Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca

Travel information 11 days MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen
3 October 2023
Price from
4933 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Starting in Colón, you’ll embark your hybrid powered expedition ship to transit the Panama Canal. Sail south to discover colonial architecture, archaeological mysteries and UNESCO sites in Ecuador and Peru. Your adventure continues in Lake Titicaca where you’ll explore the communities that live on its scenic shores, including the Uru people and their floating islands.

Canal Transit and South American Highlights

Sail into the intricate locks of the Panama Canal, leaving the Atlantic Ocean behind. Once in the Pacific, we head for Manta and its neighbouring town of Montecristi, famed for traditional Panama hats. From there we sail to Puerto Bolivar, where you might visit a banana plantation as part of an optional excursion. If the waves don’t pose too much of a challenge, we’ll go ashore in Salaverry for an optional excursion to the remains of the city of Chan Chan or the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.

Lake Titicaca and the floating islands

After waving bye to the ship and crew in Lima, you’ll fly to Juliaca to explore Lake Titicaca and its surrounding highlights. Visit the Uru people who live on self-constructed floating islands made from buoyant reeds, go kayaking along the sandy beaches of the peninsula at Llachón or horseriding with locals in the colonial-era town of Chucuito. You’ll also see the mystical ‘Gate of the Gods’ at Aramu Muru and the pre-Incan tombs of Sillustani.

Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Lake Titicaca
  • Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

    The city of Colón lies by the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. There are high-quality hotels, a casino, hot springs, a thriving handicraft scene and great restaurants with local delicacies. If you want to really explore the city or join a Pre-Programme to a beautiful jungle lodge next to the Chagres River, you should clear your calendar and arrange to arrive a couple of days earlier.

    Once on board the ship, you’ll be busy picking up your complimentary expedition jacket, settling into your cabin, exploring the ship and attending a mandatory safety drill. After dinner and a welcome toast by the Captain, you’ll meet your Expedition Team who run through important health and safety aspects with you.

    Day 1
    Colón, Panama

    Gateway to the Panama Canal

  • Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

    We depart Colón early in the morning to start the process of entering the Panama Canal. The complex canal network is over a hundred years in the making, stretching 80 km through natural and man-made waterways. We’ll wait with anticipation 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 26 metres above sea level. If weather allows, the Expedition Team will be out on deck to point out sites of interest around the canal and to talk about the history of this ambitious project.

    Roughly half way through the 12-hour transit of the canal, the ship will enter the Gatun Lake section. Created by damning the nearby Chagres River, it is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. By contrast, the surrounding rainforest is virtually untouched by any development and various flora and fauna native to Central America flourish here undisturbed. Along the shores, you might be lucky enough to spot crocodiles and alligators. Scan the trees for glimpses of monkeys and maybe sloths too.

    After a few more locks and lakes, the ship will pass under the Bridge of the Americas and emerge into the Pacific. Passing from one great ocean to another in a day, you’ve just experienced the culmination of centuries of planning, hard work and resourcefulness. It’s sure to be a moment you won’t soon forget.

    Day 2
    Panama Canal

    Connecting two oceans

  • Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

    Spend some of your day taking a relaxing walk out on deck, enjoying the seascapes and keeping an eye out for marine wildlife like whales, sea lions and sea birds. If you want to feel closer to the water, go for a dip in the infinity pool or the two outdoor hot tubs, and still be able to admire the scenery.

    This is also a great opportunity to head to the Science Center for lectures with the Expedition Team and to learn more about what you will experience in the following days. Pick your preferred Citizen Science programme to get involved in too, knowing that you will be helping research currently happening around the world. When darkness falls and it’s a starry night, you might also join the Expedition Team out on deck to do some stargazing.

    When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the three restaurants for varied and delicious meals, or find a comfortable seat in the Explorer Lounge & Bar to raise a glass or two with new-found friends.

    Day 3
    At Sea

    Welcome to the Pacific

  • Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

    We cross the Equator early in the morning. You can join a traditional ceremony on board where we seek King Neptune’s blessing. If we are lucky, he may even make an appearance before we reach our first call in Ecuador.

    Our main tour of the day will be to the handicraft town of Montecristi located 8km inland from the tuna-fishing port city of Manta. It was established in the 16th century by manteños fleeing the frequent pirate raids on the coast. Montecristi, Ecuador is the actual birthplace of traditional Panama hats, despite the name. The misnomer originates from when President Roosevelt wore one of these hats on a visit to the Panama Canal in 1904, sparking their popularity worldwide. You’ll see many shops throughout the town selling the genuine article in all sizes and shades, expertly handwoven from the leaves of the jipijapa tree by local artisans.

