National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca

National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca

National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca

National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca

Travel information 12 Days MS Fridtjof Nansen
October 12, 2023
Price from $ 7,465
$ 6,433
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

This expedition from Costa Rica to Chile explores four Latin American countries, uncovering ancient pyramids, exceptionally beautiful national reserves, and delicious local delicacies. Throughout your cruise, you will visit cities in Ecuador and Peru to experience beautiful beaches and UNESCO sites. The adventure then moves on to Lake Titicaca, where you’ll explore the communities on its scenic shores, including the Uru people and their floating islands.

Our small ships can take you to places that larger ships can’t sail, opening the door to a wide range of places, from cities to remote islands. At times, due to weather, we may need to change or cancel our plan for that day. For an authentic adventure in this exotic region, this is par for the course.

Visits to paradise in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador

From Puntarenas, we’ll journey to Quepos and Golfito, two ports that offer access to nearby Costa Rican national parks full of scenic habitats and diverse animal life, including toucans, iguana, sloths, monkeys, and a range of seabirds. We stop at Manta to visit Montecristi, where classic Panama hats were invented and are still handmade to this day. In Puerto Bolivar, we learn about the historical importance of the so-called ‘oro verde’ for the local economy.

Peruvian Pyramids

Our first call in Peru will be at Salaverry, where you can tour the ancient temple and city ruins around Trujillo. Then we head to colonial Lima, a UNESCO capital with sumptuous cuisine on offer.

Lake Titicaca and its floating islands

Wave goodbye to the ship and crew in Lima and fly to Juliaca, where you’ll explore Lake Titicaca and its intriguing surroundings. Here, you will visit the Uru people, who live on self-constructed floating islands made from buoyant reeds. Kayak along the sandy beaches of the peninsula at Llachón or go horseback riding with locals in the Colonial town of Chucuito. Don’t miss the mystical ‘Gate of the Gods’ at Aramu Muru and the pre-Incan tombs of Sillustani.

National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca National Parks of South America & Lake Titicaca
  • Day 1
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Beginning of your exotic expedition

    October 12, 2023

    Your hybrid-electric expedition ship MS Fridtjof Nansen will be waiting to begin your expedition in Puntarenas, a city on a needle-thin strip of land on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. City folks from San José often try to slip away to Puntarenas for the day to bask in the relaxed coastal life and fresh ocean air. While it is still an active fishing port, Puntarenas is mainly a starting point for people heading elsewhere in the region, like to the white-sand beaches of Nicoya Peninsula or the waterfall-rich Tortuga Island.

    Once you board the ship, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin, explore the ship, and attend a mandatory safety drill. After the welcome dinner (featuring a toast by the captain), you’ll meet your Expedition Team, who will run through important health and safety aspects with you.

    Arrive early for an overnight in San José and explore the Tárcoles River and mangrove forest during a boat tour before embarkation. Another option is to join our four-day Pre-Program to the magnificent Volcano Arenal Area to explore Costa Rican flora and fauna and relax in natural volcanic hot springs.

    Day 1
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Beginning of your exotic expedition

  • Day 2
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    A slice of paradise in Costa Rica

    October 13, 2023

    You’ll find that the town of Quepos and its surroundings come packed with plenty of things to see and do. The many boats in the gorgeous Marina Pez Vela serve the big-game fishing industry for which Quepos is known. There are six blocks of restaurants, galleries, and shops around the central plaza, and an ample selection of water sports  along the mile-long Playa Espadilla.

    That said, the main attraction of Quepos is not the town itself, but rather its proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park. This is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica, and appears on Forbes’ list of top 12 most beautiful national parks in the world. In this park, you can catch impressive views of mountains, mangroves, lagoons, beaches, and tropical forest. With 350 birds species and 109 species of mammals, there’s a lot to keep an eye out for! By following the breathtaking Perezoso trail, you might spot scarlet macaws, toucans, hawks, four species of monkey, sloths, iguanas, and armadillos.

    Day 2
    Quepos, Costa Rica

    A slice of paradise in Costa Rica

  • Day 3
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    Bananas to Bargains

    October 14, 2023

    The laid-back town of Golfito is sheltered in the gorgeous Golfito Bay, which lies within the larger Golfo Dulce. Enjoy views from the seaside marinas or, better yet, follow the scenic hiking trails up the hill and into the wildlife refuge, ending in at Piedras Blancas National Park. Your exploration of the lush rainforest will bring you up close with picturesque waterfalls. Keep an eye out for toucans, macaws, blue morpho butterflies, anteaters, sloths, mantled howler monkeys, and more. The calm waters around the bay also make it ideal for touring the local mangroves and for joining an optional kayaking excursion to the isolated beaches.

