9 nights onboard SH Vega

Natural wonders of the Atacama and Paracas Desert

9
Leaving from: Valparaiso
Cruise ship: SH Vega
Visiting: Valparaiso Coquimbo Antofagasta Iquique
Swan Hellenic Logo
Swan Hellenic

Swan Hellenic cruise line takes pride in providing elegant cruises that sail their guests to far-flung destinations across the world such as New Zealand and the Arctic. With over 70 years of experience, enjoy a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere onboard Swan Hellenic cruises, with some truly remarkable visits to less-accessible polar regions and plenty of lesser-visited ports worth seeing.

152
Passengers
120
Crew
2022
Launched
10500t
Tonnage
115m
Length
23m
Width
15kts
Speed
9
Decks
USD
Currency
Cruise Itinerary
Day 1
Valparaiso, Chile
Day 2
Coquimbo, Chile
Day 4
Antofagasta, Chile
Day 5
Iquique, Chile
Day 6
Arica, Chile
Day 7
Matarani, Peru
Day 9
General San Martin, Peru
Day 10
Callao, Peru
Valparaiso, Chile image
Day 1
Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaíso's dramatic topography—45 cerros, or hills, overlooking the ocean—requires the use of winding pathways and wooden ascensores (funiculars) to get up many of the grades. The slopes are covered by candy-color houses—there are almost no apartments in the city—most of which have exteriors of corrugated metal peeled from shipping containers decades ago. Valparaíso has served as Santiago's port for centuries. Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaíso was the busiest port in South America. Harsh realities—changing trade routes, industrial decline—have diminished its importance, but it remains Chile's principal port. Most shops, banks, restaurants, bars, and other businesses cluster along the handful of streets called El Plan (the flat area) that are closest to the shoreline. Porteños (which means "the residents of the port") live in the surrounding hills in an undulating array of colorful abodes. At the top of any of the dozens of stairways, the paseos (promenades) have spectacular views; many are named after prominent Yugoslavian, Basque, and German immigrants. Neighborhoods are named for the hills they cover. With the jumble of power lines overhead and the hundreds of buses that slow down—but never completely stop—to pick up agile riders, it's hard to forget you're in a city. Still, walking is the best way to experience Valparaíso. Be careful where you step, though—locals aren't very conscientious about curbing their dogs.
Coquimbo, Chile image
Day 2
Coquimbo, Chile
The name Coquimbo is derived from a native Diaguita word meaning 'place of calm waters'. In fact, Charles Darwin had noted that the town was 'remarkable for nothing but its extreme quietness'. Since then, Coquimbo has developed into a bustling port and the region's major commercial and industrial centre from which minerals, fish products and fruits are exported. Used during the colonial period as a port for La Serena, Coquimbo attracted attention from English pirates, including Sir Francis Drake, who visited in 1578. Visitors enjoy strolling around the town, admiring some of the elaborate woodwork handcrafted on buildings by early British and American settlers. These wooden buildings are among Chile's most interesting historical structures. Out of town, the area offers some fine beaches in a desert-like setting. Coquimbo serves as a gateway to the popular resort town of La Serena and trips farther into the Elqui Valley, known as the production centre for Chile's national drink, pisco sour. The valley is also home to several international observatories that take advantage of the region's exceptional atmospheric conditions.
Antofagasta, Chile image
Day 4
Antofagasta, Chile
Situated between the ocean and the mountains of the Coastal Range is Chile’s largest city of the northern region. Antofagasta's role as port for the exportation of nitrate began in 1866. In 1872, when silver was discovered, the first municipality was established. Today, Antofagasta is still the centre of nitrate and copper mining, as well as an important hub for rail traffic to La Paz, Bolivia, and Salta, Argentina. According to the treaty signed after the War of the Pacific, much of Bolivia's international commerce transits through Antofagasta. The area surrounding Antofagasta is renowned for having the highest solar intensity in the world. Its archaeological zones, desert and mountains make it a sought after place for travellers looking for unusual destinations. The city's landscaped plazas are a tribute to man's conquest over the desert. Plaza Colón boasts a landmark Westminster clock donated by the British residents; the design of the old Customs House is an odd combination of Spanish colonial and Swiss chalet-style architecture. The soil in the gardens along Avenida O'Higgins was brought from all over the world as ships' ballast, replaced by nitrate for their return voyages. Arriving by sea presents the best view of Antofagasta's unique setting between the ocean, the desert and the mountains – arguably the city's most impressive feature. Please Note: Due to the limited tourism infrastructure in this port, the buses and guides may not be up to Western standards but are the best available in this particular area. Local conditions may be challenging, therefore we urge flexibility and understanding as we visit these unique, and somewhat remote destinations. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Antofagasta, located about 2 miles (3 km) from the town centre. Taxis are not allowed inside the port. Shopping The major shopping area for local goods is found along the three-block pedestrian zone. A handicrafts market is located in the Plaza del Mercado, featuring articles made by artists in the High-Plateau area. Most shops open a 9:30 a.m. and close between 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The local currency is the peso. Cuisine For good food with an excellent view, beach and swimming pool, the Hotel Antofagasta is worth a try. The Yacht Club is also noted for fine cuisine and a great view of the old harbour. Other Sites In addition to the attractions covered on the organized tour, sports enthusiasts will find a golf course with sand greens. Guests interested should check with the Shore Concierge Office on board well in advance for availability and reservations. Please bear in mind that mostly Spanish speaking visitors frequent this region; English is not widely spoken. Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board, subject to the availability of English-speaking guides. There are no sedans available, only vans.
