Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal

Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal

Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal

Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal

Travel information MS Fram
Departure
April 6, 2023
Price from $ 9,389
$ 8,522
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Let us take you on an adventure that begins in the Peruvian capital of Lima before experiencing the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu and other famous Incan sites in Cusco. Then you’ll return to Lima to meet the ship and explore select highlights along the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, and Panama.

Incan mysteries

After a night enjoying the many charms of Lima, you’ll fly to Cusco and visit the fortress of Sacsayhuamán on a hill overlooking the former Incan capital. You’ll also visit another impressive fortress at Ollantaytambo before boarding the Hiram Bingham train, which guides you to the ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu. You’ll have plenty of time to see more of Cusco, including its cathedral and convent, built on top of an Incan palace and temple.

Peruvian sites, Ecuadorian paradise, and the legendary Panama Canal

You will board the ship in Lima and begin the expedition along the Peruvian coast. We will call at Salaverry and tour the ancient temple and city ruins around Trujillo. We’ll stop at the important Ecuadorian port of Puerto Bolivar to learn about ‘oro verde’ (‘green gold’). From there, we head northbound to the busy and prosperous port town of Manta. We then cross the Equator and sail to the isthmus of Panama. The grand finale of your cruise will be to cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea through the Canal.

Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal Machu Picchu, National Parks, & the Panama Canal
  • Day 1
    Lima, Peru

    ‘The City of Kings’

    April 6, 2023

    Set on a strip of desert between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, you’ll find the Peruvian capital city of Lima. It’s the country’s largest city, and it is a modern, far-flung metropolis where traditions and new trends converge in an exciting cocktail of culture and cuisine. Lima’s original name was Ciudad de los Reyes, or ‘The City of Kings’, and this name is well earned. Your adventure begins with a night at a centrally located hotel, but you could also arrange to come a few days early to explore the capital more.

    The UNESCO World Heritage historic center is full of Colonial-era architecture, such as Plaza Mayor and the San Francisco Monastery. In contrast, the clay ruins of the Huaca Pucllana and Huaca Huallamarca ceremonial pyramids are remnants of the long-lost Incan civilization. There are at least four different museums you can explore for a deeper dive into pre-Columbian archeology. You might enjoy the bright and arty area of Barranco, complete with murals, creative cafés, and two of Lima’s contemporary art museums.

    Many say the ultimate Lima experience revolves around the food. Cuisine from the capital has made a splash the world over. Try it in one of the many internationally recognized and award-winning restaurants found here. One of Peru’s all-time gastronomic greats is ceviche, fresh fish marinated in tangy lime juice and other seasonings. This staple dish can be savored in many locations around the city, from upscale restaurants in Miraflores to salt-of-the-earth cevicherías at the fishing docks over in Chorrillos.

    Day 1
    Lima, Peru

    ‘The City of Kings’

  • Day 2
    Lima/Cusco/Sacred Valley

    'Navel of the World’

    April 7, 2023

    In the morning, you’ll hop on a flight from Lima to Cusco, the former capital of the Incan Empire whose name means ‘Navel of the World’. The city’s original layout, in the middle of the highland Huatanay River valley, is thought to be in the form of a puma. At the location of the heart of the puma is Plaza de Armas, the site of Colonial architecture, colorful Carnival celebrations, and festive street parades. The puma’s head is Sacsayhuamán, a former fortress and temple complex towering over Cusco on the top of the hill. Sacsayhuamn means ‘Royal Eagle’, a reference to the mythical bird that was believed to guard the Incan Empire. The ruins sit over 12,000 feet above sea level, and a visit there provides great views over the city and the Inca-sacred moutain peaks of Ausangate, Pachatusan, and Cinca, of the Andes. Stroll the fortress’ open esplanade at your own pace and pass by the remains of residences, shrines, towers, tunnels, zigzagged limestone walls, and distinct trapezoidal doorways.

    It’s thought that the site’s construction lasted more than seven decades and required 20,000 men to set the foundations, hew the stones, transport materials, and complete the stonework. On your stroll, notice that the walls and buildings are made entirely without mortar. These enormous stones fit together so perfectly that not even a single blade of grass can fit between them—a testament to the Incan’s sophisticated masonry.

    We will eat lunch at a local restaurant.

    In the afternoon you’ll return to the Tambo del Inka Resort in the Sacred Valley, where you’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay

    Day 2
    Lima/Cusco/Sacred Valley

    'Navel of the World’

  • Day 3
    Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu / Scared Valley

    ‘The Lost City of the Incas’

    April 8, 2023

    Eat a good breakfast at the resort, because you’re in for an unforgettable day. We start off in Ollantaytambo, once the royal estate of Pachacuti, the Incan emperor. He conquered the region and built up the town that shares its name, featuring a formidable stone fortress that still towers above the community on a massive cliff. Constructed with rose-colored granite, this huge structure was once a thriving complex of baths, temples, and military barracks. This fortification was the valley’s main defense against their rivals, the Antis people. It was also the site of the Inca’s greatest victory against the Spanish during the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire, also known as the Conquest of Peru.

