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
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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 airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Interpretation Center. Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, capital of the Galapagos Islands. You will visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about the natural and human history of the Galapagos Islands. The Museum of Natural History displays information on 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, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and colonization of the islands.
Tijeretas Hill involves a high intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigatebird nesting colony. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Gardner Bay. You will have a wet landing on a beautiful white coral sand 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 (Geospiza fuliginosa) of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the Large Ground Finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Wabler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer a great variety of Galapagos marine wildlife: king angelfish, creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks.
Suárez Point (dry landing). An island of geological interest, you explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including 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 water at some 23 m. (75 ft.) in the air. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Post Office Bay (wet landing). Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay is so-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 to their destinations. Today, our visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel that should reach their destinations for free. It can take weeks, months, even years or not arrive at all, or even before you! You may also encounter Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warblers, and lava lizards. Great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. This island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, and Galapagos milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions.
Cormorant Point. Wet landing on an olivine green sand beach. You 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-sand 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 search for food. This coral-sand beach marks the end of the trail, and you head back to the olivine beach you landed on to swim or snorkel amongst 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. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Highlands of Santa Cruz (dry landing). A 45-minute bus ride will take you to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where you will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years. Additionally, travelers can walk inside surprising lava tubes.
Charles Darwin Research Station (dry landing). You visit the Darwin Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place, and you will have the opportunity to meet Lonesome George, the last surviving specimen of his species and a symbol of efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment. It is an excellent place for visitors to be photographed with them. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest, a variety Darwin’s finches, and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to communities and schools within the islands, and to tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Today you circumnavigate the islet of Daphne, an eroded tuff cone formation that was created by successive volcanic activity, for an opportunity to see Darwin’s finches, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and Brown Noddies. Afterwards you will go straight to the airport in Baltra for the return flight to Quito. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (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
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 10, 2016.
- The Single and Double prices are based on a Standard Plus Cabin and the Triple prices are based on a Junior Suite.
- Room/cabin upgrades and additional nights in each destination are available upon request.
- 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations in Atacama are all-inclusive.
- Tapata Rapa Nui Festival and Christmas week surcharges may apply.
Tuesday departures throughout the year.
- 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 ($90).
- 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.
Galapagos Legend – First Class
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 and vineyard tour are group tours for single passengers and 3 Star accommodations, and private for 4 Star, 5 Star, and Deluxe accommodations. 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 Traveler Funding Program South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Traveler Funding Program, 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. The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.