Iquique, Chile image
Day 5
Iquique, Chile
Arica, Chile image
Day 6
Arica, Chile
Arica boasts that it is "the land of the eternal spring," but its temperate climate and beaches are not the only reason to visit this small city. Relax for an hour or two on the Plaza 21 de Mayo. Walk to the pier and watch the pelicans and sea lions trail the fishing boats as the afternoon's catch comes in. Walk to the top of the Morro and imagine battles of days gone by, or wonder at the magnitude of modern shipping as Chilean goods leave the port below by container ship.Arica is gaining notice for its great surfing conditions, and in 2009 hosted the Rusty Arica Pro Surf Challenge, a qualifying event to the world series of surf.
Matarani, Peru image
Day 7
Matarani, Peru
Matarani is located on the south-western coast of Peru and gives access to the colonial city of Arequipa, 75 miles (121 km) inland. From here it is a 200 mile (322 km) drive to Lake Titicaca and 400 miles (644 km) to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. This major port is an important element in the current plan between the governments of Peru and Brazil to afford easy commercial movement between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans by both countries. Matarani is the gateway to Arequipa, where you discover its very interesting prehistory that spanned over 10,000 years, ending with the arrival of the Spanish in the 1530s. Arequipa is rich with not only Inca archaeology, but also various pre-Inca cultures, and even earlier nomadic hunter-gatherers. Arequipa is also known as the 'Ciudad Blanca' (White City) for the numerous and magnificent constructions of temples, convents, big houses and palaces sculpted in white ashlar. It also possesses an excellent climate with almost 300 days of sun a year, with transparent blue sky.
General San Martin, Peru image
Day 9
General San Martin, Peru
Callao, Peru image
Day 10
Callao, Peru
When people discuss great South American cities, Lima is often overlooked. But Peru's capital can hold its own against its neighbors. It has an oceanfront setting, colonial-era splendor, sophisticated dining, and nonstop nightlife.It's true that the city—clogged with traffic and choked with fumes—doesn't make a good first impression, especially since the airport is in an industrial neighborhood. But wander around the regal edifices surrounding the Plaza de Armas, among the gnarled olive trees of San Isidro's Parque El Olivar, or along the winding lanes in the coastal community of Barranco, and you'll find yourself charmed.In 1535 Francisco Pizarro found the perfect place for the capital of Spain's colonial empire. On a natural port, the so-called Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings) allowed Spain to ship home all the gold the conquistador plundered from the Inca. Lima served as the capital of Spain's South American empire for 300 years, and it's safe to say that no other colonial city enjoyed such power and prestige during this period.When Peru declared its independence from Spain in 1821, the declaration was read in the square that Pizarro had so carefully designed. Many of the colonial-era buildings around the Plaza de Armas are standing today. Walk a few blocks in any direction for churches and elegant houses that reveal just how wealthy this city once was. But the poor state of most buildings attests to the fact that the country's wealthy families have moved to neighborhoods to the south over the past century.The walls that surrounded the city were demolished in 1870, making way for unprecedented growth. A former hacienda became the graceful residential neighborhood of San Isidro. In the early 1920s the construction of tree-lined Avenida Arequipa heralded the development of neighborhoods such as bustling Miraflores and bohemian Barranco.Almost a third of the country's population of 29 million lives in the metropolitan area, many of them in relatively poor conos: newer neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. Most residents of those neighborhoods moved there from mountain villages during the political violence and poverty that marked the 1980s and ’90s, when crime increased dramatically. During the past decade the country has enjoyed peace and steady economic growth, which have been accompanied by many improvements and refurbishment in the city. Residents who used to steer clear of the historic center now stroll along its streets. And many travelers who once would have avoided the city altogether now plan to spend a day here and end up staying two or three.
Ship Details
Swan Hellenic
SH Vega

Making her maiden voyage in July 2022, our 5 star elegant Scandi-design boutique ship offers you an intimate setting from which you will be fully immersed in all the sights and scenery of your voyage.

For now, sit back, relax and take a moment to get to know your expedition ship.

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