- Starts at: SAN JOSE, Costa Rica
- Ends at: COLON, PANAMA
- Duration: 10 Days / 9 Nights
Our adventure begins in San Jose, Costa Rica, where we will meet at a central location before transferring to Puerto Caldera on the coast. From the Nicoya Peninsula we will work our way south, visiting four different national parks or protected areas. Our small ship gives us unprecedented access to the colourful bays and hidden coves of this lush, tropical coastline. When RCGS Resolute drops anchor, we’ll launch our zodiacs, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards, so you can explore even further in guided small groups. You will also be able to explore on foot, hiking the trail network of the parks, or strolling along the white sandy beaches.
After a week we will leave this tropical paradise and head for Panama City, journeying down one of the modern wonders of the world – the Panama Canal. The penultimate day of our voyage will be spent travelling from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, through the 100-year old canal. We will end our voyage in Colon, Panama.
This morning we will have the opportunity to explore the capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose. Wander through some of the many plazas that dot this historic city and try a plate of the national dish, Gallo Pinto. After our afternoon rendezvous at a central location in San Jose, we will then transfer two hours west to Puerto Caldera. Here we will meet our vessel, RCGS Resolute, head aboard and settle into our rooms. Tonight we will enjoy dinner and then migrate to the deck, revealing in the first of many tropical sunsets. RCGS Resolute will make a short sail across the Gulf of Nicoya to anchor off the Nicoya Peninsula, ready for the next day’s adventures
Today we will explore the Curu National Wildlife Refuge which is nestled at the southeast tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. From a gentle walk along the well established trails in the heart of the park, to a more challenging hike on the Finca de Monos trail – a prime spider monkey viewing area – there are several ways to explore this national treasure and its diverse wildlife. The refuge hosts one of the most beautiful beaches on the peninsula and has spearheaded many successful sustainable development programs from reintroducing the near extinct spider monkey, to the coral reef restoration project and migratory bird monitoring. The tangled mangroves of the shoreline and nearby islands are the ideal backdrop for kayaking, paddle boarding or snorkelling.
Our adventure continues in the Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the smallest yet most visited national parks in Costa Rica. Boarding our zodiacs, we will access the park, slowly cruising along the turquoise blue waters of this tropical paradise. Boasting over 100 species of mammals, 184 species of birds and a plethora of diverse flora, this park is a wildlife lover’s dream. Keep your eyes peeled for two and three toed sloths, white-faced monkeys and toucans as you explore the entanglement of trails weaving through the park. The network of hiking trails crisscross the parkland, providing access to its rainforest, white sand beaches, waterfalls and coral reefs. You may also catch a glimpse of the dramatic volcanic rock formations, Punta Cathedral and Punta Serrucho, from several of the beaches that line the Manuel Antonia National Park. If you’d rather explore the park by water, you can use a paddleboard or kayak for an aquatic adventure, or simply relax on one of the white sand beaches.
Extending into the sea at the southern end of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, the Osa Peninsula is rich with both wildlife and history. This is the first of two days in one of the country’s most remote destinations and we once again take advantage of our coastal access to explore the ‘Parque Nacional Corcovado’. Almost half of the peninsula is devoted to the park which protects an incredible variety of wildlife, including Costa Rica’s largest population of jaguars and tapirs. The park is also home to the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, all four of the country’s monkey species: howler, spider, white-faced capuchin and squirrel, 20 species of hummingbird, the endemic yellow-billed cotinga and black-cheeked ant tanager, crimson fronted parakeets, and more.
On the second day on the Osa Peninsula we will round its most southern point, while navigating the emerald waters of the Golfo Dulce or “Sweet Gulf”. You will experience the breathtaking tropical paradise unfolding before your eyes. You will have two ways to explore the Golfo Dulce, either by land or sea. If you want to try your hand at panning for gold, a practice that extends back 1000s of year in the region, join us when we visit the little town of Puerto Jimenez, one of the largest towns on the Osa Peninsula, boasting just over 3,000 inhabitants. If the water is your prefered method of exploration, kayak or paddle board through the expansive tangled mangroves as the wildlife thrives around you. Pods of spinner, bottlenose and spotted dolphins are also residents of the gulf, and in April and May, the enigmatic whale shark comes to breed in Golfo Dulce. If we are lucky we may be able to spot one of these solitary gentle giants, who can live up to 150 years old.
