Beach sunset in Panama

Panama to Costa Rica Voyage

11 days
from
£5,752
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Trip code: 
AUCR
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Multi-Country Wildlife Holidays
Max group size:
72
Min age:
16

A special 11-day itinerary with an increased focus on wildlife and birding opportunities!

Join us on our incredible voyage to destinations that are outstanding for nature and wildlife from Panama’s remote Darien Province, which is practically inaccessible other than by air or ship, to Punta Patino Nature Reserve and Piedras Blancas National Park (Costa Rica’s newest park).

Piedras Blancas is an important gathering point for many birds from North and South America. Here we’ll be looking to add color to our lives (and birding checklists) by keeping a watchful eye for gorgeous violaceaous trogon, red-capped manakin, long-tailed hermit, fiery-billed aracari, scarlet-thighed dacnis and green honeycreeper. Other famed national parks we’ll be exploring include Soberanía, home to over 530 species of birds and 105 species of mammals, as well as Carara, a sanctuary for scarlet macaws.

We will also search for diverse marine life while swimming and snorkeling in Coiba National Park and Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve. Our itinerary features swimming, snorkeling, beautiful beaches, hiking and more for a well-rounded adventure — plus, the comforts of a deluxe yacht, the Voyager.

Highlights

  • An impressive list of over 530 species of birds, as well as 105 species of mammals and 59 endemic plant species
  • The mangroves and estuaries of Panama’s remote Darién
  • Spot harpy eagles and explore estuaries and shorelines from our small boats
  • Swim and snorkel among an amazing world of coral and fish life directly from the beach
  • Encounter caiman, American crocodile, primates, river turtle and coatis

 

Key information

  • A special 11-day itinerary
  • With an increased focus on wildlife and birding opportunities
  • Aboard the exclusively chartered and intimate yacht MY Variety Voyager
  • 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches & 9 Dinners
  • 7 nights aboard MY Variety Voyager, 1 night in a Lodge, & 2 nights in a Hotel

What's included

  • Guided tours & lectures by native naturalists
  • Services of experienced expedition leaders
  • All meals on voyage
  • Wildlife excursions on land & by skiff
  • Full educational program with lectures & field interpretation
  • Local beer and wine with meals onboard  
  • Tips to porters & waiters for included meals
  • Pre- and post-cruise accommodations as outlined in the itinerary
  • Arrival & departure transfers 

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Optional activities
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Itinerary

Panama City
to
San Jose
  • Day 1

    Start Panama City

    Fly independently to Panama City, where you spend tonight at our overnight hotel

    Accommodation: Gamboa Rainforest Lodge

  • Day 2

    Soberania National Park and Gatun Lake/Embark Voyager

    Meet your naturalist guide over coffee, pastries and fruit before heading to Soberanía National Park. The park boasts an impressive list of over 530 species of birds, as well as 105 species of mammals and 59 endemic plant species. Visit the Rainforest Discovery Center, where you spot canopy bird species from the 100-foot observation tower. Continue exploring the network of trails and enjoy the hummingbird feeders that provide up-close views of 10 species of hummingbirds! Enjoy boating across Gatun Lake — part of the Panama Canal. After lunch overlooking an operating lock, visit the exhibit hall and see a presentation by the Panama Canal Authority. Later, visit the Biodiversity Museum, an affiliate of Smithsonian. Embark Voyager and sail to the Darién.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager



    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Head into the mangroves and estuaries of Panama’s remote Darién

    Board local boats heading into the mangroves and estuaries of Panama’s remote Darién, watching for roseate spoonbill, Amazon kingfisher, white ibis and heron, as well as waders such as willet, whimbrel and spotted sandpiper. A specialty of the area is the black oropendola. Journey through red, black and button mangroves to an Embera community.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Is one of the best places in Panama to spot harpy eagles

