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Safari Voyager

Costa Rica & The Panama Canal

10-day stay & cruise from £4,699 pp incl. flights

Special offer: Special Fly-Cruise fares

Summary

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In Brief

  • 2 Nights San José
  • 1 Night Manuel Antonio National Park
  • 1 Night Curú National Wildlife Refuge
  • 1 Night Osa Conservation Area
  • 1 Night Golfo Dulce
  • 1 Night Coiba
  • 1 Night Panama Canal
  • 1 Night Panama City

Cruise

Recommended for:
Exploration cruise | Ocean cruise | Off the beaten track | Photography | Wildlife

Monkeys, sloths, iguanas, hummingbirds, toucans, and whales! By kayak, skiff, on foot, and small ship—uncover the wonders of jungles, mangroves, national parks, preserves, and the Panama Canal.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
UK to San José, Costa Rica

Fly from Heathrow to San José, Costa Rica via Madrid, arriving the same day.

On arrival in the capital city of San José, you’ll be warmly greeted at the airport and transferred to the Intercontinental Hotel for your overnight stay. Relax and unwind, enjoying the hotel’s amenities or nearby attractions.

Day 2
San José, Costa Rica – Embarkation

The morning is yours to enjoy at leisure or set out to explore nearby sites and cafes. This afternoon, join your fellow adventurers at our hospitality area in the Intercontinental Hotel. After everyone has gathered, travel to the Caldera Port on the Pacific Ocean, where you’ll board the Safari Voyager and meet your enthusiastic crew.

Meals: D

Day 3
Manuel Antonio National Park

Boasting 109 species of mammals, over 330 bird species, and abundant marine life among its incredibly diverse plant life, Manuel Antonio National Park provides endless opportunity for discovery. On a jungle hike, keep your eyes tuned to the canopy above, watching for two- and three-toed sloths, white-faced capuchins, scarlet macaws, many-colored tanagers, coatis, iguanas, and other colorful and camouflaged creatures. And, keep your ears tuned for the screeching of howler monkeys.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Located on the central western coast, Costa Rica’s smallest national park is separated from its central valley by a mountain range. The park’s flora and fauna include an impressive mix of species. Among Manuel Antonio National Park’s primary and secondary forests, mangrove swamps, coves, and beautiful white-sandy beaches live 109 mammal species and over 180 documented species of birds. Dominant trees include the black locust, balsa, monkey comb, bastard cedar, and mayflower. Established in 1972, the landscape is incredibly diverse and it was listed as one of the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks by Forbes.

Within the park are trails leading to the incredible white sand beaches, with beautifully rugged coastline views. Several fantastic trails offer journeys-by-foot to high bluffs above the ocean with sweeping panoramic views, to unique sea caves along the beach, and into the forest for scouting howler and squirrel monkeys, three-toed sloths, parakeets, tanagers, hawks, toucans, iguanas, and remarkable running-on-water basilisks.

The park also includes twelve small isles a short distance from shore. These islands are an important nesting area for brown boobies and are a sanctuary for other seabirds. The surrounding waters are teeming with a number of species of coral, sponge, crustaceans, and fish. Dolphins and migrating whales may also be spotted in these waters. Known for its gorgeous, postcard-worthy beaches, it’s the perfect location for an afternoon snooze, or for easy access into the water for swimming and snorkeling.

Meals: B L D

Day 4
Curú National Wildlife Refuge

Your week of adventure continues on the southeastern tip of Nicoya Peninsula—untamed wildlife, lush scenery, and active recreation. Local “residents” include a variety of different animal, reptile, avian, and insect species—frigate birds and hummingbirds, army ants and butterflies. Hike in Curú National Wildlife Refuge—a prime place to inspect diverse flora and fauna. Off shore, the vibrant, turquoise waters near Isla Tortuga offer inviting opportunities to snorkel, kayak, and paddle board.

Cúru National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica

Over 3,600 acres in size, Curú National Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda was once a private home of Federico Schutt de la Croix and Doña Julietta Schutt de Valle. Raising their three children there, the two began to focus their efforts on preservation of habitat for threatened and endangered species in the 1970s. By 1983, their property was officially granted status as a “wildlife refuge.” Today, Curú is an example of successful and sustainable ecotourism not only providing protection for the local environment, but essential jobs for the local Ticos as well.