    Once a prime region for banana exports, Golfito has since switched its economy to palm oil plantations and sport fishing. Anglers of all ages stay at boutique resorts and chic eco-lodges around Golfito, and set off on one of the many boats moored there in hopes of catching the iconic Pacific sailfish. Are you a bargain hunter? Check out the town’s duty-free center, which regularly attracts both visitors and locals alike.

    Day 3
    Golfito, Costa Rica

    Bananas to Bargains

  • Day 4
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

    October 15, 2023

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea. Relax and admire the scenery from the observation deck or from the lounge.

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will give lectures in the Science Center and share their extensive knowledge of the region. 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 the deck.

    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.

    Day 4
    At Sea

    Serenity at sea

  • Day 5
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf, and… tuna?

    October 16, 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 Etnográfico 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 5
    Manta, Ecuador

    Sea, sand, surf, and… tuna?

  • Day 6
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

    October 17, 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 6
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    Growing green gold

  • Day 7
    At Sea

    At your leisure

    October 18, 2023

    As we leave Ecuador behind and set sail for Peru, enjoy another day at your leisure aboard the ship. Continue to take advantage of the many onboard facilities and join in on lectures as we prepare you for the final days ahead.

    There’s no better place than the Wellness Center to fully relax during your downtime on board. Feel the knots in your muscles disappear during a massage or pamper yourself with skin-scrubbing treatments. And if the warm weather hasn’t opened up your pores, a session in the sauna is sure to do the trick. You can also slip into your bathing suit and lie back into the bubbles of one of the outdoor hot tubs or bask in a state of zen during a guided meditation class. Whatever you decide to do, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself relaxed and entertained on this day at sea.

    Day 7
    At Sea

    At your leisure

  • Day 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

    October 19, 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 8
    Salaverry / Trujillo, Peru

    An archeologist’s dream

  • Day 9

    Toward Lake Titicaca

    October 20, 2023

    After you disembark in Callao and say farewell to the ship and crew, we’ll transfer you to the Lima airport for your flight to Juliaca. Juliaca is a city located on the windy Collao Plateau, also known as the ‘Antiplano’, which means ‘high plain’, sitting at 12,550 feet above sea level. Our local guide will meet you at the airport, then you’ll set off on a one-hour drive through Juliaca to your hotel. Keep your eyes peeled during the ride to glimpse such sights as the Santa Catalina Church in the Plaza de Armas, the Romanesque Franciscan Convent atop Cerro Santa Bárbara, and the White Christ effigy gazing over the city from Waynaruqi Hill.

    Your hotel in Puno located on the shores of lovely Lake Titicaca will be your home for the next two days. Spend the rest of your day gazing at the lake’s deep-blue tones and exploring the area at your leisure. It gets chilly at night, so be sure to bring a jacket if you plan on taking an evening walk. Dinner is served at your hotel.

    Day 9

    Toward Lake Titicaca

  • Day 10

    Uros Floating Islands and Kayaking at Llachón

    October 21, 2023

    The time to explore Lake Titicaca by boat is here! This is the birthplace of the sun and the Incas, according to ancient Andean beliefs. Over 900 feet deep and 3,200 square miles across, this is the largest lake in South America. It is 15 times the size of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva and even bigger than Lake Tahoe in the U.S. At 12,500 feet above sea level, it is also the highest navigable body of water in the world. More than 25 rivers stream into this freshwater lake, which is surrounded by mountains and yellow grass reeds. When it is still and clear outside, it is the perfect mirror reflecting the blue skies above.

    Our first stop of the day is to the floating islands, built by the Uru people to allow them to move away if they were threatened by their enemies. These incredible islands are entirely handmade, which the Uru weave together from the buoyant totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. Each small island houses between one and ten families and takes months to complete. A small island may last a decade or so, but requires continuous maintenance with new layers. Learn about the other fascinating ways the local community uses the reeds, ranging from huts to boats to toys. Even walking on the soft and springy ground is an unforgettable experience!

