2021 Un-Cruise PANAMA & COSTA RICA
Monkeys, sloths, iguanas, hummingbirds, toucans, and whales! By kayak, skiff, on foot, and small ship—uncover the wonders of jungles, mangroves, national parks, preserves, and the Panamá Canal.
* One-night hotel stay in embarkation city
* Transit the Panamá Canal
* Visit a national park, one wildlife refuge, and conservation area
* Search for untamed wildlife—sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-faced capuchins
* Beachcomb on Panamá’s Granito de Oro
* Stroll a butterfly- and flower-rich tropical botanical reserve
* Hike, and explore by skiff
* Off-the-beaten path exploration
DAY 1 - Panamá City, Panamá
Welcome to Panamá—the happiest country in the world! You’ll be greeted at the airport upon your arrival and transferred to the Bristol Hotel for your overnight stay. Relax and unwind from your day of travel, or stretch your legs on a walk to nearby city sites and attractions.
DAY 2 - Panama City, Panama – Embarkation
Enjoy a morning of leisure or explore nearby city markets and cafés. This afternoon, rendezvous with your shipmates in our Bristol Hotel hospitality area. Enroute to your ship, stop at the Agua Clara Visitor Center. Take in the views of Lake Gatun and the newly expanded locks. Board the Safari Voyager, meet your crew and prepare to transit from ocean to ocean along the 48-mile Panamá Canal. The lock authority gives the final go ahead for your early evening transit. Join your shipmates on deck for a toast as the canal lights up and the temperature subsides. A story of engineering and human tenacity, it took over 75,000 workers to build it.
DAY 3 - Marine Life Search
Cruise through the diverse islands and islets in the Gulf of Panama. Hosting hundreds of avian species have your binoculars handy for superb bird watching. And look for a silvery glint streaking across the water—it could be mobula rays taking flight.
DAY 4 - Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park, Panama
Sail through the islands of Coiba National Park, making a stop at the postcard-perfect Granito de Oro islet. Offering a little bit of everything despite its small size, volcanic outcroppings at either end of this tiny landmass and a dense, mini-jungle in the center connect with a dreamy white sand beach. Hop to the park’s main island for a stretch of the legs on a trail through untouched tropical jungle. Mantled howler monkeys, crested eagles, and four turtle species call Isla Coiba home.
DAY 5 - Coiba National Park, Panama
Start with fresh-brewed coffee and a little limbering up with guided stretches. As always, the hardest part is picking the “what.” Your guides know the trails and help you spot monkeys, hummingbirds, and towering balsa trees. The water is crystal-clear, and the fish and turtles are swimming! Find balance to your morning—then it's cruising time.
DAY 6 - Golfo Dulce
A birder’s paradise, explore a tropical botanical reserve exploding with vibrant color. From bromeliads, ginger plants, and heliconias, to toucans, hummingbirds, mischievous monkeys, and fluttering butterflies—there’s a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and tastes in every tree and bush you pass on your walking tour. In Golfo Dulce, which separates Osa Peninsula from the mainland, explore the rare flora and fauna of mangroves by skiff.
DAY 7 - Osa Conservation Area
Adventure lies around every bend in the isolated, wild Osa Conservation Area, home to the country’s largest national park, Corcovado. The area is known for its diverse plant and animal species—a whopping 2.5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity is found here—including all four of Costa Rica’s monkeys, tree frogs, caimans, anteaters, scarlet macaws, coatis, and 16 different species of hummingbird. Explore this vast area putting feet to trail on an invigorating hike through the jungle.
DAY 8 - Curú National Wildlife Refuge
It’s your last day, and it’s a big one. At the southeastern tip of Nicoya Peninsula—in the tangled mangroves of Curu—the cycle of life is everywhere. Local “residents” include everything from exotic birds and deer to army ants, frog-eating snakes, and hungry crocodiles. Step carefully as you cross the swinging bridge, you don’t want to land on the menu! Land crabs shift in and out of their burrows with such force it’s enough to make the earth move. A hike on the Finca de Monos trail is prime monkey viewing. They are everywhere. Cap off your week with a farewell dinner, and then join your expedition team for slideshow highlighting the week’s adventures.
DAY 9 - San José, Costa Rica – Disembarkation – Monteverde - Begin land tour
(B/LD) Enjoy an early breakfast aboard and say adios to your crew. Arriving in port along Costa Rica's Pacific coast, you’ll be warmly welcomed and transferred to Monteverde where birds and biodiversity share the spotlight. Explore the delicious fruits of labor in this high-elevation, coffee-growing region with a tour and tasting at a coffee plantation. As the sun sets, experience the after-dark-magic in the Children's Eternal Rain Forest—Central America’s largest private reserve—where over 50,000 acres have been dedicated to conserving and rehabilitating tropical ecosystems. With your flashlight, and the help of a guide, uncover unusual nocturnal creatures and their habitats. A welcome dinner and briefing from your guide this evening sets the stage for the next days of Costa Rican land adventure. Check in at El Establo Hotel (or similar) and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the “night life” in the heart of the cloud forest.
DAY 10 - Sunday: Monteverde
(BLD) It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the cloud forest! At Selvatura Park, the wildlife—toucans, sloths, howler monkeys, capuchins, tapirs, toads, and frogs—is active early. Up in the canopy, take to the tree tops walking across bridges spanning 150’ to 510’, and later, with appropriate harness and gear, zip from tree-to-tree on a cable tour. A guided stroll in a butterfly farm reveals over 20 species; and during time on your own in the hummingbird garden, the many buzzing birds amaze. In Santa Elena, have lunch at a local restaurant then relax with time to explore the town on your own.
DAY 11 - Monday: Monteverde
(BLD) Enjoy the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Start out early and hike along the forest floor passing massive, moss-covered trees and Eden-like waterfalls. Along with excellent hikes, keep watch in the trees for the resplendent quetzal. A scenic drive brings you to Arenal Lake for a boat crossing offering your first stunning views of Arenal Volcano. Check in to the Arenal Springs Hotel (or Arenal Manoa Hotel or similar) for the two nights.
DAY 12 - Tuesday: Arenal Volcano National Park / La Fortuna
(BLD) A photographer’s dream, Arenal’s symmetrical cone stretches nearly 5,500’ above lush jungle. Once fully covered by a canopy of green, this sleeping giant awoke in 1968. See the many sides of the “Mountain of Fire” on a hike along its base traversing dense forest and the paths of old lava flows where life is still recovering. Traditional Costa Rican culture is very much alive at Casona Rio Fortuna. Learn the importance of sugar cane at an onsite mill. Enjoy a presentation on traditional foods with optional—and encouraged!—hands-on participation and a tour of a working farm with a local family. And during a school visit, students treat you to dance and music performances. There’ll be time in the afternoon to stroll about the town of La Fortuna on your own.
DAY 13 - Wednesday: Sarapiquí River / La Fortuna
(BLD) After a delicious breakfast and a scenic drive, arrive at the Sarapiquí River for lunch and an exhilarating, guided river rafting adventure*. With rapids by the names of Las Pilas (the Washing Board) and Montaña Rusa (the Rollercoaster), this Class II-III river will have you excited all along the 13km run! From the river, it’s a pretty drive to San José where you’ll check in to the Real InterContinental Hotel (or similar).
DAY 14 - San José - Depart
Enjoy breakfast before your transfer to the airport for your flight home.