South American Wildlife & Archaeology: Peru, Ecuador & Panama

03/15/22 to 03/26/22
SH Minerva
12 Days
2 Guest
Price From
$ 6,705
Per Person
Trip Details

On this 12-day expedition cruise you’ll experience the planet’s most diverse wildlife and meet some of the world’s most remote people. This is in addition to exploring vibrant cosmopolitan cities and discovering some of South America’s best-preserved archaeological sites certainly makes for an unforgettable adventure. Observe the famous blue-footed boobie alongside many other local endemic species, discover the pre-Incan relics of Peru’s Moche civilisation, learn about the dark history of Colombia’s most important ecosanctuary and experience the lives of the remote indigenous Emberà as they welcome you into their community. Journey northwards on the Pacific Coast towards Panama onboard your boutique cruise ship. With incredible onboard facilities, knowledgeable guides and a passionate crew, you’ll be able to take in this incredible part of the world in style and comfort.

Trip Highlights
Explore the mix of the new and old in the modern and vibrant Panama City
Spend time with an authentic Emberá tribe, deep in the Darien Jungle
Learn about Gorgona Island’s dark history as a penal colony, and its current place in the world an ecotourism leader
Search for the famous blue-footed boobie on Isla de la Plata, an island with biodiversity remarkably similar to the Galapagos Islands
Visit the extraordinarily well preserved HUACA del Sol and HUACA de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon), a leftover relic from Peru’s Moche civilisation
Itinerary Map
Callao (Lima) Day 1

Situated on a strip of desert between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains is Peru’s capital city of Lima. The city is served by the seaport of Callao, where you will be boarding your boutique cruise ship. The bustling metropolis of Lima has much to offer, but not least of all its internationally renowned culinary scene. There are many award-winning eateries to explore and local dishes to sample. A local favourite is ceviche, fresh fish marinated in tangy lime juice and other seasonings. You’ll find the dish on offer just about everywhere in the city, from up-market restaurants to local fishing dock cevicherías. Culture is also in plentiful supply, with the UNESCO World Heritage historic centre packed with colonial-era architecture like Plaza Mayor and San Francisco Monastery. You can also visit the clay ruins of ceremonial pyramids Huaca Pucllana and Huaca Huallamarca, reminders of the long-lost Inca civilisation.

Isla Guanape Day 2

Located few miles off the Peruvian coast, Isla Guanape is a breeding ground for huge populations of seabirds and sea lions. Consisting of four separate islands, the area was formerly exploited for guano (for fertiliser). The islands are now protected, and the harvesting of guano is strictly regulated. We will be searching for wildlife, including pelicans, boobies, Humboldt penguins and Southern sea lions, along the coastline of the islands on our zodiac expedition boats.

Salaverry Day 3

The port of Salaverry is the gateway to the very best of pre-Incan Peru. Just a short distance away you’ll find Peru’s northern capital, Trujillo. Here you can wander through the Plaza de Armes, one of the most iconic city squares in the country. The vibrant red and blue buildings date back to the 16th century. Surrounding the city you’ll find an array of archaeological ruins, some of which are the best preserved in the country. The Moche civilisation flourished in Peru from 1-750AD, leaving several incredible relics in its wake. Two of the most archaeologically important sites in the area are the well-preserved mud pyramids of HUACA del Sol and HUACA de la Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon). The ancient city of Chan Chan is also a spectacular sight. Built by the Chimú empire around 1300AD, the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas was once home to an estimated 60,000 people.

Lobos de Tierra (Cruise) Day 4

Continue north to the island of Lobos de Tierra, a thriving wildlife hub situated just off Peru’s northern coast. The lunar-like landscape and rocky shorelines support huge populations of seabirds. The bird’s thick layers of nitrate-rich guano once attracted an abundance of guano harvesters. The harvesting has since ceased, and the birds of Lobos de Tierra are for the most part undisturbed. Here we will explore the Lobos de Tierra coastline from our zodiac boats, looking out for sea lions, Peruvian pelicans and blue-footed boobies. There are also a few building relics scattered around from the guano-mining days.

Machala (Puerto Bolivar) Day 5

You will arrive in Ecuador today via the charming port city of Machala. Feast on local seafood at one of the many harbour restaurants, wander around the quaint plazas and get to know the friendly locals. The city is surrounded by banana plantations, the region’s most famous export. Today we will be leaving the city behind as we explore the Buenaventura Reserve located within pristine cloud forest. The region is home to over 130 species of hummingbird alongside many other bird species. You will also have the option to visit a local banana plantation where you can learn how this crop is grown, harvested and packed for export.

Isla de la Plata Day 6

Also known as the Silver Island, the uninhabited Isla de la Plata allegedly derives its moniker from the centuries-old, buried treasure of Sir Francis Drake. Although no treasure has ever been found, what the island lacks in buried silver it makes up for in biodiversity. Rivalling the Galapagos Islands in its wildlife offerings, the island is home to the same dry, tropical environment. The variety of fauna is also similar, with over 32 species of bird living here. As we explore the island and surrounding waters, we’ll be looking out for more blue-footed boobies, nested waved albatrosses, pelicans, gannets and frigate birds.

