Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition

Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition

Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition

Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition

Travel information 16 days MS Fram
March 29, 2024
Price from $ 5,915
$ 3,549
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

16-day expedition cruise from Valparaíso to Colón, including the Atacama Desert and the tropical forests of Ecuador and Colombia

Ancient sites and vibrant cities

From UNESCO-listed Valparaíso, journey to pretty La Serena and the sun-soaked delights of Iquique and Arica. In Paracas, you can observe the biodiversity of the Ballestas Islands before enjoying a guided tour of history-rich Lima and discovering the ruins of ancient kingdoms in Trujillo.

Travel through the Panama Canal

Discover colorful Puerto Bolívar and explore the home of the Panama hat in Montecristi. After traversing the Equator, you’ll experience vibrant Afro-Colombian culture in Bahía Solano before crossing from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea through the famed Panama Canal.

Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition Cultures of South America – Pacific Coast Expedition
  • Day 1
    Valparaíso, Chile

    Valparaíso, a UNESCO gem

    Begin your adventure in this vibrant hilltop city

    Your expedition ship, MS Fram, awaits you in Valparaíso, the ‘Jewel of the Pacific.’ Built on steep hillsides overlooking the ocean, this UNESCO-listed city is well worth the trip.

    The city is an exhilarating maze of winding alleyways and barrios, colorful houses, and mercados packed with local produce. It is intriguing and sure to leave an impression. We recommend taking it all in on a funicular ride up to Cerro Alegre and Concepción. If you’d like to explore more of Valparaíso, you can join an optional Pre-Program.

    After picking up your expedition jacket and meeting your Expedition Team, locate your cabin and explore the ship before enjoying the first of many delicious meals on board as we set sail.

    Day 1
    Valparaíso, Chile

    Valparaíso, a UNESCO gem

  • Day 2
    La Serena, Chile

    Stunning La Serena

    Explore the ‘City of Churches’ and Serena Beach.

    Docking at the port of Coquimbo, we’ll head to Chile’s second-oldest city, La Serena.

    La Serena is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches all along Avenida del Mar and beyond. Bursting with classical architecture, there are around 30 carefully restored stone churches to discover, and you can visit the Archeological Museum to marvel at pre-colonial artifacts.

    Take a stroll through the city’s manicured public gardens, like the Japanese-inspired Jardín del Corazón. You can also shop for handicrafts at La Recova market. Down the picturesque lane of Patio Colonial, near Balmaceda, you’ll find relaxed cafés and eateries. Before boarding the ship, leave some time to explore Coquimbo.

    • Included Coquimbo and La Serena
    Day 2
    La Serena, Chile

    Stunning La Serena

  • Day 3
    At sea

    Relax at sea

    Relax and prepare for adventure

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea. Relax and admire the scenery from the Observation Deck or inside from the Explorer Lounge & Bar.

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will present lectures in the Science Center and share their extensive knowledge of the region with you. Topics may include periods of pre-Columbian history, the geology of the surrounding mountains and islands, the folklore of the local communities, and much more. Not all of our lectures are indoors, though! If curious seabirds come fly alongside the ship, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify them from on deck.

    Day 3
    At sea

    Relax at sea

  • Day 4
    Iquique, Chile

    Iquique and the Atacama Desert

    Discover the history of UNESCO-listed Humberstone

    Our cruise continues to bustling Iquique, a flat city of promenades lined with palm trees.

    We’ll visit the abandoned saltpeter mining towns of Santa Laura and UNESCO-listed Humberstone in the arid Atacama Desert. Back in Iquique, explore this cosmopolitan oceanside city on foot, or simply pull up a chair in a café and do some people watching.

    While you’re there, enjoy a delicious coffee or a traditional mango sour and chumbeque, a beloved regional sweet. Pay a visit to La Esmeralda, a four-masted corvette from the 19th century with historical significance.

    • Included Humberstone and Santa Laura
    Day 4
    Iquique, Chile

    Iquique and the Atacama Desert

  • Day 5
    Arica, Chile

    Sunny Arica

    Get to know Arica’s history and try the local food

    Arica experiences a year-round desert climate and is classed as one of the driest cities in the world, unusual for a place by the ocean. No wonder the city is popular with sunbathers and surfers.

    On the lively streets Calle 21 de Mayo and Bolognesi, you can try local treats and peruse the El Agro market. Take a 15-minute hike up the remarkable El Morro cliff for glorious views, or visit San Marcos Cathedral, designed by Gustave Eiffel.

