Summary : Explore some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and discover the very best of South America. Archaeological Incan remains, Pisco Sour tastings plus local boat excursions to "Peru's Galapagos" to spot cormorants, blue-footed boobies, terns, pelicans and Humboldt penguins make this voyage exceptional. An optional overnight overland experience to the Atacama Desert makes it unforgettable.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark your vessel and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Today you have two choices: a morning visit to the colonial-style city of La Serena or a longer visit to the Limarí Valley.
For the morning excursion drive south to La Herradura Bay and its 1.2 mile long beach before heading north to La Serena, Chile’s second-oldest city. The coastal avenue leads to a famous landmark of the region, a lighthouse built in the mid-20th century. Driving along the Francisco de Aguirre Boulevard, named after the second founder of the city. With its many reproductions of ancient statues, reach the Main Plaza and the Recova Market. Set in a picturesque patio, this market has the famous blue semi-precious lapis lazuli, pottery and ceramics with Diaguita design, as well as alpaca wool articles on offer.
The other excursion will take you into the Limarí Valley, slightly further south. Known for its pictographs and petroglyphs of the El Molle culture. Visit the Enchanted Valley in the vicinity of the town of Ovalle. The Elqui and Limarí Valleys are rich and fertile running across the coastal mountains and are important agricultural areas. Grapes are grown in impressive vineyards for export and for wine. Visit the Tabalí winery. Starting in the early 1990s, already in its first year of production, Tabalí obtained 24 medals. This vineyard is well known for its unique coupages as well as Viognier, Sangiovese and Carmenere. A guided tour of the winery will be given, followed by a tasting of its most representative wines. Continue to a local restaurant for a typical Chilean lunch of empanadas and an asado (a BBQ), before returning to the pier.
During the morning attend a lecture or a seminar by the chefs who will talk about and prepare some delicious Chilean seafood.
This afternoon explore the rugged shores of Isla Pan de Azucar (or Sugarloaf Island) by Zodiac. The island is home to thousands of Humboldt Penguins. During your Zodiac cruise along the perimeter of Isla Pan de Azucar, keep an eye out for Kelp Gulls, Turkey Vultures, Blackish Oystercatchers, and Peruvian Boobies, pelicans, sea lions and the reclusive South American marine otter.
On your first day in Antofagasta explore the city during the morning. Antofagasta is a refined blend of traditional Chilean town and British colonial city. See the Huanchaca Ruins and during a walking tour visit the Plaza Colón and the Regional Museum. The final destination will be La Portada, an enormous rock caressed by the sea and sand until a giant arch formed, before heading back to Silver Explorer for lunch.
In the afternoon the intent is to offer walks and hikes in the National Reserve La Chimba to see how plants and animals have adapted to life in the coastal desert and mountains.
During your second day venture inland to see remains of Chile’s salt mining of the early 20th century. Driving east reach the ghost town of “Chacabuco”. the town existed for a period of less than 15 years. Designed for 5,000 miners, it had its own theater. The town became quite famous and was declared a Historic Monument in 1971, only to be used as a concentration camp in 1973 during the Pinochet regime. Some of the buildings like the former theater have been restored with the help of the German Embassy and a saltpeter museum has been added. Another stop will be made at the former railroad junction of Baquedano, where the old railroad station has been declared a Historic Monument and several of the old locomotives, wagons, the building to overhaul the engines and a small museum can be seen.
Optional overland excursion to visit the Atacama Desert (book in advance; additional fee required; may not occur if enough people don't book):
One of the driest places on earth, depart early for the five-hour ride to the charming adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama. Once you reach San Pedro have a look at the small church, a Historic Monument, and then continue to the hotel grounds for lunch. During the afternoon visit the archaeological site of Tulor. This former village complex dates back to the fourth century BC and circular walls and vaults are a typical architectural feature. Afterwards head to Valle de la Luna. In this unique lunar landscape, see numerous rock formations jutting out of the sand, eroded by wind into incredible shapes. At a lookout, enjoy a special cheese and wine tasting. Back at your hotel, enjoy dinner with live Andean music. On your second day in the Atacama Desert, visit the vast Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos in the extensive Atacama Salt Flat, the third-largest salt flat in the world. During your drive to Chaxa lagoon you might see Puna Plovers, Yellow-billed Teals, Andean Avocets and Chilean and Andean Flamingos. The Andean Flamingos that migrate between Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina use this area as one of their most important breeding grounds. Returning to the hotel, have lunch before your drive back to Antofagasta. A photo stop will be made at the Tropic of Capricorn crossing. The excursion will end in time to have dinner back aboard Silver Explorer.
