Depart home for San José, Costa Rica
Welcome to one of the happiest countries on Earth! Enjoy a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel tonight.
The way to San José
Enjoy a day at leisure in San José. Costa Rica’s airline hub is often overlooked by travelers who simply beeline to the coast. But beneath this bustling capital city is a charming underbelly, full of diverse architecture, echoes of reggaeton and calypso everywhere you go, and a lively culinary scene.
A bevy of sights — from museums to volcanoes — in San José
Take a second day to see the sights in and around San José. Stroll the city’s accessible main thoroughfare, Avenida Central, for a bevy of museums, parks, plazas, shops, and restaurants. Don’t miss the opulent National Theater, filled with marble sculptures and ceiling murals by French and Italian artists, then head to the National Artisans Market and the Mercado Central for both souvenirs and cheap eats. Alternatively, if getting out of the city is your thing, there’s no better place to check out than the towering Arenal Volcano and its neighboring hot springs.
San José up close, handicrafts, and embarking the ms Roald Amundsen
We’ll make our way toward Puntarenas first thing this morning, first embarking on a panoramic tour of San José. We’ll stop to have lunch in Orotina before continuing on to port, where we’ll board the ms Roald Amundsen, a state-of-the-art vessel equipped with sustainable hybrid technology, and your new home away from home. Welcome aboard!
Exploring Costa Rica’s biodiversity
Waking up in Quepos is sure to be a delight — this lush enclave on the Pacific is also the entryway to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we’ll spend the morning. Unforgettable Moment: While small in size, Manuel Antonio National Park is a behemoth when it comes to biodiversity. Home to more than 109 mammals and 184 bird species, the park’s white sand beaches, mangroves, lagoons, rainforests, hiking trails, and coral reefs are a microcosm of Costa Rica’s all-around natural magnificence. We'll take a guided tour of these natural wonders; adventurous travelers shouldn’t miss the park’s series of zip lines for a totally new perspective of the area!
A botanical treasure trove, natural medicines, Golfito’s beaches
Step inside Casa Orquídeas Botanical Garden, an exquisitely landscaped private tropical garden with hundreds of species of ornamental and edible plants. Unforgettable Moment: Owned and operated by an American couple, this veritable Eden features widespread orchids, bromelias, heliconias, cycads, ornamental palms, and flowering gingers, which we’ll see on a guided walk that includes touching, smelling, and even tasting. Cultural Discovery: During your tour, learn about natural medicinal plants and their uses, and sample some exotic fruits you’ve likely never even heard of during your tour.
Don’t forget to have your camera and even binoculars on-hand — the garden’s plants are magnets for an array of birds, butterflies, insects, and more. You never know what you might see here — including dolphins, sea turtles, rays, and occasionally whales during the scenic 20-minute boat ride to this botanical treasure trove.
Back in Golfito, hit the beach for some relaxing, surfing, or swimming, or explore more nature in nearby Piedras Blancas National Park, which offers walking tours through rainforests and the chance to view waterfalls, monkeys, bats, exotic birds, and even sloths!
Exploring remote Isla de Coiba
Today we’ll tender to Panama’s Isla de Coiba, a stunning marine preserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site with quite the intriguing backstory. This biodiverse island was established as a penal colony in 1919, but in the early ’90s the brutal prison started the process of shuttering, relinquishing the island in 1991 to inaugurate what would become Coiba National Park. The last convict was released in 2005, and today the only real dangers are the caimans stalking the island and 33 species of sharks — including the majestic whale shark. Unforgettable Moment: Explore this remote tropical islet on your own today. Snorkel these waters renowned for stunning undersea biodiversity, enjoy the gorgeous white sand beaches, or discover the island by foot for some wildlife scoping of your own.
Commemorating an equator-crossing on a day at sea
We’ll spend a day at sea as we sail toward Ecuador and cross the fabled equator. Unforgettable Moment: It’s not every day that you cross the equator by boat, so we’ll commemorate the occasion with a special onboard ceremony.
The ms Roald Amundsen is also a floating university, and in addition to the high-tech activity center and special equipment on board, its staffers are handpicked experts in biology, history, photography, and geology, and will offer onboard lectures and activities pertinent to your ports of call and area wildlife.
From hats to nuts in Manta and Montecristi
Today we make landfall in Manta, an affluent port town and Ecuador’s commercial fishing hub, announced in the form of a large tuna statue. We’ll learn about the area history and politics with a visit to the Eloy Alfaro Museum, named so after José Eloy Alfaro Delgado, a beloved two-time Ecuadorian president born in the town of Montecristi.
