Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands

Travel information 13 days MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen
Departures
October 8, 2022
October 9, 2022
Price from $ 10,579
$ 10,128
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Your journey begins in Colón, your starting point to the famous Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Once we’re past Panama City, we’ll head south to charming cities in Ecuador and Peru. Our visits include beautiful beaches, mysterious archeological ruins, and UNESCO sites. Then you’ll visit the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands, where you’ll go island-hopping and explore the archipelago.

Transiting the Panama Canal

Marvel at the brilliant engineering of the Panama Canal as you pass through its complex locks. Exiting on the Pacific coast, we’ll head southward to Manta and the nearby town of Montecristi, home of the handwoven Panama hat. From there, we visit the ‘Banana Capital of the World’ in Puerto Bolivar before setting course for Salaverry. If sea conditions enable us to land here, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the area’s ancient architecture on an optional excursion.

Quito and the Galápagos Islands

After flying to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito and wandering its UNESCO-listed historic center, we’ll 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! You may spot the finches that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, and see native giant land tortoises in their natural habitat.

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Galápagos Islands
  • Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

    The city of Colón lies by the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. Here, you you’ll find high-quality hotels, a casino, hot springs, a thriving handicraft scene, and great restaurants featuring local delicacies. If you want to really explore the city or join a Pre-Program where you’ll spend time in a beautiful jungle lodge next to the Chagres River, you should arrange to arrive a couple of days earlier.

    Once you board the ship, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin, explore the ship, and attend 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 protocols with you.

    Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

  • Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

    We depart Colón early in the morning to start the process entering the Panama Canal. The complex canal network is over a hundred years old, stretching almost 50 miles through natural and man-made waterways. We’ll wait eagerly for our allocated slot to enter the first of a series of huge locks. In a feat of modern engineering, these ingenious locks effectively lift the ship more than 80 feet above sea level. If weather allows, the Expedition Team will be on deck to point out sites of interest around the canal and talk about the history of this ambitious project.

    Roughly halfway through the 12-hour transit of the canal, the ship will enter the Gatun Lake section. Created after the nearby Chagres River was damned, it’s one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. In contrast, the surrounding rainforest is virtually untouched by any development. The flora and fauna native to Central America flourish here, undisturbed. If you’re lucky, you may spot a crocodile or alligator ashore. Watch the trees and you may also catch a glimpse of a monkey (and maybe even a sloth or two).

    After a few more locks and lakes, the ship will pass under the Bridge of the Americas and emerge in the Pacific Ocean. In one day, you’ll have experienced the culmination of centuries of planning, hard work, and resourcefulness, and cross from one great ocean to another in the process. It’s sure to be an experience you won’t forget.

    Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

  • Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

    Spend some of your day at sea taking a relaxing walk on deck. Enjoy the seascapes and keep an eye out for marine wildlife like whales, sea lions, and seabirds. Want to feel closer to the water? Go for a dip in the infinity pool or one of the two outdoor hot tubs (where you can still admire the scenery).

    Head to the Science Center and make the most of the Expedition Team’s lectures to learn about what you will experience in the following days. Participate in a Citizen Science project, where you will help contribute to ongoing research around the world. When darkness falls and it’s a starry night, you can also join the Expedition Team on deck for some stargazing.

    When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the three restaurants on board for varied and delicious meals. Afterward, grab a seat in the Explorer Lounge & Bar and raise a glass or two with your new-found friends.

    Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

  • Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

    We cross the Equator early in the morning. In a traditional ceremony, we’ll seek King Neptune’s blessing on board. If luck is on our side, he might even make an appearance before we reach our first call in Ecuador.

    The main attraction of the day will be to Montecristi, located 5 miles inland from the tuna-fishing port city of Manta. It was established in the 16th century by manteños fleeing the frequent pirate raids on the coast. Even though it is located in Ecuador, Montecristi is the actual birthplace of the Panama hat, despite its name. The misnomer originated when President Roosevelt wore one of these hats on a visit to the Panama Canal in 1904, sparking their popularity worldwide. There are plenty of shops selling the genuine article, which local artisans have expertly handwoven from the leaves of the jipijapa tree.

    When you’re done hat-hunting, browse the stalls at the town’s pretty plaza, admire the architecture of the church, and look at the varied street art. One prominent mural at the plaza depicts General Eloy Alfaro, two-time Ecuadorian President and a Montecristi native. If time allows, head to the top of the main hill, where there is a museum and a grandiose mausoleum in honor of Alfaro, who was also known as the Viejo Luchador (Old Warrior).

    Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

  • Day 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

    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 an opportunity to visit a local banana plantation, or try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets, and howler monkeys at 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 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

  • Day 6
    At Sea

    Serenity 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 could 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 fly nearby the ship, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify them from the deck. Our designated expedition photographer will also be available to help you learn the basics of expedition photography, in addition to documenting on our journey

    Day 6
    At Sea

    Serenity at Sea

  • Day 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

    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 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

  • Day 8
    Callao/Lima to Quito

    On a high

    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 people in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Incan Empire before becoming the first Spanish settlement by conqueror Sebastián 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.

    Day 8
    Callao/Lima to Quito

    On a high

  • Day 9
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the ‘Middle of the World’

    After breakfast, we’ll head to the Inti Ñan Museum, in the aptly named ‘City in the Middle of the World’, Quito, 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’ll also learn about the traditions of rural life, including the customs and rituals of the indigenous Quechua-speaking people 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 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 evening to spend at your leisure.

    Day 9
    Quito, Ecuador

    Views from the ‘Middle of the World’

  • Day 10
    Quito to Galápagos (Baltra/Santa Cruz)

    Arriving at 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’re 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’re 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. This research 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. See 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 10
    Quito to Galápagos (Baltra/Santa Cruz)

    Arriving at Santa Cruz Island

  • Day 11-12
    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. 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 11-12
    Santa Cruz Island

    Galápagos Island–Hopping

  • Day 13
    Galápagos to Guayaquil

    Return to mainland Ecuador

    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’ll have journeyed from the marvel of human engineering at the Panama Canal and its complex lock system through to the Galápagos Islands, the birthplace of Darwin’s radical biological theory of natural selection and a sanctuary for unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world.

    Day 13
    Galápagos to Guayaquil

    Return to mainland Ecuador

Departures

  • 2022
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
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October 8, 2022
October 9, 2022

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Galápagos Island Land-Program after the cruise

  • Economy flight from Lima to Quito, and Quito to Baltra
  • Two nights in Quito, including breakfast and dinner
  • Three nights at a hotel in Santa Cruz Island/Galáapagos, including full board
  • Economy flight from Baltra to Guayaquil
  • All transfers, excursions, and meals are as described in the itinerary, including an 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
  • 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

  • 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

Notes

  • 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

Ships

MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen

Year built 2019
Shipyard Kleven Yards
Passenger capacity 530 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

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

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Year built 2020
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
Speed 15 knots

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.

Read more about MS Fridtjof Nansen

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