Summary : A journey along the Pacific coast of Central America interspersed with exceptional nature, fascinating history and remote communities. Delve deep into mysterious jungles full of exotic plants, rare wildlife, indigenous people rarely seen by the outside world. Discover the splendid colonial architecture of Nicaragua and the serene coasts of El Salvador on this true voyage of natural and cultural wonder.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Explorer and meet some of your fellow travelers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board. After settling in a mandatory safety drill will have to be attended. Later your Expedition Leader will introduce some of the important crew members and your Expedition Team. At dinner and while you sail out of Panama City you will be able to see the spectacular scenery of the Bridge of the Americas , the “Biomuseo”, designed by Frank Gehry, and Panama City’s illuminated skyline.
The Darien Jungle is remote and has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. This morning Silver Explorer will anchor in the Bay of San Miguel. Explore this pristine, seldom visited area by Zodiac or local canoe, navigating up the tidal Mogue River. At the conclusion of the river adventure, hear the sound of distant drums welcoming you to the remote Embera Village. The Darien Jungle is rarely visited by outsiders (fewer than 1,000 tourists visit each year), and the Embera are one of several indigenous groups that live in relative isolation.
Local women and children in brightly colored attire welcome you to their village and introduce you to their way of life. Visit authentic tribal dwellings built of nearby trees and plants. Before leaving, villagers will perform a native dance for you and demonstrate basket weaving and carving techniques. If you are adventurous you might even get temporal mosquito-repellent painted onto your body (careful –the dark markings stay for at least two weeks). And you will have the opportunity to purchase from the villager's talents including beautiful handcrafted baskets. As the Darien Jungle is recognized as one of the world’s top ten birding sites, on your way to the village and back to Silver Explorer look for many different bird species such as the colorful crimson-collared tanager, green and chestnut-fronted macaws, rufous-tailed and snow-bellied hummingbirds, whimbrels, hhite ibises, egrets, and laughing gulls.
Making full use of the small, maneuverable ship and the Zodiacs, the hope is to land at this remote part of Panama for a hike through the rainforest. This island was once an infamous prison island, but now it is a National Park and has reverted to a natural state. The onboard Naturalists will point out the local flora and search for signs of wildlife during a walk near the ranger station. Just offshore from this nature preserve, a rocky headland provides an ideal spot for snorkeling. Join the onboard Marine Biologist and learn to identify damsel fish, jacks, surgeon fish, trumpet fish, parrot fish, trigger fish, and whitetip reef sharks. Take this opportunity to relax on the beach as you are served fresh fruit skewers and a variety of cocktails.
Visit Santuario Silvestre de Osa—the only wildlife sanctuary and rescue center in Golfo Dulce that devotes all of its efforts to the care and rehabilitation of rainforest animals. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of orphaned and injured animals, including howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots, and two-toed sloths. The other option is to visit the famous gardens of Casa Orquideas (Orchid House). There are more than 100 varieties of orchids and while strolling through the gardens, tanager, toucans, and parrots can usually be seen.
To be able to see the different faces of the Corcovado National Park and its surrounding forest reserves, wildlife refuges, and wetlands, go ashore by Zodiac in Bahia Drake. At Bahia Drake, there will be several options to explore the national park. Go horseback riding along the beach to enter the jungle, looking for scarlet macaws, finally reaching a lookout point to see Isla Cano, a biological reserve, in the distance.
Or for an adrenaline-charged experience you will be driven to the northwestern border of Corcovado National Park and the village of Los Planes. Here a rainforest canopy zip-line tour across 11 different cables will give you a different view of the park.
If you prefer to be active yourself, then take the third choice—a walk along the Corcovado biological corridor, exploring forest, seashore, fresh water ponds, and gardens. The walk will lead over a hanging bridge to a viewing platform.