Gather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure or to learn about the region’s wildlife and remarkable nature.
Due to the presence of the very nutrient-rich Humboldt Current, the waters along the Chilean coast are incredibly rich in fish life. Today the chefs might introduce you to the world of “ceviche” in all its forms.
An early morning departure is necessary for your journey to explore the region’s unique Altiplano scenery. Discover important archaeological sites along the way before the landscape suddenly opens up and the wide valley of Putre can be seen beneath massive, snow-capped peaks. Upon your arrival in Putre, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Later stroll through town together, visiting the church and watching a performance of Andean folklore in the main plaza.
Alternatively, enjoy a visit to the Lauca National Park. This is a challenging excursion, taking you to an altitude of 4,500 meters. From the pier drive to the Copaquilla Pukara, a pre-Incan defensive settlement. Continuing on, drive past Putre to reach Chungará Lake to admire the mountains reflected in the lake. Observe and listen for the many local bird species, among them the Chilean Flamingo. During the stay at the lake a box lunch will be served. On the return stop at the abandoned pre-Hispanic village of Parinacota, a National Monument.
The half day excursions permit you to either visit the Archaeological Museum and to see the main highlights of the downtown area with a view from the iconic promontory El Morro. Or choose to visit the local market and select fresh produce with the help of a local chef; then visit a farm and learn about the famous Azapa olives and taste the special appetizers prepared by the local chef with the products you selected at the market.
Other half day tours will feature local foods selected by you at the market and prepared by local chefs while visiting some emblematic natural highlights in the vicinity of Arica.
This morning drive to Arequipa, “The White City”. Join our experts for a walking tour of the UNESCO Historical Centre including the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral, followed by a guided visit of Santuarios Andinos, home to the Sarita and Juanita mummies. Found close to the summit of a nearby mountain, they were likely a sacrifice to an Incan god.
Then head over to the Dominican Santa Catalina Monastery, one of the most important and impressive religious monuments in Peru. The complex is huge and fascinating - almost a city within the city. Take a guided tour of this impressive monastery.
Later the refectory of the monastery will be especially reserved for the group while you enjoy a three-course lunch accompanied by live music featuring Andean folk songs.
This evening your chefs will feature regional dishes. Peru has more than 1000 varieties of potatoes so they are sure to be part of the menu!
A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Participate in discussions and on board activities led by the Expedition Team. Then relax in one of the lounges with that book you’ve been meaning to read and meet up with new friends for cocktails. Before turning in for the night, take a stroll on deck to take in the solitude of the vast sea and sky.
Nazca Lines Overflight:
During a special complimentary excursion to see the famous Nazca Lines from the air, the Nazca Desert will reveal a series of famous geoglyphs stretching for miles along the Pacific coast.
Dating back to an era between 200BC and 700AD, these mysterious figures and geometric patterns are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lines show an understanding of sophisticated mathematics and surveying techniques. After this special experience of over-flying the Nazca Lines, head to the beautiful Hotel Paracas to enjoy a very comprehensive and interesting Pisco Tasting. In a shaded area overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a Pisco expert will present 5 different types of Pisco. Apart from learning about Pisco you will obviously get to taste Peru’s (and Chile’s) national drink and enjoy some local appetizers.
If you do not want to see the Nazca Lines, you can explore the Ballestas Islands, one of this region’s most beautiful natural attractions. Sea lions, cormorants, Blue-footed Boobies, terns, pelicans and Humboldt Penguins can all be expected around the Ballestas Islands. Because of Peruvian regulations this excursion can only be done in local boats and landings are not allowed.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Onboard accommodation; onboard meals; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; Atacama Desert option; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Denis Elterman (monastery), © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises