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Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Reverse Itinerary
November 23 - 30, 2013 (8 Days)

Day 1 — U.S./Panama City/Colón

Depart Miami late morning via American Airlines on a non-stop 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 our Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatun Lake for the night.
(B)

Day 2 — Gatun 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.
(B,L,D)

Day 3 — Gulf of Panama Islets

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.
(B,L,D)

Day 4 — 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.
(B,L,D)

Day 5 — Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

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.
(B,L,D)

Day 6 — 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.
(B,L,D)

Day 7 — 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 8 — Herradura/Disembark/San Jose/U.S.

Disembark Sea Lion this morning in Herradura and drive to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures. The Miami bound flight departs in late morning, arriving in the late afternoon.
(B)