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The Panama Canal & The Wonders of Costa Rica
Expeditions with experts of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
8 days
Upcoming dates:
On request

Trip Highlights:

Transit the Panama Canal with a stop midway at Barro Colorado Island where we're accompanied on forest walks by guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Discover an astonishing variety of rainforest wildlife—monkeys, sloths and more than 300 species of birds, including brilliant toucans and scarlet macaws.

Explore less-traveled beaches and coastal rainforest on Costa Rica's Pacific side with stops at Golfo Dulce, the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.


Day One. Panama City / Colon / Embark Ship
Our Panama & Costa Rica cruise begins in Panama's capital city. From here, we’ll drive to Colon to board the National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of our Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatun Lake for the night.

Day Two. Gatun Lake / Panama Canal Transit
Board Zodiacs for an excursion to Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake. This island is inaccessible to most travelers, and, by special arrangement, guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute accompany us through the tropical forest that so challenged the builders of the canal. We then re-board the ship to continue our crossing. A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships. The canal, however, is dramatically lit at night.

Day Three. Gulf of Panama Islets
Explore a cluster of small islands in the Gulf of Panama via Zodiac or kayak for a delightful introduction to the region’s varied birdlife. Observe large numbers of roosting and nesting seabirds including magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies of Galápagos fame.

Day Four. Isla Coiba National Park
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where we'll have the opportunity for easy hikes on a network of trails through the moist tropical forest. The area is also perfect for swimming and snorkeling amidst schools of colorful tropical fish. The ship's staff will assist both novice and experienced snorkelers alike. For those preferring to stay on dry land, our shipboard naturalists will take underwater footage, which they will share during our evening gathering in the lounge.

Day Five. Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Today we make our first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquideas, a privately owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, we'll see a profusion of orchids while looking for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, we explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce, an ideal spot for kayaking and swimming.

Day Six. Osa Peninsula
The National Geographic Sea Lion anchors off Costa Rica's remote Osa Peninsula, with access to Corcovado National Park. The region, on Costa Rica's far southwest side, lies off the standard tourist itinerary, and we'll enjoy an immersion in untouched tropical wilderness. Our exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. There will be opportunities to swim in waterfall pools, ride horseback, kayak through the transparent aqua water or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider and squirrel—in one day.

Day Seven. Manuel Antonio National Park
The abundant wildlife in this famous nature reserve is most active in the early morning, so we make sure to get an early start. Lethargic three-toed sloths can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of one of our staff naturalists to point out monkeys or vividly colored birds as they flit through the forest. In the afternoon, we explore more of Costa Rica’s entrancing coastline, finding a perfect spot for a final hike or swim.

Day Eight. Herradura / Disembark / San Jose
Disembark this morning in Herradura and transfer to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures.

  • Included:
    • accommodations aboard ship
    • meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship
    • all excursions and entrance fees
    • services of Naturalist staff and ship physician
    • kayaks and snorkeling equipment
    • all port charges and service taxes
  • Not Included:
    • international flight
    • transfer to/from the ship (unless traveling on group flights)
    • horseback riding
    • items of a personal nature