Expedition Details


Immerse yourself in the natural wonders along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama on a voyage aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion. Venture into the rain forests of Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks; search for monkeys, frogs, sloths, and brightly colored birds; or take an optional horseback ride on pristine beaches. Cap off your voyage with a crossing of the legendary Panama Canal.

Trip Highlights

    • NEW! We have recently added a fleet of six paddle boards to the National Geographic Sea Lion, allowing guests to further explore parts of Costa Rica and Panama from the water.
    • Discover hidden pools and waterfalls deep within the jungles of the Osa Peninsula.
    • Explore the tiny islands of the Gulf of Panama and snorkel off Isla de Coiba.
    • Join biologists on a hike through the protected forests of Barro Colorado Island.
    • Examine the fascinating lock system that made the Panama Canal one of the greatest engineering achievements of its era.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Day 1 — U.S./San José, Costa Rica/Herradura

Upon arrival in San José, transfer to Herradura and embark the National Geographic Sea Lion.

Day 2 — Manuel Antonio National Park

Spend the morning in Manuel Antonio National Park, where thick forests fringe spectacular white-sand beaches. Venture into this lush wilderness, watching for three-toed sloths lazing among the branches as well as monkeys and vividly colored birds. This afternoon, trace the park's beautiful coastline and stop to take a refreshing swim or a hike.

Day 3 — Osa Peninsula

Anchor off the Osa Peninsula, unreachable by road, 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 beach, kayak, or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see four species of monkeys—howler, spider, capuchin, and squirrel.

Day 4 — Golfo Dulce

Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce, a protected gulf along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Visit the Casa Orquídeas, a tropical paradise of ornamental palms, bromeliads, heliconias, orchids, and flowering gingers closed to the general public and reachable only by boat. Keep your eye out for tanagers, parrots, and toucans. Later, explore the placid bay, ideal for kayaking and swimming.

Day 5 — Coiba National Park, Panama

We'll make our first stop in Panama this morning at the remote Isla de 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 only by special permit. Among its many endemic species are the Coiba Island agouti and the mantled howler monkey as well as four varieties of turtle. Discover rich marine life while snorkeling, kayak along the coast, take a guided hike in the forest, or just relax on an idyllic beach.

Day 6 — Gulf of Panama Islets/Panama Canal Transit

Our nimble motorized landing crafts allow us to navigate the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama today, stopping to explore hidden coves and beaches. Here, we might spot magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropic cormorants, and brown boobies. Reboard the Sea Lion this afternoon and head to the Panama Canal. Stretching slightly more than fifty miles, the canal was a colossal engineering feat completed in 1914 and is still traversed by some 14,000 ships every year. As cargo ships tend to pass through the canal during the day, we'll most likely begin our crossing at night when the canal is dramatically lit.

Day 7 — Gatún Lake/Panama Canal Transit

Board a expedition landing craft this morning to visit Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake by special arrangement. Scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island since 1946, researching the 120 mammals and diverse tree species that can be found here. It is also the site of a pioneering project supported by National Geographic that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides for a walk through the forests that so challenged the builders of the canal. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal.

Day 8 — Colón/Panama City/U.S.

After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home.

Related Trips

Special Offer

Complimentary Extension and Free Air Credit

Book by October 31, 2015 and receive a complimentary two-day Panama City extension on the following 2015 and 2016 departures: Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 2015; Jan 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Feb 6, 13, 20, 27, Mar 5, 12, 2016. Plus, enjoy a private dinner at the newly-opened Atlantic & Pacific Co. restaurant in the Miraflores Locks center. Also receive a $500 air credit on the Nov 28 and Dec 12, 2015 departures.

Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


  • Nov 28 - Dec 05, 2015
  • Dec 05 - 12, 2015 REV
  • Dec 19 - 26, 2015 REV
  • Dec 26, 2015 - Jan 02, 2016 (waitlist only)
  • Jan 02 - 09, 2016 REV
  • Jan 16 - 23, 2016 REV
  • Jan 23 - 30, 2016
  • Jan 30 - Feb 06, 2016 REV
  • Feb 06 - 13, 2016
  • Feb 20 - 27, 2016
  • Feb 27 - Mar 05, 2016 REV
  • Mar 05 - 12, 2016 (waitlist only)

REV Indicates trip operates in reverse.

Add a three-day pre-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, a seven-day post-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano, and Tortuguero, or a two-day extension in Panama City. Please call for details.

Extend your trip by combining this voyage with our new Costa Rica: Cloud Forest to the Caribbean land-based expedition.

Expedition Cost

December 2015-March 2016
Category 1 $6,190
Category 2 $6,990
Category 3 $7,920

Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single cabin December 2014 - March 2015, add $3,000 to Category 1 and $3,400 to Category 2. For a single cabin December 2015 - March 2016, add $3,100 to Category 1 and $3,500 to Category 2.

International airfare to San José and return from Panama City is not included in the expedition cost.

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