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
April 4, 2022
Price from $ 11,415
$ 9,997
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Start your adventure in the biologically diverse Galápagos Islands, then continue to stand-out sites along the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Costa Rica. Explore national parks full of scenic areas and varied animal life, and enjoy UNESCO World Heritage Sites famed for archeology, history, and beautiful architecture.

Iguanas, tortoises, and finches

Your adventure begins in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Explore its UNESCO World Heritage historic center, visit a museum right on the Equator, and ride a cable car (teléferico) for terrific views over the city. Then, fly to Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands. Over the next two days, you will explore other islands in the archipelago and discover their unique flora and fauna, including tortoises, marine iguanas, and the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

The expedition cruise begins

Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Lima, the capital of Peru, before boarding your ship to Puntarenas. Weather permitting, we’ll make a stop at Salaverry, where we may have the opportunity to visit the ancient city and temple ruins on an optional excursion. Next comes Puerto Bolivar, the ‘Banana Capital of the World’, before heading to Isla de la Plata, whose abundance of rare wildlife will remind you of your time in the Galápagos. Buy yourself an authentic Panama hat in Montecristi (near Manta) and stroll the empty beaches of Cebaco Island. Walk to rainforest waterfalls in Golfito, 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

    Delightful UNESCO historic center

    April 4, 2022

    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.

    Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Delightful UNESCO historic center

  • Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the ‘Middle of the World’

    April 5, 2022

    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 right on the Equator. Here, you’ll see a range of totem poles and observe gravitational effects that occur only on the equator. You’ll 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 take you to an altitude of 13,287 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 you’ll have the whole evening to spend at your leisure.

    Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the ‘Middle of the World’

  • Day 3
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island

    April 6, 2022

    Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before driving to Quito’s airport for our flight to the Galápagos Islands (via Guayaquil). When we arrive at the Baltra’s airport, our local guide will be waiting to transfer you to the Itabaca Channel, where a small ferry awaits to take you over 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 by 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 small, muddy rain-formed pools. Younger giant tortoises tend to be smaller with shinier carapaces, while the larger, older 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. This research station is the only place in the Galápagos where most of the different species of giant tortoise reside at one site.

    Spend the afternoon at your leisure and explore the small, picturesque 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.

    Day 3
    Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island

  • Day 4-5
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island–Hopping

    April 7, 2022 - April 8, 2022

    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.

    Day 4-5
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island–Hopping

  • Day 6
    Baltra Island/Lima

    From isolated islands to a connected capital

    April 9, 2022

    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.

    Day 6
    Baltra Island/Lima

    From isolated islands to a connected capital

  • Day 7
    Callao, Peru

    Lima – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ‘City of Kings’

    April 10, 2022

    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!

    Day 7
    Callao, Peru

    Lima – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ‘City of Kings’

  • Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

    April 11, 2022

    Pummeled by the Pacific’s wind and waves, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If we are able to land there, though, it’ll be a good starting point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third-largest city, and the array of archeological sites scattered throughout the region.

    Trujillo sits in a fertile valley oasis irrigated by the Moche River. It boasts a colorful 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. It’s more likely, however, that your focus will be further back on the past.

    The city of Chan Chan was created by the Chimú Empire, which appeared in the region around 900 A.D. The vast ruins of the complex, measuring almost 8 square miles, include the Tschudi temple-citadel and Huaca Esmeralda. On the other side of Trujillo are you’ll find the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. These pre-date Chan Chan by a few hundred years! Huaca del Sol stands out as the largest adobe structure on the continent, while Huaca del Luna is a more detailed specimen, with many of its pastel frescos still visible.

    Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

  • Day 9
    At Sea

    At your leisure

    April 12, 2022

    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 and join in on lectures as we prepare you for what’s to come.

    There’s no better place than the Wellness Center to fully relax during your downtime on board. Feel the knots in your muscles disappear during a massage or pamper yourself with skin-scrubbing treatments. And if the warm weather hasn’t opened up your pores, a session in the sauna is sure to do the trick. You can also slip into your bathing suit and lie back into the bubbles of one of the outdoor hot tubs or bask in a state of zen during a guided meditation class. Whatever you decide to do, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself relaxed and entertained on this day at sea.

