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The Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama presents a rich array of photographic opportunities: lush jungles fringe white-sand beaches, pristine islands dot turquoise seas, and birds and tropical plants come in a dazzling spectrum of species and colors. Traveling with a team of photographers aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion, venture deep into the rain forests of the Osa Peninsula and Manuel Antonio National Park to capture images of sloths and howler monkeys. Frame stunning seascapes on Isla de Coiba, kayak among mangroves to photograph incredible birdlife, and document your passage of the historic Panama Canal.
Hone your skills while capturing images of the natural wonders of Costa Rica and Panama.
Photograph sloths, monkeys, and vividly colored birds in the lush wilderness of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Explore the waters of the Pacific coast by kayak, snorkel, or motorized landing craft.
Cap off your voyage with a crossing of the legendary Panama Canal.
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. National Geographic Sea Lion (B)
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. National Geographic Sea Lion (B,L,D)
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, 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. National Geographic Sea Lion (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 and swimming. National Geographic Sea Lion (B,L,D)
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. National Geographic Sea Lion (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Gulf of Panama Islets/Panama Canal Transit
Our nimble motorized landing crafts and kayaks 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. National Geographic Sea Lion (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Gatún Lake/Panama Canal Transit
Board a motorized 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 researchers 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. National Geographic Sea Lion (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, a seven-day post-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve,
Sarapiquí River, and Arenal Volcano, or a two-day extension in Panama City. Please call for details.