Unforgettable Moment / Cultural Discovery: Montecristi is a highlight for us today, as it’s the rightful birthplace of the Panama hat . . . in Ecuador. We’ll visit a local market where we’ll see how these traditional straw hats are hand-woven — taking several months to make the finest examples. A superfino Panama hat can, according to rumor, hold water — and when rolled for storage can pass through a wedding ring! We’ll also visit a factory where the tagua nut is fashioned into everything from jewelry to handicrafts. Spend an afternoon at leisure back in Manta.
Relax, learn, and enjoy life on the ms Roald Amundsen
Continuing southward toward Peru, we’ll spend a day at sea, which offers more opportunities for onboard relaxation, learning, and enjoyment. Whatever your whim, you’ll find it aboard the ms Roald Amundsen, furnished with elegant lounges, cabins, and recreation and viewing areas. Your onboard team will offer scintillating lectures to contextualize your experiences in South America and deepen your knowledge of this fascinating continent.
You’ll also appreciate creative and delicious food in three onboard restaurants that blend Norwegian tradition with international gastronomy. Savor this experience on the ms Roald Amundsen, the world’s most advanced expedition vessel!
Visiting the largest adobe city in the Americas
The striking colonial city of Trujillo comes into focus today as we spend the morning touring it, beginning with Chan Chan, the pre-Columbian capital of the Chimor Kingdom. Unforgettable Moment: Located in the Moche Valley, this sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of nine “citadels,” or palaces, and is considered the largest adobe city in the Americas and the second largest in the world.
Afterwards, we’ll transfer back to Trujillo, enjoying views of its beaches and neighborhoods along the way. In Plaza de Armas, Trujillo’s historic city square, we’ll admire the colonial and religious architecture of buildings and even residences — large, colorful homes featuring exquisite wrought iron trellises and windows.
Heading toward Lima with luxury to spare
As we continue our trek to Lima, take this time to relax aboard your state-of-the-art Hurtigruten vessel, built by Rolls-Royce and outfitted with luxurious amenities including a wellness center, sleek sun deck, hot tubs, and large outdoor infinity pool perfect for taking in some sun while simultaneously taking in the unforgettable South American views.
Panoramic Lima and Peruvian cuisine
Today we’ll embark on a panoramic tour of Lima, checking out the city’s oceanfront and the Park of Love, where you can’t miss El Beso (The Kiss), a passionate statue that depicts sculptor Victor Delfín and his wife locked in a kiss. Unforgettable Moment: We’ll make our way to Lima’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and view the Plaza Mayor, site of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lima Cathedral, and Government Palace, where we’ll witness a changing of the guard ceremony.
Cultural Discovery: We’ll enjoy a typical Peruvian lunch, the main meal of the day here, which typically features Peruvian standards like ceviche, lomo saltado (stir-fried beef and potatoes), or arroz con pollo, a deceptively simple rice and chicken dish. For dessert, we’ll sample a regional specialty — lucuma ice cream. Often likened to sweet potato or butterscotch, the lucuma fruit is indigenous to Peru and used in a wide variety of desserts.
Ballestas beauty on a safari speedboat adventure, savoring pisco, and an unexpected oasis
This morning, we’ll transfer from Pisco to the seaside town of Paracas where we’ll board safari speedboats bound for the Ballestas Islands, a rugged salt desert and wildlife sanctuary home to diving Guanay cormorants, curious Humboldt penguins, languishing fur seals and sea lions, as well as the stunning rock formations that comprise this archipelago. Unforgettable Moment: Often dubbed the Galápagos in miniature, the Ballestas are known for an extensive bird population, including Peruvian pelicans and boobies, red-legged cormorants, Inca terns, and more. Dolphins are also frequent visitors, so be on the lookout!
Afterward, we’ll head to a local vineyard for a tour and tasting of pisco, beloved regional liquor and Peru’s national drink. Cultural Discovery: An indigenous word meaning “bird” — a nod to the longstanding wildlife in this region — pisco is a popular grape brandy and the star ingredient of the pisco sour, comprised of egg white, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters. As we make our way back to port, we’ll visit the small desert town of Huacachina and its lagoon, a literal oasis in the center of undulating blond sand dunes.
Enjoy the luxurious ms Roald Amundsen with a day at sea
We’ll spend a day at sea as we sail toward Arica. Take this time to relax aboard your state-of-the-art Hurtigruten vessel, built by Rolls-Royce and outfitted with luxurious amenities including a wellness center, sleek sun deck, hot tubs, and large outdoor infinity pool perfect for taking in some sun while simultaneously taking in the unforgettable South American views.
