Diverse Cultures of South America with Galápagos Islands

Your expedition cruise begins in the UNESCO-listed Valparaíso before journeying north to the scenic seaside communities of La Serena, Iquique, Arica, and Paracas. From Callao, you’ll fly to Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and then continue on to the famous Galápagos Islands. With Santa Cruz Island as your base, you’ll explore two additional islands in the archipelago and observe incredibly diverse wildlife.
13 days

Galápagos Island Land-Program after the cruise

Expedition Cruise

Onboard activities

Landing activities

Hurtigruten offers unique expedition cruises to some of the most remote and pristine waters of the world. As with all expeditions, nature comes first. The weather, ice, and sea conditions have the final say in all of Hurtigruten’s operations. Safety and unparalleled guest experiences are our top priorities at all times. All our itineraries are continuously evaluated in order to adapt them, either due to constraints from unexpected weather conditions, or on the positive side, due to exciting nature and wildlife possibilities. That is why we call it an expedition.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.


  1. Vibrant hilltop city - Valparaíso, Chile

    Our hybrid electric–powered expedition ship MS Roald Amundsen will be waiting for you in Valparaíso in central Chile. Built on steep hillsides overlooking the ocean, this UNESCO-listed city is a maze of monuments, churches, historical funiculars (cable cars), trendy neighborhoods, cobblestone alleys, colorful houses, and charming plazas. Cerros Alegre and Concepción have arguably the best views, while the historic port district boasts colonial architecture, bustling mercados, and the maritime and modern art museums. You also have the option to

    Once you board the ship, you can pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin, explore the ship, and attending a mandatory safety drill. After the welcome dinner (featuring a toast by the captain), you’ll meet your Expedition Team, who will run through important health and safety aspects with you.

    Vibrant hilltop city  - Valparaíso, Chile
  2. Neo-Colonial and classy - La Serena, Chile

    Perched on terraces above the ocean, La Serena is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches all along Avenida del Mar and beyond. You’ll find that Chile’s second-oldest city has a distinct and purposefully crafted Neo-Colonial look and feel to it. Its modern buildings meld with buildings of an older vintage, such as the 30 or so carefully restored stone churches, some of which are 350 years old. These charming churches may look similar to one another, but you can distinguish them by their different styles of belfries.

    Aside from wandering the beaches, promenades, and plazas, you can also stroll through manicured public gardens such as the Japanese-inspired Jardín del Corazón or shop for handicrafts at Recova Market. Admire pre-Colonial artifacts at the archaeological museum or head to Patio Colonial, near Balmaceda, for casual cafés and eateries.

    Neo-Colonial and classy - La Serena, Chile
  3. Kick back on board - At Sea

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea. Relax and admire the scenery from the observation deck or from the lounge.

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will give lectures in the Science Center and share their extensive knowledge of the region. Topics may include periods of pre-Columbian history, the geology of the surrounding mountains and islands, the folklore of the local communities, and much more. Not all of our lectures are indoors, though! If curious seabirds come fly alongside the ship, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify them from the deck.

    Kick back on board - At Sea
  4. Day 4 - Iquique, Chile

    Welcome to a slice of paradise by the Pacific, complete with palm trees and promenades. As one of Chile’s top seaside cities, Iquique is buzzing with activity all year around. Shoppers stream to the duty-free Zofri Mall, while ship enthusiasts will love the tour of La Esmeralda, a steam-powered warship used and sunk during the War of the Pacific. You might have the opportunity to visit the nearby abandoned saltpeter mining town of Humberstone in the Atacama Desert. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a slice of history that you can literally walk through.

    Back in Iquique, stroll the La Costenera boardwalk next to Playa Cavancha and admire the city’s skyline on one side and the parasailors and surfers on the other. Baquedano Street showcases 19th-century Georgian architecture and leads to Astoreca Palace. Don’t miss the photo op at the clock tower, located in the town center. You’ll pass an array of chic cafés, where you can indulge in local coffee culture or sip a traditional creamy mango sour. You’ll find Iquique’s Chinatown near the mercado, bringing with it the unique ‘chifa’ cuisine, which marries Peruvian and Chinese flavors. Aside from the wide range of seafood dishes, you’ll definitely want to try chumbeque, a dessert that features a cookie sandwich coated with an anise-flavored syrup.

