Valparaiso, ChileEmbark the Silver Explorer and depart on your exciting expedition – “Along the Humboldt Current”. After settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
At SeaBinoculars in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the many possible adventures that lie ahead. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy the finest cigars and cognacs at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other leisure activities offered aboard ship.
Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile
The classic deserted island of the imagination. One of Earth’s great paradises (and a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve) is found 450 miles (700 km) off the Chilean coast in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by crystalline blue waters, this island is renowned for its spectacular flora, fauna and dramatic landscapes. 70% of the island’s flora is found nowhere else in the world. The north shore is covered in lush forest, while the southern shore, beaten by ocean gales, is bare and rocky. In 1704, Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was abandoned on the island and his adventures inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe.
Join your Expedition Team on a natural history walk to the top of the saddle for a great view of the town and surrounding Juan Fernandez Islands. Learn about the Dresden – a German ship deliberately sunk offshore during World War I and join your onboard Ornithologist to see the island’s Magellanic penguin community. Be on the lookout for (and feel incredibly lucky to spot) the Fernandez Firecrown – an endemic and critically endangered hummingbird species.
Alejandro Selkirk Island, Juan Fernandez Islands, ChileWatch for fur seals this morning as you circumnavigate the uninhabited Alejandro Selkirk Island, named for Sailing Master Alexander Selkirk of the 90-ton galleon Cinque Ports and widely believed to be the person Daniel Defoe used as the basis for the character of Robinson Crusoe. Step ashore for a nature walk led by the Expedition Team. For your second day in the remote and rarely visited Juan Fernandez Archipelago, observe the endemic flora and fauna hoping for a sighting of the rare bird species Masafuera Rayadito.
At SeaGather in The Theatre to hear fascinating tales of adventure or to learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. The Expedition Team members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Leaving the pier for a full-day archaeological tour, your first stop will be at the Museo Arqueológico to admire its extensive collection of Diaguita and Molle cultural artefacts, as well as an original Moai from Easter Island. Your tour then continues to the Valle del Encanto, meaning “enchanted valley”, where the remains of hunting people from 2000 BC have been found. The most visible stone artifacts are attributed to the Molle Culture, ca. AD 700. There are over 30 petroglyphs depicting human and animal figures carved in bas-relief on rocks, and over 20 large piedras tacitas (cup stones) boulders with multiple bored cavities presumably for placing food during ritual ceremonies.
Following a picnic lunch, drive a short distance to the Tabali winery where you will learn about growing grapes in this dry region and the production process of wine. Visit the winery’s cellars and sample some of their wines before your return journey back to the Silver Explorer.
Isla Chañaral, ChileThis morning embark on an adventure by Zodiac, exploring the islands that make up the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, located off Chile’s northwest coast. The islands are an important breeding site for over 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins – a species that nests in burrows and is therefore sensitive to habitat disturbances. Hope to see groupings of sea lions resting on the rocky cliff ledges, South American marine otters sliding in and out of the waters along the coastline, and playful bottle-nose dolphins in the surrounding seas.
Isla Pan de Azucar, ChileAgain this morning climb into the Zodiacs to explore the rugged shores of Isla Pan de Azucar (or Sugarloaf Island) home to thousands of Humboldt penguins. The penguins come here to breed and spend their days fishing, swimming and diving, as do many of the other birds found on this arid island. During your Zodiac cruise along the perimeter of Isla Pan de Azucar, hope to encounter Kelp Gulls, Turkey Vultures, Blackish Oystercatchers, Peruvian boobies, pelicans, sea lions and the reclusive South American marine otter.
Antofagasta, Chilean Fjords
On offer for today is a full-day excursion into the Atacama Desert. Hitching up and down the Pacific coast of Chile, this is one of the driest places on earth. Unlike most deserts, Atacama is not scorching hot during the day, but is instead rather cool, with average temperatures ranging from 32º–77º F (0º–25º C). Please be aware that a journey inland will be very long, but promises to be a very rewarding experience.
Depart early for the seven-hour ride, stopping for lunch in the charming adobe village of San Pedro, with time after lunch for a quick look at the quaint handicrafts market. Your drive continues towards the immense Atacama Salt Flat with its splendid geological formations, major archaeological sites, interesting fauna including its most famous residents – the pink flamingos, and nearby geyser fields. Visibility is amazing due to the exceptionally dry air, and it is possible to see over 50 miles to the other side of the salt flat with the naked eye. For a chance to experience everyday life in a desert village, stop in at Toconao before heading to Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). In this unique lunar landscape see numerous rock formations jutting out of the sand, eroded by wind into incredible shapes caused by wind erosion that jut out of the sand. At a lookout point over the majestic valley, enjoy some cheese and wine while observing an indigenous ritual of gratefulness to Mother Earth. Return to the Silver Explorer for a late dinner.