    See mummies and learn about Chinchorro culture at the archeological museum. You could also stretch your legs on a trek along Playa Corazones or while exploring the Caves of Anzota.

    • Included Atacama Coastal Walk
    Day 5
    Arica, Chile

    Sunny Arica

  • Day 6
    At sea

    Clear skies, cool climate

    Go with the flow in the Humboldt Current

    As we sail further north towards Peru, we’ll sail through the Humboldt Current. The cold-water climate here creates conditions that sustain an incredible abundance of marine life, including vast shoals of anchovies, mackerel, and sardines. Your Expedition Team will tell you more about the Humboldt Current’s importance to the marine ecosystem.

    You’ll have plenty of time at your leisure throughout this day at sea. You can relax in the heated infinity pool, go for a run on the outdoor running track, and take in stunning views and stimulating breezes from on deck.

    Day 6
    At sea

    Clear skies, cool climate

  • Day 7
    Paracas, Chile

    Ballestas and Nazca

    Discover extraordinary wildlife and ancient mysteries

    Among Peru’s most notable attractions are the Nazca Lines and the Ballestas Islands, both of which are accessible from Paracas.

    Known as El Chaco, the town has an array of restaurants along the main shorefront where you can enjoy traditional jalea – fried seafood with salsa criolla (Creole sauce) and yuca root. Just offshore are the wildlife-rich Ballestas Islands. On today’s boat tour, look for Humboldt penguins, turtles, pelicans, sea lions, Inca terns, and humpback whales as you cruise around the islands.

    You can also explore the Paracas National Reserve with its otherworldly yellow sand dunes and red beaches. Another option is to fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines etched into the Peruvian coastal desert – an experience that’s on many people’s bucket lists.

    • Included Ballestas Islands
    Day 7
    Paracas, Chile

    Ballestas and Nazca

  • Day 8
    Lima, Peru

    Ancient and modern Lima

    Immerse yourself in Peru’s historic capital

    Lima’s historical center is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a jewel of Spanish-era architecture, from colonial churches and monasteries to elegant mansions. Go further back in time and learn about the city’s pre-Hispanic heritage at the ruins of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid.

    Known as the food capital of South America, Lima has everything from specialty restaurants to can’t-miss street food. We recommend trying ceviche, Peru’s national dish. It is fresh fish marinated in lime juice, onion, and chili.

    • Included Panoramic Tour of Lima
    Day 8
    Lima, Peru

    Ancient and modern Lima

  • Salaverry, Peru

    Trujillo and Chan Chan

    Be awed by the ancient kingdoms of Trujillo

    Salaverry is the gateway port to Peru’s third-largest city, Trujillo, and some fascinating archeological sites. Colorful Trujillo boasts a Baroque cathedral, colonial churches, and Neoclassical mansions, as well as one of the longest mosaic murals in the world.

    Nearby, the vast ancient ruins of the Chimú city of Chan Chan date back to at least 900 CE. On the other side of Trujillo, the mysterious Moche pyramids of the Sun and the Moon are from even further back in history.

    Back on the ship, there will be a traditional Peruvian dance performance.

    Salaverry, Peru

    Trujillo and Chan Chan

  • Day 10
    At sea

    Science and leisure

    Enjoy relaxation, research, or a bit of both

    Your Pacific coast cruise continues as we head toward Ecuador. As we sail, you might want to soak up scenery from on deck, read a book by a window, or simply enjoy the onboard facilities.

    By this stage of your journey, you’ll have struck up friendships with your fellow explorers after finding interests in common and sharing a passion for nature. Chat the day away in the Explorer Lounge & Bar and recall the best parts of your expedition cruise so far.

    Of course, the Expedition Team will continue to deliver insightful lectures in the Science Center. You can also delve into the books in the onboard library if you want to learn more about a particular subject.

    Day 10
    At sea

    Science and leisure

  • Day 11
    Puerto Bolívar, Ecuador

    Bountiful Puerto Bolívar

    A bustling port with a charming atmosphere

    We have a fruitful day ahead exploring Puerto Bolívar, a port in the city of Machala that exports coffee, cocoa, shrimp, and masses of bananas. Puerto Bolívar is dubbed the ‘Banana Capital of the World,’ as it ships more of Ecuador’s ‘green gold’ than anywhere else in the country.

    Machala itself has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city, including friendly locals, quaint plazas, and striking monuments. You can try delicious fresh seafood at the harbor restaurants while taking in views of the mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli. If you have time, stroll through the local markets, plazas, and the Casa de la Cultura museum.