Trekking the Atacama coastline
We’ll wake up today in the northern Chilean town of Arica. Once devastated by an 1868 earthquake that triggered a subsequent tsunami, Arica today is a haven for surf lovers and home of the Arica Cathedral, designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame).
From Arica, we’ll take a meandering drive toward the coastal resort towns of El Laucho and La Lisera, disembarking to enjoy the panoramic views found at El Morro de Arica, once a strategic location for the Chilean military during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). Unforgettable Moment: Then we’ll walk south along the coastal road to Corazones/Anzata. While most of the walk takes place on coastal paths and sandy hills, we’ll also pass through caves and caverns, eventually arriving at Puntilla, where we’ll watch for sea lions and birds before beginning the trek back.
Cultural Discovery: After our walk, we’ll visit a local handicrafts market, where you can purchase everything from ceramics to instruments. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure back in Arica.
Sailing south along the Chilean coastline
The spectacular Chilean coastline is on full view as we sail southward toward Coquimbo, providing more opportunities for onboard relaxation, learning, and enjoyment. Whatever your whim, you’ll find it aboard the ms Roald Amundsen, furnished with elegant lounges, cabins, and recreation and viewing areas. Your onboard team will offer scintillating lectures to contextualize your experiences in South America and deepen your knowledge of this fascinating continent.
You’ll also appreciate creative and delicious food in three onboard restaurants that blend Norwegian tradition with international gastronomy.
Coquimbo’s beaches, archaeological wonders, shopping La Recova
Awakening in the resort town of Coquimbo, we’ll head out on a morning drive to La Herradura, a popular beach destination situated on scenic Guayacán Bay, where we’ll stop to take photographs. Lore has it that famed English sailor Sir Frances Drake was the first European to find the area — dropping his jewels and treasures along the coastline here, too. Passing through the fishing town of Peñuelas, we’ll next venture toward Chile’s second-oldest city, La Serena. Here, we’ll visit the town’s Archaeological Museum filled with artifacts from the Diaguita and Molle cultures, as well as an original moai statue hailing from Easter Island.
Cultural Discovery: Shop the renowned La Recova market. Featuring more than 100 stalls of handicrafts including goods made from lapis lazuli and combarbalita, pottery, and Andean wool clothing and crafts, the market also hosts local food and fish vendors.
Enjoy the fantastic landscapes along the Pan-American Highway as we return to Coquimbo. Then, savor an afternoon at leisure in this lively city, perhaps spending a few hours at the beach or setting off on your own explorations.
Discovering a “crazy port” and Chile’s national dish
In an ode to his onetime home, the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda called Valparaíso a “crazy port,” writing: “What a head of disheveled hills, that you never finish combing.” We’ll see what he means today after we disembark the ms Roald Amundsen and head off on a panoramic tour of UNESCO-designated Valparaíso before making our way toward the capital, Santiago.
Cultural Discovery: On the way to Santiago, we’ll have lunch and make a pit stop for empanadas, fried pastries stuffed with everything from minced meat to cheese to seafood. The empanada is a revered cultural icon in Chile, and its national dish, typically savored on the street or with a glass of red wine at dinner. Enjoy an evening at leisure and dinner at your Santiago hotel.
At leisure in Santiago
Spend a day soaking in Santiago. This is a culinary town, and an artsy one, too — so seek out more empanadas and spend some time at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes for a taste of Chilean art, or the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, to see what artists from across Latin America are producing.
A second day in vivacious Santiago
A second day in Santiago is a treat, and a great opportunity to explore more of what this city has to offer. Why not hike up the hilly Cerro Santa Lucia Park for the big views and more colonial flourishes, then explore Santiago’s cemetery — one of Latin America’s largest — that features as much history as it does monuments. It’s also purported to be haunted! Tonight, reconvene with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
Please note: Due to flight availability, travelers taking the optional Easter Island post-trip extension will fly to Easter Island today. Travelers will enjoy an extra dinner on the extension.
Santiago in full view before flying home
Visit a local winery for an in-depth exploration of Chilean vintages on an optional tour, or spend a morning at leisure in Santiago. Our time in Chile comes to a close this afternoon as we head out on a panoramic tour of its vivacious and cosmopolitan capital; later, we’ll transfer to the airport and fly home. Adios — for now!
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. Hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.