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The Natural and Man-Made Marvels of Panama and Costa Rica

Program Number: 16247RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/16/2015 - 1/24/2015; 12/4/2015 - 12/12/2015; 1/15/2016 - 1/23/2016;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Costa Rica/Panama
Price starting at: $5,990.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising; Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 23; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat    

Unlock the mysteries of this tropical wonderland from one of the world’s greatest man-made mega structures, the Panama Canal, to Mother Nature’s manifold wonders hidden in the pristine waters and virgin rainforests of Costa Rica. Local experts immerse you in the natural and human diversity of the region.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile in one hour over uneven and sometimes slippery terrain; some stairs.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Panama City (Panama), 1 night; aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, 7 nights.

Day 1-2: Arrival Panama City (Panama):

Explore Panama City and the Miraflores Locks Visitor’s Center. Embark the ship and set sail. Lodging: Resort near airport.

Day 3: Barro Colorado Island / Panama Canal Transit:

Scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute lead a Zodiac exploration of the pristine natural area. Learn about the history of the Panama Canal as you sail through.

Day 4: Gulf of Panama Islets:

Venture by Zodiac or kayak through a cluster of islands to spot seabirds, such as brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies.

Day 5: Isla Coiba National Park:

Hike the rainforest trails and swim and snorkel amid tropical fish offshore.

Day 6: Golfo Dulce (Costa Rica):

Visit a privately owned garden to view orchids, tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans, then explore the forested bay of Golfo Dulce.

Day 7: Osa Peninsula / Corcovado National Park:

Swim in the waterfalls and hike the rainforest trails looking for howler, spider and squirrel monkeys.

Day 8: Manuel Antonio National Park:

Local experts lead a walk through the cloudforest to introduce the unique flora and fauna.

Day 9: Herradura / disembark / coach to San Jose for departure

National Geographic Sea Lion

Lindblad Expeditions' nimble, 62-passenger expedition vessel is equipped with kayaks and Zodiacs to let you explore distant shorelines and have up-close views of glaciers and wildlife, as well as underwater cameras and hydrophones to discover the world beneath us. All cabins are on the outside of the ship and feature large viewing windows.

Meals and Lodgings
   Riande Aeropuerto Hotel and Resort
  Panama City, Panama 1 night
   National Geographic Sea Lion
  Panama City, Panama
Aboard Ship, Panama
7 nights
 Riande Aeropuerto Hotel and Resort
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Resort is located in Tocumen and near the airport. Los Pueblos Commercial Center, Metromall Panama, and Estadio Rommel Fernandez are local attractions. Regional points of interest also include Panama Old Cathedral and Explore Museum.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: Via Tocumen
PO Box 6-999
Panama City,   Panama
phone: +011 (507)291-9000
  Room amenities: Rooms feature safes and complimentary newspapers. Beds come with down blankets. Bathrooms feature showers, complimentary toiletries, and hair dryers. In addition to desks, guestrooms offer phones with voice mail. High-definition televisions have cable channels. Rooms also include irons/ironing boards and clock radios. A turndown service is available nightly, housekeeping is offered daily, and guests may request wake-up calls.
  Facility amenities: In addition to 2 restaurants, Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Resort offers a snack bar/deli and a coffee shop/café. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The resort serves breakfast each morning. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool and a health club. This 4-star property has a business center and offers small meeting rooms, limo/town car service, and audiovisual equipment. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas and the resort has a computer station. This Tocumen property has event space consisting of a conference center, banquet facilities, and conference/meeting rooms. Complimentary shuttle services include a roundtrip airport shuttle (available 24 hours) and a shopping center shuttle. Guest parking is complimentary. Other property amenities at this Art Deco property include a casino, a terrace, and barbecue grills. Extended parking privileges may be offered to guests after check-out (surcharge). This is a smoke-free property. A total renovation of this property was completed in December 2012. 183 air-conditioned guestrooms.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Rates may vary Additional nights are subject to availability. Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services to book additional nights.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 National Geographic Sea Lion
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The ship has Expedition Equipment: Bow camera, hydrophone, kayaks, snorkeling gear, Splash-Cam, underwater video camera, video microscope, wet suits in Panama and Costa Rica and Zodiac landing craft.
  Ship Information: Capacity: 62 guests in 31 outside cabins. Registry: United States Overall length: 152 feet.
  Contact info: Lindblad Expeditions
96 Morton St., 9th Floor
New York, NY 10014 USA
phone: 212-765-7740
  Room amenities: All face outside with windows, private facilities, and climate controls
  Facility amenities: Ship features a Library; Lounge with full-service bar and facilities for films, slide shows and presentations; Observation Deck; partially covered Sun Deck with chairs and tables, and LEXspa. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights after: N/A 

