Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Small Ship Adventure Cruise


Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Small Ship Adventure Cruise



11 months ago


8 Days




USD 5,990.00 per person


Dec 31, 2018
Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Small Ship Adventure Cruise
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There are few places in the world where nature is as exuberant, colorful or diverse as in the tropics of Costa Rica. This Costa Rica & the Panama Canal journey takes you here and beyond, to the inspiring land of Panama. To many, Panama is synonymous with the Canal, stretching more than 50 miles and traversed by some 14,000 ships each year, one of the most celebrated human achievements on the planet. What many people don't know, is that the country of Panama offers a level of natural beauty and biological diversity that's equal to Costa Rica's.

On this Costa Rica and Panama small ship cruise, explore famous national parks and wildlife reserves, including a privately-owned tropical garden. Walk rainforest trails, home to capuchin and howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, green iguanas and colorful hummingbirds. Relax and enjoy all the comforts and intimacy of small ship cruising. Swim and snorkel Panama's famed Isla Coiba. Kayak along wildlife-rich, remote coastlines. Go horseback riding on the beach. Transit the legendary Panama Canal, and visit Barro Colorado with scientist escorts from the Smithsonian Research Station. The 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion is ideal for those seeking small ship adventure, supreme naturalist guides and activities for all levels.


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Rates vary by season and cabin starting at $5990 per person. Please see website for full details on rates.


Day 1: Panama City, Colon & Embark Ship
Panama City, Panama
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Depart U.S. late morning via American Airlines on a nonstop flight to Panama City, with a flying time of about three hours. On arrival, drive to Colon to board National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatun Lake for the night.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: dinner

Day 2: Barro Colorado & Panama Canal Transit
Panama Canal, Panama
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Board zodiacs for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake. Barro Colorado Island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, and this itinerary has special permission to visit the facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. This is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Meet some of the scientists and walk with them through the forest to learn about their work researching the island's 120 mammal and diverse tree species before re-boarding to continue crossing the complex lock system of the Panama Canal in the evening.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 3: Gulf Of Panama Islets
Gulf of Panama, Panama
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This archipelago of islands due south of Panama City has a storied past — pearls, conquistadors, buccaneers and so much more. Explore the turquoise waters via zodiac or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. Some of the birds you may observe are roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, brown boobies and blue-footed boobies on an otherwise empty stretch of white sand.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: Isla Coiba National Park, Panama
Coiba National Park, Veraguas, Panama
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Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical forest trails. The national park includes thousands upon thousands of acres, 80% of it ocean, making the area perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish. The eastern Pacific has very few living coral reefs because the water is too cool, but the exception lies here. These waters are full of life with over 69 species of fish living among the healthy coral. Parrot fish decorate the algae, and if you're lucky, you may see the rare bifin or bifin spazus which can weigh up to 300 pounds. The National Geographic Sea Lion staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, onboard Naturalists take underwater footage, which animates the evening gathering in the lounge.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Golfo Dulce, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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Today make your first landfall in Costa Rica with a beautiful destination, Casa Orquideas, a privately-owned tropical garden accessible only by boat and special invitation. Ron and Trudy MacAllister put this garden together over 20 years of collecting local rainforest plants and trading them with other botanical gardens. To see these varied and colorful plants in such a lush, natural setting is almost dreamlike. Here, roam among a profusion of orchids, spotting tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, take some time to explore the forested bays of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking and swimming. The mangrove forest that lines the shoreline forms a unique ecosystem to observe up close on kayaks. The bird watching is wonderful, so look for birds with names as colorful as their feathers: black-crowned tityra, fiery-billed aracari, chestnut-mandibled toucans and scarlet macaws.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 6: Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
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This morning, the National Geographic Sea Lion anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula in the environs of Corcovado National Park, home to some of the most pristine lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast. The exact landing area for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride on the beach, join a zodiac cruise, or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see four species of monkey in one day: howler, spider, capuchin and squirrel!

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7: Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park, Central Pacific Conservation Area, Costa Rica
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Although this UNESCO World Heritage site is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it rivals Poas Volcano Park for the title of most popular. Because the abundant wildlife here is most active in the morning, get an early start, arriving here before breakfast. Lethargic, three-toed sloths remain statue-like in the dense trees. White-throated capuchin monkeys, agoutis, howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, squirrel monkeys, white-lined sac-winged bats and tamandua anteaters are all well within reach here. Birders will be happy too, with the possibility of seeing the purple crown fairy, bare-throated tiger heron, orange chinned parakeet and so much more. The smallest kingfisher on the continent is the American pygmy kingfisher. It's hard to spot, but the ship naturalists often can find one for those with the patience to wait. In the afternoon, explore Costa Rica's beautiful coastline, finding a great spot for a final hike or swim.

ACCOMMODATIONS: National Geographic Quest

MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8: Disembark Herradura & Depart San Jose
San Jose, Costa Rica
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Disembark National Geographic Sea Lion this morning in Herradura and drive to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures. The U.S.-bound group flight departs in late morning, arriving in the late afternoon.


MEALS: breakfast


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  • accommodations aboard Sea Lion
  • meals as indicated
  • nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship
  • shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees
  • transfer from airport/ship if traveling on group flights
  • use of kayaks and snorkeling gear
  • all port taxes and service charges during the voyage
  • services of expedition leaders, naturalist and expert guides


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Itinerary Notes: Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain's discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

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Related Categories
Adventure Cruises
Central Pacific Conservation Area Adventure Cruises
Coiba National Park Adventure Cruises
Costa Rica Adventure Cruises
Golfo Dulce Adventure Cruises
Gulf of Panama Adventure Cruises
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Bird Watching Tours
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National Park Vacations
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Golfo Dulce National Park Vacations
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Wildlife Viewing Tours
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Costa Rica Wildlife Viewing Tours
Golfo Dulce Wildlife Viewing Tours
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Manuel Antonio National Park Wildlife Viewing Tours

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