Wildlife Refuge is located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica. Go ashore by Zodiac to explore this area teeming with abundant wildlife and one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. Curu National Wildlife Refuge is managed sustainably to produce profit and employment through low level cattle grazing and the harvest of tropical fruits, while at the same time protecting otherwise threatened forested habitats such as mangroves, tropical moist and dry forests, and coral reefs. Some 200 species of birds thrive in the area and during a walk you will look for scarlet macaws, rufous-tailed hummingbirds and blue-gray tanagers, as well as capuchin and howler monkeys.
Go ashore by Zodiac to the port of Quepos. The small town of Quepos is close to Costa Rica’s most popular gem, Manuel Antonio National Park, which is where you will begin the day’s exploration. Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most stunning and biodiverse areas of the world. With both primary and secondary forests, it boasts a stunning shoreline ideal for bird watching or swimming, and is home to a number of endemic species of plants and animals including iguanas, sloths, squirrel monkeys, colorful crabs, and the ceiba tree. According to ancient Mayan culture, the ceiba tree is the tree of life that links us to the spirit world.
Together with your Costa Rican naturalist guides stroll through the exotic, biodiverse tropical rainforests hoping to encounter monkeys and sloths as they traverse the tree canopy, and listen to the songs of the multitude of birds.
Alternatively, enjoy a cruise through the mangroves, considered to be an important ecosystem packed with hundreds of species of marine and land animals. Aboard a sturdy vessel designed for this type of cruising, you will be taken around shifting sandbanks to reveal the animals, insects, and plants that lie hidden from the untrained eye. Pass through wide lagoons where many species of seabirds can be observed, and round narrow passages, hoping for a chance to encounter white-collared capuchin monkeys.
San Juan del Sur is a small coastal town of roughly 8,000 inhabitants that has become somewhat of a tourist attraction with its many fishing boats in the bay and surf spots nearby. San Juan del Sur is the starting point for excursions to Granada, Nicaragua’s oldest colonial city, to see the cathedral and convent of San Francisco, and to Lake Nicaragua. Less than 12 miles separate the Pacific Ocean from Lake Nicaragua and this is where a channel would have been built instead of the Panama Canal, had it not been for the very active volcanoes found in and near the lake. During a cruise on the lake some of the more than 360 small islands that dot the lake can be seen. These mostly uninhabited islands are home to exotic plants and animals.
Just south of El Salvador’s Gulf of Fonseca and west of Lake Xolotlán is the port of Corinto. Some 20 miles to the east is Leon, Nicaragua’s second-largest city. Today you will visit this former capital of Nicaragua. It is home to Central America’s second-oldest university, numerous colonial buildings, and an 18th century cathedral. The tomb of Ruben Dario, one of Central America’s most important poets, is also found in Leon.
Visit the volcano, Conchagua. From the top of the volcano excellent panoramic views of El Salvador and the neighboring countries of Honduras and Nicaragua can be had.
Jiquilisco Bay is a hidden treasure of the Pacific. Today you have the opportunity to explore the many side arms and beautiful channels of the bay to appreciate an exotic variety of mangroves either by Zodiac (pending permission) or by kayak. Another option will be to visit Central America’s largest cacao plantation in San Jose Real de la Carrera. There you can not only see the plantation, but also the plant for processing, drying and fermenting cacao, and can taste the fruit and have a cup of hot chocolate.
Acajutla is El Salvador’s main harbor and the perfect jumping point for excursions to Mayan sites, spectacular nature and colonial towns and villages. El Salvador’s important Mesoamerican sites visited today on a full day tour include Joya de Cerén, a pre-Hispanic farming community that was buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano. North of Acajutla is El Imposible National Park. This area with the highest diversity of wildlife is the largest eco-region in El Salvador and has been put on the UNESCO World heritage tentative list. Coffee used to be transported through a perilous gorge, resulting in the name “the impossible”. Coffee is still grown in the area and you can visit one of the plantations.
Disembark the Silver Explorer after breakfast and head for Guatemala City and the return home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Onboard accommodations; onboard meals; butler service; snorkeling; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of Internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited Internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options, fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Allan Gold