two travelers on the bow of the national geographic quest small ship about to go into the panama canal on a partly sunny day
Travelers hiking on a costa rica jungle tour in Corcovado National Park with a stream next to them and sunbeams coming through the green canopy
Golden-mantled howler Monkeys in the costa rica jungle surrounded by bright green leaves
two travelers relax against a rock while water flows over it in the jungle of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
traveler standing in shallow ocean water with a camera on a tripod takes a picture of the national geographic costa rica small ship on a sunny day
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Central America Costa Rica Cruise

Costa Rica & the Panama Canal

Few places offer such exuberant, colorful and diverse nature as in the tropics of Costa Rica. This 8-day Costa Rica & the Panama Canal journey offers intimate exploration of Costa Rica’s lowland rainforest, pristine waters and rambunctious wildlife, as well as transits the famous Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal, stretching more than 50 miles and traversed by some 14,000 ships each year, is one of the most celebrated human achievements on the planet. Because cargo ships tend to pass through the canal during the day, small cruise ships enjoy evening or nighttime transits, when the canal is dramatically lit. A full day on Gatun Lake, the flooded lake between the Panama Canal’s two lock systems, offers an educational visit to Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Gatun Lake, where scientists have worked at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923. Discover why Panama’s natural beauty and biological diversity rivals Costa Rica’s.

On this Costa Rica and Panama small ship cruise, explore famous national parks and wildlife reserves, including a privately-owned tropical garden. Walk rainforest trails, home to capuchin and howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, green iguanas and colorful hummingbirds. Swim and snorkel Panama’s famed Isla Coiba. Kayak along wildlife-rich, remote coastlines. Go horseback riding on the beach. Relax with all the comforts and intimacy of small ship cruising.

The 100-guest National Geographic Quest expedition vessel is home base and ideal for travelers seeking small ship adventure, professional naturalist guides and activities for all levels. In addition to the main itinerary, this Costa Rica and Panama Canal small ship cruise also operates in reverse. Contact an Adventure Specialist for more details.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Costa Rica cruises.



Itinerary

Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Itinerary

The 8-day Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Cruise travels southbound, beginning in San Jose, Costa Rica, and ending in Panama City, Panama.

National Geographic Costa Rica and Panama Canal Cruise route map.
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Day 1
Embark San Jose, Costa Rica

Upon arrival in San José, Costa Rica, transfer by land to Puerto Caldera and embark the ship.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

dinner

Read More
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 (added cost) on the coast or trek through the rainforest for a chance to see three species of monkeys: howler, spider and capuchin.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
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 in the mature rainforest or kayak in peaceful waters in Golfo Dulce. In the evening, enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Golfo Dulce

Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Visit Casa Orquídeas, a tropical paradise of ornamental palms, bromeliads, heliconias and orchids, closed to the general public and only reachable by boat. Keep watch for tanagers, parrots and toucans. Later, explore the placid bay, ideal for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Zodiac rides and swimming

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Isla 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 is 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.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
Gulf of Panama Islets & Panama Canal Transit

Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Search for 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, your ship will most likely begin its crossing at night, when the canal is dramatically lit.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
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.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Disembark Colon, Panama City

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

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations aboard ship; meals as indicated; non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; services of expedition leaders, naturalist staff, expert guides and a ship’s doctor; park fees; use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; all port charges and service taxes.

Exclusions

Air transportation; horseback riding; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc.; discretionary tips to naturalist staff and crew; insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $750 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – $350 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
119 to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 25% of total trip cost
59 to 45 days – 50% of total trip cost
44 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Costa Rica & the Panama Canal cruise begins in San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO), and ends in Panama City, Panama (PTY). Embarkation time on day 1 may vary based upon arrival of group flights from Miami, Florida (MIA). Disembarkation is after breakfast on day 8 of the outlined itinerary; departure times may vary depending on group flights to Miami, Florida. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, morning yoga and stretching, land treks and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Travelers under the age of 18 at time of travel save $500, at double occupancy. Skilled staff members are trained in organizing activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Select departures have the added benefit of visiting the Osa Conservation on day 3 of the above itinerary. Learn about their program that monitors the nesting activity, predation rates and hatchling success of sea turtles. Take part in activities, enjoy dinner and a sunset cocktail get-together and when it gets dark, patrol the beach at night searching for nesting green sea turtles.

