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Costa Rica & Panama Canal + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano, and Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica and Panama Tour

Summary : Experience all the wildness and beauty of Costa Rica and Panama on a sweeping adventure through the canal, along the coasts, and inland to a mist-shrouded cloud forest, volcano, lake, and a car-free, jungle village. Transit the Panama Canal, with an exclusive visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at Barro Colorado Island. Kayak, snorkel, swim, stand up paddleboard and hike—actively explore every day. Hike through the mist-shrouded cloud forest reserve in Monteverde and enjoy great bird watching. Walk suspension bridges in the dense forest surrounding Arenal Volcano and relax in nearby hot springs. Visit the remote, car-less town of Tortuguero and venture through rain-forest-shrouded canals in small boats.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins


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Day 1
U.S. / Panama City, Panama / Colon / Embark

Upon arrival in Colon, transfer by land to Panama City and embark the ship.

Day 2
Gatun Lake / Panama Canal Transit

By special arrangement, National Geographic Quest will anchor in Gatun Lake near the Barro Colorado Nature Monument overnight. Today, choose hikes and Zodiac cruises at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facility on Barro Colorado Island, or take a boat ride to the mouth of the Chagres River and hike on the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center trails. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal.

Day 3
Gulf of Panama Islets

Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here we might spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and brown boobies.

Day 4
Coiba National Park, Panama

The last stop in Panama this morning is at the remote Isla Coiba, one of the many islands of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a penal colony, the island has long been protected and accessible by special permit only. Among its many endemic species are the Coiba Island agouti and the mantled howler monkey, as well as four varieties of sea turtle. Discover rich marine life while snorkeling, go kayaking or hiking, try stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach.

Day 5
Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Spend the day exploring the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce, on Costa Rica’s southwest coast. Visit Casa Orquídeas, a tropical paradise of ornamental palms, bromeliads, heliconias, and orchids, closed to the general public and reached by boat only. Keep your eye out for tanagers, parrots, and toucans. Later, explore the placid bay, ideal for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Zodiac rides, and swimming.

Day 6
Osa Peninsula

Go ashore in the pristine waters of Playa Blanca. Head inland to meet and share with inspiring local families living in remote communities and working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane. Hike mature rain forest or possibly kayak in the peaceful waters of Golfo Dulce.

Day 7
Corcovado National Park

Anchor off the Osa Peninsula to see some of the most pristine lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast. In the environs of Corcovado National Park, swim in a waterfall pool, take an optional horseback ride on the coast (extra fee applies) or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider, and capuchin.

Day 8
Puerto Caldera / Monteverde

Disembark and transfer to bird watch and search for American crocodiles. Later, visit the Bat Jungle exhibit or hear from an early Quaker settler.

Day 9 – 10
Monteverde / Arenal

Enjoy a visit to a butterfly farm and a tour of the Monteverde reserve. Get a new perspective on the region as you sail across Lake Arenal. Check into your hotel and relax in the naturally heated pools.

Day 11 – 12
Arenal Volcano / Tortuguero

Walk the Arenal Hanging Bridges, strung through two miles of dense rain forest canopy. Then, a charter flight will bring you to Tortuguero, a spectacular lowland forest on Costa Rica’s northeast coast. Tour the wildlife-rich canals of Tortuguero National Park in small, guided boats. Later, check into a rustic lodge at the water’s edge for dinner.

Day 13 – 14
Tortuguero / San Jose

Enjoy a visit to the Sea Turtle Conservancy to learn the area’s history and go for a stroll through the car-less village. Then, partake in a workshop on preparing chocolate at Sibu Chocolatier. The day ends with a farewell dinner at Costa Rica Marriott Hotel.

Day 15
San Jose / Home

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight home.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips 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 Pre-Trip Extension: Panama City
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. 2 Days.
2020 Double Occupancy rates from $475 per person
2020 Single Occupancy rates from $545

Transfers between airport/ship if booked on recommended flights; accommodation on land and ship as per itinerary; kayaking, snorkeling; video chronicle of your trip; gear on loan (snorkeling gear); all meals onboard ship; soft drinks onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; passport and visa fees; horseback riding; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, internet and laundry; optional extensions; gratuities to naturalist staff and crew; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos ©: C. Daley-Clark (Forest); Ralph Lee Hopkins (Monkeys, Bird, Parrot, Frog, Zodiac, Hummingbird); Sven-Olof Lindblad (Kayaker, Flower); David Vargas (Canal)

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