As we bid farewell to Costa Rica, our first stop in Panama is Coiba Island, a place with an unusual history. Having separated from the mainland an estimated 15,000 years ago, Coiba is now home to many endemic subspecies, such as the Coiba Island howler monkey and the Coiba spinetail. In 2005, Coiba National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to numerous native flora that have since become extinct on the mainland of Panama due to deforestation. This also one of the last places in Central America where the scarlet macaw can still be found in sizeable numbers. We can venture out on foot, kayak, or paddle board to explore this tropical gem. If time permits, we may have the opportunity to sail to near-by Granito De Oro, which is a top snorkeling location due to the diversity and volume of marine life. In the afternoon we explore the famous wetlands of the Golfo de Montijo, whose 50,000 acres of mangroves are home to a staggering abundance of wildlife. We cruise the shoreline of the gulf with our cameras and binoculars poised, ready to view the wetlands that are teaming with waterfowl and wading birds.
We have now entered the Gulf of Panama, but before we head for the Panamanian mainland, we make one more island-hopping stop at the Pearl Islands, or as locals refer to it, Islas de las Perlas. This archipelago of more than 250 islands received its name from Spanish Conquistadors who found countless pearls when they visited the islands in 1503. Isla Del Ray is the largest and most visited, with several resorts and hotels, while Isla Saboga is less populated, less visited and offers a glimpse into traditional island culture. Most famous for their deserted white sand beaches, fragile ecosystems and marine life, the islands also made a splash when they were featured as the location for the Survivor television series.
After a week of exploring the remote tropical coastline and far-flung islands, we trade our flip-flops for walking shoes today as we venture into the cityscape of Panama City. Steeped in rich Spanish history, its cobblestoned historic centre, Casco Viejo, is framed by colonial era landmarks such as the Presidential Palace and Metropolitan Cathedral. Be sure to enjoy an espresso or mojito in one of the many cafés shaded by bougainvillea in Panama’s old quarter. For those in search of a cultural experience, the numerous museums, including the Museum of Biodiversity, designed by Frank Gehry, is an experience every architectural fan should check off their bucket list. If you are looking for a quintessential Panamanian Hat or a mola made by the Guna Indians in the San Blas Islands, then the markets are a must see. Head to the fish market for a tasty snack or the National Handicraft Market if pottery, molas and jewelry handcrafted by the pre-Spanish indigenous people of Panama is more your style.
With our cups full of the cultural experiences of Panama City, today we sit back and let the history come to us. Spending the better part of the day (8+ hours) moving though the 77km Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, we will pass under the Bridge of the Americas before entering the Miraflores Locks. The locks will then take us up to Miraflores Lake, then up again to Gatun Lake, before being lowered back down to the sea level of the Caribbean Sea. You will not simply watch this incredible feat of engineering, you will have the opportunity to experience it firsthand. With the crossing completed, we will then anchor near the city of Colon to enjoy our final dinner together attended by the Captain of the ship and toast our adventures.
After breakfast, it is time to bid farewell to your crew and fellow travellers as we disembark RCGS Resolute. A transfer back to Panama City is provided for all guests and while some of us will travel to the airport, many may wish to add a few extra days to explore more of the masterpiece that is Panama City.
Included in the price of this voyage:
Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your voyage
Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation
Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes that open on each deck
High quality, eco friendly, Canadian made natural amenities in every cabin
All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea 24-hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar lounge plus in-cabin tea, coffee, hot chocolate replenished daily
Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine bioligists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
Daily off-ship excursions by zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
Guided hikes and walks on shore of various durations for guests of all abilities
Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and community visits
Educational presentations and talks by experts in their field (ie. marine biologists, naturalists, historians etc). Onboard or on shore
Resident photography guide available to assist all guests
Access to computers in the multimedia lab for image downloads, file back up and management
An emergency trained medical physician onboard every voyage
Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
Onboard sauna, plunge pool, jacuzzi and fitness centre including personal trainer and massage options (charge applies for massage and spa treatments)
Access to well stocked library full of reference books
Optional Sea Kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddling boarding, etc. (inlcuded in the voyage fare)
End of voyage video, photos and take home USB
Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
Not included in the price of this voyage:
Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary
Visa and passport expenses
Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
Telecommunication charges (ie. email, satellite phone)
Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory on all trips)
A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount – $US12-15 per day)