Reverse Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Itinerary

The 8-day Reverse Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Cruise travels northbound, beginning in Panama City, Panama, and ending in San Jose, Costa Rica.

National Geographic Costa Rica and Panama Canal Cruise route map.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Panama City to Embark Colon

Upon arrival in Panama City, transfer by land to Colón and embark our ship National Geographic Quest.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

dinner

Read More
Day 2
Gatún Lake & Panama Canal Transit

By special arrangement, National Geographic Quest anchors 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. 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, the Nat Geo Quest most likely begin crossing at night, when the canal is dramatically lit.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 3
Gulf of Panama Islets

Today, explore the tiny islets of the Gulf of Panama by Zodiac or kayak. Here, hope to spot frigatebirds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants and brown boobies.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
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.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Golfo Dulce & Costa Rica

Enter the mangrove-fringed Golfo Dulce along the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. Visit Casa Orquídeas, a tropical paradise of ornamental palms, bromeliads, heliconias, and orchids, closed to the general public and reached by boat only. Keep an eye out for tanagers, parrots and toucans. Later, explore the placid bay, ideal for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Zodiac rides and swimming.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 6
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.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 7
Corcovado National Park

Anchor off the Osa Peninsula to see some of the most pristine lowland rain forest 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 rain forest for a chance to see three species of monkeys—howler, spider and capuchin.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Disembark San Jose, Costa Rica

Disembark after breakfast in Puerto Caldera. Drive to the airport in San José for flights home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations aboard ship; meals as indicated; non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; services of expedition leaders, naturalist staff, expert guides and a ship’s doctor; park fees; use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; all port charges and service taxes.

Exclusions

Air transportation; horseback riding; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, voyage DVD, etc.; discretionary tips to naturalist staff and crew; insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $750 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – $350 of deposit retained (may be applied to future trip by trip operator)
119 to 90 days – 100% of deposit
89 to 60 days – 25% of total trip cost
59 to 45 days – 50% of total trip cost
44 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Reverse Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Cruise begins in Panama City, Panama (PTY) and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO). Embarkation time on day 1 may vary based upon arrival of group flights from Miami, Florida (MIA). Disembarkation is after breakfast on day 8 of the outlined itinerary; departure times may vary depending on group flights to Miami, Florida. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, morning yoga and stretching, land treks and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Travelers under the age of 18 at time of travel save $500, at double occupancy. Skilled staff members are trained in organizing activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Select departures have the added benefit of visiting the Osa Conservation on day 3 of the above itinerary. Learn about their program that monitors the nesting activity, predation rates and hatchling success of sea turtles. Take part in activities, enjoy dinner and a sunset cocktail get-together and when it gets dark, patrol the beach at night searching for nesting green sea turtles.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

See Deals section for details on flexible booking policies.

Dec 06 - Dec 13, 2020
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $6380USD
Per Person
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Dec 13 - Dec 20, 2020
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
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From $6380USD
Per Person
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Dec 20 - Dec 27, 2020
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $6990USD
Per Person
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Dec 27 - Jan 03, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
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From $6990USD
Per Person
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Jan 03 - Jan 10, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $6490USD
Per Person
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Jan 10 - Jan 17, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
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From $6490USD
Per Person
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Jan 17 - Jan 24, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $6490USD
Per Person
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Jan 24 - Jan 31, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
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From $6490USD
Per Person
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Jan 31 - Feb 07, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $6490USD
Per Person
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Mar 12 - Mar 19, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
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From $6490USD
Per Person
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Dec 19 - Dec 26, 2021
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $7190USD
Per Person
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Dec 26 - Jan 02, 2022
National Geographic Quest • 8 days
From $7190USD
Per Person
Read More
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Quest

Purpose built to cruise coastal waters, shallow coves and fast-moving channels, the 100-guest National Geographic Quest is a state-of-the-art, expedition, luxury vessel designed for supreme comfort and enhanced wildlife viewing.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires October 31st, 2020
Complimentary Airfare Or Extension On 2021 Costa Rica & The Panama Canal Cruises

Book your Costa Rica & The Panama Canal cruise and receive complimentary airfare or a 2-day extension in this special deal.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires December 31st, 2020
Flexible Cancellation Available Close To Departure on 2020 & 2021 National Geographic Expeditions

Book or re-book 2020 & 2021 travel aboard the National Geographic fleet of ships with confidence using these risk-free, flexible policy details.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2021
Receive 2021 Rates for 2022 National Geographic Expeditions

Book now for 2022 savings aboard the National Geographic fleet of ships.