    Aside from hat-hunting, you can spend time browsing the stalls at the pretty plaza, admiring the architecture of the church, or looking at the varied street art. One prominent mural at the plaza depicts General Eloy Alfaro, two-time Ecuadorian President and Montecristi native. You might also have time to head to the top of the main hill where there is a museum and grandiose mausoleum in honour of Alfaro who was also known as the Viejo Luchador or "Old Warrior".

    • Included Manta and Montecristi Highlights
    Day 4
    Manta, Ecuador

    Made in Montecristi

  • Day 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

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

    At Puerto Bolivar, you can feast on fresh seafood at one of the many harbour restaurants and enjoy views of the natural mangrove swamps of Isla Jambeli opposite. Machala itself has all the charm you’d expect from a small coastal city, including friendly locals, cute plazas and unusual monuments dedicated to sort-fish and bananeros. The restaurants are evolving and beginning to dabble in the hip modern cuisine which Ecuador and Peru are increasingly known for.

    • Included Machala City Tour
    Day 5
    Puerto Bolivar (Machala), Ecuador

    ‘Banana Capital of the World’

  • Day 6
    At Sea

    Better Photos

    Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea, relaxing and admiring the scenery from the observation deck or over in the lounge.

    Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will be running 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, 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 these feathered followers out on deck. There is also a designated photographer on board who, in addition to taking pictures from our journey together, will be available to help you with the basics of expedition photography.

    Day 6
    At Sea

    Better Photos

  • Day 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

    Buffeted by the wind and waves of the Pacific, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If all goes to plan though, it will be a good transit point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city, as well as an array of archaeological sites scattered throughout the surrounding region.

    Trujillo sits in a fertile valley oasis irrigated by the Moche River. It boasts a colourful 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. However, it is more than likely that your focus will be elsewhere and on things not so modern.

    The city of Chan Chan was raised by the Chimu Empire which appeared in the region around 900 AD. The vast ruins of the 20-square kilometre complex include the Tschudi temple-citadel and Huaca Esmeralda. On the other side of Trujillo are the Mochican pyramids of the Sun and the Moon which pre-date Chan Chan by a few hundred years. Huaca del Sol in particular is the largest adobe structure on the continent while Huaca del Luna is more detailed with many of its pastel frescos still visible.

    • Included Marinera Dance Show On board
    Day 7
    Salaverry, Peru

    Ancient kingdoms

  • Day 8
    Callao/Lima/Juliaca/Puno, Peru

    Towards Lake Titicaca

    After you disembark in Callao and say your farewells to the ship and its crew, we transfer you to Lima airport for your flight to Juliaca. This city is located on the windy Collao Plateau, 3,825 metres above sea level. You’ll meet our local guide at the airport and set off on a one-hour drive through Juliaca to your hotel. Along the way, you might glimpse such sights as Santa Catalina Church in the Plaza de Armas, the Romanesque Franciscan Convent atop Cerro Santa Bárbara, or the White Christ effigy gazing out over the city from Waynaruqi Hill.

    Your hotel in the city of Puno, located right on the shore of lovely Lake Titicaca, will be your home for the next two days. Spend the rest of your day admiring the deep-blue colour of the lake and exploring the area at your leisure. Nights can get pretty cold here, so remember to bring a jacket if you plan on an evening walk. Dinner is served at your hotel.

    Day 8
    Callao/Lima/Juliaca/Puno, Peru

    Towards Lake Titicaca

  • Day 9
    Puno/Uros/Llachón/Puno, Peru

    Uros Floating Islands and Kayaking at Llachón

    It is finally time to explore Lake Titicaca by boat, the birthplace of the sun and the Incas according to ancient Andean belief. Over 280 metres deep and 8,300 square kilometres across, welcome to the largest lake in South America, 15 times the size of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva and even bigger than Lake Tahoe in the US. At 3,810 metres above sea level, it is also the highest navigable body of water in the world. Surrounded by mountains and yellow grass reeds, more than 25 rivers stream into the freshwater lake which, when placid, seems to perfectly reflect the blue skies above like one vast mirror.

    Our first stop of the day is the floating islands of the Uru people, built to allow them to move away if threatened by their enemies. These incredible islands are entirely handmade by the Uru, woven together from buoyant totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. Each islet houses between one and ten families and takes months to complete. They last a decade or so but must be continuously maintained with new layers. You’ll learn about the other fascinating uses of the reeds by the local community during your visit, ranging from huts, boats, and toys. Even walking on the soft and springy ground will be quite the experience!

