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One incredibly popular South America cruise itinerary is to the Galapagos Islands, situated around the equator about 600 miles off the coast of continental Ecuador. Here reside dozens of birds, reptiles, amphibians and other species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. On a cruise of the Galapagos, which means "saddle" and is so named for the shape of a tortoise shell, a naturalist is typically on board to introduce to you to many fascinating creatures.
Snap photos of unusual iguanas, sea cucumbers, flightless cormorants, sea lions, the blue-footed booby and the only living tropical penguin as you explore the islands. Conserving this ecological treasure is key at the Galapagos, so you will learn how scientists study its ecosystem and how they work to preserve its pristine condition. Take nature walks and short hikes to view not only the incredible wildlife, but the plants, flowers and volcanic rock as well. For travelers who enjoy snorkeling, the Galapagos is an amazing place to see underwater marine life.
Other cruises that touch South America include itineraries from the east coast of the United States to the west coast (or vice versa) that pass through the Panama Canal. A popular port of call is Cartagena, Columbia. Here, visit the impressive Castillo San Felipe de Barajas - an imposing fortress set on a hill that dates back to the 16th century.