Arrive in San Jose. Upon arrival, a short drive brings you to the Doubletree Cariari.
A scenic drive, approximately five hours over some bumpy roads for the last half, and up the mountain takes you to the 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, insects and birds and watch for the rare resplendent quetzal. Ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges for a bird's-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Later, learn about life in the early Monteverde community, which was established by the Quakers in the 1970s. Eleven families left Alabama and came to Costa Rica in search of peaceful living. Among the original homesteaders is Marvin Rockwell, who documented the emigration. He gives a talk on the trials and triumphs of rural life in the tropics. Spend the night at a charming family-owned lodge.
Continue your exploration of Monteverde and travel to Herradura to embark your ship.
The abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so be sure to get an early start. Lethargic three-toed sloths can be easy to spot, but it often takes the expert eye of a naturalist to point out monkeys or vividly colored birds as they zip through the forest. In the afternoon, explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast where you can find a great spot for a hike or swim.
The Sea Lion anchors off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. Your exact landing spot for the day depends on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride on the beach, or join an expedition landing craft cruise. Trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkey in one day: howler, spider and squirrel!
Today visit Casa Orquídeas, a privately owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation, where you can see a profusion of orchids, and look for tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking, expedition landing craft cruises or swimming.
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical, moist forest trails. The area is also perfect for swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish. Your staff assists both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those preferring a drier clime, the ship's naturalists take underwater footage, which animates your evening gathering in the lounge.
Explore a cluster of islands in the Gulf of Panama via expedition landing craft or kayak. It’s a wonderful introduction to the region’s varied bird life. Observe large numbers of roosting and nesting seabirds: magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies of Galápagos fame.
After breakfast, board an expedition landing craft for Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Lake Gatún. The island is inaccessible to most travelers and, by special arrangement, local guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute accompany you through the tropical forest that so challenged the builders of the Canal. Reboard your ship to continue your crossing. A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships. The Canal, however, is dramatically lit at night.
Disembark after breakfast in Colón. Drive to the airport in Panama City for flights home.