Doña Julietta still runs the Refuge with the help of her adult children. Of the 3,600 acres, most is protected forest. Within the forest and the 84-acre refuge live incredibly diverse animal, reptile, avian, and insect species. Among its wild residents are white-faced, howler, and spider monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, and coatis, margays and puma, yellow-naped parrots, trogons, caracara, frigate birds and hummingbirds, and army ants, giant toads, and butterflies. Hiking trails of varying degrees of challenge cross the reserve and offer opportunities to spot wildlife in the canopy above and along the forest floor

Meals: B L D

Day 5
Osa Conservation Area

Adventure lies around every bend in the isolated, wild Osa Conservation Area, home to the country’s largest national park, Corcovado. The area is known for its diverse plant and animal species—a whopping 2.5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity is found here—including all four of Costa Rica’s monkeys, tree frogs, caimans, anteaters, scarlet macaws, coatis, and 16 different species of hummingbird. Explore this vast area putting feet to trail on an invigorating hike through the jungle. At the end of the day, enjoy the sunset with a tropical beverage in-hand during cocktail hour and retell stories of the day with your travel-mates.

Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Located on the southern end of the remote and isolated Oso Peninsula, 164-square-mile Corcovado National Park is Costa Rica’s largest national park. From cloud forest to mangrove swamp, the park’s astounding biodiversity includes an estimated 500 species of trees, approximately 140 species of mammal, over 360 species of bird, nearly 120 species of reptiles and amphibians, and over 6,000 species of insects.

The park’s long stretches of pristine beach are backed by the lush, dense canopy of forests that teem with life. Four monkey species (spider, whiteface, squirrel, and howler) share this revered place with two- and three-toed sloths, anteaters, tapirs, jaguars, margays, and ocelots, along with winged brethren including scarlet macaws, tovi parakeets, king vultures, and Harpy eagles. The more slippery creatures include poison-dart frogs, speckled caimen, dolphins, killer whales, hammerhead sharks, and a few crocodiles. The gulf provides water-entry to the remote, isolated national park.

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Golfo Dulce

A birder’s paradise, explore a tropical preserve exploding with vibrant color. From bromeliads, ginger plants, and heliconias, to toucans, hummingbirds, mischievous monkeys, and fluttering butterflies—there’s a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and tastes in every tree and bush you pass on your walking tour. In Golfo Dulce, which separates Oso Peninsula from the mainland, explore the rare flora and fauna of mangroves by kayak and skiff.

Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Tucked between the Osa Peninsula and the mainland of Costa Rica, Golfo Dulce—or “sweet gulf"—is a large, sheltered bay ringed by secluded beaches and tropical rainforest, including Piedres Blancas National Park at the north end and its amazing “sister park,” Corcovado National Park. The gulf harbors an important estuarine habitat from the drainage of the Llorona, Corcovado, and Sirena Rivers. In its protected waters, kayaking, snorkeling, and skiff rides provide a view into the rich marine world below the surface. Golfo Dulce also boasts one of the world’s longest left-hand breaks when the conditions are right, making this a popular destination for surfers.

Meals: B L D

Day 7
Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park, Panama

Sail through the islands of Coiba National Park, making a stop at the postcard-perfect Granito de Oro islet. Offering a little bit of everything despite its small size, volcanic outcroppings at either end of this tiny landmass and a dense, mini-jungle in the center are connected by gorgeous white sand beach. Named one of the world’s top 10 diving sites, your day of play features snorkeling among abundant marine life, kayaking around rocky outcroppings, and lounging on the warm sand. It’s another perfect day in paradise.

Granito de Oro, Coiba National Park, Panamá

The features of this small islet within Coiba National Park have made it a natural “fishbowl” for marine life. Two rocky volcanic outcroppings on either end of the islet act a bit like a reef protecting its white-sand beaches and sheltering its surrounding water. A relaxing playground for adventure on the lighter side, a casual snorkel reveals a bounty of colorful marine life along the rocks. The picture-perfect beaches are ideal for a meandering stroll or for an afternoon snooze on warm sand. The cluster for trees and palms at the center of the island are very fitting with the lush jungle of the country, and offer a fascinating place for a nature walk beneath the shaded, dense canopy.

Granito de Oro is part of Coiba National Park which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Meals: B L D

Day 8
Gulf of Panama Islands / Panama Canal

The diverse islands and islets in the Gulf of Panama are all unique, and on your last day, its captain’s choice as you cruise among them. Hosting hundreds of avian species, you may enjoy superb bird watching on an exciting skiff exploration, or stroll a charming coastal village that boasts the hemisphere's second oldest church. Later today, prepare to experience one of the top bucket-list destinations—transit from ocean to ocean along the 48-mile Panama Canal. Truly a marvel of engineering and human tenacity, it took 9,000 workers to build it. Celebrate this absolutely unforgettable voyage with a special farewell dinner, and then join your expedition team for a slideshow highlighting the week’s adventures.

Gulf of Panama Islands

Discovered by Spanish explorers, the volcanic islands in the Gulf of Panama are remnants of ancient activity along the Pacific Ocean’s ring of fire. One island in this cluster, Isla Tobago, or the flower island, was discovered by Vasco Balboa in the 1500s. The colonial church on the island is a reminder of a centuries-long history and is said to be Panama’s oldest.

