Saturday, April 13
Home • San Jose, Costa Rica
Depart the U.S. on independent flights to San Jose, and transfer to the hotel upon arrival. This evening enjoy a welcome reception and dinner. Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose (R,D)
Sunday, April 14
San Jose (Embark)
After a welcome orientation and lecture, enjoy a short city tour before transferring to Puerto Caldera to embark the Hebridean Sky.
Monday, April 15
National Park Often rated as one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, Manuel Antonio National Park packs a variety of impressive landscapes into approximately 4,000 acres, including white sand beaches, lush foliage, imposing mountains, and dense forests that reach to the shoreline. Swim in the park’s beautiful bay or explore the park’s fragile rainforest ecosystem on the well-maintained trails, keeping an eye out for sloths and monkeys.
Tuesday, April 16
Corcovado National Park • Drake Bay
Corcovado National Park is considered the crown jewel in Costa Rica’s extensive system of national parks and biological reserves. Biologically rich and diverse, the abundance of wildlife is due in part to the park’s great variety of habitats and vegetation and in part to the park’s location on the “land bridge” that links North America and South America. Explore the park or enjoy a boat tour of Drake Bay to observe its dolphin, whale, and sea turtle populations.
Wednesday, April 17
Golfo Dulce • Osa
Peninsula Anchor off the Osa Peninsula, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Golfo Dulce to the east, and home to at least half of all of the species living in Costa Rica. Visit the Orchid House, a private botanical garden with beautiful landscaping, amazing flowers, and unique fruits, or learn about medicinal plants and organic chocolate production at Finca Kobo. The afternoon is free for snorkeling in the warm waters of the Golfo Dulce.
Thursday, April 18
Coiba Island, Panama
Linked by the underwater Cordillera mountain chain to the Cocos and Galapagos Islands, Coiba Island is surrounded by one of the largest coral reefs on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Its waters teem with marine life, including whale and tiger sharks, sperm whales, sea turtles, angel rays, and giant schools of fish. Coiba is also a refuge for a number of threatened terrestrial animals, such as the crested eagle, and several subspecies of agouti, possum, and howler monkey. Established as a national park in 1992, Coiba Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Swim and snorkel in this amazing marine world, then enjoy a hearty barbecue on the beach.
Friday, April 19
Travel by motorized cayuca (traditional canoe) into the Darien Rainforest to meet the indigenous Embera people and learn about their ancestral customs, which date back to pre-Columbian times. The rainforest is on the Panamanian side of the Darien Gap, a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest between Panama and Colombia that interrupts the Pan-American Highway.
Saturday, April 20
Panama City • Agua Clara Locks
Discover Panama City’s historic and cultural highlights, including the new Biomuseum, designed by Frank Gehry and dedicated to exhibitions on Panama’s biodiversity. Also explore Panama Viejo (“Old Panama”), the architectural vestiges of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas; and the San Felipe District, the colonial heart of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue to the newly opened Agua Clara Locks, which allows larger ships carrying twice as much cargo to transit the Panama Canal.
Sunday, April 21
Daytime Transit The 48-mile Panama Canal cuts through the Isthmus of Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Built between 1881 and 1914, the canal has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Begin our transit from the Pacific side at the two-stage Miraflores Locks, rising rapidly to the level of Gatun Lake. Then descend via the Gatun Locks, a three-stage lock, which brings the ship back down to sea level on the Atlantic side.
Monday, April 22
San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands (Guna Yala) form an archipelago off the north coast of Panama. They are home to the Kuna (Guna) Indians, who were driven off Panama during the Spanish invasion. Visit a local community where native women produce intricate, highly distinctive, and much acclaimed needlework.
Tuesday, April 23
Cartagena was founded in 1533 by Spanish maritime explorer Pedro de Heredia and named after the Spanish town where most of Heredia’s crew had resided. Spend a full day exploring Cartagena’s colonial walled city and the Casillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a superb example of Spanish military engineering. Las Bóvedas, structures built into the walls of the old city as storage vaults, were used as dungeons during the civil wars of the 19th century and now house shops and boutiques offering traditional Colombian handicrafts. Celebrate your journey with a farewell reception and dinner.
Wednesday, April 24
Cartagena • Home
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)