    You’ll continue by boat to the rural community of Llachón on the scenic shores of Capachica peninsula. The panoramic views of the lake from here are enough to take your breath away. Your included activity here is a guided kayaking tour, admiring the sandy beaches of the peninsula and looking out for Titicaca’s 60 species of bird, 14 native fish species and 18 types of amphibian. You’ll also join a guided walk through the village to learn about the agricultural way of life here. Observe arts and crafts and share a typical Andean lunch with one of the local families. Afterwards, we make our way back to Puno for a relaxing evening with dinner at the hotel.

    Day 9
    Puno/Uros/Llachón/Puno, Peru

    Uros Floating Islands and Kayaking at Llachón

  • Day 10
    Puno/Juliaca/Lima, Peru

    Chucuito, mystical Amaru Muro and Sillustani

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

    Chucuito was once an important colonial-era town where royal taxes were collected before being transported to Lima. Nowadays, it is a quiet village with two attractive 16th century colonial churches, Santo Domingo and Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, and an ancient solar clock around the town square. To the north of the square is a lookout point that promises splendid views of the surrounding landscape. You may visit a nearby trout hatchery to see how the region’s speciality of trucha are grown and enjoy horseback riding with a local family outside of town. Most visitors are also intrigued by the small archaeological landmark of Inca Uyo. The site claims to be the remains of an ancient temple of fertility, although not all experts agree its status is bona fide. Regardless, the row upon row of 86 phallic granite statues is an amusing sight to see and maybe even count!

    We make a stop 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. Some excitedly speculate it is some kind of paranormal or extra-terrestrial portal, prompting 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’ll be time though to stop at Sillustani tombs, a pre-Incan cemetery 3,890 metres above sea level, surrounded by Lake Umayo. The tombs or chullas were built above ground by the ancient Colla people, creating tower-like structures as tall as 12 metres to hold the entire families of its society’s elite.

    Before the visit, enjoy a picnic lunch served in Sillustani at the shores of the lake. 

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

    Day 10
    Puno/Juliaca/Lima, Peru

    Chucuito, mystical Amaru Muro and Sillustani

  • Day 11
    Lima, Peru

    ‘The City of Kings’

    Sadly, this is the last day of your expedition and it officially ends after breakfast at the hotel when you’ll say farewell to your fellow explorers. Seeing as you’re already here, we recommend extending your holiday for a few days to spend more time in the Peruvian capital which was known as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or ‘The City of Kings’.

    The UNESCO World Heritage historic centre is full of colonial-era architecture like Plaza Mayor and San Francisco Monastery. On the other hand, the clay ruins of ceremonial pyramids Huaca Pucllana and Huaca Huallamarca are reminders of long-lost Inca civilisation. For more pre-Columbian archaeology, there are at least four separate museums to pick from. Arty types among you will also enjoy the bright and Bohemian area of Barranco, complete with murals, creative cafés and two of Lima’s contemporary art museums.

    But the ultimate Lima experience has got to be the food. Cuisine emanating from the capital has raised the bar the globe over and there is no shortage of internationally recognised and award-winning restaurants for you to delight in. One of Peru’s all-time gastronomic greats is ceviche, fresh fish marinated in tangy lime juice and other seasonings. The staple dish can be savoured 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 11
    Lima, Peru

    ‘The City of Kings’



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What's included

Included in your voyage

Expedition Lake Titicaca/Peru after the cruise 

  • Two nights at GHL Puno Hotel, including half board
  • One night in Lima, including breakfast
  • Two 3-course set lunch and picnic lunch 
  • Return economy flight Lima-Juliaca-Lima
  • All transfers and train rides as described, including English-speaking guide
  • Entrance fee as listed in programme 

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm 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 use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, infinity pool, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and outdoor running track
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

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
  • 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 make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected
  • The land programme in Peru takes place at high altitudes (the Lake Titicaca´s altitude is around 3,800 metres) and may require a certain level of physical fitness. The order of sights may vary.


MS Roald Amundsen in Antarktis
Photo: Dan Avila

MS Roald Amundsen

Year built 2019
Shipyard Kleven Yards
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

In 2019, Hurtigruten added a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.

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MS Fridtjof Nansen

Year built 2020
Shipyard Kleven Yards, Norway
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots

MS Fridtjof Nansen is the latest addition to Hurtigruten’s fleet of custom built ships – and the next generation expedition ship. She will explore some of the most spectacular corners of the globe.

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