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Costa Rica & the Panama Canal (San Jose to Panama City)

8 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Click for Dates and Prices Day 1: San Jose / Herradura / Embark Ship
Our Panama & Costa Rica cruise begins in San Jose. From here, we’ll drive to Herradura to board the National Geographic Quest and set sail. 

Day 2: Manuel Antonio National Park 
The abundant wildlife in this famous nature reserve is most active in the early morning, so we make sure to get an early start. Lethargic three-toed sloths can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of one of our staff naturalists to point out monkeys or vividly colored birds as they flit through the forest. In the afternoon, we explore more of Costa Rica’s entrancing coastline, finding a perfect spot for a final hike or swim. 

Day 3: Osa Peninsula 
The National Geographic Quest anchors off Costa Rica's remote Osa Peninsula, with access to Corcovado National Park. The region, on Costa Rica's far southwest side, lies off the standard tourist itinerary, and we'll enjoy an immersion in untouched tropical wilderness. Our exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. There will be opportunities to swim in waterfall pools, ride horseback, kayak through the transparent aqua water or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider and squirrel—in one day.

Day 4: 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, we'll see a profusion of orchids while looking for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, we explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce, an ideal spot for kayaking and swimming. 

Day 5: Isla Coiba National Park 
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where we'll have the opportunity for easy hikes on a network of trails through the moist tropical forest. The area is also perfect for swimming and snorkeling amidst schools of colorful tropical fish. The ship's staff will assist both novice and experienced snorkelers alike. For those preferring to stay on dry land, our shipboard naturalists will take underwater footage, which they will share during our evening gathering in the lounge.
Day 6: Gulf of Panama Islets 
Explore a cluster of small islands in the Gulf of Panama via Zodiac or kayak for a delightful introduction to the region’s varied birdlife. Observe large numbers of roosting and nesting seabirds including magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies of Galápagos fame.

Day 7: Gatun Lake / Panama Canal Transit 
Board Zodiacs for an excursion to Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake. This island is inaccessible to most travelers, and, by special arrangement, guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute accompany us through the tropical forest that so challenged the builders of the canal. We then re-board the ship to continue our crossing. A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships. The canal, however, is dramatically lit at night. 
Day 8: Colon / Panama City / Disembark / 
Disembark this morning transfer to the airport for flights home, or on to other adventures.
All This Included
There are few places in the world where nature is as exuberant, colorful and diverse as in the tropics of Costa Rica, home to a vibrant array of flora and fauna. From white-faced capuchins and green sea turtles to scarlet macaws and blue morpho butterflies, Costa Rica's wildlife will wow you. But this adventure cruise takes our Central American nature immersion a step beyond, to the neighboring country of Panama as well. To many, Panama is synonymous with its famous canal, one of the most celebrated human achievements on the planet. What many people don’t know, however, is that Panama offers natural beauty and biological diversity that’s equal to Costa Rica’s, with prolific birdlife on tropical islands and one of the largest marine sanctuaries on Earth. That means you'll get double the rewards on this special itinerary that includes both of these spectacular nature destinations!
  • Accommodations aboard ship, dinner from Day 1 to breakfast on final day
  • Non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship
  • Excursions and entrance fees
  • Services of Lindblad Expeditions' leader
  • Naturalist staff and a ship doctor
  • Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment
  • All port charges and service taxes
  • Explore with the Smithsonian: Transit the Panama Canal with a stop midway at Barro Colorado Island where we're accompanied on forest walks by guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Outstanding Tropical Wildlife: Discover an astonishing variety of jungle wildlife—monkeys, sloths, agoutis, reptiles, possibly tapirs, and more than 300 species of birds including toucans and scarlet macaws
  • Costa Rica Less Traveled: Explore less-traveled beaches and coastal rain forest on Costa Rica's Pacific side with stops at Golfo Dulce, the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park
Cruising: Cabin onboard National Geographic Quest
Pre and Post Add-ons
Panama Canal & City Extension
2 Days / From $475
Witness history in the making at the recently expanded Panama Canal, see its works in detail, and capture close-up photos as enormous ships transit this engineering marvel.
  • Cabin upgrades are available. 
  • This itinerary should serve as a guideline only: actual stops are determined by weather, wildlife activity, and a host of other factors in order to provide the best possible experience. This flexibility is what makes traveling on our nimble expedition ships so much more rewarding than on a large vessel with a locked-in voyage plan.
  • Group Size: National Geographic Quest: Approximately 100 Travelers.
  • Not Included: Air transportation; horseback riding; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc.; discretionary tips to naturalist staff and crew; optional travel and/or medical evacuation insurance.
  • Since the areas we travel to are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we strongly recommend that all guests have, at minimum, medical evacuation insurance for this program. While this is not required, we make this strong suggestion in the interest of our guests' safety. We recommend that your chosen independent insurance plan includes at least $250,000 in medical evacuation coverage.
  • Physical Requirements: Easy to Moderate. Our Panama and Costa Rica adventure cruise does not require a high degree of physical fitness overall. A range of options will be offered to you, and we stress that all activities are optional. Shorter walks will always be available. Faster paced walks for those who want more of a workout will also be offered. Depending on conditions, trails may be potentially wet and muddy, and uneven terrain may be encountered. Kayaking will be an option available to guests. Travelers should be aware that the heat and humidity in the tropics may be very high and roads may be bumpy. Please be prepared for water landings.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures 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.