Summary : Experience the ecosystems of Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru as cultures past and present fuse together in a melting pot of Central and South American wonders. From identifying hundreds of birds from Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, traversing the eponymous Panama Canal to searching the waters for humpback whales and dolphins, this is a trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud,and once all guests have embarked, attend a mandatory safety drill. This evening, be introduced to your Expedition Leaders and attend a mandatory Zodiac briefing, as well as meet other guests.
Today pass through the narrowest part of the Isthmus of Panama and the American continent. The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Three sets of locks work as water elevators lifting ships to the level of Gatun Lake and later lowering them again to sea level on the other side. By using the Canal, vessels avoid traveling the 14,000 nautical mile route through the Drake Passage and around Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.
A new set of locks has been operating since June 2016. All aspects of the improvement (dredging, raising the operating level of Lake Gatun, as well as the Pacific Access Channel) were supposed to permit 1,100 additional transits per year.
NOTE: Although the ship has requested and booked a day-time transit, due to heavy traffic in the Canal, a daylight transit cannot be guaranteed. Confirmation of exact times will be established once you get close to your actual transit date.
Making full use of the Zodiacs, land at a remote part of Panama for a hike through the rainforest. The onboard naturalists will point out the local flora and search for signs of wildlife.
Just offshore from this nature preserve, a rocky headland provides an ideal spot for snorkeling. Join the onboard Marine Biologist and learn to identify damsel fish, jacks, and surgeon fish, trumpet fish, parrot fish, trigger fish and white tip reef sharks. Take this opportunity to relax on the beach and enjoy true hospitality as your butlers serve fresh fruit skewers and a variety of cocktails.
Visit Santuario Silvestre de Osa – the only wildlife sanctuary and rescue center in Golfo Dulce that devotes all of its efforts to the care and rehabilitation of rainforest animals. The sanctuary is home to a wide variety of orphaned and injured animals including: howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots and two-toed sloths. Enjoy the sanctuary grounds in the company of the park’s creators and wardens as they share their wealth of knowledge on local natural history and show us some of these animals. Visit Casa Orquideas, a beautiful garden that contains many tropical plants and a medicinal garden.
If you prefer to watch for dolphins and other marine life, choose to go on a catamaran. The country’s best spot to watch large groups of dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays is in the waters off the Osa Peninsula. Marlins and sailfish can sometimes be seen chasing large schools of tuna, while six different species of turtles might glide by. If time permits there will be the opportunity to swim in the placid waters of Punta Encato.
For those wanting a little more activity, a nature walk in the National Wildlife Refuge of Golfito is on offer. Golfito is surrounded by a spectacular primary rainforest with more than 125 species of trees, 31 species of orchids, and 300 species of birds. Bird species that can be spotted during the hikes include toucans and tanagers, while all four Costa Rican monkey species also call Golfito National Wildlife Refuge home.
Go ashore by Zodiac to the small port town of Quepos. Quepos is less than 4.5 miles (7 km) from Costa Rica’s most popular gem, Manuel Antonio National Park, which is where you begin the day’s exploration. Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most stunning and biodiverse areas of the world, and has both primary and secondary forests, boasts a stunning shoreline ideal for bird watching or swimming, and is home to a number of endemic species of plants and animals including iguanas, sloths, and squirrel monkeys. Together with your informative Costa Rican naturalist guides hike through the exotic, biodiverse tropical rainforests.
Alternatively, enjoy a cruise through the mangroves, considered to be an important ecosystem packed with hundreds of species of marine and land animals aboard a sturdy vessel designed for this type of cruising. Your guides and captain navigate around shifting sandbanks to reveal the animals, insects and plants that lie hidden from the untrained eye. Pass through wide lagoons where many species of seabirds can be observed, and round narrow passages, hoping for a chance to encounter white-collared capuchin monkeys.
If cruising on a river is more to your liking, choose the Savegre River, considered one of Central America’s most beautiful rivers, for a two-hour class I & II amazing river floating activity. You will have spectacular scenery and can see cormorants, egrets, herons, and White Ibises.
Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call in Ecuador and Peru.
