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Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

At a glance

Duration: 8 Days, 7 Nights

Coverage: San José to Panama City

From: $6,170

Season: January - March, December

Activities: Wildlife

Book this Trip › or call us toll-free 1-888-815-5428

Lindblad Expeditions in Partnership with National Geographic

Joining an expedition to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal is a singular experience of diverse nature and jungle wildlife coupled with an in-depth crossing of the Panama Canal, a marvel of engineering. A knowledgeable, engaging staff caters to your daily interests and provides insight, all while traveling in comfort.


  • Venture into remote wilderness: hike among monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, and explore far from any inhabited places
  • Transit the Panama Canal—a historical marvel of engineering
  • Kayak cool azure waters where the rain forest meets the sea
  • Explore idyllic islands; snorkel over a vibrant coral reef and take an expedition landing craft cruise through mangroves.

Escape into wildness

The perfect winter escape. Dense, lush rain forest. Pristine deserted beaches. Monkeys galore. Coatimundis and dozing sloths, plus toucans, macaws, and hummingbirds. Walk deep into the rain forest; the only sounds are the birds and monkeys in the trees and your own footfalls. And slowly, everyday life dissipates as revitalization takes over. Each day reveals distinct facets of the region: forest trails for hiking, a cool swim in a waterfall pool, or a coral reef to snorkel. Opportunities abound to see creatures in their natural environs—both on land and in the sea.

Exhilarating adventures daily

You’ll walk the rain forest, kayak through mangroves, search for wildlife by expedition landing craft, and transit the Panama Canal—a modern wonder of the world. Snorkel at Isla Coiba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the best reefs in the Eastern Pacific. Our expert naturalists and photo instructors are with you every step of the way, always giving you choices and expanding your knowledge. And aboard, you can always savor panoramic views from the National Geographic Sea Lion.

Travel with an exceptional team

Explore with the largest, most knowledgeable expedition team in the region. With one naturalist for every 12 guests, you’re ensured more access and varied points of view. With no assigned groups, you are free to experience the different personalities and specialties of our staff. They know these trails and coastlines well, adding insight, depth, and clarity to each landing. Our naturalists are adept at spotting wildlife and our photo instructors will help you with camera settings in the rain forest and aboard ship. Their enthusiasm for the region and its biodiversity is contagious.

More avenues for exploration give you the most interesting options. Explore mountains, tropical rain forests, and idyllic islands. Learn about the abundant wildlife residing here. Combine all this wildness with a transit of the legendary Panama Canal—aboard National Geographic Quest. While the routing below outlines what you’ll do, we will always remain flexible in our approach to take advantage of sightings and opportunities for discovery.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

Day 1 — U.S./San José, Costa Rica/ Puerto Caldera/Embark

Upon arrival in San José, transfer by land to Puerto Caldera and embark our ship National Geographic Quest. (D)

Day 2 — Corcovado National Park

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 coast, or trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider and capuchin. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Golfo Dulce/Osa Peninsula

Go ashore in the pristine waters of Playa Blanca. Head inland to meet and share with inspiring local families living in remote communities and working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane. Hike mature rain forest or kayak in peaceful waters in Golfo Dulce. In the evening, enjoy a beautiful sunset.

NEW! Visit the Osa Conservation and learn about their program that monitors the nesting activity, predation rates, and hatchling success of these incredible species. Take part in activities, enjoy dinner and a sunset cocktail get-together and when it gets dark, patrol the beach at night searching for nesting green sea turtles. March departures only, nature dependent for all viewing. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Visit Casa Orquídeas, a tropical paradise of ornamental palms, bromeliads, heliconias, and orchids, closed to the general public and reached by boat only. Keep your eye out for tanagers, parrots, and toucans. Later, explore the placid bay, ideal for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Zodiac rides, and swimming. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Coiba National Park, Panama

The first stop in Panama this morning is at the remote Isla Coiba, one of the many islands of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a penal colony, the island has long been protected and accessible by special permit only. Among its many endemic species are the Coiba Island agouti and the mantled howler monkey, as well as four varieties of sea turtle. Discover rich marine life while snorkeling, go kayaking or hiking, try stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Gulf of Panama Islets/Panama Canal Transit

Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here we might spot frigatebirds, 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. It 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. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Gatún Lake/Panama Canal Transit

By special arrangement, National Geographic Quest will anchor in Gatun Lake near the Barro Colorado Nature Monument overnight. Today, choose hikes and Zodiac cruises at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facility on Barro Colorado Island, or take a boat ride to the mouth of the Chagres River and hike on the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center trails. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Colón/Panama City, Panama/Disembark/U.S.

After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home. (B)

Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Dates & Rates

Dates Direction Cat. 1 Cat. 2 Cat. 3 Cat. 4 Cat. 5 Single 1 Single 2
Nov 24, 2019 San Jose to Panama City $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Dec 1, 2019 Panama City to San Jose $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Dec 8, 2019 San Jose to Panama City $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Dec 15, 2019 Panama City to San Jose $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Dec 22, 2019 San Jose to Panama City $6,390 $6,990 $7,520 $8,380 $9,420 $9,590 $10,490
Dec 29, 2019 Panama City to San Jose $6,390 $6,990 $7,520 $8,380 $9,420 $9,590 $10,490
Jan 5, 2020 San Jose to Panama City $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Jan 12, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Jan 19, 2020 San Jose to Panama City $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Jan 26, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Feb 2, 2020 San Jose to Panama City $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Mar 23, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,170 $6,790 $7,200 $8,020 $8,950 $9,260 $10,190
Dec 6, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,380 $6,990 $7,420 $8,260 $9,220 $9,540 $10,490
Dec 13, 2020 San Jose to Panama City $6,380 $6,990 $7,420 $8,260 $9,220 $9,540 $10,490
Dec 20, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,990 $7,680 $8,160 $9,080 $10,130 $10,480 $11,530
Dec 27, 2020 Panama City to San Jose $6,990 $7,680 $8,160 $9,080 $10,130 $10,480 $11,530
Jan 3, 2021 San Jose to Panama City $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590
Jan 10, 2021 Panama City to San Jose $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590
Jan 17, 2021 San Jose to Panama City $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590
Jan 24, 2021 Panama City to San Jose $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590
Jan 31, 2021 San Jose to Panama City $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590
Mar 12, 2021 Panama City to San Jose $6,490 $6,990 $7,550 $8,490 $9,370 $9,690 $10,590


National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest

National Geographic Quest is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built expedition vessel made for exploring coastal waters, shallow coves, and fast-moving channels where wildlife congregate while sailing with the luxury of supreme comfort. Spacious cabins, open decks for wildlife viewing, and specialty tools for exploration make it the ideal platform for sailing in the remote areas of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize. View ship details...

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