    Day 9
    At Sea

    At your leisure

  • Day 10
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

    April 13, 2022

    Machala’s main claim to fame is Puerto Bolivar, an important Ecuadorian port where coffee, cocoa, shrimp, and bountiful bananas (which the locals call oro verde, or ‘green gold’) leave for export. As part of one of our optional excursions, you may have the opportunity to visit a local banana plantation, or to try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets, and howler monkeys in the Buenaventura Nature Reserve to the south. The nearby Puyango Petrified Forest has one of the largest collections of fossilized trees in the world, thought to be about 100 million years old—as old as the Andes Mountains themselves.

    Feast on fresh seafood at Puerto Bolivar at one of the harbor’s many restaurants, and enjoy views of the natural mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli. Machala has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city. Stroll through quaint plazas filled with friendly locals, and admire unusual monuments dedicated to sorting fish and bananeros. The restaurants here are evolving and have started dabbling in the hip, modern cuisine for which Ecuador and Peru have increasingly become known.

    Day 10
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

  • Day 11
    Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

    Ecuador’s other Galápagos

    April 14, 2022

    Isla de la Plata is a part of Parque National Machalilla, Ecuador’s only coastal national park. The island sits a ways off the coast and is prone to large waves that can make landings a challenge. Its nickname of ‘Silver Island’ is thought to come from the belief that English seaman Francis Drake buried a treasure trove of silver here. This nickname could also come from the copious bird guano reflected in the sunshine, giving the island a shiny, silvery look when seen from the mainland. Unfortunately, no treasure has ever been found on the island, which is just over two square miles in size.

    But what the island lacks in size or silver, it more than makes up for in the wide range of wildlife, even rivaling that of the Galápagos Islands. If we are able to land here successfully, keen birdwatchers take note! Have your binoculars at the ready to spot some of the 32 species of birds found here, including the famous blue-footed boobies, nesting waved albatross, pelicans, gannets, and frigate birds. The wildlife in the island’s waters are equally diverse. Keep an eye out for whales, manta rays, green turtles, and dolphins.

    Day 11
    Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

    Ecuador’s other Galápagos

  • Day 12
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf, and… tuna?

    April 15, 2022

    Manta is a bustling and prosperous port city with high-rise buildings, resort hotels, and several casinos. It is well-known for its long stretches of beach whose blessed wind and waves draw surfers, body-boarders, and kitesurfers from across the globe. You can mingle with casual beachgoers at the shops, restaurants, and bars of Malencón Escénico at Playa el Murcielago. You can also head to San Lorenzo for surfer-sweet swells or go to Playa Bonita at Santa Marianita to watch kitesurfers take off from the sea into the sky.

    Aside from tourism, the city’s tuna fishing and canning industry is a successful and key industry here. As is typical for a coastal city, seafood is the specialty on the menu at most restaurants in the area. Try succulent wild-caught shrimp, black clams, octopus, red snappers, and much more. Make a point to try a bowl of the local encebollado broth made with fresh tuna, the pride of Manta. The Museo Municipal Etnografico Cancebi showcases Ecuadorian art and artifacts from the local pre-Columbian civilization, including ancient fishing tools. You may also have the opportunity to visit the nearby town of Montecristi, famous for handicrafts, and 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

    April 16, 2022

    A day at sea means the opportunity to attend interesting lectures, learn basic expedition photography, try your hand at an art workshop, and enjoy the fresh sea air out on deck as you watch for wildlife. You can also use microscopes in the Science Center to analyze 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 can now regard your fellow explorers as friends, after finding so much in common in your interests and passion for nature. Chat with them over a snack at the bistro-style Fredheim restaurant, and share your favorite stories from the expedition so far. The Explorer Bar is also open for drinks—you might even catch the crew and Expedition Team here in the evening for some friendly banter. As night falls, there is nothing as romantic as stargazing on deck with the one you love.