    Day 4 - Iquique, Chile
  5. ‘City of Everlasting Spring’ - Arica, Chile

    Arica enjoys a constant desert climate, which is atypical for a city by the sea. In fact, it is even one of the driest cities in the world. This also means that it is bathed in glorious sunshine almost every day of the year, and residents proudly describe Arica as being immersed in a never-ending spring. The beaches are popular with sunbathers and surfers alike. The 15-minute hike to the top of the tall, sandy El Morro cliff is well worth it. Once you find the fluttering Chilean flag on top, you’ll also be rewarded with great views.

    Another hotspot for visitors is San Marcos Cathedral, designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Parisian fame) and inaugurated in 1876. Calles 21 de Mayo and Bolognesi are lively pedestrian areas filled with eateries and artisan stalls, while the El Agro market and food court is full of sights and scents. At the San Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum, peruse artifacts from Chinchorro culture and marvel at mummies who are older than even the ones found in Egypt. Head to the south of the city to trek the more rugged Playa Corazones and explore Cuevas de Anzota (the Caves of Anzota). You also might have the opportunity to go on an optional excursion to see geoglyphs in Lluta Valley and Lauca National Park.

    ‘City of Everlasting Spring’ - Arica, Chile
  6. Fresh sea air - At Sea

    As we sail northward toward Peru, continue to enjoy the Expedition Team’s lecture program. On deck, a healthy salt-tinged breeze and magnificent views will invigorate you, as well as all the facilities the expedition ship has to offer. These waters are part of the Humboldt Current, a cold-water current that cools the climate in the region and causes clear blue skies. It also sustains the region’s highly productive marine ecosystem, causing large quantities of sardines, anchovies, and mackerel.

    If you’re someone who likes to keep active, there are well-equipped gyms on board, both indoor and outdoor and each with great views. Swimmers should be excited too—the ship has a heated infinity pool for you to enjoy. If you get tired of the treadmill, move your stride over to the outdoor running track. The scenery and the sea breeze might just inspire you to stretch your run out for a few more miles.

    Fresh sea air - At Sea
  7. Birds and brandy - Paracas, Peru

    Nestled on a bay behind a peninsula, the humble and sleepy resort town of Paracas is surrounded by brown-sugar–colored cliffs and beaches. Known to most as ‘El Chaco’, the town’s main shorefront and boulevard features a wide array of restaurants where you can taste jalea, a mix of fried seafood with salsa criolla (Creole) and yuca root. Another specialty is Peruvian silverside fish, known as pejerry, best washed down with a glass of pisco, a grape brandy produced at several of the region’s distilleries. Be careful though, pisco can pack a punch!

    Opposite Paracas harbor is the mysterious local geoglyph of a candelabra, which may date as far back as 200 B.C. It could be related to the famous Nazca Lines, which you can visit in the Pisco Valley. This optional excursion is just a short drive south. The Nazca Lines could be older than the candelabra, but new ones are still being discovered. Could these be extra-terrestrial in origin? You decide.

    You may also have the opportunity to take a boat tour of the nearby Ballestas Islands. The Ballestas support a wide range of wildlife, including Humboldt penguins, turtles, Peruvian boobies, cormorants, pelicans, sea lions, dolphins, Inca terns, and humpback whales. Nearby, you can also find Paracas National Reserve, whose territory includes a rare combination of desert and marine ecosystems. The Martian-like yellow dunes and red-sand beaches hide more than 100 archaeological sites of the Paracas culture. They also host excellent views of birds such as the Andean condor and Chilean flamingo.

    Birds and brandy - Paracas, Peru
  8. On a high - Callao/Lima/Quito

    We dock in Callao and travel a short distance to the Lima airport for your flight to Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Upon arrival and after the transfer that brings you to the hotel, you’ll have the day to explore Quito 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 Incan Empire before becoming the first Spanish settlement by conqueror Sebastian de Benalcásar in 1534. Stroll through the city’s historic center and view splendidly restored period buildings and Colonial-era churches lining the narrow, cobblestone streets. You’ll see why Quito’s historic center is described as the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic area in all of the Americas. That’s why in 1978, it was one of the first places in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Don’t be surprised if you feel a little short of breath when exploring the city, though. At 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second-highest capital in the world, after La Paz (Bolivia), which is even 2,130 feet higher.

