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The Panama Canal & Costa Rica 2018 (BBC Earth Journey, Westbound)

11 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive Panama City
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Hilton Panama. You will be met upon arrival at Panama City's Tocumen International Airport and transferred to the Hilton Panama. Please join us this evening for a welcome cocktail reception, dinner, and a performance by local dancers and musicians at your hotel. (D)

Day 2 Canal Zone, Gamboa Rainforest & your cruise begins
In Panama City's historic district and the former Canal Zone, drive through Ancon Hill, home to US military facilities until Panamanian sovereignty over the "Zone" began in 1977. Also, visit the Biomuseo (Biodiversity Museum), designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry; its exhibits interpret the origins and ecological impact of the Panamanian Isthmus. Head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for lunch; choose between an aerial tram ride at eye-level with exotic birds and animals, or a boat cruise along waterways where you might spot monkeys at play. At the Gatún Locks, you'll learn of plans for the future of the Panama Canal at the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center. In the late afternoon, arrive at the pier in Colón to board Wind Star for your 7-night cruise. (B, L, D)

Day 3 Transiting the Panama Canal
Opened in 1914, and considered an engineering marvel of the 20th century, the Panama Canal opened trade to the Americas by creating a transit path between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Thanks to the canal, today ships traveling from New York to San Francisco save over 7,000 miles by not having to chart a course around South America. Early this morning, Wind Star will arrive at Gatun and position outside the canal for her full transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We'll welcome aboard a canal pilot, the local navigation professional who will guide our ship into the Gatun Locks, Lake Gatun and into the narrow Gaillard cut. Later, we transit the Pedro Miguel locks before finally clearing Miraflores locks and passing beneath the Bridge of the Americas to the Pacific Ocean at Balboa. Your Tauck Director, Tauck Naturalist and an official of the Panama Canal Authority will provide both technical and historical information about this engineering wonder. The process may take approximately eight to ten hours; while passing through the three locks, your yacht will be be raised up a total of 85 feet before reaching the Pacific Ocean! (B, L, D)

Day 4 Panama City, Casco Viejo & more
Call at Balboa and explore more of Panama City and environs, including the former Panama Canal Zone. After lunch aboard the ship, head to the city's historic district, Casco Viejo. On a walking tour and later some time on your own, you'll get to know this walled, cobblestoned city, built in the 1670s at the foot of Ancon Hill, to provide safety from attack. The area is a gem of Spanish colonial architecture in various stages of redevelopment, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B, L, D)

Day 5 A day on the Pacific Ocean
Spend a relaxing day at sea enjoying the amenities aboard your yacht, Wind Star. Your Tauck Director and Tauck's naturalist circulate as you sail, sharing their experiences, answering questions, and looking out for wildlife. (B, L, D)

Day 6 A beach party on Isla Parida
Get ready for a day of fun in the sun on Isla Parida, part of an archipelago within Panama's Gulf of Chiriquí, an area rich in sea life and exotic bird species, including parrots and toucans. Isla Parida is an island paradise of virgin rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches and warm, clear waters - with year-round temperatures of around 82º F - that prove irresistible for swimming, kayaking*, snorkeling, and sunning - all available to you today. Please join us for a flavor-filled beach buffet barbecue in a secluded spot on the island. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Dolphins & more on Golfo Dulce
Your port of call today is Puerto Jiménez on Costa Rica's aptly named Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf). Set out on a morning boating adventure in search of frolicking dolphins before enjoying lunch onboard ship. This afternoon you have a choice of activities: go zip lining* through the treetops of the rainforest canopy... or learn about chocolate on a visit to a local cacao farm. Enjoy dinner onboard as Wind Star sails this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Manuel Antonio National Park
Call on the city of Quepos this morning, a perfect jumping off point for your excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park, where you'll find coral reefs and white sand beaches, considered among the most beautiful in Costa Rica, lined with rainforest. Explore with our local guide. After lunch, go on an exciting river float trip on the Savegre River. Back on the ship, join the captain for a farewell reception and dinner tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 9 Ox carts in Sarchi and gold in San José
Disembark in Puerto Caldera, bid farewell to Wind Star and her crew, and set off to discover Costa Rica's fascinating interior en route to the capital city of San José. Visit the artisan village of Sarchi, known for the production and painting of the traditional ox carts (carretas) and other handmade products seen all over the country, bearing the colorful starburst designs that have become a symbol of Costa Rica. After lunch at a local restaurant situated within a private ranch house and garden, continue on to Costa Rica's capital city, San José. Here, sightseeing includes a visit to the National Theatre, an ornate symbol of civic pride dating back to 1897; the theatre's interior shines with Baroque gold and Carrara marble. You'll also take in the Museo del Oro Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum) and its collection of pre-Columbian works of gold. The day concludes as you settle in at your hotel, the InterContinental Costa Rica, situated within the fashionable suburb of Escazú just outside of the city, complete with inviting outdoor pools, gardens, and spa. (B, L)

