Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts – from naturalists to regional specialists – who will share their knowledge and insights the wildlife, landscape and local culture. Select a member of the expedition team below to see their bio and dates.
Immerse yourself in the natural wonders along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama on a voyage aboard the new National Geographic Quest. Venture into the rain forest of Corcovado National Park; search for monkeys, frogs, sloths, and brightly colored birds on the Osa Peninsula; or take an optional horseback ride on pristine beaches. Cap off your voyage with a crossing of the legendary Panama Canal.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Upon arrival in San José, transfer to Puerto Caldera and embark the National Geographic Quest.
Anchor off the Osa Peninsula 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, take an optional horseback ride on the beach, or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see four species of monkeys—howler, spider, capuchin, and squirrel.
Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce, a protected gulf along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Venture ashore at the white sands of Playa Blanca. Then head inland to visit remote indigenous communities and experience daily life on the Osa Peninsula. Meet with local artisans working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane, and watch as they ply their trades. Later, hike in mature rain forest where sloths, monkeys, and brightly colored birds can be spotted, or kayak in the Golfo Dulce, one of the few tropical fjords in the world. In the evening, enjoy drinks and a beautiful sunset.
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, stand-up paddleboarding, expeditions landing craft rides, and swimming.
Isla Coiba, one of Panama’s most remote national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers some of the best reefs for snorkeling in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Observe a vibrant undersea world while swimming, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding.
Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here, we might spot frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and brown boobies. Set sail for the Panama Canal this afternoon. Stretching more than 50 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.
Board a Zodiac 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 1923, researching its 120 mammals and diverse tree species. It is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides for a walk through the forests. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal.
After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home.
Your expedition experience can be tailored to the activity level you choose, whether it’s light or moderate or a little of both. Travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time, and able to get in and out of expedition landing craft. Daily activities may include Zodiac cruises, easy hikes, walking tours, and visits to cultural or historic sites, with options each day for more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, or biking.
A National Geographic expert or photographer joins the expedition team on select departures.
Traveling aboard the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, you’ll enjoy the daily thrill of discovery without sacrificing comfort. Each of our ships provides an inviting home base with superior amenities, personalized service, and a vibrant yet casual onboard atmosphere. Step aboard and you’ll find comfortable cabins, a well-stocked library, and dining rooms serving regionally inspired cuisine with fresh, local ingredients. Expansive decks provide an exceptional vantage point for spotting and photographing wildlife.
The National Geographic Quest traces the coast of North America, bringing travelers to Alaska and British Columbia in the summer, and heading south in the winter to navigate Baja California and the Sea of Cortez as well as Costa Rica and Panama. The ship is designed to navigate narrow inlets and wildlife-rich passageways inaccessible to larger ships.
Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
Add a three-day pre-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve or seven-day post-trip extension to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal Volcano, and Tortuguero on select departures. Please call for details.
Extend your trip by combining this voyage with our Costa Rica: Cloud Forest to the Caribbean land-based expedition.
Book by October 31, 2018 and receive free international round-trip airfare between Miami and Costa Rica or Panama, or a complimentary Panama City extension, on the December 8 and 15, 2018 departures and all 2019 departures. Offer is for new bookings only, may not be combined with other offers, and is subject to availability. Please call for details.