More avenues for exploration give you the most interesting options

The Pacific coasts of Panama and Costa Rica are among the world’s most beautiful and diverse. Combine all this wildness with a transit of the legendary Panama Canal—aboard National Geographic Quest. Then, venture to Monteverde for a walk in the cloud forest. The day-to-day itinerary outlines what you’ll do, but we will always remain flexible in our approach to take advantage of sightings and opportunities for discovery.


  • DAY 1: U.S./San José, Costa Rica

    Upon arrival in San José, Costa Rica, a short drive brings us to the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel. (D)

  • DAY 2-3: Monteverde Cloud Forest

    A scenic drive takes us to Monteverde Cloud Forest, an acclaimed private reserve. Bathed in cool, year-round moisture, the forest is covered with mosses and 300 species of orchids. Walk trails rich with butterflies and bird life. Ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird’s-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Learn about life in the early Monteverde community from a family member of one of the original Quaker homesteaders. Spend each night at a charming, family-owned lodge. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 4: Monteverde/Puerto Caldera/Embark

    Visit a butterfly farm before transferring to Puerto Caldera to embark our ship. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 5: 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 four species of monkeys—howler, spider, squirrel, and capuchin. (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, the only tropical fiord in the continent. In the evening, enjoy drinks ashore and, hopefully, a beautiful sunset. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 7: Golfo Dulce

    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 8: 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 9: 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 10: Gatun 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 11: Colón/Disembark/Panama City/Home

    Disembark after breakfast in Colón. Drive to the airport in Panama City 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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