Flexibility is a hallmark of our expeditions

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.


Embark: Panama City

Disembark: San Jose

Select departures travel from San Jose to Panama City.


  • DAY 1: U.S./Panama City/Colón/Embark

    Upon arrival in Panama City, transfer by land to Colón and embark our ship National Geographic Quest. (D)

  • DAY 2: 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. 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 3: Gulf of Panama Islets

    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.  (B,L,D)

  • DAY 4: 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 5: 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.

    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 6: 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.

  • DAY 7: 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 8: Puerto Caldera/Disembark/San José/U.S.

    Disembark after breakfast in Puerto Caldera. Drive to the airport in San José for flights home. (B)

Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

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