    Punta Patino Nature Reserve contains species-rich primary and secondary forest, and is one of the best places in Panama to spot harpy eagles. Observe blue-footed boobies in a nearby rookery along with mangroves where birds, marine life and other wildlife make their home. Also explore estuaries and shorelines from our small boats. Spend your afternoon strolling trails within the reserve before the Voyager departs for Isla de Coiba.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Savor a relaxing day with fascinating lectures

    Savor a relaxing day with fascinating lectures as we sail across the Gulf of Panama and arrive at Isla de Coiba. Our first call is the Coiba National Park Ranger Station, where a naturalist-guided nature walk introduces you to the islands.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Swim and snorkel among an amazing world of coral and fish life directly from the beach

    Swim and snorkel among an amazing world of coral and fish life directly from the beach. Walk along Los Monos Trail through sections of virgin primary forest, where bi-colored hawk, white-throated thrush, lance-tailed manakin and endemic brown-backed dove are found. Head toward the central station of the old penal colony, where you are free to roam the installations of the once notorious prison. Discover a wide array of flora and fauna along the Hot Springs Trail — flanked by primary rainforest and mangroves. The main attraction here is the endemic Coiba spinetail, more often observed here than anywhere else on the island. Also watch for both howler and white-faced monkeys.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Head to Peidras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica’s newest national park

    Head to Peidras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica’s newest national park. There are hundreds of rare plant, animal, and insect species found in this verdant forest, as well as a large number of amphibians and other reptiles. Some of the most common wildlife found here are howler monkey, white-nose capuchin, coatis, toucan and scarlet macaw. Piedras Blancas is considered one of the best bird watching parks in the country.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Explore Central America’s largest protected mangrove area

    Explore Central America’s largest protected mangrove area. Venture into countless channels among the mangroves crisscrossing this vitally important Terraba-Sierpe National Humid Forest Reserve. Expect to encounter caiman, American crocodile, primates, river turtle and coatis. Birders may delight in sightings of yellow mangrove warbler, common potoo and frigatebird. The waters of Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve play host to a huge variety of fish, whales and sharks. With fantastic underwater visibility, one may see sea turtles, dolphins, rays and barracuda. After dinner, the Voyager sails to Puerto Caldera.

    Accommodation: MY Variety Voyager

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Disembark/Puerto Caldera/Carara National Park

    Carara National Park is a sanctuary for scarlet macaw. After lunch in a local restaurant, take small boats on the Río Tárcoles and into nearby mangroves, looking for bird species, mammals and endangered American crocodiles. Our hotel is located near Carara.

    Accommodation: Villa Lapas

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Spend a full day hiking and birding in the forests of Carara

    Spend a full day hiking and birding in the forests of Carara, watching for trogons, toucans and white-faced capuchin monkeys. Those who don’t want to spend the full day in the reserve can enjoy a guided walk along the five suspended bridges, ascending more than 180 feet into the rainforest canopy, or simply relax by the pool while savoring the lush nature surrounding Villa Lapas. Everyone comes back together this evening for a festive farewell dinner.

    Accommodation: Villa Lapas

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Depart San Jose

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Panama

Most nationalities, including Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Panama for 90 days without a visa.

Costa Rica

Holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and most EU passports can enter Costa Rica for a stay of 90 days without a visa. Proof of onward travel may be required when entering Costa Rica - we suggest you take a print out of your flight details in case officials ask to see them. All passengers flying via the USA will have to clear immigration during transit. Prior to travel you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) under the Visa Waiver Programme. Please see here for more information. The same applies to travel via Canada which also requires an Electronic Travel Authority. If you are not a UK citizen please check with your local U.S. Embassy. 

Vaccinations

Panama

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip. Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Costa Rica

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Weather

Is this trip for you?

This tour is operated in partnership with our sister company International Expeditions. As such the departures are not exclusive to Exodus and groups may be a mixture of Exodus, International Expeditions, and other clients. This trip is booked through Exodus and you will receive the same award winning customer service that you would expect. International Expeditions operate with the same core principles used by Exodus and champion the benefits of small group travel.

