Summary : Explore Costa Rica's Puerto Quepos, ideal for its varied fauna, and experience Manuel Antonio National Park which includes 109 mammal and 184 bird species. In Panama, take in the history of Isla Coiba, Panama’s prison turned paradise island, and visit Panama City, a cultural hub and cosmopolitan capital.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark your vessel and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Have a leisurely breakfast and attend one of the lectures about Peru and the Humboldt Current before you arrive at our destination for the afternoon.
Located off the coast of La Libertad, Peru, two islands, North and South Guañape, along with several small islets constitute a biological reserve for seabirds. In 2009, the National Wildlife Refuge System of Peru officially protected the islands. The rugged, rocky, and dry island group is uninhabited by people, but is home not only to large colonies of South American sea lions, but to hundreds of thousands of seabirds. These include Peruvian Pelicans, Inca Terns, Blue-footed Boobies and Humboldt Penguins. In Zodiacs, cruise along the island and adjacent islets to get a better view of the birds and the buildings and walls set up to collect guano.
This morning visit Trujillo, to see its colonial Main Plaza and historical houses, before heading to the main religious center of the Mochica culture east of the town. The archaeological complex includes the Temple of the Sun, one of the largest adobe structures in the world, and the Temple of the Moon, covered with beautiful Moche designs. Next visit a private hacienda for sparkling wine and appetizers, witnessing a performance of Peruvian Paso horses, an unrivaled opportunity to immerse yourselves in genuine Peruvian culture spanning centuries.
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 can be viewed ashore as well, while Peruvian Pelicans pass overhead. If the weather permits, attempt to make a landing on the island.
In the afternoon attend a lecture about Ecuador and its natural history preparing you for Machala and Isla de la Plata.
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 sometimes be seen in Santa Clara’s vicinity, although most sightings occur later in the year.
Several National Sanctuaries or Ecological Reserves can be found near Machala and you have options. You can either visit the Buenaventura cloud forest reserve with its staggering amount of hummingbirds and the rare Long-wattled Umbrella bird, 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 and is 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.
Exploration and discovery await off the coast of the uninhabited and unspoiled Isla de la Plata. The island’s name was derived from the legend of 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.
As you approach 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.
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. If conditions permit, you might also be able to snorkel.
Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call in Colombia. Apart from lectures there might also be a workshop or seminar, you can relax on the Sun Deck, have a cigar in the Connoisseurs Corner or partake in Team Trivia, testing your knowledge and teaching more about the area you are passing through.
Silver Explorer’s first stop in Colombia will be at Nuqui Harbour. Your explorations of the Colombian Pacific coast starts with a visit to Utria National Natural Park. From coral reefs and mangroves to the marine environment, tropical rainforest and rocky beaches where sea turtles come to lay their eggs, few places in the world encompass the diversity of Utría’s ecosystems.
The Expedition Team will offer a choice of trail hikes to explore the park’s numerous highlights. During your walk, you may see some of Utría’s great variety of animal life, which includes deer, anteaters, black howler and spider monkeys, wild cats (such as jaguar, puma and ocelot), and sloths. As for flora, the park has several species of timber trees, notably the area’s beloved Cohiba tree and the Oquendo tree, which is used in the creation of local art and handicrafts.
Arrive quite early in Bahia Solano, where you will anchor offshore and be brought to land by local tender or Zodiac. Bahía Solano is located in splendid isolation; connected to the outside world by a single, small local airport. Tucked inside a beautiful bay, the small Columbian town is lined by the Pacific Ocean on one side and thick, impenetrable jungle on the other. The majority of the 10,000 residents work in local industries, which are predominantly fishing, agriculture and eco-tourism.
If you select the Bahia Solano Town Tour with your own local guide, the tour begins at the local secondary school, where you will be welcomed by the children who will guide you through their school. Afterwards, take a relaxed walk through the community, wandering the streets with their array of different shops and businesses, visiting the main church, the primary school and library, before visiting the small fishing port where there will be a small display of the locally caught fish, which are flown out daily to the main cities of Colombia. The tour ends on the “malecón” or seafront with the opportunity to see an artisans’ market where handicrafts will be available for sale.
Today Silver Explorer will sail from South America to Central America, crossing slightly south of the Gulf of Panama. Visit iconic national parks and ecosystems, attend lectures that will tell you more about the many aspects of Costa Rica’s nature.
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. This park is one of the most stunning and biodiverse areas of the world, and has both primary and secondary forests. It 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 Costa Rican naturalist guides hike through the exotic, tropical rainforests.
Alternatively, enjoy a cruise through the mangroves, 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.
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 you 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.
This morning take the Zodiacs and hope to land at this remote part of Panama for a hike through the rainforest. The island is part of the Coiba National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The onboard naturalists will point out the local flora and search for signs of wildlife. The jungles of Coiba are home to mantled howler monkeys, Coiba Island agoutis, and white-tailed deer, Crested Eagles, Brown-backed Doves and Scarlet Macaws. There are 97 bird species, 20 of them endemic, including the Coiba Spinetail.
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 whitetip reef sharks. Hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley sea turtles frequent Coiba’s waters too. Take this opportunity to relax on the beach and enjoy true hospitality as your butlers serve fresh fruit skewers and a variety of cocktails.
During the afternoon attend a lecture about Panama and the Darien Jungle’s special nature.
This morning Silver Explorer will anchor in the Darien Jungle’s Bay of San Miguel. Explore this pristine, remote and seldom visited area by Zodiac or local canoe, navigating up the tidal Mogue River. The Darien Jungle has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and is recognized as one of the world’s top ten birding sites – apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the colorful Crimson-collared Tanager, Green and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, Rufous-tailed and Snow-bellied Hummingbirds, as well as tapir and black-headed spider monkeys, vultures, and the endangered Great Curassow.
At the conclusion of your river adventure, you will be welcomed at the remote Embera Village. The Darien Jungle is rarely visited by outsiders (fewer than 1,000 tourists visit each year), and the Embera are one of several indigenous groups that live in relative isolation.
Go ashore to melodic rhythms of traditional tribal music and the local women and children in brightly colored will lead you to their village and introduce you to their way of life. Visit an authentic tribal dwellings and the Embera will perform native dances and demonstrate basket weaving and carving techniques. There will be the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, including beautiful handcrafted baskets and carvings.
Special Request: When preparing for your “Ancient Worlds and Natural Wonders” Expedition, you are encouraged to purchase and pack a donation of school supplies. Much-needed items include pens, pencils, writing pads, reading material, and new or second-hand clothes for children ages 1 to 12 years old. The village is also always in need of prescription reading glasses, over-the-counter medicine and medical equipment. Donations will be collected on board by the Expedition Team and distributed to the local villagers during your visit as part of your cultural exchange.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Onboard accommodation; onboard meals; use of snorkeling gear; backpack and water bottle to keep; butler service; complimentary beverages served throughout the ship (an assortment of complimentary wines, champagne and spirits); all onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry and spa options; travel health insurance (required to enter Ecuador); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Allan Gold (Hummingbird, Monkey, Sloth)