Alternatively, a shorter half-day city tour is also available. Antofagasta is a refined blend of traditional Chilean town and British colonial city. Your excursion begins with a visit to the Huanchaca Ruins – the remains of a large silver smelter, a stop at the local market to peruse its colorful handicrafts, and a walking tour of the Plaza Colón Square where you can step inside the Cathedral of San José, the former Customs House, and the Regional Museum. The museum features exhibits on geology, palaeontology, ecology, archaeology, pre-Hispanic, and post-Hispanic growth, the Pacific War, and an overview of the saltpetre industry and its effect on the region. For your final destination follow the coast to La Portada, an enormous rock caressed by the sea and sand until a spectacular arch formed. Lunch will be served on board, and the rest of the afternoon is yours. Explore Antofagasta’s beaches, museums, eateries and shops at your leisure.
At SeaYour days at sea are filled with a variety of onboard activities from educational lectures to entertainment options. Did you know? All accommodations feature an interactive television system allowing you to watch your choice of movies or documentary films and even recorded broadcasts from The Theatre in the comfort and privacy of your suite or stateroom.
An early morning departure is necessary for your journey to explore the region’s unique altiplanic scenery. Your drive takes you alongside a stream, where you may see grazing alpacas and llamas. Shy vizcachas (closely related to chinchillas) can sometimes be spotted, as well as guayatas geese with their black-tipped wings. In the Lluta Valley the irrigated maize fields are flanked in contrast by sandy desert hills, several with panels of fascinating, ancient geoglyphs.
Other important archaeological sites you may see along the way include Tambo de Zapahuira, an Inca storage area, and Pukara de Copaquilla, a pre-Inca defensive settlement. 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, then take a stroll through the town. Although it dates back to pre-Hispanic times, much of Putre’s charm comes from the 17th-century houses with carved stone portals and windows. Following lunch in a local restaurant, stroll through town together, visiting the church and watching a performance of Andean folklore in the main plaza.
Alternatively, enjoy a scenic drive along the coast and a nature walk. Most of the walk is done on the sidewalls of these sandy mountains, walking through some caves, caverns and other spectacular sites. At Puntilla, the final point of your trek, observe sea lions as well as many local birds. After taking plenty of photographs and breathing in the fresh ocean air, make your way back to the pier, stopping briefly at the El Morro de Arica view point.
Matanari, PeruThis morning discover Arequipa, nicknamed “The White City” for its magnificent architecture constructed primarily of pearly white volcanic rock, called sillar. Join your onboard historian for walking tour of this UNESCO Historical Center that includes the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral, followed by a guided visit of Santuario Andinos, home to the famous Sarita mummy. In 1995, several years after a volcanic eruption melted snow and ice from the top of a nearby mountain, Dr Johan Reinhard discovered the mummified remains of a young girl near the summit. Exceptionally well preserved due to the extreme cold, the "ice maiden" was likely a sacrifice to an Incan god. After your museum visit, enjoy lunch and a demonstration of the Peruvian dance of “carnival” followed by some time for you to explore on your own. Near the main square there are cafés, gelaterias and places to shop for products woven with alpaca wool.
At SeaA leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Participate in discussions and onboard activities led by the Expedition Team, 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.
Paracas, Peru / Ballestas Islands, Peru
This morning depart on a guided excursion to Tambo Colorado, an archaeological site that was once a regional center of the Incan empire. The site is strategically located midway along the Camino Real from Cuzco, positioned to control the flow of commerce and access to water sources. The site was most likely built at the end of the 15th century during the reign of the Inca king Pachacuti. Built primarily out of adobe, the structures have been remarkably preserved, right down to the red, white, yellow ochre and black paint on the walls. The complex includes three palaces complete with servant quarters and bathrooms, residential buildings, barracks, and a central plaza. Following your guided tour of many different structures, visit the onsite museum to gain a better understanding of Incan coastal development.
After lunch on board the Silver Explorer, explore one of this region’s most beautiful natural attractions: the Ballestas Islands. Often referred to as “Peru’s Galapagos,” the volcanic islands are well known for their extraordinary diversity of marine fauna. In the waters, inquisitive sea lions often play around the boats, while at the islands you will be overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of seabirds including cormorants, blue footed boobies, terns, pelicans and Humboldt penguins. During your journey, see the enigmatic Candelabro figure, etched into the desert hillside.
Nazca Lines Overflight
As an alternative to the above complimentary activities, you may choose instead to participate in this optional excursion to see the famous Nazca Lines. Aboard a small aircraft that has been selected specifically for optimum viewing, depart from the Pisco Airport for a truly unforgettable flight. The Nazca Desert reveals a series of famous geoglyphs stretching for miles along the Pacific coast. The mysterious figures and geometric patterns were formed between 200 BC and 700 AD and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From high above, the lines look like etchings but are in reality an alignment of stones. Apparently, the Nazca people cleared away the dark red surface stones and soil, exposing the lighter-coloured subsoil and creating the lines. There are scores of theories as to why a pre-Columbian culture would trace huge patterns in the sands, creations that they would not necessarily be able to see from above themselves. The lines show an understanding of sophisticated mathematics and surveying techniques. This option must be booked prior to departure, please contact us for rates and details.
Callao, PeruThe Silver Explorer will arrive at Callao in the morning. Following breakfast, disembark the Silver Explorer.