From Ancient Incan Kingdoms to the Costa Rican Rainforest

View Itinerary

This expedition gives you a unique opportunity to explore fascinating archaeological sites and the mysteries of lost cultures. We visit magnificent Machu Picchu, the Sacsayhuamán fortress, and the ancient Chimú kingdom´s pyramids and shrines. Finally, we sail through the Panama Canal before ending our journey in beautiful Costa Rica.

March 22, 2019

Lost Cities and a Giant Citadel

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. From Lima, Peru, we will visit some of the most amazing Incan constructions, such as the Incan town of Ollantaytambo, the ruins of spectacular Machu Picchu, the Sacsayhuamán fortress, and Cusco, once the center of the Incan Empire. Then you’ll board MS Fram to continue the expedition by sea.

In Salaverry we visit the ancient Chimú kingdom, the largest mud-brick citadel of the Americas from the pre-Columbian era.

National Parks and Panama Canal

We will also explore the only coastal national park in Ecuador, visit a small coastal community in Panama known for excellent fishing, and sail through the Panama Canal. The last day will be spent in Bocas del Toro and at 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 before we reach the end of this expedition in beautiful Costa Rica.

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This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather and wind conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is only an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.


  1. UNESCO Site and Ancient History - Lima

    Lima's history predates the colonial presence in Peru. North of Lima, visit the city of Caral, considered the most ancient city in the Americas. South of Lima is the historic complex of Pachacamac. Lima is where Spanish conquistadores established the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1542 and began building significant churches, monasteries and mansions with beautiful balconies in the city. The arrival of modernity didn’t transform Lima’s historic center, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Join one of our excursions to see museums with great works of art, archaeological sites, beaches, and the boardwalk, and experience the exquisite cuisine that gives Peru’s capital its unique personality. Explore the city on your own before spending the night in a hotel.

    UNESCO Site and Ancient History - Lima
  2. UNESCO Site and Ancient History - Lima/Cusco

    In the morning 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 since it is 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, to transport materials, build the foundation, and to carve and set the stones. It was constructed without mortar, like many other Incan 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.

    UNESCO Site and Ancient History - Lima/Cusco
  3. 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 that looms over the town. The fortress was the valley’s main defence against the Antis, a collective term for the many varied ethnic groups living in the Antisuyu, the eastern part of the Inca Empire. It was the site of the Incas’ greatest victory against the Spanish during the wars of conquest. Constructed of rose-colored granite, this huge installation was once a thriving complex of baths, temples, and military barracks. Next, we’ll head to the nearby train station to board the deluxe Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu. A savory brunch will be served as we enjoy the spectacular views. 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, artifacts, and wool clothing, but no gold. The same precision of assembled stones exists here as it does 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.

    The Highlights of the Incan Empire - Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu
  4. Center of the Incan Empire - Cusco/Lima

    After breakfast we head 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 foundation of an Incan palace. Many of the stones used in its construction were looted from the nearby Sacsayhuamán fortress. We continue to Coricancha 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, mortarless masonry wall at the west end of the church is considered to be one of the greatest existing examples of Incan stonework. Then we will transfer you to the airport where you fly to back to Lima. In Lima, MS Fram is ready to continue this expedition at sea.

    Center of the Incan Empire - Cusco/Lima
  5. Gain Insight While Being at Sea - At Sea

    Spend some time on deck as we navigate farther north along the coast of Peru and the Pacific coast. Breathe the fresh ocean air and look for wildlife. Join our lecture team’s interesting presentations to learn more about the west coast of South America, its nature, history, and geography. Oceanography, climate change, and environmental issues are also frequent lecture topics.

    Gain Insight While Being at Sea - At Sea
  6. Explore an Ancient Kingdom and the Temples of the Sun and the Moon - Salaverry

    The small port of Salaverry is the starting point for the excursion to the ancient Chimú kingdom (700–1400 A.D.). The Chimú founded their capital by the banks of the Moche River and called it ‘Chan Chan’ (sun-sun). It 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 in 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 that visits 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.

    Explore an Ancient Kingdom and the Temples of the Sun and the Moon - Salaverry
  7. Sailing North - At Sea

    While we make our way farther north toward Ecuador, take your time to relax on the open decks or gain more insight into the region at our lectures. During the day there might also be other gatherings with the expedition team or photography workshops.

    Sailing North - At Sea
  8. 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 means ‘Silver Island’, and is home to species such as the blue-footed boobies, nesting waved albatross, and frigate birds. The island is great for hikers and has plenty of birdwatching trails. You can also explore the colorful life under water by snorkelling among large schools of fish, or simply take a refreshing dip in the blue ocean.

    Colorful Birds and Fish on the Silver Island - Isla del la Plata
  9. Crossing the Equator - At Sea

    By now, you have figured out how to best enjoy your days at sea. Perhaps you have found the time to finish a book you brought with you, or perhaps looking through and sorting the pictures you have taken is your preferred activity. Regardless, as we cross the equator you can look forward to a special Equator ‘baptism’ ritual

    Crossing the Equator - At Sea
  10. The Community of Playa Muerto - Playa Muerto

    The village of Playa Muerto is set in the secluded Darién National Park in one of the most remote corners of Central America. The tranquil village is surrounded by lush, green tropical forest and beautiful beaches. Its population of about 200 indigenous people belong to the Emberá Tribe. Due to its remote location, the community has only a handful of visitors each year, which they receive with joy and genuine curiosity.

    The villagers are proud of their cultural heritage and the beauty of their surroundings. As their guests, you will enjoy cultural performances with music and dance, learn about their traditional crafts and have the opportunity to try some of their typical foods based on seafood and coconut water. You can also enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna whilst taking walks along the beach or during a swim in the waterfall near the village.

    The Community of Playa Muerto   - Playa Muerto
  11. Connecting Two Oceans - Panama Canal

    We enter the Panama Canal close to Balboa. Experience the thrill of canal transit and the intricacy of the lock system first-hand, as MS Fram is lifted over 85 feet above sea level from one body of water to the other. The Panama Canal is one of the largest and most ambitious 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. 

    Connecting Two Oceans - Panama Canal
  12. UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve - Bocal del Toro

    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, and 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 everyone will find it a lovely place to visit. The diversity of species in this area is astounding. There are roosterfish, swordfish, billfish, tuna, dorado, snapper, snook, dolphinfish, wahoo, and barracuda found here, as well as 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 snorkelling or kayaking and the trails in the jungle are great for hiking.

    UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve - Bocal del Toro
  13. Home of the `Pura Vida´ Lifestyle - Puerto Limón

    Puerto Limón in Costa Rica is a compelling destination for adventurous explorers. The city itself has fascinating architecture and colorful open-air markets. The main market in the center of town is the place to go to buy everything carved wood to traditional souvenirs. Cashew nuts are big in this city, so be sure to try the cashew wine, which is a specialty here. While the city is rather laid back during the day, at night Puerto Limón has quite an active social scene. The nightlife hops, with a number of bars and restaurants found all over the city. This is where your expedition comes to an end. Stay on to enjoy more of Costa Rica or fly home.

    Home of the `Pura Vida´ Lifestyle - Puerto Limón

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