Summary : Explore the wild coastal rain forests of Costa Rica and Panama by expedition ship, sail through the fascinating Panama Canal, and then head inland to walk the suspended tree canopy bridges and explore the Monteverde cloud forest reserve. See monkeys, sloths, rare birds, and venture deep into the rain forest. Transit the Panama Canal, with an exclusive stop to visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Kayak, hike, swim, and snorkel as you actively explore these idyllic islands and hidden waterways on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
- $450 Air Credit, or
- Panama City Extension
- Offers may not be combinable; conditions may apply
Receive a FREE DVD chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
$8,060 to $12,620
Upon arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica, transfer via a short drive to the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel.
A scenic drive 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 and bird life. Ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird’s-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Learn about life in the early Monteverde community from an original Quaker homesteader. Spend each night at a charming, family-owned lodge.
Visit a butterfly farm before transferring to Puerto Caldera to embark the ship.
Anchor off the Osa Peninsula to see some of the most pristine lowland rain forest on the Pacific coast. In the environs of Corcovado National Park, swim in waterfall pools, take an optional horseback ride on the coast, or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider and capuchin.
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 kayak in peaceful waters in Golfo Dulce, the only tropical fiord in the continent. In the evening, enjoy drinks ashore and, hopefully, a beautiful sunset.
Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. 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.
The first 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.
Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here you might spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and brown boobies. Set sail for the Panama Canal this afternoon. Stretching more than 50 miles, the canal was a colossal engineering feat completed in 1914. It is still traversed by some 14,000 ships every year. As cargo ships tend to pass through the canal during the day, you’ll most likely begin your crossing at night, when the canal is dramatically lit.
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.
Disembark after breakfast in Colon. Drive to the airport in Panama City for flights 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 Post-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). From $475 per person double occupancy; from $545 solo occupancy.
Transfers between airport and ship if booked on group flights; accommodations as per itinerary; kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding; video chronicle of your trip; gear on loan (snorkeling gear and wetsuit); all meals onboard ship, meals on land as per itinerary; soft drinks onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
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 ship’s crew at your discretion; 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)