    Day 11
    Puerto Bolívar, Ecuador

    Bountiful Puerto Bolívar

  • Day 12
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

    Discover the birthplace of Panama hats in... Ecuador?

    We’ll dock at the port of Manta and set foot on South American soil as we visit the town of Montecristi. Known for its handicrafts, you can buy a stylish, genuine Panama hat here, expertly handwoven using the leaves of the jipijapa tree.

    Wander around this interesting town and take a look at the imposing white church, or take in the colorful street art and murals. Returning to Manta, we’ll stop at the archeological museum.

    Day 12
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

  • Day 13
    At sea

    Relax at sea

    Serenity at sea

    It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to seek Neptune’s blessing. That’s just what we’ll do in a traditional – and somewhat quirky – ceremony as we cross the Equator in the early morning.

    Enjoy onboard adventures as we spend the day cruising to Colombia. Go on deck and scan for wildlife – whales can often be seen in these waters. You can find the Expedition Team in the Science Center.

    While you’re there, ask about the Citizen Science projects we’re running. If you’d simply like to relax and enjoy the journey, try out a hot tub or settle into the comfort of the Explorer Lounge & Bar and watch the world pass by. Later, stargazing from the deck is a lovely way to end your day.

    Day 13
    At sea

    Relax at sea

  • Day 14
    Bahía Solano, Colombia

    Afro-Colombian culture

    Music, dancing, and rainforest walks at Bahía Solano

    Your day in Bahía Solano begins with a walk around town hosted by members of the local Afro-Colombian community.

    Students will greet you with a traditional song and later perform unique Afro-Colombian music and dance. In between, they’ll tell you about the town and their culture.

    Consider taking a hike through a tropical rainforest in the botanical gardens. At this 170-acre reserve, you can enjoy a guided walk and learn about the local flora and fauna, along with the important conservation projects launched to protect it.

    Day 14
    Bahía Solano, Colombia

    Afro-Colombian culture

  • Day 15
    Panama Canal

    Travel through the Panama Canal

    Navigate one of the world’s greatest engineering feats

    Early in the morning, we’ll enter the Panama Canal, an impressive and complex network of ingenious locks stretching 50 miles through natural and man-made waterways. Weather permitting, the Expedition Team will invite you on deck and recount the story of this ambitious project.

    Halfway through our transit, we’ll enter the Gatun Lake section, surrounded by verdant rainforest and one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, alligators, monkeys, and even sloths.

    After around 12 hours, we’ll emerge into the Atlantic, having passed from one great ocean to another.

    Day 15
    Panama Canal

    Travel through the Panama Canal

  • Day 16
    Disembarking in Colón

    Disembarking in Colón

    Bright city lights amid a lush rainforest landscape

    Your South American expedition cruise ends in Colón, which stands beside the portal to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. It’s a bustling cosmopolitan center with hot springs, a thriving handicraft industry, and wonderful local restaurants.

    Your cruise may have come to an end, but not necessarily your adventure. If you’re hungry for more, join an optional Post-Program.

    Whatever’s next for you, we wish you a safe onward journey and look forward to seeing you on your next adventure.

    Day 16
    Disembarking in Colón

    Disembarking in Colón



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What’s included

Expedition Cruise

  • Stay in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages* in the Aune restaurant
  • Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board†
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

*House beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water

†Please note that Wi-Fi and phone reception are very limited in the remote areas where we travel, and streaming is not supported.

Onboard activities

  • In-depth lectures and discussions hosted by experts on the Expedition Team
  • Full use of our Science Center, small library, and advanced biological and geological equipment
  • The Citizen Science Program allows guests to contribute to ongoing scientific research projects.
  • Our onboard professional photographer will give photography tips and teach techniques for capturing landscape and wildlife photos.
  • The ship has hot tubs, a sauna with a view, and an indoor gym
  • Join informal gatherings with the crew for daily briefings.

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers will be on hand to assist you.


  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo
MS Fram in Antarctica
Photo: Sandra Walser
Your Ship

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 318 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11,647 T
Length 374 ft
Beam 66.3 ft
Speed 13 knots
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of her time, and the achievements of her Arctic and Antarctic expeditions are the stuff of legend. In this spirit, the comfortable surroundings and advanced technology on today’s MS Fram – which was fully upgraded in summer 2022 – make her exceptionally well suited for modern expedition cruising.

Read more about MS Fram

Icebergs – one of many favorite photo motives when on an expedition with MS Fram
Photo: Tomas Mauch

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