From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama
Feb 14, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Bayoneta, Vivienda, and Malaga Islands & Panama Canal
Last Tuesday during our visit to Golfo Dulce we explored a destination new to National Geographic Sea Lion: a mangrove ecosystem in the mouth of Tigre River. That inspired a lot of great memories for all of us, hence after 198 nm with a stupendous calm sea around Azuero Peninsula, we felt inspired to look for a new pristine destination. Early this morning we found ourselves in a second new site for our ship in less than three days.
This time our spirit of discovery brought us to the Pearl Islands; specifically to Bayoneta, Vivienda, and Malaga Islands. Upon arrival, the deciduous forest in contact with the turquoise placid waters was an idyllic place to be immersed as one with nature. The activities were simple, Zodiac cruises visiting the shoreline with its different rocky formations, snorkeling, and swimming in a small delightful beach. We had time for all activities keeping in mind that our timing today was essential for our afternoon destination at the Panama Canal.
The Zodiac cruises provided close encounters with frigatebirds, brown pelicans, tiger-herons, cormorants, egrets, and even lots of cow and stingrays. By late morning we started to sail 38 miles northwest toward Flamenco Bay, our official entrance to the Panama Canal. The Gulf of Panama is full of life with feeding frenzies with birds and dolphins everywhere.
For most guests, the main highlight of the day began in late afternoon. As soon as we cleared all paperwork and inspections from the boarding officers of the Panama Canal, our transit began around 1800 when the pilot arrived to the ship. It is outstanding to witness with our own eyes the masterpiece of engineering of the Panama Canal. Our ship was lifted 86 feet or 28 meters seamlessly in order to reach Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake. At the end of the day, we felt inspired with the current management and the superb expansion process of this waterway. Late in the evening we dropped anchor in Gatun Lake looking forward for our next activity in Panama.