Tag 1 Quito
Thanks to the citys preservation of its diverse cultural past, UNESCO declared Quito the first of its World Heritage sites in 1978. The city is beautifully situated in an Andean valley at 2,850 metres (9,350 ft), making it the second-highest capital city in the world. Take a look around this marvellous city before spending the night at a centrally located hotel.
Day 2 Quito
After breakfast, we drive north to the equator and visit the Inti an Museum. Afterwards, we ascend Telefrico one of Quitos most popular attractions, offering spectacular and easily accessible views of the city. The ride lasts only 10 minutes but takes you to an altitude of 4,050 m (13,300 ft). At the top, the lookout offers visitors incredible views of Quito, the surrounding valleys and snow-covered volcanoes (along with coffee, snacks, and oxygen for the short-of-breath). Bring a sweater or light jacket – it can get chilly up there!
Return to the city to enjoy lunch in Quitos charming colonial quarter. The afternoon sightseeing reveals some of the reasons why Ecuador’s capital earned its honour as UNESCOs first World Heritage site. Dinner will be served at the hotel where you will spend the night.
Day 3 Quito/Baltra Island/Santa Cruz Island
After breakfast, we depart the hotel and drive to Quito Airport for our flight to the Galpagos Islands (via Guayaquil).
Upon arrival at Baltras airport, we meet the local representative and board a bus for the short transfer to Itabaca Channel, which separates Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island. Here, we board a small ferry that crosses the azure waters of the channel to Santa Cruz, a journey that takes about five minutes.
On the other side, we travel through a rural agricultural area surrounded by wild landscapes and many different species of flora and fauna. We may well spot the finches that are famous for being the basis of Darwins theory of evolution.
See the famous Galpagos land tortoises in their natural environment and learn how private ranches help protect these special creatures and their habitat. Tortoises of all different ages and sizes gather here: small young ones with shining carapaces and older ones with weathered and worn shells. Lunch will be served in the highlands.
Afterwards, we continue to our hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora. Once settled, we walk to the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station, which hosts educational museums on both the history and development of the Galpagos Islands, and protection of their natural heritage. Native giant land tortoises can also be observed. Many different tortoise species exist in the Galpagos and the station is the only place where most of the species reside at one site.
The afternoon is at your leisure to explore small yet picturesque Puerto Ayora and its many shops with local arts and crafts. We later enjoy dinner at the hotels cosy restaurant.
Day 4-5 Santa Cruz Island
Breakfast at hotel. We have two full days to tour one of the nearby, uninhabited islands by boat.
Please note that only one of the four islands listed below will be visited per day:
Bartolom Island, famous for Pinnacle Rock and Galpagos penguins; or South Plaza Island, home to a colony of land iguanas; or Santa Fe Island, known for having the islands most sea beautiful coves; or North Seymour Island, considered a microcosm of the entire archipelago; or Floreana Island for a tour around the island to see tortoises and sea lions, and with some luck marine iguanas; or Isabela Island to visit a Tortoise Breading station and a walk to see four species of mangroves and lagoons with flamingos and migratory birds.
The visits are regulated by the Galpagos National Park and we are notified of permission 30 days prior to the visit. Regardless of the islands we visit, lunch is served on board the vessel during the tour.
Later, we have dinner at the hotel and overnight.
Day 6 Baltra Island / Lima
Breakfast at hotel. We then transfer to Baltra airport for the flight to mainland Ecuador. En route to the airport, we stop at ‘The Twins’ or ‘Los Gemelos’ – two impressive volcanic depressions in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
A packed lunch is served on the flight from Baltra Island to Lima (via Guayaquil). At Lima airport, we meet our local representative who transfers you to your hotel in the city. Dinner and overnight.
Day 7 Callao
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
After check out, we transfer to the ship taking in a ‘Half-day Lima Highlights Tour’, including a visit to the citys historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tours highlights include Casa Aliaga, a nearly 500-year old mansion built for one of Pizarros lieutenants, and Santo Domingo Convent, the best-preserved colonial building in all of Lima. The tour finishes at the quayside in Callao, where MS Fridtjof Nansenor MS Roald Amundsen stands ready to continue the expedition at sea.
Day 8 Paracas, Peru
From Paracas, we explore the nearby uninhabited Ballestas Islands. The shores here have a range of wildlife, including sea lions, turtles, dolphins, pelicans, Peruvian boobies and Humboldt penguins. Paracas is also the near to Pisco valley, the site of mysterious Nazca lines and geoglyphs, which you can see on an optional excursion.
Day 9 At Sea
As we sail further south, enjoy our lecture programme, the fresh salt air, and all the amenities the expedtion ship has to offer.
Day 10 Matarani, Peru
Matarani is a gateway to Arequipa, an exceptionally beautiful city with hectares of immaculate parks and gardens, and views of the dormant, snow-capped El Misti volcano. The UNESCO-listed historic centre is a treasure trove of impressive colonial architecture built with ashlar volcanic stone, inspiring Arequipas other name The White City.
Day 11 Arica, Chile
Arica enjoys a constant desert climate and is one of the driest cities in the world. Walk along beaches, visit San Marcos Cathedral, or hike El Morro cliff for views over the port city. The local San Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum contains artefacts from the Chinchorro culture and some of the world’s oldest mummies.
Day 12-13 At Sea
Enjoy two peaceful days at sea as we make our way south to Valparaso. The Expedition Team recaps our voyage and continues their lecture programme.
Day 14 Valparaso, Chile
Our expedition ends in the seaport of Valparaso. Built on steep hillsides overlooking the ocean, the UNESCO-protected city is a maze of monuments, churches, historical funicular lifts, cobblestone alleys and charming plazas. Arrange to stay longer to explore more or join a Post-Programme to Easter Island, famous for its mysterious statues of giant heads.