Andean Coast Expedition and Panama Canal - Southbound
November 04, 2018
The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. We sail along the coastline of this ancient realm from Costa Rica to Chile via Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
Starting in beautiful Costa Rica, we sail south to Bocas del Toro and the Bastemintos National Park. Here you can dive and kayak among mangroves and coral reefs as well as hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife. Then you are in for a treat as we sail through the Panama Canal! We will also explore the only coastal national park in Ecuador, visit a small coastal community known for excellent fishing.
Among Archaeology's Greatest Enigmas
Then, you have a chance to discover the famous Nazca lines on an optional excursion. These lines have been subjects of mystery for over 80 years. They are found in a region of Peru just over 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building).
Lost Cities and a Giant Citadel
Another highlight is the visit to the ancient Chimu kingdom, the largest mud brick citadel of the Americas from the pre-Columbian era. In Callao and Lima, you will gain insight into local art, traditions and highlights like the museum Larco that is built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid and Huaca Huallamarca, an ancient pre-Inca shrine.
We continue south to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve to take a close look at penguins, turtles, dolphins, whales and birds, before the expedition ends in Valparaíso, Chile. The combination of extreme nature, visits to several fascinating cities, South American culture, and captivating lectures makes this expedition a one-of-a-kind experience.
- Sail through the Panama Canal
- See some of the most important and fascinating ancient sites in South America
- Explore the mysteries of the Incas and other lost cultures
- Visit a mix of exciting cities, national parks and beautiful islands
- Hurtigruten expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full-board basis
- Wind- and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures and accompanies landings and activities
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional excursions and gratuities
Home of the “Pura vida” Lifestyle - Puerto Limon
Puerto Limón in Costa Rica is a compelling destination for adventurous explorers, and where your expedition starts. The city itself has some fascinating architecture and colorful open-air marketplaces. The main market in the center of town is the place to go to buy everything from wooden carved items to traditional souvenirs. Cashew nuts are big in this city, so be sure to try the cashew wine, which is a specialty here, before your embark on MS Fram.
UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve - Bocal del Toro
Bocas del Toro, (“mouth of the bull”), is a pristine region, and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Amistad International Park and Isla Bastimentos, Panama's first National Marine Park and Biosphere Reserve. Consisting of 9 islands and hundreds of smaller islets you can visit Bocas town with its colorful Caribbean vibe and atmosphere, before venturing into the expanse of Bastemintos National Park. Snorkel, dive, and kayak among mangroves and coral reefs, or hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife.
Connecting Two Oceans - Panama Canal
We enter the Panama Canal. Experience the thrill of canal transit and the intricacy of the lock's system first-hand, as MS Fram is lifted over 85 feet above sea level from one body of water to the next. The Panama Canal is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. It had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn.
A Deep-sea Fishing Paradise - Puerto Piña
Puerto Piña is a small coastal community located near the border of Colombia, largely populated by Afro-Colonial and indigenous Emberá people. Piñas Bay is Panama’s most incredible fishing spot, more than 200 deep-sea fishing world records have been set here, more than anywhere else on Earth. The area is also naturally beautiful with fascinating culture, so even non-fishers will find it a pleasant place to visit. The diversity of species in this area is astounding. There are roosterfish, swordfish, billfish, tuna, dorado, snapper, snook, dolphinfish, wahoo, barracuda and blue, black and striped marlin. Most of the records set here have been for marlin and Pacific sailfish. Other marine species in Piñas Bay include dolphins, sharks, rays and humpback whales. The Panamanian government protects the bay and does not allow commercial fishing ships to enter into it. There is a small white-sand beach here, Playa Blanca, where you can relax and sunbathe. The offshore waters have coral reefs that are good for snorkeling or kayaking and the trails in the jungle are great for hiking.
Crossing the Equator - At Sea
Find the time to finish one of the books you brought with you, look through and sort the pictures you have taken, or maybe simply relaxing on deck is your favorite “activity”. We will cross the Equator, and a remarkable celebration; the” Equator baptism” is waiting for you.
Colorful Birds and Fish on the Silver Island - Isla del la Plata
Isla de la Plata is a part of Parque National Machalilla, and is Ecuador’s only coastal national park. The island is known as Ecuador’s other Galapagos because of its abundance of marine birdlife. Isla de la Plata translates to Silver Island, and is the home to blue-footed boobies, nesting waved albatrosses and frigate birds among others. The island is great for hikers and has plenty of bird watching trails. You can also explore the colorful life under water by snorkelling amongst large schools of fish, or take a refreshing dip in the blue ocean.
