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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.
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.
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. (D)
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. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Osa Peninsula
Anchor off the Osa Peninsula 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, or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see four species of monkeys—howler, spider, capuchin, and squirrel. (B,L,D)
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, stand-up paddleboarding, expeditions landing craft rides, and swimming. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Coiba National Park, Panama
Isla Coiba, one of Panama’s most remote national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers some of the best reefs for snorkel- ing in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Our staff will assist novice and expert snorkelers alike, and –Alvaro Ugalde, “Striking Gold in Costa Rica,” National Geographic Traveler, October 2009 you’ll also observe a vibrant undersea world while swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Gulf of Panama Islets/Panama Canal Transit
Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by expedition landing craft. Here, we might spot frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropi- cal cormorants, and brown boobies. Set sail for the Panama Canal this afternoon. Stretching more than 50 miles, the canal was a colossal engineer- ing 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. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Gatún Lake/Panama Canal Transit
Board an expedition landing craft 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 1923, researching its 120 mammals and diverse tree species. It is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks tagged animals using auto- mated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides for a walk through the forests. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Colón/Panama City/U.S.
After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home. (B)
Add a three-day pre-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve or new seven-day post-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano, and Tortuguero on select departures. Please call for details.
Extend your trip by combining this voyage with our new Costa Rica: Cloud Forest to the Caribbean land-based expedition.