Today, a quaint fishing village bustles on the eastern side, a number of hiking trails offer fantastic views across the gulf, and pretty white-sand beaches stretch along its shores. The tiny bulb of an island, El Murro, can be reached by a sand bar at low tide. Isla Urabá, just at the southern end of Tobago, is part of the Tobago Wildlife reserve and offers great birding on shore and snorkeling along coral-covered, volcanic rock. Each of the many islands in the Gulf of Panama are unique including rocky Isla Flamenco—also known as Dead Man’s Island, Isla Bona that buzzes with the activity of hundreds of birds, and little Isla Otoque that barely encompasses 2.6 square kilometers and is home to fewer than 150 people.

Panama Canal

Panama Canal is one of the most important waterways of the world. Connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, this engineering marvel provides passage to vessels through Central America, allowing them to avoid traveling several thousand extra miles around the dangerous southern tip of South America’s Cape Horn. The construction of the canal began in 1881 by the French, but the search for such a route of passage began long before. Early explorers to Central America believed the possibility of finding a passageway was high and, with both truly helpful information and misleading reports disguised as helpful from natives of the area, they searched for a way across.

After the successful construction of the Suez Canal, the French and in particular, the man behind the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps, believed construction of a sea-level Panama Canal would be swift and inexpensive. But due to challenging terrain that cut through the mountainous spine of Central America, dense forest, and across two large rivers, and the propensity for workers to die of malaria and yellow fever, the French project plagued with financial struggles and was sold to the United States in the early 1900s.

Then-president Theodore Roosevelt was a forceful advocate for the building of the canal. His belief in its importance was so strong that the US went so far as to support a rebel uprising that gave Panamanians their independence from Columbia.

Construction began again in earnest in 1905 after John Frank Stevens, the engineering mastermind behind the Great Northern Railway, was hired as Chief Engineer. Building better housing and sanitation for workers and hiring a massive labor force, he got the ball rolling and convinced Roosevelt and Congress that the canal should be a lock system, not sea level.

Major George Geothals, who succeeded Stevens, saw the project to completion. During the course of construction, over 268 million cubic yards of earth was dug and moved; two artificial lakes—Lake Gatun and Miraflores Lake—were constructed along with four dams; and the continental divide, which originally rose 360 feet above sea level was brought down to just 40 feet above sea level at the Culebra Cut. The canal has three sets of locks—the Miraflores, the Pedro Miguel, and the Gatun Locks—that raise vessels 85 feet above sea level during passage through. Over 56,000 people were employed and nearly 5,600 died during the US-phase of construction. The canal remained under US administration until 1999 when control was returned to Panamá and the Panamá Canal Authority took over.

The Panama Canal was opened on October 10, 1913 when the dike that separated Lake Gatun from the Calebra Cut was demolished. The first vessel to pass through was a French crane boat, Alexandre de Valley. The canal officially opened to traffic in the summer of 1914 and since its opening, over 1 million vessels have passed through.

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Panama City – Disembarkation

Enjoy an early breakfast aboard the Safari Voyager and bid your crew farewell.

You’ll disembark in Colón and be transferred to the Panama City airport for your flight home via Madrid, arriving the following day.

Meals: B

Day 10
Arrive UK

Arrive into Heathrow

Map

Pricing

Any element of this cruise can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Prices

10-day stay & cruise on board Safari Voyager (UnCruise Adventures) from £4,699 incl. flights

Departure: 10 November 2017

Master: £4,699
Commander: £5,229
Captain: £5,579
Admiral: £6,189
Jr Commodore Suite: £6,799
Owner's Suite: £7,835

Special Fly-Cruise fares

Includes pre-cruise

  • Flight on Iberia to San Jose, via Madrid
  • 1-night hotel stay at the Intercontinental Hotel

Includes on board

  • On-board meals
  • Premium spirits, wine, & beer
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Entry fees to national parks/preserves
  • Narrative Interpretation
  • All from-the-boat adventure activities and equipment including kayaks and paddle boards
  • Wellness amenities: hot tub, fitness equipment & yoga mats
  • Complimentary massage

Includes post-cruise

  • Transfer to airport
  • Flight to Heathrow via Madrid on British Airways

Voyage Highlights

  • Transit the Panamá Canal
  • Visit national parks, one wildlife refuge, and conservation area
  • Search for untamed wildlife—sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-faced capuchins
  • Snorkel and beachcomb on Panamá’s Granito de Oro
  • Stroll in a butterfly- and flower-rich tropical botanical reserve
  • Hike, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, and explore by skiff
  • Off-the-beaten path exploration

Meet our experts

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Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0615 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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Every step of the way

Every step of the way

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