Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Traveling aboard the new National Geographic Quest, cross through the historic Panama Canal and examine its fascinating lock system with our onboard experts.
  • By special permission, take a guided walk through the tropical forests of Barro Colorado Nature Monument, site of a National Geographic-supported wildlife tracking study.
  • Snorkel the pristine reefs surrounding Isla Coiba, one of Panama’s most remote national parks.
  • Discover the hidden waterfall pools within the jungles of the Osa Peninsula.
  • NEW! Enjoy complimentary beer and wine while aboard the ship.



Immerse yourself in the natural wonders along the Pacific coasts of Costa Rica and Panama on a voyage aboard the National Geographic Quest. Venture into the rainforest of Corcovado National Park; search for monkeys, frogs, sloths and brightly colored birds on the Osa Peninsula. Cap off your voyage with a crossing of the legendary Panama Canal.

This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.

Day 1: San José, Costa Rica / Puerto Caldera

Upon arrival in San José, transfer to Puerto Caldera and embark the National Geographic Quest.

Meals Included:Dinner
Day 2: Osa Peninsula

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 or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see four species of monkeys—howler, spider, squirrel and capuchin.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Osa Peninsula / Golfo Dulce

Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce, a protected gulf along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Venture ashore at the white sands of Playa Blanca. Then head inland to visit remote indigenous communities and experience daily life on the Osa Peninsula. Meet with local artisans working with cocoa, heart of palm, and sugar cane, and watch as they ply their trades. Later, hike in mature rainforest where sloths, monkeys, and brightly colored birds can be spotted; or kayak in the Golfo Dulce, one of only a few tropical fjords in the world. Visit Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) Association on the Osa Peninsula and assist researchers with data collection and hear presentations by the staff at LAST including a talk by the head biologist who has dedicated her life to the conservation of these animals. At the end of our visit, we will be invited to participate in the release of rehabilitated, healthy turtles back into the Pacific. In the evening, enjoy drinks and a beautiful sunset.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Rio Seco Rainforest / Exploring Golfo Dulce

Visit Rio Seco Rainforest at the head of Golfo Dulce where the peaceful waters of the bay lap against a picture-perfect beach. Rio Seco’s tropical fruit orchard, its lush gardens and vibrant colors of both the flora and the fauna are a photographer’s dream. Here, 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. In the evening, enjoy a beautiful sunset as we journey towards Panamanian waters.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Coiba National Park, Panama

Isla Coiba, one of Panama’s most remote national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers some of the best reefs for snorkeling in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Observe this vibrant undersea world while swimming, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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 frigate birds, 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 and 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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Gatún Lake / Panama Canal Transit

Board a Zodiac for a specially arranged visit to Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatún Lake. Scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island since 1923, researching its 120 mammals and diverse tree species. It is also the site of a National Geographic-supported project that tracks tagged animals using automated radio signals and wireless technology. Join local guides here for a walk through the forests. This evening, continue through the complex lock system of the canal.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Colón / Panama City / US

After breakfast, disembark in Colón and transfer to the airport in Panama City for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast