Summary : A wild exploration by sea from the beaches and rain forests of Costa Rica, including time on land at the incredible Monteverde Cloud Forest where you can experience Skywalking! Transit the legendary Panama Canal, making a stop at Lake Gatun for a visit with Smithsonian scientists. Explore by Zodiac, kayak, snorkeling forays and hikes along remote forest trails. Join rain forest hikes amid monkeys, sloths and tropical birds. Naturalists accompany every activity and your Undersea Specialist uses state-of-the-art equipment to open up the vibrant undersea world.
This trip operates aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Just-Released Offer $450 air credit OR free Panama City extension.
NEW for 2016 - Stand up paddleboarding!
Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
$8,140 to $10,040
Upon arrival in San Jose, a short drive brings you to your hotel.
A scenic drive, approximately five hours over some bumpy roads for the last half, up the mountain takes you to Monteverde Cloud Forest, an acclaimed private reserve. Bathed in cool, year-round moisture, the forest is covered with mosses and 300 species of orchids. Walk trails rich with butterflies, insects and birds and watch for the rare resplendent quetzal. You ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird's-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Later, learn about life in the early Monteverde community, which was established by the Quakers in the 1970s. Eleven families left Alabama and came to Costa Rica in search of peaceful living. Among the original homesteaders is Marvin Rockwell who documented the emigration. He will give you a talk on the trials and triumphs of rural life in the tropics. Spend the night at a charming, family-owned lodge.
Continue your exploration of Monteverde and travel to Herradura to embark the ship.
The abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so you are sure to get an early start. Lethargic three-toed sloths can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of a naturalist to point out monkeys or vividly colored birds as they zip through the forest. In the afternoon, explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast where you’ll find a great spot for a hike or swim.
Anchor off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. Your exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride on the beach or join a an expedition landing craft cruise. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys in one day: howler, spider and squirrel!
Visit Casa Orquideas, a privately owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, where you see a profusion of orchids, and look for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, expedition landing craft cruises and swimming.
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical, moist forest trails. The area is also perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish, and trying stand up paddle boarding. Staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, your naturalists take underwater footage, which animates your evening gathering in the lounge.
Explore a cluster of islands in the Gulf of Panama via Zodiac or kayak. It’s a wonderful introduction to the region’s varied bird life. Observe large numbers of roosting and nesting seabirds: magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies of Galápagos fame.
After breakfast, board Zodiacs for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Lake Gatun. The island is inaccessible to most travelers and, by special arrangement, guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute accompany you through the tropical forest that so challenged the builders of the Canal. Reboard National Geographic Sea Lion to continue your crossing. A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships. The Canal, however, is dramatically lit at night.
Disembark after breakfast in Colón. Proceed to the airport in Panama City for flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Optional Post-Voyage Extension:
Panama City: Extend your stay in Panama City and explore two new sites. Venture to the Agua Clara Visitor Center at the Panama Canal’s new, larger Pacific lock to see the intricacies of its workings up close. Plus, visit the Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo (Museum of Biodiversity), the architect's only work in Latin America. (1 Day) Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Accommodations aboard ship; three hotel nights as indicated; meals aboard ship; non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees; transfers from airport/ship if traveling on group flights; use of kayaks and snorkeling gear; all port taxes and service taxes during the voyage; gratuities to local guides/drivers; services of the ship's natural history staff, local guides and a ship physician. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; passport and visa fees; horseback riding; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages and laundry; optional extensions; gratuities to ship’s crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Ralph Lee Hopkins (Monkeys, Bird, Parrot, Frog);© C. Daley-Clark (Forest); © David Vargas (Canal); © Sven-Olof Lindblad (Kayaker, Flower)