Costa Rica and the Panama Canal - Quest
Travel via expedition ship with National Geographic-level guiding to the lush, dense, surprising jungles of Costa Rica and through the famous engineering feat that is the Panama Canal.
Central America: Drink It In
Exploring Costa Rica and Panama is a singular experience that combines biodiverse jungle wildlife with an in-depth crossing of the Panama Canal, a marvel of engineering. Hike deep into the rainforest; kayak and paddleboard along the shore; take a cool swim in a waterfall pool; snorkel over a coral reef. Aboard, you can always savor panoramic views from the 100-guest National Geographic Quest. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive chance to visit the Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) Association at Playa Blanca on the Osa Peninsula, where you can assist in data collection and the release of rehabilitated, healthy turtles into the sea.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Venture into remote wilderness: hike among monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds, and explore far from any inhabited places.
• Transit the Panama Canal over two days to see it by day and in the coolness of night—plus an exclusive stop at the Smithsonian Research Institute.
• Travel with world class experts on an expedition vessel designed for deep exploration.
From $6,820 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.
Dec 7-14, 2023
Dec 14-21, 2023
Dec 21-28, 2023
Dec 28, 2023 – Jan 4, 2024
Jan 9-16, 2024
Feb 10-17, 2024
Feb 17-24, 2024
Ask us for later dates.
December, 2023 - March, 2024, 2025
Hover here for specific dates
Trip Sustainability Awards
100% free of single-use plastics!
Sources all food and seafood sustainably and locally
Offsets 100% of operations and is carbon neutral
Day 1: U.S. / San José, Costa Rica / Puerto Caldera / Embark
Upon arrival in San José, transfer by land to Puerto Caldera and embark our ship National Geographic Quest. This day includes dinner.
Day 2: Corcovado National Park
Anchor off the Osa Peninsula to see some of the most pristine lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast. In the environs of Corcovado National Park, swim in waterfall pools, take an optional horseback ride on the coast, or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider, and capuchin. All meals included on this day.
Day 3: Golfo Dulce / Osa Peninsula
Go ashore in the pristine waters of Playa Blanca. Head inland to meet and share with inspiring local families living in remote communities and working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane. Hike mature rain forest or kayak in peaceful waters in Golfo Dulce. In the evening, enjoy a beautiful sunset. All meals included on this day.
Day 4: Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica as our nimble expedition ship takes us into the remote upper reaches of this placid bay. Exploring by Zodiac, paddleboard and kayak, we encounter Pacific Costa Rica’s dazzling avifauna as we watch for golden-hooded and Cherrie’s tanagers, yellow throated toucans, fiery-billed aracaris and crimson fronted and orange-chinned parakeets, constantly chattering in flight above the jungle treeline. The flora is a kaleidoscope of tropical color with bromeliads, heliconias and orchids set against the verdant green of the tropical forest. Later, jump into the cool, refreshing waters of the bay for an afternoon swim. All meals included on this day.
Day 5: Coiba National Park, Panama
The first stop in Panama this morning is at the remote Isla Coiba, one of the many islands of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a penal colony, the island has long been protected and accessible by special permit only. Among its many endemic species are the Coiba Island agouti and the mantled howler monkey, as well as four varieties of sea turtle. Discover rich marine life while snorkeling, go kayaking or hiking, try stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relax on the beach. All meals included on this day.
Day 6: Gulf of Panama Islets / Panama Canal Transit Today, explore
the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here we might spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and brown boobies. Set sail for the Panama Canal this afternoon. Stretching more than 50 miles, the canal was a colossal engineering feat completed in 1914. It is still traversed by some 14,000 ships every year. As cargo ships tend to pass through the canal during the day, we’ll most likely begin our crossing at night, when the canal is dramatically lit. All meals included on this day.
Day 7: Gatún Lake / Panama Canal Transit
By special arrangement, National Geographic Quest will anchor in Gatun Lake near the Barro Colorado Nature Monument overnight. Today, choose hikes and Zodiac cruises at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facility on Barro Colorado Island, or take a boat ride to the mouth of the Chagres River and hike on the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center trails. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal. All meals included on this day.
Day 8: Colón / Panama City, Panama / Disembark / U.S.
After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home. Breakfast is included on this day.
Children: We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. So take $500 off for each child under the age of 18.
This operator pioneered this Costa Rica/Panama itinerary. On the Nat Geo Quest, you'll be traveling with some of the top experts in this region plus you'll have a blast kayaking and snorkeling!
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: