Your expedition cruise starts in Quito, Ecuador’s capital and most populous city. Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, perched at 9,350 feet above sea level on the eastern side of Pichincha, a volcano in the Andes. It is also the closest capital city to the Equator (thus the name Ecuador, meaning Equator in Spanish). Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Incan Empire before being settled in 1534 by Spanish conqueror Sebastian de Benalcásar.
Stroll through the city’s historic center and view splendidly restored period buildings and Colonial-era churches lining the narrow, cobblestone streets. You’ll soon 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. Your adventure begins with a night in a centrally located hotel.
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.
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.
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. The islands are teeming with endemic species and subspecies ranging from the wonderful to the weird and everything in between. On each of our two days here, we’ll visit one island by boat, meaning we’ll see two of the possible six islands. We don’t know which islands we’ll 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 possibility is Santa Fe Island, known for having the most beautiful coves in the archipelago, with beaches covered in lounging sea lions. Perhaps we’ll head to South Plaza Island, where a growing colony of land iguanas roam among prickly pear cactus trees. Or maybe we’ll 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 it may 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.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll stop to see ‘The Twins’ (‘Los Gemelos’) on our way to the Baltra airport. Often mistaken for volcanic craters, these twin depressions are actually sinkholes in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. You’ll be served a packed lunch on the flight from Baltra Island, via Guayaquil, to Lima, where our local guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. Dinner will be served at your hotel upon your arrival.
After a good night’s sleep in this historic city, known originally as ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’ (The City of Kings), you’ll enjoy breakfast at the hotel. After check-out, we’ll take a half-day tour of Lima, including a visit to the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center. The tour’s highlights include Casa Aliaga, a nearly 500-year-old mansion built for one of Pizarro’s lieutenants, and the Santo Domingo Convent, the best-preserved Colonial building in all of Lima.
We’ll enjoy a lunch at a typical Peruvian restaurant, where you can savor one of Peru’s all-time gastronomic greats: ceviche, fresh fish marinated in tangy lime juice and other seasonings. The tour finishes at the quayside in Callao, where your expedition ship awaits you.
Once on board, you’ll check-in and run through an important safety drill. Then settle into your cabin and take a look around the ship. Later, you’ll enjoy a special welcome dinner, where you’ll meet the captain, the crew, and the Expedition Team. Together, we’ll raise a glass and toast to the adventures ahead! The day ends with a briefing from the expedition leader and the hotel manager. After, maybe wander over to the Explorer Lounge and Bar for a drink with your new shipmates!
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 tourable distilleries. Be careful though, pisco can pack a punch!
Opposite Paracas harbor is the mysterious local geoglyph of a candelabra, which possibly dates back to 200 B.C. It could be related to the famous Nazca Lines, which you may have an opportunity to visit in the Pisco Valley on an optional excursion. The Nazca Lines could be older than the candelabra, but new geoglyphs are still being discovered. Could these be extra-terrestrial in origin? You decide.
You may also have an opportunity to take a boat tour to the nearby Ballestas Islands, considered somewhat of a mini-Galápagos of Peru The Ballestas Islands 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 the 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 civilization. Also keep your eyes on the sky for the Andean condor and Chilean flamingo.
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. Our designated expedition photographer will be available to help you learn the basics of expedition photography, in addition to documenting our journey.
Arica enjoys a constant desert climate, which is atypical for a city by the sea. In fact, it’s 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, and 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 even 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).
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 and history enthusiasts will love the tour of La Esmeralda, a steam-powered warship used and sunk during the War of the Pacific. You may 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 a wide range of seafood dishes, you’ll definitely want to try chumbeque, a local dessert that features a cookie sandwich coated with an anise-flavored syrup.
Spend your last full day at sea kicking back and relaxing as your expedition cruise draws to a triumphant close. You could also spend some time in the gym or in the sauna. Whatever you do, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy your leisure time aboard the ship. The Expedition Team will recap highlights of the adventure. Try your hand at the art workshop, where you can create art inspired by the places you have seen and the things you have done on the trip.
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 classic architecture, such as the 30 or so carefully restored stone churches, some of which are 350 years old. You’ll notice that the stone churches can be distinguished by their different styles of belfries.
Aside from wandering the beaches, promenades, and plazas, you can also stroll through manicured public gardens like the Japanese-inspired Jardín del Corazón or shop for handicrafts at Recova Market. Contemplate Pre-Colonial artifacts at the archeological museum or head to the Patio Colonial, near Balmaceda, for relaxed cafés and eateries.
Your voyage ends at Valparaíso. Built on steep hillsides overlooking the ocean, this UNESCO World Heritage Site–listed city is a maze of monuments, churches, historical funicular 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 has Colonial architecture, bustling mercados, and the maritime and modern art museums. This colorful and unusual city is fascinating, so why not stick around for an extra day or two? You can also join a Post-Program to Easter Island, famous for its mysterious statues of giant heads.
Included in Your Expedition
Galápagos Island Land Program before the 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 from Quito to Baltra, and Baltra to Lima (via Guayaquil)
- All transfers, excursions, and meals are as described in the itinerary, including an English-speaking guide
- Galápagos Islands National Park entrance fee
- 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 (on MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridjtof Nansen)
- Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is 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 fill at onboard water refill stations
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
- Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
- Use the ship’s Science Center, which features an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
- The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
- The ship has hot tubs, an infinity pool, a sauna, an outdoor and indoor gym, and an outdoor running track
- Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
- Loan of trekking poles and all equipment needed for the activities
- Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings
Not Included In Your Expedition
- International flights
- Travel protection
- Baggage 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
- All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
- No gratuities are expected
- The Land-Program in the Galápagos Islands involves long stretches of travel. This includes walking over uneven terrain and getting in/out of boats, as well as a climate ranging from cool temperatures at high altitudes to hot, tropical weather.
MS Roald Amundsen
|Passenger capacity||530 (500 in Antarctica)|
|Gross tonnage||20 889 T|
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.
MS Fridtjof Nansen
|Shipyard||Kleven Yards, Norway|
|Passenger capacity||530 (500 in Antarctica)|
|Gross tonnage||20 889 T|
|Length||140 m / 459 ft|
|Beam||23.6 m / 77 ft|
MS Fridtjof Nansen is the latest addition to Hurtigruten’s fleet of custom-built ships – and represents the next generation of expedition ships. She will explore some of the most spectacular corners of the globe.
|Year of refurbishment||2020|
|Passenger capacity||318 (200 in Antarctica)|
|Length||114 m / 374 ft|
|Beam||20.2 m / 66 ft|
The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram honors the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology and making her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in polar regions.
Sailing with MS Fridtjof Nansen, MS Roald Amundsen or MS Fram
- MS Fridtjof Nansen: Life on board and Practical information
- MS Roald Amundsen: Life on board and Practical information
- MS Fram: Practical information and Life on board
- Meet Our Expedition Team