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
At the hotel in Panama City. The program orientation is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. You will be staying at Riande Aeropuerto Hotel and Resort that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast on board the ship. The ship arrives at port this morning. You will be staying at National Geographic Sea Lion the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Driving is not recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Panama City
  Transportation to site: The Riande Aeroporto Hotel and Resort is less than 2 miles from Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City, Panama. A complimentary shuttle is available for all Road Scholar participants. This shuttle operates every thirty minutes, 24 hours a day.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aboard Ship
  Transportation from site: At the end of the program, there will be one group transfer from the ship in Herradura to Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)in San Jose, Costa Rica. Disembarkation will begin at approximately 7:30. The transfer to the airport is approximately 2 hours. If you are making your own air arrangements we do not recommend booking flights that depart SJO ealier than 1:00 pm.
Elevation Note: Elevations of up to 5,000 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals / Panama City
(Friday, January 16)
 Arrive To: Flights arrive to Panama City, Panama. If you are arranging your own flights, we do not recommend arriving in Panama City later than 4:00 so you do not miss the program orientation or welcome dinner.
 Afternoon: Welcome meeting and program orentation at the hotel.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Riande Aeropuerto Hotel and Resort
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Panama City / Miraflores Locks / Embark National Geographic Sea Lion
(Saturday, January 17)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Depart the hotel for a 30 minute drive to Miraflores where you will see the huge vessels passing through the Panama Canal. The busiest hours are from 9:00 am to 10:00 am and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, so you will be able to see many ships getting lifted or lowered 16 meters in two distinct steps. Enjoy the view of the locks from a sheltered terrace while your guide explains the history and construction of the canal. Visit the Museum and Visitor Center at Miraflores to learn more about this masterpiece of engineering, and its significance. After visiting the canal continue on the Amador Causeway, a road that connects three islands in the Pacific Ocean and offers magnificent views with the Canal on one side and Panama City on the other.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, continue to Casco Viejo, Panama City's colonial quarter. At Casco Viejo you will feel as though you have stepped back in time with the lovely colonial houses, narrow roads and impressive churches. Continue to Colon to board the National Geographic Sea Lion for 7 nights. Check in to the ship and settle into your cabin before dinner.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Gatun Lake / Panama Canal Transit
(Sunday, January 18)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: This morning you will visit Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake via expedition landing craft. The island is inaccessible to most travelers and, by special arrangement, guides from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute accompany us through the tropical forest.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Reboard to continue crossing the Panama Canal.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: First part of Panama Canal transit. A daylight transit cannot be guaranteed since cargo ships have priority over passenger ships. The Canal, however, is dramatically lit at night.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Gulf of Panama Islets
(Monday, January 19)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Explore the cluster of islands in the Gulf of Panama via expedition landing craft and/or kayak.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: View roosting and nesting seabirds, magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies as your exploration of the islands continues.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Isla Coiba National Park
(Tuesday, January 20)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Isla Coiba is one of Panama’s most remote national parks, where you may enjoy the pristine beach. The area is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. Isla Coiba National Park is a group of 38 islands including Coiba Island (Isla Coiba) and the waters surrounding them and covers 430,825 acres. Identified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2005, Coiba National Park offers rich and well preserved natural resources. Because Isla Coiba served Panama as a penal colony, access to the island was very restricted. Almost by accident, 80% of the islands natural resources have survived untouched and flourished through limited human contact. Coiba National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Enjoy swimming and snorkeling amid tropical fish off the shores of Isla Coiba.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
(Wednesday, January 21)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Today you will make your first landfall in Costa Rica. Excursion to Casa Orquideas, a privately owned garden accessible by boat and only by invitation, to view orchids, tanagers, parrots and gaudy toucans. Take a guided visit through the beautiful gardens at Casa Orquideas or "Orchid House." Casa Orquideas is a private botanical garden cultivated by long-time local residents, who have lovingly landscaped this homestead for over 20 years. They have amassed a wonderful collection of tropical fruit trees, bromeliads, cycads, palms, heliconias, ornamental plants and more than 100 varieties of orchids. See, smell, and touch a wide variety of beautiful ornamental plants and taste some unusual fruits.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Explore the forested bay of Gulfo Dulce while kayaking and/or swimming.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Osa Peninsula / Corcovado National Park.
(Thursday, January 22)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Anchor off the remote Osa Pennisula.
Excursion to Corcovado National Park for a swim in the waterfall and kayaking.

Discover Corcovado National Park, a pristine rainforest, populated by a number of endangered species including puma, tapir, poison dart frogs, crocodile, jaguar, and marine turtles. It is home to the largest population of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica. Close to 400 species of birds have been seen here. There are also around 140 mammals and over 500 species of trees. Giant trees draped with vines and lianas and supported by massive buttress roots tower over the forest floor. Corcovado is inundated with nearly 20 feet of rain a year and is technically known as a very humid tropical lowland rainforest.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Hike through the rainforest trails on a wildlife viewing excursion and search for the park's three species of monkey – howler, spider and squirrel.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Manuel Antonio National Park.
(Friday, January 23)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Today explore early, when the wildlife is most active. Our Naturalists point out monkeys or birds as they zip through the forest, and lethargic three-toed sloths in the trees. Manuel Antonio National Park was created in 1972. Although it is the country's smallest national park, the stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife in its 1683 acres is unequaled. Manuel Antonio contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs. The beaches are amongst some the most beautiful in the country, bathed by warm ocean waters and lined with lush forest. The forest is home to an incredible variety of wildlife including; sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable squirrel monkeys, as well as millions of colorful little crabs.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Take a final hike or swim along Costa Rica's Pacific coast.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: National Geographic Sea Lion
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Herradura, Costa Rica / Disembark
(Saturday, January 24)
 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Disembarkation is at 8:00 a.m. The transfer will take approximately 2 hours.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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