Galapagos Islands and Incan Highlights (Itinerary 1)
14 days with Hurtigruten Rating:
Day 1 Quito
Individual arrival at the Ecuadoran capital of Quito. Thanks to the city’s 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 9,350 feet, 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 Explore Quito and Surroundings
After breakfast, we drive north to the equator and visit the Inti Ñan Museum. Afterward, we ascend Teleférico – one of Quito’s 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 13,300 feet. At the top, the lookout offers the visitor 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 Quito´s charming colonial quarter. The afternoon's sightseeing reveals some of the reasons why Ecuador's capital earned its honor as UNESCO´s 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 Galápagos Islands (via Guayaquil).
Upon arrival at Baltra´s airport, we meet the local representative and board a bus for the short transfer to the 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 spot the finches that are famous for being the basis of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
See the famous Galápagos 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.
Afterward, 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 Galápagos Islands, and the protection of their natural heritage. Native giant land tortoises can also be observed. Many different tortoise species exist in the Galápagos and the station is the only place where most of the species reside at one place.
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 hotel´s cozy restaurant.
Day 4-5 Galápagos Island Hopping
Breakfast at the 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:
Bartolomé Island, famous for Pinnacle Rock and Galápagos penguins; South Plaza Island, home to a colony of land iguanas; Santa Fe Island, known for having the islands´ most sea beautiful coves; North Seymour Island, considered a microcosm of the entire archipelago; 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 Galápagos 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 enjoy an overnight stay.
Day 6 Galápagos to Colonial Lima
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. We then transfer to the 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 the Lima airport, we meet our local representative, who transfers you to your hotel in the city, where you’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 7 Lima – UNESCO World Heritage Site
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 city´s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour´s highlights include Casa Aliaga, a nearly 500-year old mansion built for one of Pizarro’s lieutenants, and Santo Domingo Convent, the best-preserved colonial building in all of Lima. The tour finishes at the quayside in Callao, where your ship is ready to continue your expedition at sea
Day 8 Paracas, Peru - The Ballestas by Boat
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 program, the fresh sea air, and all the amenities the expedition ship has to offer.
Day 10 Matarani, Peru
Matarani is a gateway to Arequipa, an exceptionally beautiful city with acres of immaculate parks and gardens, and views of the dormant, snow-capped El Misti volcano. The UNESCO-listed historic center is a treasure trove of impressive colonial architecture built with ashlar volcanic stone, inspiring Arequipa’s 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 artifacts from the Chinchorro culture and some of the world's oldest mummies
Day 12-13 Serenity at Sea
Enjoy two peaceful days at sea as we make our way south to Valparaíso. The Expedition Team recaps our voyage and continues their lecture program.
Day 14 Valparaíso, Chile - UNESCO’s `Jewel of the Pacific´
Our expedition ends in the seaport of Valparaíso. 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-Program to Easter Island, famous for its mysterious statues of giant heads.
All This Included
Hurtigruten offers unique expedition cruises to some of the most remote and pristine waters of the world. As with all expeditions; nature prevails. Weather, and ice and sea conditions, sets the final framework for all Hurtigruten’s operations. Safety and unparalleled guest experiences are at all times our top priorities. All our planned itineraries are continuously evaluated for adaptions, whether this is due to constraints the elements unexpectedly presents – or exciting possibilities nature and wildlife offer. That is why we call it an expedition.
Galápagos Island Program Before the Cruise
Quito: To be determined
Santa Cruz Island: To be determined
Cruising: Category I cabin onboard MS Fridtjof Nansen or MS Roald Amundsen
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