Expert Review

Ship Reviews from our Experts so You Know What to Expect

Arielle Lightcap • August 27th, 2017
Expert Aboard: National Geographic Quest Review

Adventure Specialist Arielle Figueroa was among the first to step aboard the new National Geographic Quest during its first month sailing. Read her review of this stunning small ship.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Trip

Choose from a wide variety of other AdventureSmith Costa Rica trips to extend your journey, or opt for a pre- or postcruise extension with your fellow passengers on this cruise. 

Monteverde Extension is a 3-day pre-cruise exploration of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, an acclaimed private reserve. Walk trails rich with butterflies, bird life, mosses and 300 species of orchids. Ascend the Skywalk, a series of suspension bridges, for a bird’s-eye view of the rain forest canopy. Learn about life in the early Monteverde community from an original Quaker homesteader. Finish the extension with a visit to a butterfly farm. Contact AdventureSmith Explorations for details and pricing.

Monteverde, Arenal Volcano & Tortuguero Extension is a 7-day post-cruise option for reverse departures of Costa Rica & the Panama Canal. Enjoy naturalist-guided walks in the Monteverde cloud forest reserve and visit a butterfly farm. Walk suspension bridges along Arenal Volcano. Visit a family owned, third-generation coffee farm with a chance to pick coffee cherries during a tour of the grounds. Cross Lake Arenal and take a charter flight to ;Tortuguero National Park where you can stay in a rustic lodge at the water’s edge and wander the narrow streets of the car-free village. Search out monkeys, caiman and tropical birds amongst the park’s canals and visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Indulge in a workshop on preparing chocolate. Contact AdventureSmith Explorations for details and pricing.

Panama Extensions are 1-day pre- or post-cruise expeditions offering opportunities to learn about Panama’s history and folklore. Visit the Gehry-designed BioMuseo, tour classic Panama City neighborhoods and visit the Panama Canal locks.

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6 Day Land Tour
Tropical Volcano & Cloud Forest

On this 6-day lodge-based trip, experience the exhilarating Costa Rica zip line tour at Arenal Hanging Bridges, soak in hot springs, see the Arenal Volcano and hike through the lush Monteverde Cloud Forest. Extend a small ship cruise or get in a quick vacation.

From $1815USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
9 Day Land Tour
Pacific Costa Rica

This 9-day active tour reveals Costa Rica's Pacific coast in style. Explore Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park. Snorkel Cano Island and raft the beautiful Savegre River. End with the magnificent beaches and stunning wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park.

From $3065USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
3 Day Land Tour
Bocas del Toro Adventure

On the 3-day Bocas del Toro Adventure in Panama, sink your toes into the white sand, explore lush tropical rainforests and coral reefs, make a cultural visit to an indigenous community and look for the faithful sea turtles that have come to these islands for millennia.

From $820USD
Year Round
More to Explore

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8 Day Cruise
Crossing the Panama Canal: Treasures of Costa Rica & Panama

This small ship cruise to Costa Rica and Panama aboard the 49-guest Panorama transits the Panama Canal and visits both classic Pacific Coast sites and more unique locales like the Osa Peninsula and Darien National Park.

Special Offer
From $2190USD
Jan Feb Mar Dec
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11 Day Cruise
Costa Rica & Panama—Canal, Culture & Adventure

Cruise through Panama and Costa Rica for 11 days aboard the 66-guest Safari Voyager. Experience the Darien Jungle, colonial history, wildlife and a Panama Canal transit while also exploring off the ship.

Special Offer
From $6895USD
Jan Nov Dec
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9 Day Land Tour
Costa Rica Coast to Coast

Traverse Costa Rica coast to coast on this 9-day land tour, exploring the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. Home base on the Osa Peninsula and enjoy daily excursions guided by expert naturalists in search of wildlife.

From $4515USD
Year Round
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Costa Rica & the Panama Canal

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