Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Galapagos, Atacama, and Easter Island
17 Days/16 Nights
From $6,429 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Travel to the Galapagos for a five day cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend. You will observe plants and animals that evolved in isolation and are found nowhere else on Earth. Then, visit the natural and man-made wonders of Atacama and Easter Island in Chile. Atacama offers an excellent base to view some of Chile’s best archaeological sites, and to explore the moonscapes, lagoons and geysers of the region. Easter Island is known for its colossal Moai statues whose origin is still a mystery.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 16 nights (3 nights in Quito, 4 nights on the Galapagos Legend, 3 nights in Santiago, 3 nights in Atacama, and 3 nights in Easter Island) and 26 meals (16 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 4 dinners – 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations include 29 meals).
Best Time to Go: October-April.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Note: The itinerary below reflects our suggested excursions for the Atacama portion of the tour. The exact order of the tours may vary, depending upon your arrival date. Excursions in Atacama for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations are offered on an a la carte basis, meaning you can choose from a number of different alternatives.
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Quito. You will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, and visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compania and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. You will drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan and finish the morning at the Panecillo hillside, with its breathtaking views of the old and modern parts of the city.
Following the city tour, you will be driven to the “Middle of the World City” complex, which is located 11 miles north of Quito. Here, you will see the monument of the equatorial line, a 98 ft high stone trapezoidal monument with a brass globe on top. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. Passengers are picked up at the San Cristobal Airport by our guides and taken on a ten minute bus ride to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Interpretation Center. Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. You will visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about islands’ history in the Museum of Natural History which displays information about the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronicling the most significant events related to the discovery and the island’s colonization. (Duration: one hour visit/one hour walk)
Tijeretas Hill involves a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony. (Duration: one hour visit). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Gardner Bay, Gardner & Osborn islets. Wet landing on a beautiful white coral sandy beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so you stay along the shore where you can spot Galapagos hawks, American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Ground Doves, Hood mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin’s finches: a subspecies of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer the opportunity to see a great variety of the Galapagos’ marine wildlife: king angelfish, Creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling).
Suarez Point (dry landing). An island of geological interest, you will explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
A somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous “Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots up water up to 23 m (75 ft.) in the air. (Duration: 2.5 hour walk). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Post Office Bay (wet landing). Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay was named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them back to their destinations. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, going to the letter’s destination, will take it back for free. The chances are that the letter posted can take a long time to arrive at its destination. However, there have been cases where it has arrived before the sender.
You may also encounter Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warbler and Lava Lizards. There are great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. As well, the island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos Milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions. (Duration: 30 minute walk/one hour snorkeling).
Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown, and Champion. Wet landing on an olivine green, sanded beach. You will hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food.
This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on, to swim or snorkel among sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center (dry landing). You will visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of the efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin’s finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to the communities, schools, and tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town of Puerto Ayora and shop for souvenirs. (Duration: 1.5 hour visit)
Highlands Tortoise Reserve (dry landing). In the mountains of Galapagos you can observe different kinds of birds, including tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve also offers a great opportunity to see contrasting ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a bird watchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here. (Duration: 45 minute drive/1.5 hour walk). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Carrion Point. This rocky cliff offers a great opportunity to further explore the marine biodiversity of the islands. You can snorkel among a variety of colorful fish, stingrays, and if lucky, the magnificent White tipped shark. (Duration: 2 hours snorkeling).
After the visit you will go to Baltra Airport for your flight to Guayaquil. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Guayaquil. (B)
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Santiago, Chile. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our inbound services representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Santiago. (B)
In the morning, you will have a panoramic city tour of Santiago, which will include Parque O’Higgins, Plaza de Armas (the city’s historic center), Palacio de la Moneda, ex-National Congress, Mapocho Station Cultural Center, Santa Lucia Hill, the place of Santiago’s founding in 1541,and the Bohemian district of Bellavista. In the afternoon, you will visit your choice of one of the following vineyards around Santiago (included in price): Concha y Torro, Cousino Macul, and Undurraga. Overnight in Santiago. (B)
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Calama. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. In the afternoon, you will have a half-day excursion to the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains) which features magnificent geological formations and sediments of various colors. You will visit the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) and Valle de Marte (Mars Valley), and enjoy an amazing sunset. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B)
Today you will have a full day excursion to the Altiplanic Lagoons. One the way, you can see the impressive Licancabur Volcano, and will stop at the oasis town of Toconao, known for its Liparita (volcanic) stone houses, which are quarried nearby. The town also features the Church and bell tower of San Lucas, which dates to the mid-18th century. You will also visit the Atacama Salt Lake and Chaxa Lagoon. The Lake is an important nesting site for three species of flamingos, and contains 40% of the world’s lithium reserves. Box lunch. After lunch, you will visit the small village of Socaire, and then continue on to Minique and Miscanti Lagoons, where you will have time to walk around and enjoy the surroundings. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B,L)
Early morning (4:00 AM) you will depart for an excursion to the Tatio Geysers, the world’s highest geyser field at 14,107 ft. above sea level. The steaming fumaroles, which reach a height of 160 ft., are a sight to behold, especially at sunrise, against the backdrop of the altiplano. On the way back, you will visit the Puritama Hot Springs, which will be much appreciated after an early rise and day of exploration. The mineral rich waters are 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Overnight in San Pedro de Atacama. (B)
Transfer to Calama for the flight to Santiago. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Santiago. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Easter Island. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Easter Island. (B)
Full day excursion visiting the archaeological site of Akahanga and the quarry at Rano Raraku volcano, where all of the moai on the island were carved. You will see over 300 statues in various stages of completion, and one giant moai, 21 meters (69 ft.) tall. You will also visit Ahu Tongariki, the largest ahu (burial site), whose moai were re-erected after a tsunami flattened the statues, Ahu Te Pito Kura, site of the largest moai moved from the quarry, and the ahu Nau Nau at Anakena Beach. Picnic lunch at Anakena Beach. Overnight in Easter Island. (B,L)
Morning visit to the Rano Kau extinct volcano crater (1.6 km in diameter), the ceremonial village of Orongo, which features the largest concentration of Petroglyphs on the island, with images of post-moai deity’s, such as Tangata Manu (birdman), Make Make (the creator), and Komari, and then to Ahu Vinapu. After lunch (not included), the tour continues on to Ahu Akivi, site of the seven moais overlooking the sea, the Caves of Ana Tepahu, among the largest on the island, and Pun-a-Pau quarry, the sole source of red scoria that was used to carve the pukao (topknots) of some of the moia. Overnight in Easter Island. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Santiago and your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Hotel accommodations including taxes and service charges.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Daily excursions to the Galapagos Islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
- Evening briefings on board the ship.
- Local, English-speaking tour guides.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Fuel surcharge for the ship ($50).
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.
First Class – Galapagos Legend
Group Private: All services in Quito and Galapagos are operated on a group basis. In Santiago, all airport transfers are private, and the city tour is a group tour for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations. The winery tour is a group tour. All services in Atacama are operated on a group basis, and all services in Easter Island are operated on a group basis for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and are private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet (above sea level), Santiago is 1,700 feet above sea level, Atacama is 8,005 feet, Socaire is 10,498 feet, Minique and Miscanti Lagoons are 13,615 feet, and Tatio Geyser is 14,107 feet.
IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.
Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Passport/Visa: For Ecuador, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling. For Chile, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens (except Greece) require a valid passport (for the duration of your visit) and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Greek citizens can stay for up to 60 days. Australian, and Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee (considered a multiple entry visa) of $95 and $132 respectively upon arrival (subject to change without notice due to currency fluctuations or other reasons). Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Chilean embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: Call or email us to confirm the availability of the ship and airfare for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you). 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations require a more substantial non-refundable deposit. Ask your travel counselor for the details.