National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island

National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island

National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island

National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island

Travel information 14 Days MS Fridtjof Nansen
Departure
12 October 2023
Price from
7297 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join this expedition cruise along the Pacific Coast southbound from Costa Rica to Peru, uncovering ancient archaeological sites and exceptionally beautiful national reserves, and explore the unique Galápagos Islands that inspired the Theory of Evolution

Our small ships mean we can take you to where larger ships can’t, giving you a mix of places to explore, from cities to remote islands. At times, due to weather, we may need to change or cancel our plan for that day. Rest assured that this is all part of what it is to be on an authentic adventure in this exotic region. 

Paradises in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador  

From Puntarenas we’ll journey to Quepos and Golfito, two ports that give access to nearby Costa Rican national parks full of scenic habitats and animal life such as toucans, iguana, sloths, monkeys and a range of seabirds. We stop at Manta to visit Montecristi, where classic Panama hats were invented and still handmade to this day. And while in Puerto Bolivar we learn about the historical importance of the oro verde for the local economy.  

Peruvian pyramids  

First call in Peru will be at Salaverry, where you can tour the ancient temple and city ruins around Trujillo. You will end the expedition cruise in Lima, the UNESCO-listed capital of Peru.   

Quito and the Galápagos Islands 

After flying to Ecuador’s capital Quito and enjoying wandering around its UNESCO-listed historic centre, we continue to Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos. Over the next two days, you’ll board boats and tour a new island in the archipelago each day, uncovering the supreme biological diversity these islands are known for. Keep your eyes peeled to spot the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and maybe see native giant land tortoises in their natural habitat.  

National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island National Parks of South America & Galapagos Island
  • Day 1
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Beginning of your exotic expedition

    Your hybrid-powered expedition ship MS Fridtjof Nansen awaits you 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.  

    Once on board the ship, you’ll be busy picking up your complimentary expedition jacket, settling into your cabin, exploring the ship and attending a mandatory safety drill. After dinner and a welcome toast by the Captain, you’ll meet your Expedition Team who run through important health and safety aspects with you. 

    Arrange to arrive early for an overnight in San José and explore the Tárcoles River and mangrove forest during a boat tour before embarkation or join our 4-days Pre-Programme to the magnificent Volcano Arenal Area to explore the flora and fauna of Costa Rica, and relax in volcanic natural hot springs. 

    Day 1
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Beginning of your exotic expedition

  • Day 2
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    Costa Rica’s favourite paradise

    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 2
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    Costa Rica’s favourite paradise

  • Day 3
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    From Bananas to Bargains

    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 3
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    From Bananas to Bargains

  • Day 4
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea, relaxing and admiring the scenery from the observation deck or over in the lounge.  

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will be running lectures in the Science Center to share their extensive knowledge of the region with you. Topics could include periods of pre-Columbian history, the geology of the surrounding mountains and islands, folklore of local communities, and so on. But not all lectures are confined to indoors. If the ship attracts seabirds who come to fly alongside us, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify these feathered followers out on deck. 

    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. 

    Day 4
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

  • Day 5
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf… and tuna?

    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 Etnográfico 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 5
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf… and tuna?

  • Day 6
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

    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 6
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

  • Day 7
    At Sea

    At your leisure

    As we leave Ecuador behind and set sail for Peru, 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 7
    At Sea

    At your leisure

  • Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archaeologist’s dream

    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
    Callao / Lima, Peru / Quito, Ecuador 

    On a high 

    We dock in Callao and travel a short distance to Lima airport for your flight to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. After you arrive and the transfer brings you to your hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore at your leisure, with dinner served at the hotel. 

    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 in 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. 

    Don’t be surprised if you should feel a little short of breath when exploring the city though. At 2,850 metres above sea level, Quito is the second highest capital in the world after La Paz in Bolivia which is about 650 metres higher. 

    Day 9
    Callao / Lima, Peru / Quito, Ecuador 

    On a high 

  • Day 10
    Quito

    Views from the Middle of the World

    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 10
    Quito

    Views from the Middle of the World

  • Day 11
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island 

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island  

    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 11
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island 

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island  

  • Day 12-13
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping 

    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 12-13
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island Hopping 

Departures

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What's included

Included in your voyage

Land-Programme Galápagos Island after the expedition cruise  

  • Economy flight Lima to Quito and Quito to Baltra  
  • Two nights in Quito, including breakfast and dinner  
  • Three nights at hotel in Santa Cruz Island /Galápagos, including full board  
  • Economy flight Baltra to Guayaquil  
  • All transfers, excursions and meals as described, including English-speaking guide  
  • Galápagos 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 boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities 
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket 
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings  

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

Pool area on MS Fridtjof Nansen
Photo: Oscar Farrera
Your ship

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Year built 2020
Shipyard Kleven Yards, Norway
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

MS Fridtjof Nansen is the latest addition to Hurtigruten’s fleet of custom built ships – and the next generation expedition ship. She will explore some of the most spectacular corners of the globe.

Read more about MS Fridtjof Nansen

A large boat in a body of water with a mountain in the background

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