter. As night falls, there are also few things as romantic as stargazing out on deck with your loved one.

    Day 13
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

  • Day 14
    Cebaco Island, Panama

    Beaches off the beaten track

    23 April 2023

    Even as Panama’s third-biggest island, much of Cebaco is uninhabited, aside from the small village of El Jobo in the north. The only access to Cebaco is by sea but there are no public ferries that come here. The result of this remoteness is quiet, traditional island-life all but forgotten by mass tourism and untainted by development.

    Miles of beautiful pristine beaches lie hidden around each bend, such as Playa Grande to the south which has fine white sand and rows of coconut trees. There are various hiking trails that weave through the lush rainforest, ideal for taking a moment to enjoy the island’s peacefulness and to look for wildlife. The Gulf of Montijo where the island lies is part of a nationally protected marine zone and the luscious turquoise waters at La Pita beach and Caelata Cayman promise exceptional coral reefs and colourful fish to see while snorkelling.

    Day 14
    Cebaco Island, Panama

    Beaches off the beaten track

  • Day 15
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    From Bananas to Bargains

    24 April 2023

    The relaxed town of Golfito sits sheltered in the blissfully beautiful Golfito Bay, which in turn lies within the larger Golfo Dulce. You can enjoy the views from seaside marinas or better yet, take the scenic hiking trails that go up into the wildlife refuge on the hill and beyond to Piedras Blancas National Park. As you explore the lush rainforest, you’ll come across pretty waterfalls and possibly spy toucans, macaws, the blue morpho butterfly, anteaters, sloths, mantled howler monkeys and more. The calm waters around the bay also make it ideal to tour the local mangroves and visit isolated beaches via kayak as part of an optional excursion.

    Once a prime region for banana exports, Golfito has since switched its economy to palm oil plantations and sport fishing. Anglers of all ages stay at boutique resorts and chic eco-lodges around Golfito, going out on the many boats during the day in the hopes of catching an iconic Pacific Sailfish. If you’re looking for a bargain, you could check out the town’s duty-free centre that regularly draws both visitors and locals alike on shopping sprees.

    Day 15
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    From Bananas to Bargains

  • Day 16
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    Costa Rica’s favourite paradise

    25 April 2023

    You’ll find that the town of Quepos and its surroundings come packed with plenty of things to see and do. The many boats in the pretty Marina Pez Vela cater for big game sport fishing that Quepos is synonymous with. Around the central plaza are six blocks of restaurants, galleries and shops and there is a choice of water sports on the mile-long Playa Espadilla.

    The big attraction of Quepos though is its proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park. This is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica and ranks in the Forbes list of top 12 most beautiful national parks in the world.  The park boasts impressive views of mountains, mangroves, lagoons, beaches, and tropical forest. With 350 species of birds and 109 species of mammals, it is often described as an ‘outdoor zoo’ by visitors. Following the breathtaking Perezoso trail, you can hope to spot scarlet macaws, toucans, hawks, four species of monkey, sloths, iguanas and armadillos.

    Day 16
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    Costa Rica’s favourite paradise

  • Day 17
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    End of your exotic expedition

    26 April 2023
    Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM

    Your expedition will sadly end in Puntarenas, a city on a needle-like strip of land on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. City slickers from San José normally nip to Puntarenas for the day to get their fix of relaxed coastal life and fresh ocean air. While it is still an active fishing port, Puntarenas mainly acts as a transit point for people on their way elsewhere in the region, such as to the white-sand beaches of Nicoya Peninsula or the waterfall-rich Tortuga Island.

    Depending on the time you have after disembarkation, before your return flight or post-programme, the palm-tree lined Paseo de los Turistas makes for a pleasant stroll. There are restaurants, food stalls and vendors for any last-minute souvenir shopping. If there is time to indulge your sweet tooth, we recommend batidos fruit smoothies and also churchills, the official snack of Puntarenas which is a combination of fruit, shaved ice, syrup, and ice cream. If you’re wondering about the name, it comes from the fact that the local inventor of the sweet concoction was thought to be the spitting image of the famous British Prime Minister.

    Before returning home, why not make the most of your trip and add a Post-Programme to the magnificent Arenal Volcano Area where you’ll join activities to see more of Costa Rica’s beautiful flora and fauna. Or join a jungle boat tour with lunch followed by a night in the capital city of San José.

    Day 17
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    End of your exotic expedition

Departures

2023

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
April:
10.

What's included

Included in your voyage

Land-Programme Galápagos Island before the expediton cruise

  • Two nights in Quito, including breakfast and dinner on Day 2.
  • Three nights at a hotel in Santa Cruz Island /Galápagos Islands, including full board
  • One night in Lima, including half board
  • Economy flight Quito-Baltra, Baltra-Lima (via Guayaquil)
  • All transfers, excursions and meals as described, including English-speaking guide
  • Galápagos Islands National Park entrance fee

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, infinity pool, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and outdoor running track
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Loan of trekking poles and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected
MS Roald Amundsen
Science Center
Photo: Agurtxane Concellon
A small boat in a large body of water
Your ship

MS Roald Amundsen

Year built 2019
Shipyard Kleven Yards
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots
MS Roald Amundsen

In 2019, Hurtigruten added a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.

Read more about MS Roald Amundsen

Aune Restaurant, MS Roald Amundsen
Photo: Espen Mills
Check prices and availability

Explore other destinations: