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
29 March 2024
Price from
5290 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

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

Ancient sites and vibrant cities 

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

Through the Panama Canal  

You’ll discover colourful Puerto Bolívar and explore the home of the Panama hat in Montecristi. Crossing the Equator, you’ll experience vibrant Afro-Colombian culture in Bahía Solano, before heading through the famed Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. 

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, it's well worth spending time in this UNESCO-listed city. 

    Filled with intriguing, impressions, the city is an exhilarating maze of winding alleyways and barrios, colourful houses, and mercados packed with local produce. Why not take 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 one of our optional Pre-Programmes. 

    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 Archaeological Museum to marvel at the pre-colonial artifacts.  

    Take a stroll through the city's manicured public gardens, like the Japanese-inspired Jardín del Corazón, or shop for handicrafts at La Recova market. Down the discreet 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 get ready for adventure 

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea, relaxing and admiring the scenery from the Observation Deck or inside in the Explorer Lounge & Bar.   

    Throughout your journey, your Expedition Team will be presenting lectures in the Science Center to share their extensive knowledge of the region with you. Topics could include periods of pre-Columbian history, the geology of the surrounding mountains and islands, the folklore of local communities, and so on. But not all lectures are confined to indoors. If the ship attracts seabirds who come to fly alongside us, the Expedition Team might also help you spot and identify them out on deck. 

    Day 3
    At sea

    Relax at sea

  • Day 4
    Iquique, Chile

    Iquique and the Atacama

    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 saltpetre mining towns of Santa Laura and UNESCO-listed Humberstone in the arid Atacama Desert. Back in Iquique, explore this smart ocean-side city on foot, or just pull up a chair in a café and watch the people.  

    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 19th century four-masted, corvette that has historical significance. 

    • Included Humberstone & Santa Laura
    Day 4
    Iquique, Chile

    Iquique and the Atacama

  • Day 5
    Arica, Chile

    Sunny Arica

    Get to know Arica's history and try some local food   

    Arica experiences a constant desert climate and is classed as one of the driest cities in the world, unusual for a place by the sea. 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. 

    You can see mummies and learn about Chinchorro culture at the archaeological museum, or 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 ... 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 for leisure as we spend the day at sea. You could relax in the heated infinity pool, go for a run on the outdoor running track, and take in the stunning views and stimulating breezes out 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, and both 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 and yuca root. Just offshore are the wildlife rich Ballestas Islands. On today’s boat tour, look out for Humboldt Penguins, turtles, pelicans, sea lions, Inca Terns and humpback whales as you cruise around the islands.   


    Otherwise, explore the Paracas National Reserve, with its otherworldly yellow sand dunes and red beaches, or fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines etched into the Peruvian coastal desert – an experience that’s on many people’s bucket list. 

    • 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 centre is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a jewel of Spanish-era architecture, from colonial churches and monasteries to elegant mansions. Going further back in time, you can learn more about the city’s pre-Hispanic heritage at the ruins of the pyramid Huaca Pucllana. 

    Known as the food capital of South America, Lima has everything from gourmet restaurants to unmissable street food. We recommend trying Peru's national dish ceviche, fish marinated in lime juice, onion and chilli. 

    • Included Panoramic Tour of Lima
    Day 8
    Lima, Peru

    Ancient and modern Lima

  • Salavveryy, Peru

    Trujillo and Chan Chan

    Be awed by Trujillo's ancient kingdoms     

    Salaverry is the gateway port to Peru’s third largest city, Trujillo, and some fascinating archaeological sites. Colourful 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 Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon pre-date even that. 

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

    Salavveryy, Peru

    Trujillo and Chan Chan

  • Day 10
    At sea

    Science and leisure

    Enjoy some relaxation, research – or a bit of both     

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

    By this stage of your journey, you’ll have made friends with your fellow explorers, finding that you have interests and a passion for nature in common. You can spend time chatting with them in the Explorer Lounge & Bar, perhaps recalling the best bits of your expedition cruise so far. 

    Of course, the Expedition Team will continue to deliver insightful lectures in the Science Center, and you can 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. Shipping more of Ecuador’s ‘green gold’ than anywhere else in the country, Puerto Bolívar is dubbed ‘Banana Capital of the World.’ 

    Machala itself has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city, including friendly locals, cosy plazas and striking monuments. You can try delicious fresh seafood at the harbour restaurants while taking in views of the mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli. If you’ve time, explore on foot 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 smart town and take a look at the imposing white church, or take in the colourful street art and murals. Returning to Manta, we’ll pay a visit to the archaeological 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. We'll do just that in a traditional – and somewhat fun – ceremony as we cross the Equator in the early morning. 

    Your day cruising to Colombia can be filled with onboard adventure. Go out on deck and look out for wildlife – whales can often be seen in these waters. Your Expedition Team can be found in the Science Center.  

    While you’re there, why not find out about the Citizen Science projects we’re running. Or 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, a spot of stargazing from the deck is a lovely way to wind up 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 town walk hosted by members of the local Afro-Colombian community. 

    You'll be greeted by students with a traditional song and, later, with a performance of their unique Afro-Colombian music and dance. In between, they’ll tell you about the town and their culture. 

    Why not hike through tropical rainforest at the botanical gardens. At this 170-acre reserve, you can enjoy a guided walk where you’ll learn about the local flora and fauna, and important conservations projects to protect it. 

    Day 14
    Bahía Solano, Colombia

    Afro-Colombian culture

  • Day 15
    Panama Canal

    Through the Panama Canal

    Navigate one of the world's greatest engineering feats 

    Early in the morning we'll enter the Panama Canal, a complex network of huge, ingenious locks stretching 50 miles through natural and man-made waterways. If weather conditions allow, the Expedition Team will invite you out on deck and tell the story of this ambitious project. 

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

    After around twelve hours, we'll emerge into the Atlantic, passing from one great ocean to another. 

    Day 15
    Panama Canal

    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 concludes in Colón, which stands beside the portal to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. It's a bustling cosmopolitan centre with hot springs, a thriving handicraft scene and wonderful local restaurants.  

    If you’d like to explore more ofPanama, you can join one of our optional Pre-Programmes.

    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

Included in your voyage

Expedition Cruise 

  • A stay in a cabin of your choice 
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages* in restaurant Aune 
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests 
  • Complimentary tea and coffee 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board† 
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle 
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore 
  • Range of included activities 

*House beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water 

†Please note there is very limited Wi-Fi and phone signal in the remote areas we travel to, 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 
  • Citizen Science Programme where you can assist with ongoing scientific research 
  • Photography tips and techniques for capturing landscape and wildlife from our onboard professional photographer 
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym 
  • Informal gatherings with the crew for daily briefings 

Landing Activities 

  • Escorted landing with small expedition boats 
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles and all equipment for activities 
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket 
  • Expedition photographers on hand to assist you 


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

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights 
  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage 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 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Gross tonnage 11 647 T
Length 114 m
Beam 20.2 m
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. MS Fram brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions.

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

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