Summary : This is an expedition like no other. From savoring delicious locally-caught shrimp and dining in the shade of an Adobe pyramid to visiting the best wineries in Chile and having cocktails in the Atacama desert, prepare for unique culinary experiences, cooking demonstrations and workshops, lectures and excursions highlighting the flavors of these magnificent lands. With daily cooking classes centered on the local specialities of the region, this journey is a must for gastronomes and culture lovers alike.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud,and once all guests have embarked, attend a mandatory safety drill. This evening, be introduced to your Expedition Leaders and attend a mandatory Zodiac briefing, as well as meet other guests.
During your stay in Paracas you will have the opportunity to see the famous Nazca Lines from the air in an optional excursion. 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.
Please be aware that seats on this flight are limited so please inquire for rates and reservations when booking your trip.
One of the choices in Paracas is to explore the Ballestas Islands on a local boat. The islands are 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.
If you are interested in history, take a guided excursion to see Tambo Colorado, once a regional center of the Incan empire. The complex includes three palaces, residential buildings and a central plaza. Built primarily out of adobe, the structures have been remarkably preserved, including the wall paintings.
If you are interested in how Pisco is produced, visit the Hacienda La Caravedo which has the oldest functioning distillery. Tour the distillery and taste the many varieties of Pisco the hacienda produces. At the hacienda you will also be able to team up with local expert ceramists to create your own piece of pottery.
This evening, your Peruvian culinary expert will present his selection of tempting Peruvian specialties on this voyage of culinary discovery.
Gather in the Lecture Theatre to get an introduction to Chile and 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 Peruvian coast are incredibly rich in fish life. Today your chefs will introduce you to the world of “ceviche” in all its forms. This evening will have a special Peruvian-themed dinner.
Today you have multiple choices for half day or full day excursions:
An early morning departure is necessary for a journey to explore the region’s unique Altiplano scenery. See 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 Copaquilla, where a pre-Incan defensive settlement known as a Pukara can be seen. Driving past Putre, reach Chungará Lake to admire the mountains reflected in the lake. During one hour at the lake, look 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 will permit you to either visit the Archaeological Museum and to see the main highlights of the downtown area and having a view from the iconic promontory El Morro or to visit the local market. Choose fresh produce with the help of a local chef, 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.
After these excursions take your time to join the bar team for a Pisco evening. Learn more about this iconic drink and whether this is an original Peruvian or Chilean drink.
The Head Sommelier will be joined by a Chilean sommelier to introduce you to the delights of Chilean wine.
Attend a wine seminar and relax next to the pool or 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.
Visit the Atacama Desert — one of the driest places on earth. Depart early for the seven-hour ride to the charming adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama. Visit the small village, having a look at the delightful adobe church (declared a National Monument), and walk the narrow, picturesque streets. At a local restaurant, have a welcome cocktail, while local artisans present their handicrafts, and a delicious lunch will follow. Finally you will be heading 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 cocktail party while observing an indigenous ritual to Mother Earth.
Alternatively, a half-day city tour is available. 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 with its overview of the saltpeter industry and how it affected the region. Walk to the fishing wharf where a local chef will prepare some of the freshly caught seafood for you to taste. The final destination will be Antofagasta’s landmark La Portada, an enormous rock caressed by the sea and sand until a giant arch formed.
This morning the culinary team will focus on shellfish and other seafood and the various ways to prepare these in a workshop. From raw to steamed, find your preferred dish accompanied with the perfect Chilean wine.
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.
Today you have several choices: a half day visit to the Elqui Valley, a visit to the Tabalí Vineyard, the nearby town of La Serena or a longer visit to the Limarí Valley.
For the excursion into the Elqui Valley follow the coast going north. The Elqui Valley is an important agricultural area for papayas, olives, pears and custard apples. This is also where muscatel grapes are turned into Pisco, Chile’s national spirit.
Visit the small and picturesque artist village of Diaguitas and explore its arid and attractive streets. At a local workshop you will have the opportunity to buy handmade crafts featuring the stunning and beautiful Diaguita designs and iconography. Afterwards drive to Vicuña. Famous for its many Pisco producers it was also home to Chilean’s Nobel Prize winner in literature, Gabriela Mistral. Visit the Plaza and the Bauer Tower and have time to explore independently before returning back to Coquimbo and Silver Cloud.
Another half day visit will be made to the seaside resort of La Serena with its open air museum of statues and the historical center where three different architectural periods can be seen.
The full day 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 transversal valleys running across the coastal mountains, leading to their importance as agricultural areas. Grapes are grown in impressive vineyards for export and for wine and you will visit the Tabalí winery. This vineyard is well known for its unique coupages and blends of wine stocks such 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. This excursion can also be done as a half day tour without the typical Chilean lunch.
A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Participate in discussions and activities led by the Expedition Team and join your chefs for a ceviche workshop, preparing your own ceviche for lunch.
During the morning Silver Cloud will head further south, giving lecturers time to introduce you to the natural and historical highlights of Valdivia and Chile’s Lake District.
Niebla is a small village on the banks of the Rio Valdivia where Chile’s Corral Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Today Niebla is a beach resort, but in 1671 it was a defensive fortress built by Spanish conquerors to prevent attacks from pirates and corsairs.
This afternoon you can either drive to the charming river port city of Valdivia, where you will find an interesting blend of influences from the native Mapuche, Spanish settlers, and German immigrants, or take a catamaran on the river. In both cases you will have time to see the town of Valdivia. The first German colonists arrived here in 1849 and worked hard to develop Valdivia into one of southern Chile’s most productive areas and their influence can be felt in every corner of this city. Visit the river market and have a look at downtown Valdivia with its mix of old and modern buildings. Choose whether you would like to visit the Fort at Niebla or enjoy fresh fish and crabs in Valdivia.
Puerto Montt is the starting point for your excursions to the Lake District and specifically Lago Llanquihue.
Drive along the southern shore of Chile’s second largest lake and head for the Petrohué waterfalls. These falls ‘connect’ Lago Esmeralda with Lago Llanquihue. Walk over to the viewing platforms of Chile’s best-known falls. Later you will have the choice to either visit a typical Chilean farm to learn about the traditions of southern Chile’s food, music, tools, and the national sport of rodeo which is quite different from the North American version; or have lunch at a local restaurant and explore the town of Puerto Varas.
If you choose the Fundo Olguita, you will have lunch including empanadas, a tasty barbeque and traditional German desserts. This area was first colonized by Germans in the mid-19th century. You will also have the chance to learn the Chilean national dance, the Cueca.
If you choose Puerto Varas, you will have time to explore the “City of Roses” and to browse the small handicraft village and see some of the wooden buildings for which the town was declared a “Heritage Zone”.
During the morning, Silver Cloud will pass the Las Huichas Islands to enter the Aisén Fjord. Halfway up the fjord, pass the National Monument Cinco Hermanas (Five Sisters), which despite the name consists of six islands. Marine otters and South American sea lions can often be seen nearby. At the end of fjord Puerto Chacabuco is the main port for the Aisén Region. Upon arrival drive to the private park Aiken del Sur. At the park the group will be divided into small groups. You can choose to walk a difficult 1.3 mile (2km) trail, ascending to 6,660 feet (2,030 meters) through swamp and severe gradients on a narrow trail. Or decide on an easier 2.5 mile (4km) walk through the temperate rain forest. Local guides will escort you, explaining the trees, plants, flowers, mosses and ferns that you'll see. Plants of note are the arrayan (one of the most common trees here, living up to 400 years), quila bamboo, Chilean fire bush, and Chilean rhubarb as well as Calafate flowers. Birders will be interested to hear and see along the trail the Chucao Tapaculo, with its beautiful red breast, or the Black-throated Huet-huet. Soaring Andean Condors are often seen, too.
The groups will also visit a Quincho, where they will be rewarded with a choice of drinks (Pisco sour being first and foremost, as always in Chile) and delicious snacks, both savory and sweet. A local music group will entertain with typical songs and dancing.
Silver Cloud will sail through the Golfo de Penas, an area well-known for whales to reach Caleta Tortel, one of the southernmost settlements in Chile’s Aisén Region (in Patagonia). The abundant cypress led to the founding of the village and most houses are built on stilts along the shoreline of this hilly terrain. There are no conventional streets; instead the houses are connected by wooden walkways. Explore the village where a folkloric presentation awaits at the main plaza, and take a Zodiac cruise through the channels and the Baker River to visit “La Isla de los Muertos”, a small island used as a cemetery in 1906. Both the village and the island have been declared National Monuments.
Early this morning, be out on deck to watch as you head towards the English Narrows. The Captain and the local Chilean Pilots expertly maneuver Silver Cloud through the slalom course of islands and channel markers. At the narrowest part, only one vessel is permitted passage at a time. During this cruise, you may spot Magellanic Diving Petrels and Steamer Ducks, and if very lucky, the endemic Chilean dolphin. Shy of ships, this small dolphin enjoys spending its time in narrow channels with heavy tidal rips.
Enjoy time for a leisurely breakfast and to attend lectures about the Fjords’ natural history or perhaps a seminar. Only one settlement exists south of the English Narrows, Puerto Eden. Birders will want to see what species live in this area. The further south the ship heads, the better the chance to see Andean Condors majestically soaring above the hills and mountains.
In the afternoon, visit the Pio XI Glacier. This tidewater glacier is remarkable in size, and a brilliant shade of blue. An outlet glacier of the South Patagonian Ice Field, the Pio XI had once extended out into the fjords whose waters you ply today. Conditions permitting, board the Zodiacs among brash ice and bergy bits to approach the glacier at a safe distance. Stay alert for signs of calving, and you may see chunks of ice falling from the glacier front.
Sail through Chile’s largest national park, Bernardo O’Higgins, before heading for another famous narrow channel, the western portion of the Strait of Magellan. Mountains tower above both sides of the ship and one can only marvel at the hardy flora trying to cling to the barren rocks. Occasionally seals and dolphins can be seen.
Silver Cloud will head for the Strait of Magellan and the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, an area humpback whales are known to frequent.
Today navigate past Dawson Island, once a penal settlement for political prisoners, to arrive at Ainsworth Bay. The bay is within Alberto De Agostini National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Depending on conditions, take a Zodiac cruise to see the Marinelli Glacier descending from Darwin Mountain Range. This area will give a good appreciation how the land returns to life after glacial retreat. Walk in the stunning sub-polar Magellanic forest teeming with evergreens and deciduous trees. The bay promises a good chance of sighting Southern elephant seals, while nearby Tucker Island is known to have Magellanic Penguins.
During the night Silver Cloud will again head into the Strait of Magellan, sailing for Punta Arenas.
After breakfast disembark Silver Cloud.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Unique to Silver Cloud, the Photo Studio offers a vibrant, creatively inspiring space where you can not only master the art of digital photography with Masterclasses, but also offers an editing suite where you can print images using state-of-the-art equipment plus a dedicated photo manager.
Ship accommodation; Wi-Fi aboard ship; most onboard meals (La Dame Restaurant excluded); butler service onboard ship; backpack and water bottle to keep; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees. Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in La Dame (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; Optional Nazca Lines Overflight; meals on board at La Dame Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; Internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Denis Elterman (woman with hat)