Gorgona Island Day 7

Gorgona Island is located 35km from the Pacific Coast of Colombia and has a fascinating but fairly dark history. Known as Colombia's answer to Alcatraz, it was a maximum-security prison for the country’s most dangerous criminals from 1959 until 1984. The island was declared a national park in the same year the prison closed. Today Gorgona Island is one of the most important ecotourism destinations in Colombia. The island’s isolation from the mainland has allowed several endemic species to evolve including the blue anole lizard. There are also healthy populations of several snake species including pit vipers, coral snakes, boa constrictors and racer snakes. A few mammals also call the island home including sloths and capuchin monkeys.

Utria National Park Day 8

The area is one of the worlds' wettest regions, with around 10,000 millimetres of rainfall per year. Utria National Park’s forested area has rich and diverse fauna and flora with seven different mangrove species along its shore. You will have the option to explore the national park on a rainforest or mangrove walk. The national park also overlaps the territory of the Emberà indigenous people. There are also fishing villages of Afro-Colombian people along the coastline whom you may come across as you explore the area. Both groups are strong conservationists and many of the local ecotourism services are provided by these communities.

Bahía Solano Day 9

The small town of Bahía Solano is the largest settlement on Colombia’s Choćo Coast. Situated at the mouth of Rio Jella and surrounded by thick jungle, this is the gateway to one of the most inaccessible parts of Colombia. Whilst here, the local Afro Colombian community invites us on a hosted walkthrough of their town. You will have the opportunity to talk to the residents, who live alongside the indigenous Emberà tribe. You will also have the option to visit the secondary school, where the students will take great delight in showing you around their classrooms. Enjoy this unique chance to gain a better understanding of how people live in one of the most remote places on earth. You may also wish to join an excursion to the Botanic Gardens situated on the beach of Playa Mecana. The gardens are a 170-hectare nature reserve and consist of mangroves, virgin tropical forest and a botanical garden of native plants and trees.

Darien Jungle Day 10

Today we will be making our way to an authentic Emberá settlement in the Darien Jungle. We will travel using local boats alongside our zodiacs as we make our way through the mangroves and waterways. On the journey keep a lookout for birds like heron, egret, osprey and harpy eagles. The indigenous Emberà have lived in this region for centuries. This is a unique opportunity to visit a tribe that rarely receives outside visitors. After a briefing on local customs and courtesies, you’ll meet the tribe and be able to explore the village. You’ll learn about the tribe’s strong connection to the surrounding jungle and how they rely on the natural environment for clothing, food and medicine.

Isla del Ray Day 11

Isla del Ray is one of the largest islands in Panama’s Pearl Island archipelago and is also one of the least inhabited. With pristine virgin forests, white sand beaches and beautiful clear water, the island is a wonderful place for wildlife to flourish. You might see howler monkeys, agouti, macaws or toucans. The archipelago earns its name from the valuable pearls that have been recovered from the waters, many of which have been worn by kings and queens of Europe. Enjoy your time on the island swimming, snorkelling, hiking or simply relaxing on the beach.

Fuerte Amador (Panama City) Day 12

Located west of Panama City, at the Pacific terminus of the Panama Canal, Fuerte Amador is a manmade causeway, constructed with material excavated from the canal. Before leaving port to explore the multicultural metropolis of nearby Panama City, be sure to stop in at the Miraflores Locks’ visitor’s centre. Here you will learn about the impressive engineering that went into building this legendary waterway. Watch the mighty barges make their way through the canal from the panoramic observation deck. A short taxi ride away, Panama City is a modern and vibrant place that has evolved around its Spanish colonial centre, the Casco Veijo. Here you can wander through a conquistador-era UNESCO World Heritage Site, sip coffee in the street cafés or enjoy some shopping in the malls.

Rates Include
One night pre-cruise accommodation with breakfast in a 4/5* hotel or onboard
All transfers between the hotel, port and airport
Onboard accommodation
All meals onboard including room service 24 hours a day
Coffee, tea, soft drinks & select alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
Shore excursion programme led by our expert expedition team
Standard WIFI inclusion
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
Itinerary Map

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777
Number of Guests
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview staterooms features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
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$ 0
Balcony D5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the forward and aft of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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Balcony M5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the centre of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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$ 0
Balcony D6
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located on deck six, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
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$ 0
44 m2 Sleeps 2
Our Suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom and a 12 sq.m. private balcony.
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$ 0
Premium Suite
49 m2 Sleeps 2
Our grandest suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom, spacious walk in wardrobe and a 12 sq.m private balcony.
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$ 0
Other Available Dates
If you really like this cruise but the date is not suitable for you, we are glad to offer other dates for the itinerary.
Please find below all our date offerings.
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09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777