Lectures at Sea - At Sea
Learn more about South America’s history, ancient civilizations and cultures. The Inca civilization flourished in ancient Peru starting around 1400 B.C. The Inca Empire ranged 2,500 miles from Ecuador to southern Chile. It was the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time, before its destruction at the hands of Spanish conquistadors in 1532. Undaunted by the often harsh Andean environment, the Incas conquered tribes and exploited landscapes in such diverse settings as plains, mountains, deserts, and tropical jungle. Famed for their unique art and architecture, they constructed finely built and imposing buildings wherever they conquered, and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terracing, highways, and mountaintop settlements continues to impress modern visitors. During these days at sea you can learn even more about the Incas, and other ancient cultures and their fascinating lives from the lectures held on board.
Explore an Ancient Kingdom, Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon. - Salaverry
The small port of Salaverry is the starting point for the excursion to the ancient Chimu kingdom (700–1400 A.D.). The Chimu founded their capital by the banks of the Moche River and called it Chan Chan (“sun-sun”), which covers an area of eight square miles. It was built using clay, mud, pebbles, straw and cane, creating the largest mud brick citadel of the Americas from pre-Hispanic times. It is a remarkable place, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1986. Also discover Trujillo, a city that retains much of its colonial charm and has a splendid backdrop of the vast green and brown of the Andean foothills. There is also an excursion going to the main religious center of the Moche culture, built in the 5th century A.D. Admire the Temple of the Sun, the largest adobe structure in the world, and the Temple of the Moon, covered with beautiful and vibrant Moche designs.
Gain Insight While at Sea - At Sea
Spend some time on deck as we navigate further south along the coast of Peru. Breathe the fresh ocean air and scan for wildlife. Join our lecture team for interesting presentations to learn more about the west coast of South America, its nature, history and geography.
UNESCO Site and Ancient History - Callao/Lima
Callao is situated just outside Lima and is a vital route for trade both into and out of Peru. It is home to charming mansions with pretty balconies, museums, churches and the fortress of King Felipe. Lima's history predates the colonial presence in the country. In the north, visit the city of Caral, considered the most ancient city in the Americas, and to the south is the archaeological complex of Pachacamac. Lima is where Spanish conquistadores established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, and began building significant churches, monasteries, mansions and balconies in the city. The arrival of modernity didn’t transform the historic center, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Join one of our excursions to see the museums with great works of art, archaeological sites, beaches, the boardwalk and experience the exquisite cuisine that gives Peru’s capital its unique personality.
The Nazca lines - an Archaeological Mystery - San Martin, Peru
Puerto General San Martin is the gateway to the famous and mysterious Nazca lines and geoglyphs. These lines were carved out between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. They are so difficult to see from the ground that they were not widely known until the 1930's when aircrafts spotted them while surveying for water. The figures come in two types: biomorphs and geoglyphs. The biomorphs are some 70 animal and plant figures that include a spider, hummingbird, monkey and a 1,000-foot-long pelican. The geoglyphs are geometric forms that include enormous straight lines, triangles, spirals, circles and trapezoids. The longest straight line stretches nine miles across the plain. These mysterious lines must bee seen from the air, so join the excursion to see just how impressive and mysterious these lines actually are from the skies.
Environmental Challenges - At Sea
While we make our way further south, take your time to relax on the open decks or gain more insight with our lectures. One of the focal points for our program is the environmental challenge of the world’s oceans. During the days at sea there might also be other gatherings with the Expedition team or photography workshops.
Home of the Humboldt Penguin - Isla Chañaral
Continuing south, we arrive at Isla Chañaral. Together with Isla Choros and Isla Damas, these three islands form the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. There is an impressive variety of fauna on these islands, but their most famous inhabitants are the humboldt penguins, who thrive in the current which gives them their name, and who nest on these islands. There is also an important colony of sea lions, chungungos, magellanic penguins, llacas and bottle-nosed dolphins, seen frequently around Chañaral Island. In the summer season, it is possible to see more occasional visitors around the islands: marine turtles, dolphins, whales, albatrosses and cormorants. There are also a wide variety of birds, like the peruvian diving petrel, red-legged cormorant, and the guanay cormorant, all of which are protected species.
The Jewel of the Pacific - Valparaíso, Chile
The expedition ends in the wonderful, colorful and poetic city of Valparaíso. Take some time to stroll Valparaiso´s narrow streets, climb its endless staircases and discover something new at every turn: a beautiful building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’. Don’t forget to explore the port and fishing piers, where you’ll get a real feel for Chile’s quirky seafaring side. Buy or sample freshly caught seafood at the market and enjoy the fishermen’s banter. We also recommend a visit to the UNESCO-listed Historic Quarter before flying home.