Apart from lectures there will also be a food workshop. Since bananas and plantains are very important in Ecuador’s cuisine, your Chef might present the various uses for banana and plantain.
Exploration and discovery await as the ship anchors off the coast of the uninhabited and unspoiled Isla de la Plata. An island whose name was derived from the legend of swashbuckling pirate Sir Francis Drake’s buried silver treasure. The island was privately owned until 1979, when it was declared part of Ecuador’s Machalilla National Park. Best known for its fauna, which is amazingly similar to that of the Galapagos Islands, Isla de la Plata is a delightful place for birding, photography and long nature walks.
Although just south of the equator, the influences of the colder Humboldt Current bring nutrient-rich water as far north as Isla de la Plata. As the Silver Cloud approaches the island, Blue-footed Boobies circle overhead. Together with your local natural history guides, go ashore and enjoy various walks, watching for herons, pelicans, gulls, and Magnificent Frigatebirds, Blue-footed, Red-footed, and Nazca Boobies. Potential songbirds on the island include Collared Warbling-Finch, Short-tailed Woodstar, and Gray-and-white Tyrannulet. A special treat would be the Waved Albatross, an endemic to Isla de la Plata and Española, Galapagos.
Machala, with a population of approximately 250,000 inhabitants, is called the “Capital of the Banana” as the ‘World Fair of the Banana’ is held there during the third week of September. Fortunately, there is more to Machala than just bananas: opposite Machala is Santa Clara. Whales and dolphins can still be seen in Santa Clara’s vicinity in October.
Several National Sanctuaries or Ecological Reserves can be found near Machala and you have three options: you can either visit the Buenaventura cloud forest reserve with its staggering amount of hummingbirds and the rare Long-wattled Umbrellabird, or visit the Arenillas Reserve, a “dry forest”. If you like extremes, the Puyango Petrified Forest might be more to your liking. It is one of the largest petrified forests in the world located within a lush tropical forest.
Machala is also known for its seafood dishes such as raw marinated shrimp, shrimp soup and fried shrimp, and also fried bananas and fish soup. All excursions will have some sample of local refreshments.
Sails south towards Peru, take the time to attend one of the lectures, seminars or workshops, savor the tempting food the chefs have prepared for you or simply relax next to the pool with a Pisco Sour in hand.
In the evening arrive in Paita for a technical stop to clear into Peru.
Today, Silver Explorer will be off Isla Lobos de Tierra and Lobos de Afuera — steep and rocky islands that protrude more than 200 feet from the surface of the deep blue Pacific. An abundant array of marine mammals and seabirds surround these two islands and offer us a splendid opportunity to explore with the Zodiacs. Sea lions bask on the beach and hundreds of Blue-footed Boobies may be viewed ashore as well, while Peruvian Pelicans pass overhead. If the weather permits, attempt to make a landing on the island.
This morning explore the main religious center of the Mochica culture. The archaeological complex includes the Temple of the Sun which is one of the largest adobe structures in the world, and the Temple of the Moon which is covered with beautiful Moche designs.
Visit a private hacienda for sparkling wine and appetizers, witnessing a performance of Peruvian Paso horses, an unrivaled opportunity to immerse yourselv in genuine Peruvian culture spanning centuries.
During the afternoon, your onboard Videographer will present the specially created voyage documentary.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Panama Canal Crossing: Although the ship has requested and booked a day-time transit, due to heavy traffic in the Canal, a daylight transit cannot be guaranteed. Confirmation of exact times will be established once you get close to your actual transit date.
Photo Studio: Unique to Silver Cloud, the Photo Studio offers a vibrant, creatively inspiring space where you can not only master the art of digital photography with Masterclasses, but also offers an editing suite where you can print images using state-of-the-art equipment plus a dedicated photo manager.
Ship accommodation; most onboard meals (La Dame Restaurant excluded); butler service; backpack and water bottle to keep; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in La Dame (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage segment. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at La Dame Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; travel health insurance (required to enter Ecuador); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Allan Gold (Hummingbird, Monkey, Sloth), © Creative Services at Silversea Expeditions