There are many and varied cruising opportunities in and around South & Central America.
The amazing Galapagos Islands are undoubtedly the most well known. In addition there are several wonderful, some luxury, Amazon River cruises in Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. Patagonia Fjord cruising is also another incredible cruise option where guests get to explore many incredible fjord complexes as well as some small and remote communities. The last cruising opportunity is a cruise around parts of Latin America’s very long coast line. We recommend a combination of cruising and land based exploration to enable you to discover the many wonders of Latin America (e.g. Machu Picchu, The Amazon and Patagonia)
Of the 13 main islands, six minor islands and myriad islets that make up the Galapagos National Park, only five are inhabited and even now, human population numbers are comparatively low. As a result, the wildlife – including marine and land iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles and Giant Tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, frigate birds and penguins – remains amazingly unafraid of predators.
A trip to the Galapagos is so many things rolled into one – a cruise, a relaxing holiday and, foremost, a wildlife extravaganza. It truly is the experience of a lifetime, not only for birdwatchers or wildlife obsessives but for every traveller who has any interest in seeing the incredibly diverse and often absolutely unique species of birds, reptiles and mammals.
In Peru there are several luxury riverboats which cruise long stretches of the Amazon or its larger tributaries. Excursions are made daily (some at night time) in smaller boats with your naturalist guides to search out flora and wildlife, to fish for piranha, or visit native communities. These cruises are wonderful experiences offering excellent cuisine, comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation and an insight into the Amazon. In Peru there are several first class and luxury vessels (including Delfin I & II & MV Aria) offering 3, 4 and 7 night Amazon river cruises from Iquitos in Peru’s north.
The MV Anakonda is a sleek 45m long expedition vessel that is the newest and perhaps the most upscale of the riverboats cruising Ecuador’s Amazon. It boasts 20 deluxe ensuite cabins – four with balconies – and generous social areas including an al-fresco lounge and an observation deck featuring two jacuzzis. On guided explorations in the three excursion boats, navigate through untamed wilderness, flooded forests, and black-water rivers. Hike jungle trails to encounter varied wildlife and unusual flora, and visit local Amazon communities.
Fjord cruising commences in the Chilean town of Puerto Montt, Puerto Natales or from Ushuaia in Argentina. There are a range of voyages 3, 4 or 7 nights sailing through the channels and archipelagos, past tiny fishing villages and thickly wooded slopes below snow-capped mountains, to emerge among the ice floes of sensational Glaciers. Daily Zodiac excursions and shore visits provide opportunities to observe close up the stunning glaciers and the diverse flora and wildlife of this amazing region.
One of the world’s greatest engineering and scenic marvels – a major shipping canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, obviating the need for the long and treacherous voyage via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.
The Panama Canal Railway, built between 1850-1855, was the world’s first transcontinental railroad. It stretches across the isthmus of Panama from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The train ride will take you alongside the magnificent waterway to the west, flanked by the exuberant rainforests of Soberania National Park to the east.
There are many excellent cruises to choose from; here are a few example itineraries.
Panama, Colombia & Ecuador (8 days);
Start in Colon (Panama) transit the Panama Canal and explore the Darien Jungle. Next stops include Bahia Solano and Utria National Park in Colombia before crusing south to Isla de La Plata and Machala in Ecuador before ending this voyage in Guayquil. Which means that the Galapagos Islands could be added with ease.
Buenos Aires to Bridgetown (18 Days);
Ports include, Buenos Aires, Montevideo (Uruguay), Santos, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, Salvador de Bahia, Natal, Fortaleza (all in Brazil), followed by Devil’s Island (which is part of French Guiana) and finally Bridgetown Barbados.
Delfin I & II
Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Comfortable cabins, excellent guides, service and first class cuisine. Vessels range from 8 to 46 cabins, some with balconies.
Each vessel has a set itinerary agreed with the Galapagos National Park.
Patagonian Fjords, Chile
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.
South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.
We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of cruise. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.
Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. For example, the M/V Aqua (Peruvian Amazon cruise) accommodates just 24 guests. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.
If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.
Australian citizens require a visa to enter Brazil and to pay Reciprocity Fees to enter Chile and Argentina. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival.
Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. There are no compulsory vaccinations.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.
We found our itinerary absolutely perfect. By that I mean not only were our superb boutique hotels great, the guides in each city friendly, courteous, well-spoken and knowledgeable but the time in each city or location and the balance between site seeing “work" and leisure time “play” was also perfect. The most difficult question by friends on our return has been “what was the highlight”. An impossible question when considering the merits of, inter alia, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Christ the Redeemer, Inti Raymi Festival, Lake Titicaca. The purpose of our trip to South America, in truth, was to see as much as we could of the continent with a view to probably not returning as we explored other opportunities. I have to now say that the chance of us revisiting South America is extremely high.
I write to thank you for organising our recent trip to South America. Everything went like clockwork, and the arrangements were very satisfactory. The guides always turned up at the right time, and the people meeting us at the airports were always there. We had a wonderful trip, and we will have to plan another one now, so that we can see Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and maybe more. But first it’s back to work to earn some more money! For me the greatest highlight was Machu Picchu; it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, thanks so much, Alistair Macindoe.
We had a fabulous time!! The countries we visited have such a rich and fascinating cultural & geographical diversity. We loved learning about the Incans and visiting the ruins in Peru, we loved seeing all the creatures of the Galapagos Islands and the volcanoes of Ecuador. We loved the magnificent scenery of the Atacama. What a fantastic palette at sunset! The adobe hotel, Altiplanico, was wonderful & San Pedro de Atacama was a funky place. We appreciated the structure of our holiday too, there was a nice blend of guided time and free time. It was nice to be in one place on the boat in Galapagos after moving to a different place each day through Ecuador. Some of the haciendas we visited would be lovely to stay for a longer time. Everything went very smoothly in terms of timely airport transfers & pickups, informative and friendly guides/drivers at all times. The local people were very friendly & were helpful with our attempts at speaking Spanish. We enjoyed the cuisine very much & look forward to trying some home-made Locro de papa soup & Pisco sour. Thanks for helping us with a great holiday. Kind regards Della & John