Summary : At the crossroads of two continents, Central America is a land of rich biodiversity with an array of colorful, exotic wildlife and a long and significant human history. This Central America expedition reveals the wonders of five countries, including Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica tours; two oceans; and, during a stunning daylight transit, the Panama Canal. Throughout your Central America adventure travel experience, you will have numerous opportunities to snorkel and dive over colorful reefs teeming with tropical fish and discover an abundance of birds and wildlife during nature walks and Zodiac cruises, particularly during your Costa Rica expedition. Cultural highlights include visits to traditional villages in San Blas during the Costa Rica tour and the Darién. Optional pre-voyage extension to Tikal, Guatemala and Copán, Honduras.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Photography, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart the USA on your independent flight to Belize City. Transfer to the Radisson Fort George Hotel for dinner and overnight.
This morning board boats for a wildlife cruise through virgin marsh and forest. Hope to spot Morrelet’s crocodiles, northern jacanas, anhingas, and great egrets, as well as such rare species as snail kites and black-collared hawks.
A short walk through the jungle brings you to the ruins of Lamanai, one of Belize’s largest Mayan centers. An interesting archaeological aspect of the site is the excavation revealing the multiple layers of pyramids built upon other pyramids as one king succeeded the next.
This afternoon board the Island Sky and set out for the cayes of Belize.
Established in 1981, Lighthouse Reef’s Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for red-footed boobies. During nature walks, observe these pelagic birds as well as magnificent frigatebirds, ospreys, mangrove warblers, and white-crowned pigeons. The waters off Half Moon Caye offer excellent snorkeling among seafans and colorful fish.
Today explore the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, Roatán. The island has a mountainous backbone and is completely surrounded by coral reefs that are among the healthiest in the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters also offer excellent snorkeling 300 feet from the beach, where the water is only five feet deep. Other activities you can enjoy here include an excursion to a botanical garden, shopping for mementos in the island’s west-end stores, or an exhilarating zip-line experience.
Attend lectures from historians and naturalists, or simply relax on deck.
Far from mainland Colombia, rarely-visited Isla de Providencia is a warm and friendly, English-speaking island with the nostalgic feel of the Caribbean of yesteryear. An island tour this morning takes you to a parochial school and other points of interest ashore. Or, venture out to snorkel among a variety of fish, including colorful tangs, cuttlefish, and barracuda that populate the island’s coral reef.
Today you arrive in lovely Costa Rica and board shallow-draft boats for an excursion among the Tortuguero Canals, home to 2,000 plant species, more than 400 species of birds, and 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. During your exploration of the raffia-lined waterways, you may spy sloths; howler and capuchin monkeys; wood storks, bare-throated tiger herons, roseate spoon-bills, Montezuma oropendolas, and ringed kingfishers; and crocodiles, caimans, turtles, iguanas, and the Jesus Christ lizard, so named for its unique ability to run across water. Return to the ship for lunch and set sail for Panama.
Ten miles off the coast of Panama, isolated Escudo de Varaguas is surrounded by crystalclear turquoise waters. Zodiacs take you to the southern side of the island to view the steep white cliffs and rock stacks where brown boobies nest. Explore the long sandy beach and the jungle beyond in search of the endemic pygmy sloth and Escudo hummingbird. The island is also the best place in the world to spot the rare uniform crake. Blue channels and a superb coral reef offer excellent snorkeling.
The San Blas Archipelago is a group of over 350 islands stretching for 200 miles along Panama’s east coast. Largely roadless, many ringed with reefs, they vary in size from tiny uninhabited islets with a few palm trees to larger islands clad in jungle. Your exploration offers up-close views of the wildlife native to the archipelago.
San Blas is also home to the Kuna Indians, a semiautonomous tribe still practicing the traditions of their ancestors, including the crafting of molas, brightly colored, appliquéd fabrics. Meet the Kuna, learn about their culture, and admire or purchase molas. In the afternoon, land at Holandes Caye to beachcomb or snorkel in the inviting waters.
During your daylight transit, the Island Sky gracefully navigates the canal’s three mighty locks, Gatún Lake, and the dramatic Gaillard Cut. Relax on deck and enjoy a historical perspective as you follow this famed waterway to the Pacific.
Panama’s remote Darién Province is one of the last unspoiled regions in Central America. In Zodiacs and dugout canoes, make your way up the Mogue River to meet with the indigenous Emberá Indians who live in small, thatched-hut villages. Primarily harvesters of forest agricultural products, they are also well-known for their baskets and the carvings they fashion from cocobolo, a dense hardwood. The Emberá are also famed for their music and dance, and as you approach the village, hear percussion and flutes celebrating your arrival.
The ship anchors off Isla Coiba for a two-day exploration of one of the largest marine parks in the world. On nature hikes search for more than 130 species of birds, including red-legged honeycreepers, crimson-backed tanagers, and brilliantly colored lance-tailed manakins. Zodiacs take you on excursions along wild shores and bring you to secluded beaches. Snorkeling is excellent as Coiba is also the site of a large coral reef where a convergence of currents reveals an array of eastern tropical Pacific marine life.
Zodiacs take you ashore for a hike to the Río Claro. As you walk along the trail, pass lush flora before arriving at the tranquil river for a swim. Scarlet macaws nest along your route, and you may spy white-faced capuchin monkeys, red-legged and shining honeycreepers, chestnut-mandibled toucans, and black-cheeked ant tanagers, a bird endemic only to the Osa Peninsula.
Isla Caño, your afternoon destination, offers excellent snorkeling with opportunities to see a variety of Pacific Coast reef fish such as triggerfish, angelfish, and barracudas, among many others, plus rays, sea turtles, and white-tip reef sharks.
This morning you arrive in Puerto Caldera and disembark the ship for the transfer to San José. This afternoon board your independent flight homeward.
Optional Pre-Voyage Extension: Tikal and Copán
Explore the temples, palaces, and tombs of Tikal, the largest ancient ruined city of the Maya and the largest excavated site in North America, and search for wildlife in the surrounding park. In Copán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 426 A.D., discover temples, sculptures, plazas, and dozens of portrait stelae. Also includes a visit to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park and the splendid Copán Butterfly and Orchid Farm. Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
All gratuities; accommodations in hotels and on board Island Sky as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals; all group meals on land; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance. Pre-extensions includes all of the above.
All air transportation except where noted above; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; baggage/trip cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.