    Day 13
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

  • Day 14
    Cebaco Island, Panama

    Beaches off the beaten track

    April 17, 2022

    Even though Cebaco is Panama’s third-largest island, much of it is uninhabited, aside from the small village of El Jobo in the north. Cebaco can only be accessed by sea, but no public ferries come here. This remoteness keeps this all-but-forgotten place quiet and its island life traditional, as it is untainted by development and mass tourism.

    Each turn reveals miles of pristine beaches, like the fine white sands and the rows of coconut trees of Playa Grande. There are multiple hiking trails that weave through the lush rainforest, ideal for stopping and enjoying the island’s peace and to look for wildlife. The island’s location on the Gulf of Montijo is part of a nationally protected marine area. The luscious turquoise waters at La Pita beach and Caelata Cayman harbor exceptional coral reefs and colorful fish to see while snorkeling.

    Day 14
    Cebaco Island, Panama

    Beaches off the beaten track

  • Day 15
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    Bananas to Bargains

    April 18, 2022

    The laid-back town of Golfito is sheltered in the gorgeous Golfito Bay, which lies within the larger Golfo Dulce. Enjoy views from the seaside marinas or, better yet, follow the scenic hiking trails up the hill and into the wildlife refuge, ending in at Piedras Blancas National Park. Your exploration of the lush rainforest will bring you up close with picturesque waterfalls. Keep an eye out for toucans, macaws, blue morpho butterflies, anteaters, sloths, mantled howler monkeys, and more. The calm waters around the bay also make it ideal for touring the local mangroves and for joining an optional kayaking excursion to the isolated beaches.

    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, and set off on one of the many boats moored there in hopes of catching the iconic Pacific sailfish. Are you a bargain hunter? Check out the town’s duty-free center, which regularly attracts both visitors and locals alike.

    Day 15
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    Bananas to Bargains

  • Day 16
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    A slice of paradise in Costa Rica

    April 19, 2022

    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 gorgeous Marina Pez Vela serve the big-game fishing industry for which Quepos is known. There are six blocks of restaurants, galleries, and shops around the central plaza, and an ample selection of water sports  along the mile-long Playa Espadilla.

    That said, the main attraction of Quepos is not the town itself, but rather its proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park. This is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica, and appears on Forbes’ list of top 12 most beautiful national parks in the world. In this park, you can catch impressive views of mountains, mangroves, lagoons, beaches, and tropical forest. With 350 birds species and 109 species of mammals, there’s a lot to keep an eye out for! By following the breathtaking Perezoso trail, you might spot scarlet macaws, toucans, hawks, four species of monkey, sloths, iguanas, and armadillos.

    Day 16
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    A slice of paradise in Costa Rica

  • Day 17
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    End of your exotic expedition

    April 20, 2022
    Estimated time of arrival is 6:00 AM

    Your expedition will come to its glorious end in Puntarenas, a city on a needle-thin strip of land on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. City folks from San José often try to slip away to Puntarenas for the day to bask in the relaxed coastal life and fresh ocean air. While it is still an active fishing port, Puntarenas is mainly a starting point for people heading elsewhere in the region, like to the white-sand beaches of Nicoya Peninsula or the waterfall-rich Tortuga Island.

    Depending on how much time you have after we disembark, before you catch your return flight or head to the Post-Program, we suggest trying to fit in taking a pleasant stroll along the palm-tree lined Paseo de los Turistas. You’ll also find restaurants, food stalls, and vendors for any last-minute souvenir shopping. If you feel the need to indulge your sweet tooth, grab a batido (a fruit smoothie) and churchills, the official snack of Puntarenas, which is a combination of fruit, shaved ice, syrup, and ice cream. What’s with that name? It comes from the fact that the local man who invented this concoction was generally believed to be the spitting image of the famous British prime minister.

    Before returning home, why not make the most of your trip and sign up for a Post-Program 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 (lunch included), followed by a night in the capital city of San José.

    Day 17
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    End of your exotic expedition



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What's Included

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

  • 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
  • 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

Onboard 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

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
  • 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
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.

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Aune Restaurant, MS Roald Amundsen
Photo: Espen Mills
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