Panama Canal & Colonial Highlights with Machu Picchu
Day 1: Colón, Panama
The city of Colón lies by the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Atlantic coast. Here, you you’ll find high-quality hotels, a casino, hot springs, a thriving handicraft scene, and great restaurants featuring local delicacies. If you want to really explore the city or join a Pre-Program where you’ll spend time in a beautiful jungle lodge next to the Chagres River, you should arrange to arrive a couple of days earlier.
Day2: Panama Canal
We depart Colón early in the morning to start the process entering the Panama Canal. The complex canal network is over a hundred years old, stretching almost 50 miles through natural and man-made waterways. We’ll wait eagerly 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 80 feet above sea level. If weather allows, the Expedition Team will be on deck to point out sites of interest around the canal and talk about the history of this ambitious project.
Day 3: At Sea
Spend some of your day at sea taking a relaxing walk on deck. Enjoy the seascapes and keep an eye out for marine wildlife like whales, sea lions, and seabirds. Want to feel closer to the water? Go for a dip in the infinity pool or one of the two outdoor hot tubs (where you can still admire the scenery).
Day 4: Manta, Ecuador
We cross the Equator early in the morning. In a traditional ceremony, we’ll seek King Neptune’s blessing on board. If luck is on our side, he might even make an appearance before we reach our first call in Ecuador.
Day 5: Puerto Bolivar
Machala’s main claim to fame is Puerto Bolivar, an important Ecuadorian port where coffee, cocoa, shrimp, and bountiful bananas (which the locals call oro verde, or ‘green gold’) leave for export. As part of one of our optional excursions, you may have an opportunity to visit a local banana plantation, or try and spot hummingbirds, parakeets, and howler monkeys at the Buenaventura Nature Reserve to the south. The nearby Puyango Petrified Forest has one of the largest collections of fossilized trees in the world, thought to be about 100 million years old—as old as the Andes Mountains themselves.
Day 6: At Sea
Enjoy the serenity of this day at sea. Relax and admire the scenery from the observation deck or from the lounge.
Day 7: Salaverry, Peru
Pummeled by the Pacific’s wind and waves, Salaverry can be a hard port to access. If we are able to land there, though, it’ll be a good starting point to explore Trujillo, Peru’s third-largest city, and the array of archeological sites scattered throughout the region.
Day 8: Callao/Lima/Cusco/Sacred Valley
We arrive in Callao at noon, where you’ll bid a fond farewell to the captain and the crew. A packed lunch will be provided for your transfer to the Lima airport and your flight to Cusco. Once we arrive in the former capital of the Incan Empire, located over 11,000 above sea level, we’ll head to the Tambo del Inka Resort in the Sacred Valley for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Day 9: Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley
After breakfast at the resort, you’re in for an unforgettable day. We start off in Ollantaytambo, once the royal estate of Pachacuti, the Incan emperor. He conquered the region and built up the town that shares its name, featuring a formidable stone fortress that still towers above the community on a massive cliff. Constructed with rose-colored granite, this huge structure was once a thriving complex of baths, temples, and military barracks. This fortification was the valley’s main defense against their rivals, the Antis people. It was also the site of the Inca’s greatest victory against the Spanish during the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire, also known as the Conquest of Peru.
Day 10: Sacred Valley/Cusco/Lima
After breakfast, we’ll head back to Cusco to visit the Sacsayhuamán fortress. It’s strategically located on a hill overlooking Cusco. Like many other Incan structures, it was constructed without mortar. The enormous stones can weigh up to 200 tons apiece, but still fit together so tightly that not even a thin blade of grass can slide between them. This is a lasting testament to the Inca’s sophisticated construction techniques and architectural skills.
Day 11: Lima, Peru
Sadly, your expedition officially ends after breakfast at the hotel, where you’ll bid a fond farewell to your fellow explorers. Seeing as you’re already here, we recommend extending your journey a few days to spend extra time in the Peruvian capital, which was known as La Ciudad de los Reyes (‘The City of Kings’).