The Central American countries of Panama and Costa Rica both hit the biodiversity jackpot. Their protected rainforests, mangroves, and waterways are home to some of the most abundant wildlife in the region. Panama, which is located at the southernmost edge of the North American continent, is not just known for the engineering marvel of its world-famous canal, but also for pristine wilderness and rich wildlife. Costa Rica has long been known for its dedication to preserving its natural resources, boasting 27 National Parks.

The calm waters of the Pacific coasts of these two nations are brimming with marine life. International Expeditions' new Costa Rica to Panama cruises offer ample opportunities to visit destinations that are unreachable by road and get up close to rare and exotic birds and mammals.

Here’s a look at a few of the region’s most noteworthy natural highlights: 

Soberanía National Park, Panama 

Sitting along the eastern bank of the Panama Canal is Soberanía National Park, which boasts over 530 species of birds, 105 species of mammals, and 55 species of amphibians across its 55,000 acres.

Located just a short drive away from Panama City, the park has well-maintained hiking trails through tropical rainforest. It offers plenty of chances to spot sloths, toucans, howler monkeys, anteaters, and adorable “honey bear” kinkajous in the early morning hours.

Bird lovers can spot avian life from the famous Pipeline Road, which was built during World War II to transport fuel from one ocean to the other. Here, the Audubon Society held its Christmas bird count world record 19 years in a row, with 357 species identified in just 24 hours. Deep in the old-growth forests, you might find yellow-eared toucanets, crimson-bellied and black-cheeked woodpeckers, and Purple-throated fruit crows. If you’re lucky, you may even catch sight of the endangered harpy eagle, Panama’s national bird.

A mile from the Pipeline Road is the Rainforest Discovery Center, an ideal perch to witness the morning flight of keel-billed toucans, red-lored amazons, and other canopy birds from its 100-foot observation tower. Take a break at the hummingbird feeders and you may be able to spot up to 10 different species.

Punta Patiño Nature Reserve, Panama

Set along the southern shore of the Gulf of San Miguel, Punta Patiño Nature Reserve is the largest private preserve in Panama. This wildlife preserve consists of 74,132 acres of primary and secondary forest, and is home to fascinating wildlife. But because it’s surrounded by dense forest, the only way to reach it is by boat or plane.

Feathered creatures populate the reserve’s trees, mangroves and waterways, and can be spotted via its well-maintained trails and from small boats. If you’re lucky, you might catch the clumsy mating dance of the male blue-footed boobies, watch frigatebirds wheel overhead, and admire the beauty of blue dacnis, the Orange-chinned parakeet, blue-headed parrot and the crowned woodnymph.

If you haven’t seen the majestic harpy eagle before, your chances greatly increase here. You may also be able to see capybaras (the largest rodent in the world), crab-eating raccoons and gray foxes.

Just offshore, in the Gulf of San Miguel, pods of humpback whales, pilot whales, and bottlenose dolphins are often spotted swimming happily near boats.

Coiba Island National Park, Panama

Panama’s largest National Park, Coiba National Park, covers an astounding 667,500 acres of marine reserve. It is often referred to as the Galapagos of Central America, due to its biodiversity and myriad opportunities to see marine life on dives and snorkeling adventures around its healthy coral reefs. Because this was the home of a brutal penal colony until 2005, locals kept away from the area. As a result, nature seems relatively untouched in this region, which can be reached by sailing across the Gulf of Panama from the mainland.

Coiba is a great place to see the scarlet macaw in the wild. Hiking along the Los Monos Trail, you can also find bicolored hawk, white-throated thrush, lance-tailed manakin, and native brown-backed dove.

The Hot Springs Trail passes through primary rainforest and mangroves, offering you the ability to soak your feet in the therapeutic, thermal springs at the end. Hiking the trail may also yield sightings of the blue-throated golden tail, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, howler and white-faced monkeys, and the main attraction: the endemic Coiba spinetail. In the shallow waters surrounding the island, snapper, grouper, jack, and benign white-tipped reef sharks are often found.