    Then we head to the nearby train station and board the deluxe Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu. Enjoy a savory brunch while you marvel at the views on the way to this magical and renowned location.

    At last, we arrive at the spectacular Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 and abandoned with Spanish colonization, thick tangles of vines and trees shielded it from the prying eyes of the outside world for centuries. After being ‘found’ by American archeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, ‘The Lost City of the Incas’ is now widely regarded as one of the ancient wonders of the world.

    Explore the city’s ruins and imagine what life was like here, when priests, craftsmen, and servants roamed these cliffs. Excavations at the site have revealed skeletons, artifacts, and woolen clothing. Now it’s your turn to admire the precise Incan stonework. Even if we have a basic understanding of the site, the Incas left no written records behind about the city’s rise or fall. Thus, Machu Picchu remains one of the most mysterious archeological sites in the world.

    After spending an eventful day at these two sites, we’ll return to the Tambo del Inka Resort by train for a relaxing evening and an overnight stay.

    Day 3
    Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu / Scared Valley

    ‘The Lost City of the Incas’

  • Day 4
    Sacred Valley/Cusco/Lima/Callao

    Center of the Incan Empire

    April 9, 2023

    After breakfast, we’ll explore the splendid Baroque-style Cusco Cathedral, built by the Spaniards in the mid-1500s on the foundation of an Incan palace. Many of the stones used to construct it were looted from the nearby Sacsayhuamán fortress. Then we’ll visit Koricancha, where we’ll admire the Dominican Convent of Santo Domingo, built on the foundation of the Temple of the Sun, the most important temple in the Incan Empire. The curved masonry wall at the west end of the church, built without mortar, is considered to be one of the greatest existing examples of Incan stonework.

    We then transfer to the airport and fly to Lima. From Lima, we’ll head to the ship, docked in Callao, ready and waiting to begin the next part of your expedition. Once on board, you’ll check-in and complete an important safety drill. Then settle into your cabin and take a look around the ship. Later, you’ll enjoy have a welcome dinner, where you’ll meet the captain, the crew, and the Expedition Team. Together, we’ll raise a glass and toast to the adventures ahead! The day ends with a health and safety briefing from the Expedition Team. After, perhaps head over to the Explorer Lounge and Bar and meet your fellow shipmates.

    Day 4
    Sacred Valley/Cusco/Lima/Callao

    Center of the Incan Empire

  • Day 5
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

    April 10, 2023

    Pummeled by the Pacific’s wind and waves, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If we are able to land there, though, it’ll be a good starting point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third-largest city, and the array of archeological sites scattered throughout the region.

    Trujillo sits in a fertile valley oasis irrigated by the Moche River. It boasts a colorful Baroque 17th-century cathedral, 10 colonial churches, and many Neoclassical mansions, not to mention one of the longest mosaic murals in the world at the local university. It’s more likely, however, that your focus will be further back on the past.

    The city of Chan Chan was created by the Chimú Empire, which appeared in the region around 900 A.D. The vast ruins of the complex, measuring almost 8 square miles, include the Tschudi temple-citadel and Huaca Esmeralda. On the other side of Trujillo are you’ll find the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. These pre-date Chan Chan by a few hundred years! Huaca del Sol stands out as the largest adobe structure on the continent, while Huaca del Luna is a more detailed specimen, with many of its pastel frescos still visible.

    Day 5
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

  • Day 6
    At Sea

    At your leisure

    April 11, 2023

    As we leave Peru behind and set sail for Ecuador, enjoy another day at your leisure aboard the ship.

    Spend part of your day walking on deck. Enjoy the seascapes and keep an eye out for marine life such as whales, dolphins, and seabirds. Want to feel closer to the water? Go for a dip in the infinity pool or one of the two outdoor hot tubs (where you can still admire the scenery).

    Head to the Science Center and make the most of the Expedition Team’s lectures to learn about what you will experience in the following days. Participate in a Citizen Science project, where you will help contribute to current scientific research being conducted around the world. When darkness falls and it’s a starry night, you can also join the Expedition Team on deck for some stargazing. Or settle into a seat in the Explorer Lounge & Bar to raise a glass or two with your new-found friends.

    Day 6
    At Sea

    At your leisure

  • Day 7
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

    April 12, 2023

    Machala’s main claim to fame is Puerto Bolivar, an important Ecuadorian port where coffee, cocoa, shrimp, and bountiful bananas (which the locals call ‘oro verde’, or green gold) leave for export. As part of one of our optional excursions, you may have the opportunity to visit a local banana plantation, or to try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets, and howler monkeys in the Buenaventura Nature Reserve to the south. The nearby Puyango Petrified Forest has one of the largest collections of fossilized trees in the world, thought to be about 100 million years old—as old as the Andes Mountains themselves.

    Feast on fresh seafood at Puerto Bolivar at one of the harbor’s many restaurants, and enjoy views of the natural mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli. Machala has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city. Stroll through quaint plazas filled with friendly locals, and admire unusual monuments dedicated to sorting fish and bananeros. The restaurants here are evolving and have started dabbling in the hip, modern cuisine for which Ecuador and Peru have increasingly become known.

    Day 7
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

  • Day 8
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf, and… tuna?

