We spent most of today enjoying the beauty and serenity of Coiba Island and nearby Coco Islet. The underwater world is the highlight at Coco Islet. Snorkelers marveled at the fish and sea turtles. The beach near Coiba Island’s ranger station was the launching place for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, birdwatching and photography. Both locations were great for swimming, soaking up the sun, taking in the views of the surrounding islets and enjoying our last full day in Panama.
National Geographic Quest
The first day of our adventure began in my favorite place in the world, the Osa Peninsula, which is the southernmost peninsula along the country’s Pacific coastline. For many years, the peninsula was isolated from the rest of the country. At the time, it was a drive of at least eight hours from the Central Valley. After the long drive, one took a small boat into the Sierpe River, through the river’s mouth and into the Pacific Ocean to reach Drake’s Bay. Additionally, the peninsula had “nothing” to offer until the late seventies, when gold was discovered in its rivers. Panning began to destroy the forest, and the country started to see natural resources as a potential income. Gold panning was banned and almost 85% of the area was declared a national park. Today we had the chance to explore the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula. In the morning, we visited Calestas’ Wildlife Refuge, owned by our friend Enrique. We chose from three activities: a long repositioning walk from the landing beach to the town of Agujitas; a loop trail inside the forest; and a walk along the premises looking for birds, plants and anything that might pop up. We were not disappointed. Blue-crowned motmots, army and leafcutter ants and a beautiful coastline full of amazing trees were just some of the details of our morning. After lunch, we had the opportunity to take two paths. One path took us up into the mainland forest, toward our main destination, San Pedrillo’s waterfall walk. The second hike took us to Pargo Trail along the coastline. The forest rewarded us with sightings of monkeys, a tamandua anteater, many endemic bird species and a beautiful set of overlapping mountain ranges. We returned to the ship sharing stories and sweaty clothes after the first day of our one-week adventure.