After taking in the island’s natural wonders, enjoy a relaxing picnic at Granito de Oro. This beautiful small islet lies off the northeastern coast of Coiba, with a white sand beach and a grove of coconut trees. Just keep your distance from the hermit crabs!

Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s newest national park, Piedras Blancas National Park (link sends e-mail), is situated next to Golfito National Wildlife Refuge. It was created to protect the flora and fauna inhabiting the evergreen primary forests, bays and beaches of Golfo Dulce. The park’s rugged landscape is shaped by the Esquinas and Piedras Blancas Rivers, which empty into the Golfo Dulce.

Piedras Blancas is considered one of the best birdwatching parks in the country, as it is an important gathering point for many birds of the Americas. Species you may encounter there include the fiery-billed aracari, violaceous trogon, red-capped manakin, long-tailed hermit, scarlet-thighed dacnis and green honeycreeper.

Wildlife such as sloths, howler monkeys, white-nosed capuchins, and spider monkeys can often be seen and heard in the trees. The park is also home to five species of wild cats: the ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, puma, and the increasingly rare jaguar. Just don’t expect to have any encounters with these elusive and nocturnal creatures!

Terraba-Sierpe Reserve and Isla del Caño Biological Reserve, Costa Rica

In Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, situated between the deltas of the Terraba and Sierpe Rivers, you’ll find the largest protected tidal ecosystem in Central America. It’s near Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic has described as one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

Covering 85 square miles of lagoons, estuaries, and mangrove forests, the Terraba-Sierpe Reserve is best explored by boat. Along the way, you may catch sightings of the American crocodile, Jesus lizard (a.k.a. basilisk), river turtles, coatis, and primates. Bird lovers can look for herons, egrets, the yellow mangrove warbler, toucans, common potto, and frigatebird.

The Isla del Caño Biological Reserve, which is located 12 nautical miles offshore, boasts some of the bluest waters in the country. For snorkelers and divers, it offers unparalleled visibility to see Olive Ridley sea turtles, dolphins, rays, and reef sharks. You might have a chance to see humpback and pilot whales during their migrations from July to October, and again in December through March. It’s an experience you’ll surely remember for many years to come.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

7 Nights on MY Variety Voyager & 3 Nights Hotels

MY Variety Voyager

The exclusively chartered and intimate MY Variety Voyager is a sleek yacht launched in 2012. Guests are accommodated in 36 stylishly appointed, ocean-view cabins. Meals featuring international cuisine are served alfresco or in single, unassigned seatings in the ship's inviting dining room, where passengers can enjoy unobstructed views of the passing scenery and coastline through floor-to-ceiling windows. Located on the Ocean’s Deck, the open Bar and Lounge offers stylish shaded seating and is the ideal spot for reading, relaxing or stargazing. Other public areas include a library, shaded outdoor dining area, sun deck, and a mini-spa and fitness area.

Gamboa Rainforest Resort


Located within Soberanía National Park along the shores of the Panama Canal, 166-room Gamboa Rainforest Resort features a variety of amenities that provide both educational and adventurous experiences, including a swimming pool, spa, plant nursery, orchid garden and butterfly exhibit. A rainforest aerial tram provides you with a bird’s-eye-view of wildlife in the canopy. All rooms are air-conditioned with private baths and hot showers. Rooms also feature free Wi-Fi, private balcony with hammock, mini-bar, coffee maker, and safe.

Villa Lapas


Set just outside Carara National Park, this rainforest-resort is a haven for nature lovers, featuring hikes, canopy tours and a trail with five suspended bridges. Overlooking the gardens, the air-conditioned rooms at Villa Lapas offer contemporary décor, a ceiling fan, a safe and a wardrobe. All are equipped with cable TV. The bathrooms are private and come with a shower and hairdryer. When not exploring, take advantage of the hotel’s extensive gardens and swimming pool.

 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 020 8772 3936