    April 13, 2023

    Manta is a bustling and prosperous port city with high-rise buildings, resort hotels, and several casinos. It is well-known for its long stretches of beach whose blessed wind and waves draw surfers, body-boarders, and kitesurfers from across the globe. You can mingle with casual beachgoers at the shops, restaurants, and bars of Malencón Escénico at Playa el Murcielago. You can also head to San Lorenzo for surfer-sweet swells or go to Playa Bonita at Santa Marianita to watch kitesurfers take off from the sea into the sky.

    Aside from tourism, the city’s tuna fishing and canning industry is a successful and key industry here. As is typical for a coastal city, seafood is the specialty on the menu at most restaurants in the area. Try succulent wild-caught shrimp, black clams, octopus, red snappers, and much more. Make a point to try a bowl of the local encebollado broth made with fresh tuna, the pride of Manta. The Museo Municipal Etnografico Cancebi showcases Ecuadorian art and artifacts from the local pre-Columbian civilization, including ancient fishing tools. You may also have the opportunity to visit the nearby town of Montecristi, famous for handicrafts, and where traditional Panamanian straw hats were first created and still hand woven to this day.

    Day 8
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf, and… tuna?

  • Day 9
    At sea

    Serenity at sea

    April 14, 2023

    A day at sea means the opportunity to attend interesting lectures, learn basic expedition photography, try your hand at an art workshop, and enjoy the fresh sea air out on deck as you watch for wildlife. You can also use microscopes in the Science Center to analyze samples taken during the cruise. As we cross the Equator, it’s the tradition of Norwegian sailors to hold a ceremony to seek King Neptune’s blessing. If we’re in luck, he may even make an appearance.

    By this stage of your journey, you’ll likely regard your fellow explorers as friends, after finding so much in common in your interests and passion for nature. Chat with your shipmates over a snack and share your favorite stories from the expedition so far. The Explorer Bar is also open for drinks—you might even catch the crew and Expedition Team here in the evening for some friendly banter. As night falls, there is nothing as romantic as stargazing on deck with the one you love.

    Day 9
    At sea

    Serenity at sea

  • Day 10
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

    April 15, 2023

    Today, we will sail through the Panama Canal, transiting from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean. The complex canal network is over a hundred years old, stretching almost 50 miles through natural and man-made waterways. We’ll wait eagerly for our allocated slot to enter the first of a series of huge locks. In a feat of modern engineering, these ingenious locks effectively lift the ship more than 80 feet above sea level. If weather allows, the Expedition Team will be on deck to point out sites of interest around the canal and talk about the history of this ambitious project.

    Roughly halfway through the 12-hour transit of the canal, the ship will enter the Gatun Lake section. Created after the nearby Chagres River was damned, it’s one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. In contrast, the surrounding rainforest is virtually untouched by any development. The flora and fauna native to Central America flourish here, undisturbed. If you’re lucky, you may spot a crocodile or alligator ashore. Watch the trees and you may also catch a glimpse of a monkey (and maybe even a sloth or two).

    After a few more locks and lakes, the ship will eventually sail into the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. In one day, you’ll have experienced the culmination of centuries of planning, hard work, and resourcefulness, and cross from one great ocean to another in the process. It’s sure to be an experience you won’t forget.

    Day 10
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

  • Day 11
    Colón, Panama

    Entrance to the Panama Canal

    April 16, 2023

    Your expedition concludes at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. This bustling port town is a popular stop for cruises going to the Caribbean and has a diverse population for such a small size.

    Not quite ready to end your adventure? Add three extra nights with our Post-Program and stay at an exotic jungle lodge nestled in the rainforest next to the Chagres River. During your stay, you’ll also visit a rainforest center and a farm dedicated to reforestation, explore the jungle on a night boat safari, and enjoy views of the area by cable car.

    Another Post-Program travels to Casco Viejo, arguably the most charismatic neighborhood in Panama City. Stroll the rustic cobblestone streets and plazas. Admire the architecture of Colonial churches, mansions, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Along the way, try local specialties like coffee and cocoa.

    You can even book another expedition cruise from here that takes you through the ingenious man-made locks of the Panama Canal and through to the Pacific Ocean on the other side. Then go on to explore the many sights and coastal cities of South America.

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

    Day 11
    Colón, Panama

    Entrance to the Panama Canal

Departures

2023

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition to Machu Picchu/Peru before the expedition cruise

  • One night in Lima and two nights at Hotel Tambo del Inka, including breakfast
  • Three-course set lunch and dinner on Days 2 and 3, and a packed lunch on Day 4
  • Economy flight from Lima to Cusco, and Cusco to Lima
  • All transfers and train rides as described in the itinerary, including an English-speaking guide
  • Entrance fee as listed in the program

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in the cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
  • Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organizes and guides activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center, which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • The Citizen Science program, which allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • The ship has hot tubs, a sauna with a view, and an indoor gym
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

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 help you configure your camera settings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements.
  • No gratuities are expected
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 250 (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 its time and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. The advanced technology on the MS Fram, in the spirit of the famous original, makes her exceptionally well suited for expedition cruises in polar regions.

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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