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Panama To Costa Rica + Monteverde, Arenal Volcano And Sarapiqui

Rates & Dates:

Trip Length: 15 Days/ 14 Nights

Prices from: $8,120 pp/do*

Single Price: $11,160 pp

Ships: MV Sea Bird & Sea Lion

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Cloud forests, volcanoes and the sea: The ultimate allure of a Panama and Costa Rica cruise. This expedition offers an amazing variety of experiences, including an in-depth transit of the Panama Canal; and time on land in Monteverde Cloud Forest and at Arenal Volcano, active since 1968. Explore the area by small ship cruising aboard the versatile National Geographic Sea Lion, go kayaking, use Zodiac landing craft, and snorkeling gear. On this Central American cruise you can join rain-forest hikes amid monkeys, sloths and tropical birds. Naturalists accompany every activity and our Undersea Specialist uses state-of-the-art equipment to open up the vibrant undersea world.

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Itinerary

DAY 1 — Miami/Panama City, Panama/Colon/N.G. Sea Lion
Depart Miami 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 Colon to board National Geographic Sea Lionand set sail for the first part of our Panama Canal transit anchoring in Gatun 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)
Barro Colorado Island & Gatun Lake/Panama Canal Tr

DAY 2 — Barro Colorado Island & Gatun Lake/Panama Canal Tr
Today we’ll combine two of the main reasons many of us come south of the border: the Panama Canal and the tropical rain forest. By special invitation, board a Zodiac this morning to explore Barro Colorado Nature Monument, set in Gatun Lake and home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Inaccessible to most travelers, the island itself is quite unique. Before the building of the Canal it was actually the top of a mountain, and when the river valley was flooded to form man-made Gatun Lake, it became the island we see today. You’ll hike through the lush forest with Smithsonian guides. As always, the forest is full of surprises: monkeys, anteaters, slow-moving sloths, brilliantly colored birds. Reboard National Geographic Sea Lion to continue our crossing, possibly at night when the Canal is dramatically lit. (A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships.) (B,L,D)
Gulf of Panama Islets

DAY 3 — Gulf of Panama Islets
Flexibility and adventure go hand in hand. Since we’re not tied to a minute-by-minute timetable, we take the day to leisurely explore a cluster of islands in the Gulf of Panama via Zodiac or kayak. It’s a wonderful introduction to the region’s varied birdlife. Observe large numbers of roosting and nesting seabirds: magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies of Galápagos fame. (B,L,D)
Isla Coiba National Park

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 and snorkel amid tropical fish. 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)
Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

DAY 5 — Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Today we make our first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquideas, 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 or swimming. (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 kayak. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkey in one day: howler, spider and squirrel! (B,L,D)
Manuel Antonio National Park

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)
Herradura/Disembark/Carara Biological Reserve/Mont

DAY 8 — Herradura/Disembark/Carara Biological Reserve/Mont
Disembark National Geographic Sea Lion in Herradura and take a 20-minute drive to the Carara Biological Reserve. View monkeys, iguanas, the endangered scarlet macaw and huge American crocodiles. A drive up the mountain takes us to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Bathed in cool, year-round moisture, the forest is covered with lichen, moss and 300 species of orchid. Spend two nights at a charming, family-owned lodge. (B,L,D)
Monteverde Cloud Forest

DAY 9 — Monteverde Cloud Forest
Visit a butterfly garden of native species. Explore forest trails; search for the elusive resplendent quetzal. (B,L,D)
Monteverde/Arenal

DAY 10 — Monteverde/Arenal
Experience the skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird’s-eye view of the forest canopy — considered the last frontier of the tropical cloud forest. Take a leisurely 3 ½-hour drive to Arenal, past verdant Tilaran and around Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake, adorned by the mighty Arenal Volcano. (B,L,D)

DAY 11 — Arenal Volcano
Explore rain-forest trails and take time this afternoon for volcano gazing. (B,L,D)
Arenal/Sarapiquí

DAY 12 — Arenal/Sarapiquí
Cross the northern plains leading to the rich rain forests of Sarapiquí. Go whitewater rafting or river floating on the Sarapiquí River. After lunch check into Sueño Azul, a working hacienda and spa, where we spend the next two nights. (B,L,D)
Sarapiquí

DAY 13 — Sarapiquí
In the morning visit La Selva, a well-known site for research on tropical ecology. In the afternoon walk the hacienda’s grounds, swim in the pool or river, or sample spa treatments. (B,L,D)
Sarapiqui/San Jose

DAY 14 — Sarapiqui/San Jose
After breakfast you’ll take the scenic route to the capital city, San Jose for visit of the city and the Gold Museum. Lunch at a restaurant in the exclusive Escazú area. This evening will be spent at the Doubletree Cariari Hotel. (B,L)
San Jose/Miami

DAY 15 — San Jose/Miami
This morning we drive to the airport for flights home. (B)

Photo Credit: Lindblad Expeditions