Otoque & Bona Islands and Panama Canal

Jan 10, 2020 - National Geographic Quest

After navigating for around 198 nautical miles, National Geographic Quest found itself right in the very large Bay of Panama. This large body of water sees strong northeastern trade winds which blow the upper surface water away leading the cold reach-nutrient water from the bottom to surface and increase the productivity of plankton. This brings an abundance of fish to the area, and by extension a great number of seabirds.

The Archipelago of Otoque and Bona are known as a seabird rookery, with hundreds of brown and blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds and brown pelicans. Far and away the best way to explore this island is by Zodiac, which allow for extremely close vantages of the nesting sites.

After coming back aboard, we repositioned the ship ten nautical miles to the picturesque island of Taboga, where we got to see one of the oldest churches in Panama dating back to the 1500s. After that small leg-stretch of a landing, we head to the checkpoint for our transit through the Panama Canal.

The sunset to our port side was just spectacular along the Panama Canal. Inaugurated in 1914, the canal runs no less well than it has in previous decades. National Geographic Quest was brought up 85 feet above sea level within 3 hours, going through the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks. We continued transiting all through the night, crossing the Culebra Cut and the Gatun Lake, to finally drop anchor in front of the Gatun Locks, which will be learn of and explore tomorrow!

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About the Author

Margrit Ulrich


Affectionately called "Machita" ("Blondie"), Margrit is one of our most cosmopolitan guides with a family that hailed from Switzerland, France, and Germany before settling in Costa Rica's capital city San José where she was born and raised. Hence she blends the well-organized, perfectionist, and detailed personality of a Swiss watch with the easiness and effervescent enthusiasm of a simple tropical girl.

About the Photographer

Carlos Calvo Obando

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Carlos is a freelance wildlife photographer and photography instructor from Costa Rica. Passionate about travel and education, he also works as a certified naturalist guide on the beaches, jungles, and mountains of that beautiful tropical paradise. With 20 years of experience leading groups and making images and portraits of Costa Rican creatures and landscapes, he loves to share his knowledge and tricks with enthusiasm, simplicity, and a good sense of humor.

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