Peru to Chile: Mysteries and Lost Cultures of the Andean Coast
10 days with Hurtigruten Rating:
DAY 1 UNESCO Site and Ancient History
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.
DAY 2 UNESCO Site and Ancient History
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.
DAY 3 The Highlights of the Incan Empire
Location: 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.
DAY 4 Center of the Incan Empire
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.
DAY 5 The Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands, or Tambo Colorado
Location: San Martin, Peru
Puerto General San Martin is the gateway to the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines and geoglyphs. These lines were scratched into the surface between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. They are difficult to see from the ground so they were not widely known until the 1930s when aircrafts spotted them while surveying for water. The figures come in two types: biomorphs and geoglyphs. The biomorphs depict about 70 animal and plant figures, including a spider, hummingbird, monkey, and a 1,000-foot-long pelican. The geoglyphs are geometric shapes that include enormous straight lines, triangles, spirals, circles, and trapezoids. The longest straight line stretches nine miles across the plain. These mysterious lines must be seen from the air, so join the optional excursion to see these impressive and mysterious lines from the sky. Or, you can join us for an excursion to one of this region’s most beautiful natural attractions. The Ballestas Islands are often referred to as ’Peru’s Galapagos’. These volcanic islands are home to a wide array of wildlife and dramatic scenery. Another interesting and educational option is an excursion to Tambo Colorado. This is the only Incan complex composed entirely of adobe and rammed earth. This is one of many Incan administrative centers scattered around the country, yet its adobe buildings are the best-preserved in Peru. The buildings have no roofs remaining, but the walls have niches painted in different colors, such as red (‘colorado’ means red), white, and yellow.
DAYS 6-8 Sailing South
Location: At Sea
While we make our way farther south, enjoy a relaxing day at sea. Spend time on deck to take in the salty air, the view, or look at the birdlife – or spend time on Explorer deck. This is the heart of the expedition community and where we gather for talks, recaps, and spontaneous events. It is where we mingle and share stories. Our expedition team will hold lectures, presentations, and workshops on interesting topics related to the waters in which we sail. The onboard photographer might hold a workshop to show you the basics of expedition photography.
DAY 9 Home of the Humboldt Penguin
Location: 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 (feline otters), 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, albatross, and cormorants. There are also a wide variety of birds, such as the Peruvian diving petrel, the red-legged cormorant, and the Guanay cormorant, all of which are protected species.
DAY 10 The `Jewel of the Pacific´
Location: Valparaíso, Chile
The expedition ends in the wonderful, colorful 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.
All This Included
Sailing along the west coast of South America gives you a unique opportunity to explore fascinating archaeological sites and the mysteries of lost cultures. Starting with the magnificent Machu Picchu, you will also see the Sacsayhuamán fortress, the Nazca Lines, and national parks and exotic wildlife before ending the expedition in Valparaíso, Chile.
Lima: To be determined
Sacred Valley: Hacienda Urubamba
Cruising: Category I cabin onboard ms Fram
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.