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Panama To Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano And Tortuguero

Panama To Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano And Tortuguero

Cruise Highlights:

  • Explore the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica, inland rain forests, mountains, and see wonderful wildlife
  • Explore the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica, inland rain forests, mountains, and see wonderful wildlife
  • Kayak, snorkel, swim, hike—actively explore every day

At a glance

Duration: 15 Days, 14 Nights

Coverage: Colon, Panama to San Jose, Costa Rica

From: $10,180

Season: January - March, November - December

Activities: Wildlife

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Lindblad Expeditions, in partnership with National Geographic

An extraordinary, holistic expedition.

Experience all the wildness and beauty of Costa Rica and Panama on a sweeping adventure through the canal, along the coasts, and inland to a mist-shrouded cloud forest, volcano, lake, and a car-free, jungle village.

First explore aboard the versatile National Geographic Sea Lion, with a variety of expedition tools. You’ll walk in the rain forest, kayak through mangrove forests, search for whales and dolphins in an expedition landing craft, and transit the Panama Canal—a modern wonder of the world. Snorkel at Isla Coiba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the best reefs in the Eastern Pacific.

First explore aboard the versatile National Geographic Sea Lion, with a variety of expedition tools. You’ll walk in the rain forest, kayak through mangrove forests, search for whales and dolphins in an expedition landing craft, and transit the Panama Canal—a modern wonder of the world. Snorkel at Isla Coiba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the best reefs in the Eastern Pacific.

Following your expedition, travel to dramatic Monteverde cloud forest for naturalist-guided walks in the rain forest reserve. Walk suspension bridges along Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. Visit a family owned, third-generation coffee farm with a chance to pick coffee cherries during a tour of the grounds. Drive to Lake Arenal, which we cross in small boats.

After a short charter flight and a lake crossing by private boat, you’ll find yourself in remote, wild Tortuguero National Park. Stay in a rustic lodge at the water's edge, wander the narrow streets of the car-free village where the rain forest pushes in from all sides. Experience the wildness on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica by venturing into the narrow canals that let us navigate deep into the park in search of monkeys, caiman, and tropical birds.

Explore with the largest, most knowledgeable expedition team in the region. With one naturalist for every 12 guests, you’re ensured more access and varied points of view. With no assigned groups, you are free to experience the different personalities and specialties of our staff. They know these trails and coastlines well, adding insight, depth, and clarity to each landing. Our naturalists are adept at spotting wildlife and our photo instructors will help you with camera settings in the jungle and aboard ship. Their enthusiasm for the region and its biodiversity is contagious.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 — U.S./Panama City, Panama/Colon/N.G. Sea Lion

Depart U.S.in 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 Colón to board National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of our Panama Canal transit anchoring in Gatún Lake. This unique interruption makes us one of the few ships that make the crossing in two days, as well as the only ship permitted the exclusive opportunity to explore impressive Barro Colorado, which we visit tomorrow. (D)

DAY 2 — Barro Colorado/Panama Canal Transit

In the morning, we’ll board expedition landing craft for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. This island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, and we are very proud to have special permission to visit the facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Meet some of the scientists and learn about their work before we re-board to continue our crossing. Often we have the opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night. (B,L,D)

DAY 3 — Gulf of Panama Islets

This archipelago of islands due south of Panama City has a storied past — pearls, conquistadors, buccaneers, and so much more. We’ll explore the turquoise waters via expedition landing craft or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. Observe roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies on an otherwise empty stretch of white sand. (B,L,D)

DAY 4 — Isla Coiba National Park

Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike tropical, moist forest trails, swim, snorkel amid tropical fish and try stand up paddle boarding. Our staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, Naturalists take underwater footage, which animates our evening gathering in the lounge. (B,L,D)

DAY 5 — Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Today we make our first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquídeas, a privately-owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, see a profusion of orchids; and look for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, expedition landing craft cruises and wimming. (B,L,D)

DAY 6 — Osa Peninsula & Corcovado N.P.