    On a high  - Callao/Lima/Quito
  9. Views from the ‘Middle of the World’ - Quito, Ecuador

    After breakfast, we’ll head to the Inti Ñan Museum, in the aptly named ‘City in the Middle of the World,’ whose claim to fame is being built smack dab on the Equator. Here, you’ll see a range of totem poles and observe gravitational effects that occur only at the Equator. You will also learn about the traditions of rural life, including the customs and rituals of the indigenous Quechua-speaking tribes of the Amazon.

    Then we’ll ride the cable car (teleférico), one of Quito’s most popular attractions, which connects the city center to Cruz Loma hill on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. This 10-minute ride will glide you to an altitude of over 13,000 feet for an incredible view of Quito, the surrounding valleys, and the snow-covered volcanoes. It gets chilly up there, so bring something warm to wear!

    Back in Quito, we’ll have lunch in the charming Colonial quarter before enjoying a sightseeing tour. Dinner will be served at the hotel, and then you’ll have the whole evening to spend at your leisure.

    Views from the ‘Middle of the World’  - Quito, Ecuador
  10. Arriving at Santa Cruz Island - Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island

    Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before being driven to Quito’s airport for our flight to the Galápagos Islands (via Guayaquil). When we arrive at Baltra’s airport, our local guide will be waiting to transfer you to the Itabaca Channel, where a small ferry awaits you to bring you to the island of Santa Cruz.

    Our travels will take us through a rural agricultural area surrounded by wild landscapes, where we can see many different species of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, you might spot a few of the famous finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution based on natural selection. The highlands are one of the best places on the island to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. They are easy to spot. They lumber around eating grass and leaves and wallow in the small, muddy rain-formed pools. Younger giant tortoises tend to be smaller with shinier carapaces, while the larger, older giant tortoises proudly don weathered and worn shells—distinguished armor in a long life that can span over 100 years in the wild.

    After settling into your hotel in Puerto Ayora, we’ll walk to the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station. The station hosts educational museums about the history and development of the Galápagos Islands and the different ways of protecting its unique natural heritage. You can also observe the giant land tortoises native to the islands. The station is the only place in the Galápagos where most of the different species reside at one site.

    Spend the afternoon at your leisure and explore the small, picturesque town of Puerto Ayora and its many local handicraft shops. Observe the colorful murals at the churches around town or stroll over 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.

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island  - Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island
  11. Galápagos Island–Hopping - Santa Cruz Island

    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. On each of our two days, we will visit one island by boat, meaning we will see two of a possible six. We do not yet know which islands we will see, as that is at the discretion of the park authorities, who regulate and assign visitors one month beforehand.

    Could it be Bartolomé Island, famous for the dramatic Pinnacle Rock and the rare colony of Galápagos penguins at its base? How about North Seymour Island, with its large populations of hilarious blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and magnificent frigatebirds? Another is Santa Fe Island, known for having the most beautiful coves in the archipelago, with beaches covered in lounging sea lions. We could head to South Plaza Island, where a growing colony of land iguanas roam among prickly pear cactus trees. Perhaps we will see the flamingo lagoon on Floreana, the southernmost island, and with some luck we’ll catch a glimpse of the bright green and red marine iguanas usually found here. Of course it could be Isabela, the largest of the islands, home to a variety of mangroves and the largest community of wild tortoises in the entire archipelago.

    It’s clear that wherever you set foot to explore, you’re in for a real treat! You’ll go on walks to learn about the island’s geology, human history, and its exceptionally diverse wildlife. After two days, you’ll understand why these islands impressed Darwin so much and why they inspired his world-changing theory of evolution by natural selection.

    Galápagos Island–Hopping - Santa Cruz Island
  12. Return to mainland Ecuador - Santa Cruz Island/Baltra Island/Guayaquil

    After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way to the Baltra airport to fly to Guayaquil and on to your connecting flight home. But, on the way to the Baltra airport, we’ll have just enough time to squeeze in one last stop to see ‘Los Gemelos’—a pair of sinkholes often mistaken for volcanic craters in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Keep an eye out for the striking vermilion flycatcher and the endemic short-ear owl of the Galápagos, which can be seen in this area.

    With that, your expedition comes to an end. You will have journeyed from the Panama Canal, the marvel of human engineering with its complex lock system, then through to the Galápagos Islands, the birthplace of Darwin’s radical evolutionary theory of natural selection and a sanctuary for unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world.

    Return to mainland Ecuador  - Santa Cruz Island/Baltra Island/Guayaquil

Contact our travel experts for more details

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