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Panama to Costa Rica: Monteverde, Arenal, and Tortuguero

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Sea Lion
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Explore the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica, inland rainforests, mountains, and see wonderful wildlife on this 15-day journey on the Sea Lion. Transit the Panama Canal, with an exclusive visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at Barro Colorado Island. Kayak, snorkel, swim, hike—actively explore every day. Hike in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano, and relax in its hot springs. Visit the remote, car-less town of Tortuguero and venture through rain-forest-shrouded canals in small boats.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Panama City | Embark in Colón
Day 2 : Barro Colorado | Panama Canal Transit
Day 3 : Gulf of Panama
Day 4 : Isla Coiba National Park
Day 5 : Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Day 6 : Osa Peninsula and Corcovado
Day 7 : Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 8 : Herradura | Disembark | Monteverde
Day 9 : Monteverde
Day 10 : Monteverde | Arenal
Day 11 : Arenal Volcano
Day 12 : Arenal | Tortuguero
Day 13 : Tortuguero
Day 14 : Tortuguero | San Jose
Day 15 : San Jose

Highlights

  • Explore the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Costa Rica
  • Journey to the Panama Canal & the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Kayak, snorkel, swim, hike—actively explore every day
  • Hike through the mist-shrouded cloud forest reserve in Monteverde
  • Walk suspension bridges near Arenal Volcano and relax in nearby hot springs
  • Tour the remote, car-less town of Tortuguero & cruise canals in small boats

Ship

Sea Lion

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Toucan relaxing in the tree Refreshing watrefall A monkey looks for her next branch Snorkeling Macaw in the rainforest canopy

Day 1 Panama City | Embark in Colón

Upon arrival to Panama City, drive to Colón to board the Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of your Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatún Lake. Sea Lion is one of the few ships that makes the crossing in two days, as well as the only ship permitted the exclusive opportunity to explore impressive Barro Colorado, which you visit tomorrow.

Day 2 Barro Colorado | Panama Canal Transit

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning, board expedition landing craft and journey to the Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. The island has been the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1946. Meet some of the scientists and learn about their work before continuing your crossing of the canal. Often there is an opportunity to cross part of the Canal during the day, and another when it is dramatically lit at night.

Day 3 Gulf of Panama

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The archipelago of islands due south of Panama City has a storied past — pearls, conquistadors, buccaneers, and so much more. Explore the turquoise waters via expedition landing craft or kayak, where dolphins and whales have been spotted. Observe roosting and nesting magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.

Day 4 Isla Coiba National Park

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks. Hike tropical, moist forest trails, swim and snorkel among tropical fish, and try stand up paddle boarding. For those preferring a drier clime, Naturalists take underwater footage which animates the evening gathering in the lounge. 

Day 5 Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Make your first landfall in Costa Rica at Casa Orquídeas, a privately-owned garden accessible only by boat and special invitation. Admire their garden 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, or swimming.

Day 6 Osa Peninsula and Corcovado

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Anchor off the remote Osa Peninsula and the environs of Corcovado National Park. 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 monkey in one day: howler, spider, and squirrel!

Day 7 Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The abundant wildlife in Manuel Antonio is most active in the early morning, so make 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, explore Costa Rica’s beautiful coast and find a great spot for hiking and swimming.

Day 8 Herradura | Disembark | Monteverde

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Disembark the ship and make your way to Carara National Park, where the less dense rainforests make for easy bird sightings. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before venturing to the nearby Bat Jungle exhibit, or hearing from an early Quaker settler of Monteverde. Check in to a family-owned retreat with privacy, expansive lawns, and picturesque views of the cloud forest.

Day 9 Monteverde

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before visiting a butterfly farm where you have the opportunity to see dozens of local species. After lunch, tour the Monteverde reserve with trained Naturalists, relying on their expertise to spot mantled howler monkeys and possibly the rare resplendent quetzal.

