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Fly to San José, Costa Rica
Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! After transferring to your nearby hotel, you’ll attend a Welcome Dinner and Briefing.
A walk in the cloud forest
We’ll depart for Arenal today, stopping en route at Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden, a lush neotropical reserve home to a diverse array of plant and tree species — and birds! Be on the lookout for resplendent quetzals and three-wattled bellbirds during our naturalist-guided tour. We’ll have lunch at Nectranda before continuing on to Arenal.
Seeking monkeys and sloths at Caño Negro
We’ll explore Costa Rica’s rich biological diversity on a full-day tour to Caño Negro, a wildlife reserve on the Río Frío near the Nicaraguan border. Some of the wildlife we’ll watch for includes howler, spider, and white-faced monkeys; three-toed sloths; caimans; turtles; and even Jesus Christ lizards, named so for their ability to walk across water.
Birders, rejoice! Caño Negro is a haven for the glossy ibis, black-necked stilt, anhinga, American widgeon, and more, including the Nicaraguan grackle, whose only Costa Rican habitat is within the reserve, and the jabiru, an extremely endangered bird and the largest in Central America. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
Sweet treats: Costa Rican chocolate and coffee
Cultural Discovery: This morning, we’ll kick things off with a visit to a local coffee and cocoa plantation, where we’ll learn about the history of coffee and its important role in Costa Rica’s economy and development. We’ll also hear about how coffee has shaped other aspects of Costa Rican culture and tradition, while witnessing the processes that transform the coffee bean into that delicious final product beloved worldwide — coffee. Our next stop is equally as sweet as we head next on a chocolate tour, where we’ll sample raw cacao bean — a pulpy white fruit — and learn how it’s transformed into various chocolate products.
After enjoying lunch this afternoon, we'll embark on a thrilling walk across Arenal’s famed Hanging Bridges, where we’ll have a chance to view more wildlife and even waterfalls. Dinner is on your own.
Lunch on Don Juan’s eco-farm, then find the way to San José
Today introduces us to the charismatic Don Juan and his eco-farm. On the way to San José, we’ll tour his plantation, trying exotic fruits unavailable in American supermarkets, and learning how they’re cooked and utilized in everyday life. We’ll also check out the traditional sugarcane mill, known as a “trapiche,” and see how sugarcane is turned into juice, then distilled into a liquor called guaro, both of which we’ll sample. Nature is also abundant at the farm, so be on the lookout for more birds and other animals. Enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by Don Juan’s wife, Yamileth, in what’s sure to be a day you won’t soon forget.
Later, we’ll check into our hotel and enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening.
A day exploring 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. Even The New York Times recently took note of how San José has been infused with fresh life after both expatriates and Costa Ricans have returned home after years abroad, opening new creative businesses, sophisticated restaurants, playful coffeehouses and workspaces, and more. See this city on the rise for yourself today.
A bevy of sights on another capital city exploration
Take a second day to explore 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.
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 expedition 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, 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 expedition vessel, 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, the Expedition Team is comprised of 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 before savoring pisco
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 Galapagos 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 have your camera ready and 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.
Reap the spoils of your luxurious expedition vessel 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 sundeck, hot tubs, and large outdoor infinity pool perfect for taking in some sun while simultaneously taking in the unforgettable South American views.
The ms Roald Amundsen is also a floating university, and in addition to the high-tech activity center and special equipment on board, staffers are handpicked experts in biology, history, photography, and geology, and will offer onboard lectures and activities pertinent to your South American ports of call and area wildlife.
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.
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 the “crazy port” of Valparaíso
In an ode to his one-time 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 as we set off on a panoramic tour of UNESCO-designated Valparaíso. Cultural Discovery: Later, see how the locals travel — and take in sweeping views of the city — on a funicular ride.
Relax aboard the ms Roald Amunsen with two days at sea
Two more peaceful days at sea provide you with plenty of opportunities for onboard relaxation, learning, and enjoyment. Your onboard Expedition Team members are experienced, modern-day explorers, each with their own relevant area of expertise and they'll entertain and inform you by sharing their deep knowledge and interesting stories, and welcome you to participate in talks and workshops. You’ll also find an onboard Expedition Photographer who can show you the basics of expedition photography. Relax and enjoy the view as we close in on Chiloé Island!
Exploring the history and lushness of Chiloé Island
While exploring Castro, the capital city of Chile’s Chiloé Island, we might first notice the colorful palafitos, wooden homes perched on stilts along the water’s edge. Castro is the closest to cosmopolitan we’ll cine on this lush, green archipelago and we’ll soak in its local character, mixed with a dash of modern development. Our Adventure Leader will point us toward highlights including the Iglesia de San Francisco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of yellow and lavender brick and a stunning, varnished-wood interior lit by stained-glass windows.
Other exploration sites include Plazuela del Tren, a small plaza with an odd collection of old trains; the ornate tombs of the Cementerio Parroquial; and the bustling Feria Campesina Yumbel marketplace. Shoppers can head to the Artesanal Lillo to peruse hand-knit woolen goods and other handicrafts; foodies can wander along the cafés of Calle Blanco and sample the area’s renowned meat, potato, and seafood stew known as curanto; nature lovers will find wide beaches and rugged coastline filled with dozens of seabird species, penguins, and sea lions in Chiloé National Park just outside the city.
Revel in luxury amenities with a day at sea
Our expedition continues as our ship heads south through scenic Patagonian waters toward one of the world’s most undisturbed and beautiful places: the southern province of Última Esperanza (Last Hope). As we sail through these iconic Andean seascapes, you’ll have plenty of time to admire the magnificent natural expanse from the comfort of the Amundsen's top deck.
Discovering the preserved Patagonian way of life on Puerto Edén
Today we’ll discover the picturesque hamlet of Puerto Edén, a tiny settlement in the fjords of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, which lies just north of Torres del Paine National Park. Instead of roads, we’ll find wooden walkways, and minimal electricity. Of Puerto Edén’s already small population of 176 residents, 15 are the remaining members of the Kawéskar people, making this town a fantastic place to experience the indigenous culture of Patagonia. Villagers make a living selling local seafood, which is boated weekly to outside markets, or by selling traditional Kawéskar crafts including wicker baskets and boats outfitted from sea lion skins and tree bark.
Enjoy some time exploring on your own this afternoon. Consider joining your Expedition Team for a hike around the area — keep your eyes peeled for Magellan hummingbirds as you explore!
Entering Puerto Natales
Today finds us in Puerto Natales, a colorful fishing port and the portal to adventure mecca Torres del Paine National Park. Alongside its scenery and wildlife, the park is also home to three sky-high rock formations known as torres (towers). We’ll embark on a walking tour of downtown Puerto Natales upon arrival and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Stroll around town or join the Expedition Team for a hike or kayak excursion. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for the Magellan hummingbirds native to this area!=
Exploring Torres del Paine National Park
A day at leisure gives us amply opportunity to make the most out of the stunning Torres del Paine National Park. Home to rickety bridges crossing roaring rivers, a large blue glacier, and a variety of flora and fauna — including llamas, pumas, the South American gray fox, and more — Torres del Paine is also comprised of a variety of landscapes, from vast open steppe to azure lakes to white-tipped mountains.
Cruising the stunning Chilean fjords
We’ll continue to the very top of South America today as we awake to the scenic splendor of the Chilean fjords, a labyrinthine network of waterways connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Spend some time on deck today: In addition to mountain views, you might also spot dolphins, whales, seals, and a host of other wildlife.
The Beagle Channel and approaching the “end of the world”
We sail through the Beagle Channel this morning, a waterway named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his voyage of discovery. We’ll continue into open waters and, if conditions allow, make landfall on Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. If we’re able to anchor off Cape Horn, we’ll venture ashore to explore this isolated yet romantic piece of land known as “the end of the world.” It’s truly a travel milestone to make landfall here!
Soak up the scenery with a day at sea
As we close in on Antarctica, we’ll experience a rite of passage in Antarctic travel that very few experience — the Drake Passage. Connecting the Southern, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, the Drake Passage often intimidated early polar explorers who sailed on cruder vessels. Here, the warm water from the north meets the cold, less salty water from the south, forming a nutrient-rich region for wildlife. The milestones continue on our voyage to Antarctica.
Step foot on Earth’s last great wilderness: Antarctica
Today you’ll final experience what it feels like to step onto the last great wilderness left on Earth. Antarctica is home to no permanent human inhabitants (just millions of lovable penguins!) and serves as a scientific research base. Welcome to absolutely nowhere — it’s fabulous here.
Unforgettable Moment: Over the next four days, we’ll cruise the channels and passageways bordered by the Antarctic Peninsula’s rugged, glacier-covered islands and craggy landmasses. Despite the stark and inhospitable environs, legendary travelers were drawn here — Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott famously raced to the South Pole in 1911 (Amundsen’s expedition beat Scott’s by 33 days). But perhaps the most famous explorer is Ernest Shackleton, leader of a crew that set off to cross the White Continent in 1914. Shackleton’s ship, the aptly named Endurance, was crushed in the ice. Unbelievably, the explorer still delivered his entire crew to safety and civilization (albeit a year and a half later). Needless to say, stepping ashore mainland Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. Our onboard lectures will enhance on explorations on land.
Spend three days immersed in Antarctica’s matchless beauty
We’ll keep our cameras ready over the next three days as we explore our Antarctic environment. Ice, wind, and weather dictate life in Antarctica, just as they dictate our route and landings, and we’ll determine our landings as our adventure progresses.
Unforgettable Moment: Where conditions allow, we’ll venture ashore on naturalist-led wildlife expeditions by versatile Zodiac boats to explore sites including Cuverville Island, almost fully covered in a permanent ice cap and a home to delightful Gentoo penguins; Half Moon Island, a refuge for chinstrap penguins and a variety of seals; Neko Harbor, a haven for minke and humpback whales with great glacier views; and Deception Island, a former whaling outpost with an active caldera. Our Expedition Team will aid our discoveries every step of the way, contextualizing our knowledge of this stark landscape, its history and its wildlife.
Cruising the Drake Passage
We’ll spend our final days at sea cruising through the Drake Passage toward to Punta Arenas, Chile. In addition to wrapping up our onboard lecture series, we’ll recount our favorite experiences in Chile and Antarctica. Be sure to spend some time on deck watching for wildlife.
Fly to Santiago and return home
After a final breakfast on board, we’ll disembark in Punta Arenas and head to the airport for a transfer flight to Santiago.
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.