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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)
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts--from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes and local culture. The expert featured below will be part of the expedition team on the date noted.
Award-winning travel and editorial photographer Susan Seubert has photographed more than 20 feature stories for National Geographic Traveler since joining the magazine as a contributor in 2004. Her subjects range from Canada to the Caribbean and Texas to Thailand. Her work has been recognized by the department of journalism at Columbia University with an Alfred Eisenstadt Award and most recently by the North American Travel Journalists Association for excellence in photography. In addition to being widely published and exhibited, she also lectures regularly about her work at such institutions as Harvard University and the Portland Art Museum. Based in Portland, Oregon and Maui, Hawaii, Susan travels throughout the world shooting a variety of subjects and specializes in capturing a sense of place through her wide-ranging imagery. Susan's in-depth knowledge of digital technologies and her multimedia skills keep her at the cutting edge of visual storytelling. What Susan loves best about Costa Rica is "what the locals call pura vida, 'pure life.' It's everywhere: The beauty of the birds, animals, butterflies, people, and the landscape is all in high relief. There's no hunting for the splendor that this amazing Earth offers when you're in Costa Rica."
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.
December 2015-March 2016
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.