    Continue by boat to the rural community of Llachón, on the shores of the scenic Capachica Peninsula. Grab your camera and get ready for breathtaking panoramic views. Your included activity here is a guided kayaking tour, and you can admire the peninsula’s sandy beaches and keep your eyes peeled for Lake Titicaca’s 60 species of birds, 14 native fish species, and 18 types of amphibians. Join a guided walk through the village and learn the local agricultural way of life. Admire local handicrafts and share a typical Andean lunch with a local family. A relaxing evening with dinner at the hotel awaits you back in Puno.

    Day 10

    Uros Floating Islands and Kayaking at Llachón

  • Day 11

    Chucuito, mystical Amaru Muru, and Sillustani

    October 22, 2023

    After breakfast at the hotel, discover the area on a half-day excursion to Chucuito and Aramu Muru.

    Chucuito was once an important Colonial-era town, where the Spanish collected royal taxes that they later shipped off to Lima. Today, its a quiet village. Its attractions include two beautiful 16th-century Colonial churches (Santo Domingo and Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), along with an ancient solar clock in the town square. Grab your camera and head to the lookout point just north of the square for splendid views of the surrounding landscape. You may visit a nearby trout hatchery to see how the region’s specialty of trucha (trout) is raised, and then head outside of town for a horseback ride with a local family. Most visitors are also intrigued by the small archaeological landmark of Inca Uyo The site claims to be what remains of an ancient fertility temple, although experts aren’t all in agreement as to whether that’s true. Either way, the rows upon rows of phallic granite statues (86 in total) are an amusing sight to behold.

    We’ll stop over at the mysterious Aramu Muru, an unfinished T-shaped doorway carved into solid rock. The mystical site has inspired local legends of people disappearing through it and supposed sights of the doorway opening to tall men carrying glowing balls of light. Could it be a paranormal or extra-terrestrial portal? Some say so, sparking pilgrimages here by those who refer to it by its other name: Puerta de Hayu Marca, the Gate of the Gods.

    Before heading to the airport, there will be time though to stop along the way at the Sillustani tombs, a pre-Incan cemetery over 12,700 feet above sea level, surrounded by Lake Umayo. The ancient Colla people built these above-ground tombs (called chullas). These tower-like structures can reach nearly 40 feet tall, in order to hold entire families of its society’s elite.

    Before the visit, enjoy a picnic lunch served in Sillustani on the lake’s shore.

    After exploring the cemetery, we’ll continue to the Juliaca airport for your flight to Lima, where our local guide will be waiting for your transfer to the hotel. Enjoy the evening at your leisure.

    Day 11

    Chucuito, mystical Amaru Muru, and Sillustani

  • Day 12

    ‘The City of Kings’

    October 23, 2023

    Sadly, your expedition officially ends after breakfast at the hotel, where you’ll bid a fond farewell to your fellow explorers. Seeing as you’re already here, we recommend extending your journey a few days to spend extra time in the Peruvian capital, which was known as ‘La Ciudad de los Reyes’ (The City of Kings).

    The historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is full of Colonial-era architecture, such as the Plaza Mayor and 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. You can savor this staple dish in many locations around the city, from up-market diners in Miraflores to salt-of-the-earth cevicherías at the fishing docks over in Chorrillos.

    Day 12

    ‘The City of Kings’



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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Expedition Lake Titicaca/Peru after the cruise

  • Two nights at GHL Puno Hotel, including half board
  • One night in Lima, including breakfast
  • Two three-course lunches (set menu) and one picnic lunch
  • Roundtrip economy-class flights, Lima-Juliaca-Lima
  • All transfers and train rides as described in the itinerary, including an English-speaking guide
  • Entrance fee as listed in the itinerary

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 restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • Fine-dining in 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, an infinity pool, a sauna, an outdoor and indoor gym, and an outdoor running track
  • 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 will help configure your camera settings before landings

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
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area


  • 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
  • The Land Program in Peru takes place at high altitudes (Lake Titicaca´s altitude is at 12,500 feet) and may require a certain level of physical fitness.
Pool area on MS Fridtjof Nansen
Photo: Oscar Farrera
Your Ship

MS Fridtjof Nansen

Year built 2020
Shipyard Kleven Yards, Norway
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20,889 T
Length 459 ft
Beam 77.4 ft
Speed 15 knots

MS Fridtjof Nansen is a next-generation expedition ship, just the latest in Hurtigruten’s fleet of custom built ships. She explores some of the most spectacular corners of the globe.

Read more about MS Fridtjof Nansen

A large boat in a body of water with a mountain in the background

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