Day 10 Monteverde | Arenal

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then visit a family-owned farm practicing sustainable agriculture and traditional sugar processing. A local guide leads a walking tour of the farm and accompanies you as you see the original trapiche sugar press. Have a chance to sample the local sugar cane liquor called guaro. After the tour drive to Lake Arenal, which you cross in 40-passenger boats, landing at a restaurant on the lake's far side. Afterwards, check into an elegant hotel surrounded by gardens and pastures with grazing animals, where every room offers a panoramic view of the smoldering Arenal volcano.

Day 11 Arenal Volcano

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Walk the Arenal Hanging Bridges strung more than 3 kilometers through the rain forest canopy, and then explore the Arenal bridges winding through the dense forest. In the evening, relax in thermal pools naturally heated by the volcano.

Day 12 Arenal | Tortuguero

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Transfer from your hotel to the Arenal airstrip for a charter flight to Tortuguero, a spectacular lowland forest on Costa Rica’s northeast coast, accessible only by water or air. A short boat ride brings you to the rustic Aninga Lodge, set on the water’s edge. Settle into your accommodations in charming private bungalows raised above the rain forest floor and enjoy lunch at the lodge's restaurant. The lodge also has swimming pools and a walking trail. Later, explore the canals of Tortuguero National Park in small boats with your naturalist guides. Be on the lookout for howler, spider and capuchin monkeys as well as caiman, ibis, tiger herons, curassow, and myriad other bird species. Dine tonight at the lodge restaurant, nestled in the middle of the rain forest.

Day 13 Tortuguero

  • Hotels
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Set out by boat to explore more of Tortuguero National Park’s canals. You can choose guided boats or go by kayak for a more personal exploration. In the early afternoon, you have free time  to enjoy the lodge’s amenities such as the pool or optional spa treatments before visiting the Sea Turtle Conservancy. There learn about the history of the region and important conservation work taking place on Tortuguero's beaches. Later, stroll through the car-less village to see small shops before dining at Miss Junies, a restaurant with a rich heritage and Afro-Caribbean flair.

Day 14 Tortuguero | San Jose

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
En route to San José, stop to visit Sibú Chocolatier, makers of some of the world’s finest organic chocolate. Learn the Aztec & Mayan history of the cacao plant and enjoy a workshop on preparing chocolate. The day ends with a farewell dinner.

Day 15 San Jose

  • 1 Breakfast
After one last breakfast, transfer to the San Jose airport for flights home.

Sea Lion

Arenal - Hotels

Monteverde Cloud Forest - Hotels

Tortuguero - Hotels

Deals

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Cat 1
Main Deck Cabins #300-305. Conveniently positioned between the dining room and lounge, these cabins feature two lower single beds, a writing desk and a large window.
Sea Bird & Sea Lion's Category 1 and Category 1 Single Cabin.
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Cat 1 Single
Main Deck Cabins #300-305. Conveniently positioned between the dining room and lounge, these cabins feature two lower single beds, a writing desk and a large window.
Sea Bird & Sea Lion's Category 2 and Category 2 Single Cabin.
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Cat 2
Bridge Deck cabins #100-104 and Upper Deck cabins #200-212, 215. These well-located cabins include two lower single beds, outside access and a window.
Sea Bird & Sea Lion's Category 2 and Category 2 Single Cabins.
Select a Date
Cat 2 Single
Bridge Deck cabins #100-104 and Upper Deck cabins #200-212, 215. These well-located cabins include two lower single beds, outside access and a window.
Sea Bird & Sea Lion's Category 3 Cabins.
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Cat 3
Bridge Deck cabins #105, 106 and Upper Deck cabins #214, 216, 217, 219. These cabins feature a seating unit with table, outside access and two large windows. Upper Deck cabins include two lower single beds which can convert to a double bed and a pull-out

Notes

Single supplement varies by itinerary. A solo traveler matching program may be available, but is subject to availability.
Kids under age 18 save $500 per person

Cost Includes:
  • Accommodations aboard ship
  • Meals indicated
  • Non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship
  • Excursions
  • Services of Lindblad expedition leader, naturalist staff, expert guides and a ship’s doctor
  • Park fees
  • Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment
  • All port charges and service taxes

Not Included:
  • Air transportation
  • Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc.
  • Discretionary tips to naturalist staff and crew

Included

  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Kevin M

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney

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