From the Costa Rican rainforest to ancient Inca kingdoms

Sailing along the west coast of South America gives you a unique opportunity to explore fascinating archaeological sites and the mysteries of lost cultures. Discover the ancient Chimu kingdom, pyramids and shrine, the Sacsayhuamán fortress, Ollantaytambo and magnificent Machu Picchu.

  • Sail through the Panama Canal
  • Discover some of the most important and fascinating ancient sites in South America
  • Explore the Chimu Kingdom, Sacsayhuamán fortress, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu
  • Visit a mix of exciting cities, national parks and beautiful islands
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The itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

4 November 2018

Departs from Puerto Limon

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. We sail along the coastline of this ancient realm from Costa Rica via Chile and Colombia to Peru to see some of the highlights.

Starting in beautiful Costa Rica, we sail south to Bocas del Toro and the Bastimentos 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.

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. You disembark in Lima, for even more adventures on land: Explore the most amazing Inca constructions like the Sacsayhuamán fortress, the Incan town of Ollantaytambo and then the ruins of the spectacular Machu Picchu.

Day 1
A large ship in the water

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 MS Fram.

Day 2
A sign above a store

UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve

Bocas 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 colourful Caribbean vibe and atmosphere, before venturing into the expanse of Bastimentos National Park. Snorkel, dive and kayak among mangroves and coral reefs, or hike through the rainforest in search of wildlife.

Day 3
A bridge over a body of water

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.

Day 4
A group of palm trees next to a body of water

A deep-sea fishers 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 rewarding 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.

Day 5
A body of water surrounded by trees
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea. Photo

Crossing the Equator

At sea

Expedition days at sea are yours to enjoy. Discover the feeling of being excited and at peace at the same time. Sea days are great for inspiration – enjoy the changing blue horizons and ponder about those early explorers who sailed in these waters before you. We will cross the Equator, and a remarkable celebration; the” Equator baptism” is waiting for you.

Day 6
A boat on a beach near a body of water
Machalilla National Park, the "other Galapagos". Photo

Colourful 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 colourful life under water by snorkelling amongst large schools of fish, or take a refreshing dip in the blue ocean.

Day 7
A person sitting at a table with a bowl of fruit

Lectures at sea

At sea

Learn 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 their fascinating lives from the lectures held on board.

Day 8
A boat is docked in the water

Explore an ancient kingdom, Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon


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.

Day 9
A person sitting at a table in front of a window

Gain insight while being 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.

Day 10
An island in the middle of a body of water

See the place of the “Satisfied falcon”


Callao is situated just outside Lima and is a vital route for trade both into and out of Peru. This is where your sea voyage end – and the land adventure begins. After disembarkation you are transferred to your flight from Lima to Cusco. Enjoy lunch before visiting one of the most amazing Incan constructions in the area, the Sacsayhuamán fortress. Sacsayhuamán means "satisfied falcon". The falcon guarded the capital of the empire, and the name also makes sense since it was possible to overlook Cusco from the hill where this fortress was built. The construction lasted for more than seven decades and required the work of 20,000 men, both for the foundations and hewn stone works, the transportation of materials, carving and stones setting. It was constructed without mortar like many other Inca structures. Yet the enormous stones fit so tightly that not even a thin blade of grass can slide between them. The craftsmanship is a stunning example of the Inca’s sophisticated construction techniques and architectural skills. In the afternoon we continue to Hacienda Urubamba in the Sacred Valley for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 11
A large stone building with a mountain in the background

The highlights of the Incan empire

Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu

After breakfast you’re in for another day of highlights. First is the visit to Ollantaytambo. This Incan town shares its name with the formidable stone structure that climbs the massive cliff looming over town. The fortress was the valley’s main defence against the Antis and was the site of the Incas’ greatest victory against the Spanish during the wars of conquest. Constructed of rose-coloured granite, this huge installation was once a thriving complex of baths, temples and military barracks. Next, head to the nearby train station to board the deluxe Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu. A savoury brunch will be served as we enjoy the spectacular views outside. Overlooking the raging Urubamba River and discovered in a hidden tangle of vines and trees atop the mountain, the city of Machu Picchu will forever hold the secret of its rise and fall – the Incas left no written records. Explore the city's ruins, feel its pulse and visualize the lives of the priests, craftsmen, and servants who inhabited this incredible place. Excavations at the site have revealed skeletons, artefacts and woollen clothing, but no gold. The same precision of assembled stones exists here as in other Incan sites. After spending time exploring the ruins, you can enjoy tea at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge before we continue back to Hacienda Urubamba for another nice evening and overnight stay here.

Day 12
A little girl holding a colorful umbrella

Centre of the Incan Empire


After breakfast we head on to Cusco, once the center of the Inca Empire. Here you can see the splendid Baroque-style Cusco Cathedral, built in the mid-1500s on the foundations of an Inca palace. Many of the stones used in its construction were looted from the nearby Sacsayhuaman fortress. We continue to Koricancha, to admire the lovely Dominican Convent of Santo Domingo that was built on the foundations of the Temple of the Sun, the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The curved, mortar-less masonry wall at the west end of the church is considered to be one of the greatest existing examples of Inca stonework. After another day of exploring, we will transfer you to the airport where you fly to Lima. The city retains certain elegance, particularly in colonial Lima Centre. Lima still brims with culture and history with some excellent museums as well as fine Spanish churches in the centre, and some distinguished mansions in the wealthy suburbs of Barranco and Miraflores. Enjoy spending the evening here, and discover some of the outstanding restaurants and lively nightlife before spending the night at a hotel.

Day 13
A group of people walking in front of a building

Flying back home


Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before you fly home.

16 November 2018

Location Lima

Price includes:

• Hurtigruten Expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
• 1 overnight in Lima and 2 overnights at Hacienda Urubamba after the voyage including breakfast
• 3- course set lunch and dinner on day 1, 2 and box lunch on day 3
• Return economy flight Lima-Cusco-Lima
• All transfers and train rides as described including English-speaking guide
• Entrance fee according to program
• Wind- and water-resistant jacket
• Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
• Professional English-speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompany landings and activities
• Free tea and coffee

Not included:

• International flights
• Travel insurance
• Luggage handling
• Optional Excursions and Gratuities

Vaccination recommended:

On this trip, a vaccine against yellow fever is recommended. The vaccination must be done at least 10 days before departure. Please bring the vaccination certificate on your voyage.

Your ship Excursions Extend your holiday

Hurtigruten Land Adventures

Complete your holiday in South America with a Hurtigruten Land Adventure before your sailing. Choose between multi-day tours including hotels in San Jose.

Getting you there

Please contact us if you wish to add on return flights and airport transfers to Puerto Limon and Callao/Lima