Summary : Cloud forests, volcanoes and the sea—the ultimate combination of Costa Rica & Panama. This expedition offers an amazing variety of experiences, including a transit of the legendary Panama Canal, time on land in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and in-depth exploration at Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. Explore by sea aboard a vessel equipped with Zodiacs, kayaks and snorkeling gear. Join rainforest 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.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Just-Released Offer $450 Air Credit
Panama City Extension
Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
$10,410 to $13,110
Upon arrival in Colon, transfer by land to Panama City and embark the ship.
Board a Zodiac to visit Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake by special arrangement. Scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island since 1923, researching its 120 mammals and diverse tree species. It is also the site of a National Geographic supported project that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides for a walk through the forests. Begin the complex lock system of the canal.
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. 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. Continue your canal transit.
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.
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.
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.
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 four species of monkeys—howler, spider, capuchin, and squirrel.
Disembark the ship and transfer to the Tarcoles River to bird watch. Later, visit the Bat Jungle exhibit or hear from an early Quaker settler. Stay at a peaceful retreat with plenty of picturesque views.
Breakfast at the hotel before visiting a butterfly farm where you’ll have the opportunity to see dozens of local species in a short time. After lunch, tour the Monteverde reserve with trained Naturalists, relying on their expertise to spot mantled howler monkeys and possibly the rare Resplendent Quetzal.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then visit a family-owned farm practicing sustainable agriculture and traditional sugar processing. A local guide will give a walking tour of the farm and accompany you as you see the original trapiche sugar press. Sample the local sugar cane liquor called guaro. After the tour, drive to Lake Arenal, which you'll cross in 40-passenger boats landing at a restaurant on the lake's far side. Afterwards, check into an elegant hotel surrounded by gardens and pastures with grazing animals, and every room offers a panoramic view of the smoldering Arenal volcano.
Walk the Arenal Hanging Bridges strung more than 3 kilometers through the rain forest canopy, and then explore the Arenal bridges winding through the dense forest. In the evening, relax in thermal pools naturally heated by the volcano.
Transfer from your hotel to the Arenal airstrip for a charter flight to Tortuguero, a spectacular lowland forest on Costa Rica’s northeast coast, accessible only by water or air. A short boat ride brings you to the rustic Aninga Lodge, set on the water’s edge. Settle into your accommodations in charming private bungalows raised above the rain forest floor and enjoy lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. The lodge also has swimming pools and a walking trail to take advantage of. Later, explore the canals of Tortuguero National Park in small boats with your naturalist guides. Be on the lookout for howler, spider and capuchin monkeys as well as caiman, ibis, tiger herons, curassow and myriad other bird species. Dine tonight at the lodge restaurant, nestled in the middle of the rain forest.
Set out by boat to explore more of Tortuguero National Park’s canals. You can choose guided boats or go by kayak for a more personal exploration. In the early afternoon, you’ll have free time to enjoy the lodge’s amenities such as the pool or optional spa treatments before visiting the Sea Turtle Conservancy. There you’ll learn about the history of the region and important conservation work taking place on Tortuguero’s beaches. Later, stroll through the car-less village to see small shops before dining at Miss Junies, a restaurant with a rich heritage and Afro-Caribbean flair.
En route to San Jose, visit Sibu Chocolatier, makers of some of the world’s finest organic chocolate. Learn the Aztec & Mayan history of the cacao plant and enjoy a workshop on preparing chocolate. The day ends with a farewell dinner.
Transfer to the San Jose airport for flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Special Photo Expedition: 3/19/2018
Join National Geographic photographer, Kike Calvo on board for this special photo expedition. Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices.
Lindblad-National Geographic 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.
Accommodations aboard ship; hotel nights as per the itinerary; meals as per the itinerary; non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; shore excursions; use of kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and snorkeling gear; port charges and service taxes; services of guides and 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)