National Geographic Sea Lion anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. Our exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride or join a expedition landing craft cruise. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkey in one day: howler, spider and squirrel! (B,L,D)

DAY 7 — Manuel Antonio National Park

The abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so we are sure to get an early start. Monkeys or vividly colored birds can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of a Naturalist to point out lethargic three-toed sloths. In the afternoon, we explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast where we’ll find a great spot for a final hike or swim. (B,L,D)

DAY 8 — Herradura/Monteverde

Disembark National Geographic Sea Lion and head to Carara National Park, where the less dense rain forests make for easy bird sightings. Lunch at a local restaurant before venturing to the nearby Bat Jungle exhibit or hearing from an early Quaker settler of Monteverde. We’ll check in to a family-owned retreat with privacy, expansive lawns and picturesque views of the cloud forest. (B,L,D)

DAY 9 — Monteverde

Breakfast at the hotel before visiting a butterfly farm where we’ll have the opportunity to see dozens of local species in a short time. After lunch, we’ll tour the Monteverde reserve with trained Naturalists, relying on their expertise to spot mantled howler monkeys and possibly the rare Resplendent Quetzal. (B,L,D)

DAY 10 — Monteverde/Arenal

We’ll enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then visit a family-owned, third generation coffee farm. A local guide will share the culture of coffee farming in Central America, and we’ll have a chance to pick coffee cherries during a tour of the grounds. After the tour, we’ll drive to Lake Arenal, which we’ll cross in 40-passenger boats landing at a restaurant on the lake’s far side. By the time lunch is finished, our motorcoaches will have arrived with our luggage. We’ll check in check into an elegant hotel surrounded by gardens and pastures with grazing animals, and every room offers a panoramic view of the smoldering Arenal Volcano. (B,L,D)

DAY 11 — Arenal Volcano

Walk the Arenal Hanging Bridges strung more than 3 kilometers through the rain forest canopy, and then explore the Arenal bridges winding through the dense forest. In the evening, relax in thermal pools naturally heated by the volcano. (B,L,D)

DAY 12 — Arenal/Tortuguero

Transfer from your hotel to the Arenal airstrip for a charter flight to Tortuguero, a spectacular lowland forest on Costa Rica’s northeast coast, accessible only by water or air. A short boat ride brings you to the rustic Aninga Lodge, set on the water’s edge. Settle into your accommodations in charming private bungalows raised above the rain forest floor and enjoy lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. The lodge also has swimming pools and a walking trail to take advantage of. Later, explore the canals of Tortuguero National Park in small boats with your naturalist guides. Be on the lookout for howler, spider and capuchin monkeys as well as caiman, ibis, tiger herons, curassow and myriad other bird species. Dine tonight at the lodge restaurant, nestled in the middle of the rain forest. (B,L,D)

DAY 13 — Tortuguero

Set out by boat to explore more of Tortuguero National Park’s canals. You can choose guided boats or go by kayak for a more personal exploration. In the early afternoon, you’ll have free time to enjoy the lodge’s amenities such as the pool or optional spa treatments before visiting the Sea Turtle Conservancy. There you’ll learn about the history of the region and important conservation work taking place on Tortuguero’s beaches. Later, stroll through the car-less village to see small shops before dining at Miss Junies, a restaurant with a rich heritage and Afro-Caribbean flair. (B,L,D)

DAY 14 — Tortuguero/San José

En route to San José, stop to visit Sibú Chocolatier, makers of some of the world’s finest organic chocolate. Learn the Aztec & Mayan history of the cacao plant and enjoy a workshop on preparing chocolate. The day ends with a farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

DAY 15 — San Jose/U.S.

This morning we drive to the airport for flights home. (B)

Dates & Rates

Map

Panama To Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano And Sarapiqui

Ships

National Geographic Sea Lion

National Geographic EndeavourNational Geographic Sea Lion can reach places inaccessible to larger ships due to its small size, yet each comfortably accommodates 62 guests in 31 outside cabins. The feeling, we’re told, is often compared to that of a large private yacht, with everyone integral to the adventure. Accessibility means freedom. Our captains have decades of sailing experience in the regions we explore. They know when and where to navigate so that you feel the places we visit are all ours. View ship details...

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