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West Coast of South America: Ecuador, Peru, Chile

South America Tour

  • Sea Adventurer (charter 2015)
  • Expedition Ship
  • 110 Capacity
  • 19 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : This grand adventure along the rugged western coast of South America reveals myriad cultural and natural splendors, with four UNESCO World Heritage Sites on tap. Begin in Quito, Ecuador’s charming capital city, where beautiful colonial architecture is rivaled only by the surrounding peaks of the snow-capped Andes. Board the ship in Guayaquil and voyage southward to discover magical vistas, unique micro-climates, and the prolific wildlife supported by the nutrient-rich Humboldt Current. Throughout your Peru and Chile adventure travels, make stops at sites of historical and cultural significance, including colorful Indian villages, the ruins of Chan Chan, and the Inca Museum. Discover beaches covered in seals and sea lions, spot dolphins and whales offshore, and huge numbers of plunge-diving pelicans, comical blue-footed boobies, and elegant Inca terns—lending themselves to rare wildlife photographs during your Chile expedition.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking


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Day 1
USA / Quito, Ecuador

Depart on your independent flight to Quito; transfer to the hotel upon arrival.

Day 2
Quito / Guayaquíl / Salinas / Embark

Board your flight to Guayaquíl this morning, and enjoy an introductory tour of Ecuador’s largest city and main port, including the old district of Las Peñas and the restored Malecón Riverfront neighborhood. After lunch at a local restaurant, transfer to the port at Salinas to board your ship.

Day 3
At Sea

Join ornithologist Peter Harrison on deck as you cruise along the coast toward Peru. The cold waters of the Humboldt Current, rich in dissolved nutrients, support one of the richest oceanic environments in the world. The abundant sea life, in turn, attracts a multitude of birds including albatross, shearwaters, petrels, cormorants, and gulls. You may also spot pods of dolphins or humpback whales.

Day 4
Salaverry, Peru / Chan Chán

After breakfast disembark in Salaverry for a short drive to Chan Chán, a World Heritage Site. Explore the ruins of this former imperial headquarters of the Chimú Empire (1000-1470), with the remains of palaces, temples, dwellings, and burial mounds, many sculpted with ornate decorative figures. The nearby Sun and Moon temples are South America’s largest pre-Columbian pyramids, representative of the Moche culture in the 5th century.

Day 5
Hormigas De Afuera

After a morning at sea, visit these tiny islands known for their abundant wildlife, particularly Peruvian boobies and vast numbers of southern sea lions.

Day 6
Pisco / Paracas National Reserve

Disembark in Pisco and transfer to Paracas National Reserve which protects a variety of marine habitats and tropical desert. After seeking out the area’s resident wildlife, visit Tambo Colorado, a well-preserved Inca village that was likely built at the end of the 15th century. Or, choose an optional flight to view the Nazca Lines, a World Heritage Site. These enormous geoglyphs, animal-motif remnants of a pre-Incan civilization that flourished between 500 B.C.E. and C.E. 500, are etched into the desert surface and can only be fully appreciated from the air.

Day 7
At Sea

Attend informative lectures on the region’s natural and cultural history.

Day 8
Arica, Chile

This afternoon, dock in the colorful Chilean town of Arica. Peruse a variety of handicrafts at the Poblado de Artisans, then enjoy a drive through the scenic Azapa Valley, a fertile oasis framed by hills where ancient geoglyphs can be found. Birders search for the rare Chilean woodstar, a hummingbird endemic to this valley. The afternoon is free to explore Arica on your own.

Day 9
Arica / Lauca National Park

Journey inland for a full-day exploration of Lauca National Park, a Global Biosphere Reserve. Situated high in the Andes, more than 14,000 feet above sea level on the altiplano (plateau), Lauca is one of South America’s most spectacular parks. Witness a great variety of landscapes from lowland Arica to the towering, snowcapped Guallatiri Volcano and ice-blue Lake Chungará. Lauca has an abundance of wildlife including vicuñas, guanacos, viscachas, and Andean flamingos. Make a stop at a supremely photogenic highland village.

Day 10 – 11
Iquique / Atacama Desert / Antofagasta

From Iquique, board a short flight to Calama, then drive further inland to Hosteria San Pedro de Atacama, your base while exploring the Atacama Desert. Visit the Valley of the Moon, an eerily beautiful landscape of eroded salt mountains and distant volcanoes soaring to over 19,000 feet. In the town of Lasana, view an ancient fortress, explore the pre-Columbian ruins of Pukara de Quitor, and in San Pedro de Atacama, visit the archaeological museum with its remarkable displays of 2,300-year-old mummies.
Make an early-morning stop at Lake Chaxa, where three species of flamingos may be seen feeding in the briny waters. Cross the Tropic of Capricorn this afternoon, en route to Antofagasta. Board the ship in time for dinner.

Day 12
Isla Pan De Azúcar

This rugged island, a protected reserve, is home to the largest breeding colony of Humboldt penguins in Chile. From Zodiacs, watch the birds diving, swimming, and feeding. You may also spot marine otters, South American sea lions, pelicans, and Peruvian boobies.

Day 13
Islotes Pajaros / Coquimbo / La Serena

Board Zodiacs to explore the Islotes Pajaros, home to a number of seabirds including red-legged cormorants and boobies. The islands are also the site of a major sea lion rookery. After brunch on board go ashore at the port of Coquimbo. A short drive takes you to La Serena—established in 1544, for a beautiful hilltop view of the city and surrounding coastline. Here, visit La Recova market and the archaeological museum. Returning to Coquimbo, stop at the local market to peruse a variety of handicrafts, including woven baskets, pottery, sweaters, and jewelry.

Day 14
At Sea

Attend lectures, or relax on deck as you cruise south along the Chilean coast.

Day 15
Isla Mocha

Isla Mocha supports a lush, temperate rain forest of southern beech, fuschias, and large arrayan trees. Explore the island’s rocky coastline and continue inland, passing horses and cows grazing in fields of flowers, to a lovely forest trail for nature walks. Birders search for black-faced ibis, southern lapwings, and the pink-footed shearwaters that breed on this island.

Day 16

Visit Valdivia; a provincial capital and river port, its European ambiance is due to an influx of German immigrants in the 1800s. Visit the fortress in the nearby beach resort of Niebla, the botanical garden, and a famous chocolate factory. After lunch at a local restaurant, board Zodiacs to explore the Río Cruces estuary to search for black-necked swans, snowy-crowned terns, and Chiloé wigeons.

Day 17
Chiloè Island

After breakfast set out for a tour of historic Chiloé, whose churches are a World Heritage Site. Make a stop at the seaside community of Dalcahue and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 18
Puerto Montt / Disembark / Santiago

Birders depart early this morning to search for the recently discovered, and not yet officially named “Puerto Montt storm petrel.” After breakfast, disembark your ship and set out for a sightseeing tour of Puerto Montt and its environs. After lunch in Puerto Varas, located at the foot of the Osorno Volcano, depart for the airport for your independent flight to Santiago, connecting with homeward flights.

Day 19

Arrive in the USA.


Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals; all group meals on land; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; all gratuities; $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.*

Not Included:   
All air fare (except for the flight from Iquique to Calama); optional Nazca Lines excursion; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; baggage/trip cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.

*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.