Depart U.S. to Panama City. On arrival, drive to Colón to board the National Geographic Sea Lion and set sail for the first part of the Panama Canal transit, anchoring in Gatún Lake for the night.
In the morning, board an expedition landing craft to visit Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. Scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island since 1946, researching the 120 mammals and diverse tree species found here. It is also the site of a project supported by National Geographic that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides for a walk through the forests. In the evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal.
Nimble motorized landing crafts allow you to navigate the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama, stopping to explore hidden coves and beaches. Here, you might spot magnificent frigate birds, brown pelicans, and brown boobies.
Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may hike the tropical forest trails. The area is also perfect for snorkeling amid tropical fish, swimming, and stand up paddleboarding. Our staff will assist both novice and expert snorkelers alike. For those who prefer a drier clime, naturalists will be taking underwater footage, which will animate the evening gathering in the lounge.
Today you'll make your first landfall in Costa Rica. At Casa Orquídeas, a privately owned garden accessible only by boat, witness a profusion of orchids and look for tanagers, parrots, and gaudy toucans. Later, explore the bay of Golfo Dulce, ideal for kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and craft cruises.
The National Geographic Sea Lion anchors off the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park. Your exact landing spot for the day will depend on sea conditions. You may swim in waterfall pools, horseback ride 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!
The abundant wildlife here is most active in the early morning, so be sure to get an early start. 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'll find an ideal spot for a final hike or swim.
In the morning, disembark the National Geographic Sea Lion in Herradura and drive to the airport for flights home or on to other adventures.