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.


  • DAY 1: Panama City, Panama/Colón/N.G. Quest

    Upon arrival in Panama City, drive to Colón to board National Geographic Quest and set sail for the first part of our Panama Canal transit anchoring in Gatún Lake. This unique interruption makes us one of the few ships that make the crossing in two days, as well as the only ship permitted the exclusive opportunity to explore impressive Barro Colorado, which we visit tomorrow. (D)

  • DAY 2: Barro Colorado/Panama Canal Transit

    In the morning, we’ll board expedition landing craft for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. This island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1946, and we are very proud to have special permission to visit the facilities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Meet some of the scientists and learn about their work before we re-board to continue our crossing. Often we have the opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 3: Gulf of Panama Islets

    This archipelago of islands due south of Panama City has a storied past — pearls, conquistadors, buccaneers, and so much more. We’ll explore the turquoise waters via expedition landing craft or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. We may also observe magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropic cormorants, and brown boobies. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 4: Isla Coiba National Park

    Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike tropical, moist forest trails, swim, snorkel amid tropical fish and try stand up paddle boarding. Our staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, Naturalists take underwater footage, which animates our evening gathering in the lounge. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 5: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

    Today we make our first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquídeas, a privately-owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, see a profusion of orchids; and look for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding. expedition landing craft cruises and wimming. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 6: Osa Peninsula & Corcovado National Park

    National Geographic Quest anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. Our exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride or join a expedition landing craft cruise. Trek through the rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys in one day: howler, spider and squirrel! (B,L,D)

  • DAY 7: Manuel Antonio National Park

    The abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so we are sure to get an early start. Monkeys or vividly colored birds can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of a Naturalist to point out lethargic three-toed sloths. In the afternoon, we explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast where we’ll find a great spot for a final hike or swim. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 8: Herradura/Monteverde

    Disembark National Geographic Quest and head to Carara National Park, where the less dense rain forests make for easy bird sightings. Lunch at a local restaurant before venturing to the nearby Bat Jungle exhibit or hearing from an early Quaker settler of Monteverde. We’ll check in to a family-owned retreat with privacy, expansive lawns and picturesque views of the cloud forest. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 9: Monteverde

    Breakfast at the hotel before visiting a butterfly farm where we’ll have the opportunity to see dozens of local species in a short time. After lunch, we’ll tour the Monteverde reserve with trained Naturalists, relying on their expertise to spot mantled howler monkeys and possibly the rare Resplendent Quetzal. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 10: Monteverde/Arenal

    We'll enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then visit a family-owned farm practicing sustainable agriculture and traditional sugar processing. A local guide will give us a walking tour of the farm and accompany us as we see the original trapiche sugar press. We'll have a chance to sample the local sugar cane liquor called guaro. After the tour, we'll drive to Lake Arenal, which we'll cross in 40-passenger boats landing at a restaurant on the lake's far side. Afterwards, we will check into an elegant hotel surrounded by gardens and pastures with grazing animals, and every room offers a panoramic view of the smoldering Arenal volcano. (B,L,D)

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

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