Day 10 Coffee, waterfalls & rainforest wildlife
Coffee has long been one of Costa Rica's most important exports. Today you'll visit the Doka Coffee Plantation, located on the fertile slopes of Alajuela's Poás Volcano, where the soil and altitude make for ideal growing conditions. Your guide explains how the beans are produced and roasted and how different microclimates affect the taste. Also explore La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a private rainforest eco-park and wildlife refuge known for spectacular waterfalls and flowing white rivers; this protected reserve buzzes with the sounds and sights of wildlife including toucans, butterflies, spider monkeys, two-toed sloths and red-eyed leaf frogs - to name a few of the 100+ species. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 11 Journey Home
Tour ends: San José, Costa Rica. Fly home anytime. A transfer from the InterContinental Costa Rica to San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport is included. You should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in. Please note that the Costa Rica departure tax is not included. (B)
Map
All This Included
Earth Journeys, created by Tauck and BBC Earth! The Panama Canal & Costa Rica joins our Earth Journeys collection featuring custom-made BBC Earth on-tour film vignettes and when the opportunity arises, the use of field equipment. Combine the magic of Tauck's Costa Rica tours with a Panama Canal cruise on our 11-day The Panama Canal & Costa Rica and enjoy up-close discoveries of amazing wildlife, fascinating centuries-old cultures and man-made marvels, one night in Panama City and a two-night stay in San José. A 7-night voyage aboard Windstar's classic four-masted yacht, Wind Star, includes a complete transit of the Panama Canal, and an opportunity for cultural exchange with locals in Panama and along Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Explore the rich interior and its abundant wildlife with our expert naturalists. Go swimming or snorkeling, land on islands via tender or Zodiac craft, visit a gold museum in San José and learn how coffee beans are harvested and brewed to perfection. Experience the best of our Costa Rica tours with the pleasures of Tauck small ship cruising through the Panama Canal!
  • All gratuities to Tauck Directors, local guides, naturalists and ship staff
  • Tauck's private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at $2,300
  • On-tour film vignettes custom-made for Tauck by BBC Earth natural history experts
  • Field equipment may include GoPro cameras and camera traps
  • 7-night cruise aboard Windstar's classic four-masted yacht, Wind Star, in an exclusive group of approximately 40 Tauck guests
  • Your cruise may be a shared ship experience with non-Tauck guests onboard as well; all Tauck guests will be accompanied by one Tauck Director for approximately every 40 Tauck guests, and your itinerary will always be highlighted by exclusive, private Tauck shore excursions
  • Full small-ship transit of the Panama Canal with onboard commentary by a local expert
  • 3 nights' hotel accommodations with guided sightseeing in San José, Costa Rica & Panama City
  • Tauck's experienced naturalist, Tauck Director and local guides join the cruise aboard ship, leading excursions ashore to enrich your experience of the jungle, water and flora & fauna
  • Visits to Isla Parida in Panama's Gulf of Chiriquí & Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica
  • Aboard ship - alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day aboard ship including house wines and spirits; premium spirits and wines are available at extra cost.
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 29 meals (10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners); applicable fuel surcharges, service charges, porterage and most taxes
Highlights
  • Earth Journey featuring on-tour film vignettes custom-made for Tauck by BBC Earth natural history experts
  • Field equipment may include GoPro cameras and camera traps
  • Full transit of the Panama Canal aboard Windstar's classic four-masted yacht Wind Star
  • A Tauck naturalist onboard for full journey
  • Opportunity for cultural exchange with locals in Panama and along Costa Rica's Pacific coast
  • 2 nights hotel accommodations with guided sightseeing in San José and 1 night in Panama City
Accommodations
Panama City: Hilton Panama
Cruising: cabin aboard Wind Star
San Jose: InterContinental Costa Rica
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades available.
  • This cruise feature two types of landings on the islands, made from your Windstar ship either by tender or Zodiac-style inflatable rafts. Dry Landings occur when guests step from the tender or rafts on to rocks or a dock. Wet Landings occur when the tender or raft edges onto a sandy beach and guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
  • Costa Rica departure tax on Westbound departures is not included.
  • Activities marked with an asterisk (*) are at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.