Cruise only (Please call for flight options)
Setting sail from Valparaíso
Characterful, colourful and a little chaotic, the port city of Valparaíso enjoys a somewhat awkward setting, scattered across 45 vertiginous hills. Thanks to this difficult topography the city streets are punctuated by steep staircases and funicular elevators, and energetic explorers will be rewarded with wonderful views of the pastel hued buildings that hug the slopes. Valparaíso's most famous former resident was the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and you can visit one of his former residences, La Sebastiana, which now houses a small museum.
Although there are museums and some great architecture, what you really mustn’t miss is the vibe of this quirky and characterful town, so take the time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the views.
The busy port of Coquimbo is the gateway to the charming colonial city of La Serena, one of the oldest in Chile, where you’ll find attractive architecture and a fine stretch of beach. Other nearby sights include the fertile Elqui and Limarí Valleys, home to excellent wineries and ancient petroglyphs.
Situated in the far north of Chile, the golden sands of Iquique attract both sunseekers and thrillseekers; surfing and paragliding are particularly popular here thanks to the clear skies and the wind coming in off the Pacific. The city is also home to some charming old mansions, remnants of a 19th century nitrate mining boom.
Arica sits at the northern tip of Chile, known as ‘the land of the eternal spring’ thanks to its temperate year-round climate. Sightseeing options include the War of the Pacific battlefield at El Morro and the breathtaking altiplano scenery of Lauca National Park, a stunning high-altitude landscape of snow-dusted volcanoes and shimmering lakes.
Peru: Arequipa (Matarani)
The port of Matarani is the gateway to Peru’s second city, Arequipa. Boasting a spectacular setting against a backdrop of three snow-capped volcanoes, this independently-minded city dazzles visitors with its gleaming white colonial buildings, sizzling culinary scene and a host of active pursuits in the surrounding canyons.
Peru: Lima (Callao)
Peru’s underrated capital enjoys a fine setting on the Pacific coast, and the handsome colonial-era buildings surrounding the Plaza de Armas give clues to Lima’s distinguished history; for three centuries this was the capital of the Spanish Americas, when the city grew rich on the back of plundered Inca gold.
Peru: Trujillo (Salaverry)
Salaverry is the nearest port to Trujillo, northern Peru’s most important city. Located amongst the verdant Andean foothills, Trujillo is home to a host of beautiful colonial buildings, and is also known for the spectacular nearby ruins of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America.
Arriving in Guayaquil
Guayaquil is Ecuador's largest city and most important commercial centre, and acts as the gateway to the Pacific coast and the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands. It's a busy, buzzing sort of place, centred around the pleasant riverfront Malecón promenade, where you'll find some great restaurants and the impressive Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art. The historic district of La Peña is home to pretty, brightly coloured colonial architecture, and the city also has some nice parks and green spaces, so there is enough to warrant spending a day or two here before or after a Galapagos cruise.
If you are flying to the Galapagos, use the hotel proposed by the Galapagos cruise company, as they will then take care of all the arrangements.
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Valparaíso
The 23 room Palacio Astoreca comprises two buildings, including a completely restored national monument.
For contrast, visit clean and orderly Viña del Mar just up the coast.
Where to stay in Guayaquil
The Oro Verde is conveniently located for the airport.
Take a bicycle tour to Santay Island, a wilderness in the middle of the river, joined to the city by a new pedestrian bridge.