The Experience

DAY 1: U.S./Panama City, Panama/Colon/N.G. Sea Lion
Depart 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)

DAY 2: Barro Colorado/Panama Canal Transit
In the morning, we’ll board Zodiacs for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun 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 reboard 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 Zodiac 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 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)

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, zodiac cruises 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 join a Zodiac 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 breakfast at the hotel and then visit a familyowned, 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/Sarapiqu
We,™ll transfer to Sarapiqu­, stopping to visit La Selva Biological Station and some of the most immaculate primary tropical rain forest. Check-in to Sueo Azul, set in a private rain forest reserve at the convergence of two rivers. (B,L,D)

DAY 13: Sarapiqu­
Float the Sarapiqu­ River on a relaxing journey or opt for an adventurous whitewater rafting trip. After lunch, you’re free to explore on your own. Ride horseback to secluded waterfalls or pamper yourself with a yoga class or a day in the spa. (B,L,D)

DAY 14: Sarapiqui/San Jose
En route to San Jose we’ll stop visit Sibu Chocolatier, makers of some of the world’s finest organic chocolate. Here we’ll learn the Aztec & Mayan history of the cacao plant and enjoy a workshop on preparing chocolate. After a picnic lunch of traditional Costa Rican fare, we’ll visit one of San Jose,™s fine museums. The day ends with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

DAY 15: San Jose/U.S.
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight home. (B)

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