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Rain Forests & Reefs: Belize, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica & PanamaFebruary 7, 2014 - February 21, 2014
Priced from: $11,980
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
February 7 USA / Belize City, Belize
Depart the USA on your independent flight to Belize City. Transfer to the Radisson Fort George Hotel for dinner and overnight.
February 8 Lamanai Ruins / Embark Island Sky
This morning board boats for a wildlife cruise through virgin marsh and forest. With luck you may spot Morelet’s crocodiles, northern jacanas, anhingas, and great egrets, as well as such rare species as snail kites and black-collared hawks.
A short walk through the jungle brings you to the ruins of Lamanai, one of Belize’s largest Mayan centers. An interesting archaeological aspect of the site is the excavation revealing the multiple layers of pyramids built upon other pyramids as one king succeeded the next. This afternoon board the Island Sky and set out for the cayes of Belize.
February 9 Lighthouse Reef
Established in 1981, Lighthouse Reef’s Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for red-footed boobies. Observe these pelagic birds during nature walks, along with magnificent frigatebirds, ospreys, mangrove warblers, and white-crowned pigeons. The waters off Half Moon Caye offer excellent snorkeling among seafans and colorful fish.
February 10 Roatán, Honduras
Today explore the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, Roatán. The island has a mountainous backbone and is completely surrounded by coral reefs that are among the healthiest in the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters also offer excellent snorkeling 300 feet from the beach, where the water is only five feet deep. Other activities include an excursion to a botanical garden, shopping for mementos in the island’s west-end stores, or an exhilarating zip-line experience.
February 11 At Sea
Attend lectures on the region’s history and wildlife or simply relax on deck.
February 12 Isla de Providencia, Colombia
Far from mainland Colombia, rarely-visited Isla de Providencia is a warm and friendly, English-speaking island with the nostalgic feel of the Caribbean of yesteryear. An island tour this morning takes you to a parochial school and other points of interest ashore. Or, venture out to snorkel among a variety of fish, including colorful tangs, cuttlefish, and barracuda that populate the island’s coral reef.
February 13 Puerto Limón / Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica
Today arrive in lovely Costa Rica and board shallow-draft boats for an excursion among the Tortuguero Canals, home to 2,000 plant species, more than 400 species of birds, and 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered mammals. During your exploration of the raffia-lined waterways, you may spy sloths; howler and capuchin monkeys; wood storks, bare-throated tiger herons, roseate spoon-bills, Montezuma oropendolas, and ringed kingfishers; and crocodiles, caimans, turtles, iguanas, and the Jesus Christ lizard, so named for its unique ability to run across water. Return to the ship for lunch and set sail for Panama.
February 14 Escudo de Veraguas, Panama
Ten miles off the coast of Panama, isolated Escudo de Varaguas is surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters. Zodiacs take you to the southern side of the island to view the steep white cliffs and rock stacks where brown boobies nest. Explore the long sandy beach and the jungle beyond in search of the endemic pygmy sloth and Escudo hummingbird. The island is also the best place in the world to spot the rare uniform crake. Blue channels and a superb coral reef offer excellent snorkeling.
February 15 San Blas Archipelago
The San Blas Archipelago is a group of over 350 islands stretching for 200 miles along Panama’s east coast. Largely roadless, many ringed with reefs, they vary in size from tiny uninhabited islets with a few palm trees to larger islands clad in jungle. Your explorations offer up-close views of the wildlife native to the archipelago.
San Blas is also home to the Kuna Indians, a semiautonomous tribe still practicing the traditions of their ancestors, including the crafting of molas, brightly colored, appliquéd fabrics. Meet the Kuna, learn about their culture, and admire or purchase molas. In the afternoon land at Holandes Caye to beachcomb or snorkel in the inviting waters.
February 16 Daylight Transit of the Panama Canal
During your daylight transit, the Island Sky gracefully navigates the canal’s three mighty locks, Gatún Lake, and the dramatic Gaillard Cut. Relax on deck and enjoy a historical perspective as you follow this famed waterway to the Pacific.
February 17 Mogue River, Darién Province
Panama’s remote Darién Province is one of the last unspoiled regions in Central America. In Zodiacs and dugout canoes, make your way up the Mogue River to meet with the indigenous Emberá Indians who live in small thatched-hut villages. Primarily harvesters of forest agricultural products, they are also well-known for their baskets and the carvings they fashion from cocobolo, a dense hardwood. The Emberá are also famed for their music and dance, and as you approach the village, percussion and flutes celebrate your arrival.
Feb 18 - Feb 19 Isla Coiba
Anchor off Isla Coiba for a two-day exploration of one of the largest marine parks in the world. On nature hikes search for more than 130 species of birds, including red-legged honeycreepers, crimson-backed tanagers, and brilliantly colored lance-tailed manakins. Zodiacs take you on excursions along wild shores and bring you to secluded beaches. Snorkeling is excellent as Coiba is also the site of a large coral reef where a convergence of currents reveals an array of eastern tropical Pacific marine life.
February 20 Río Claro, Costa Rica / Isla Caño
Zodiacs take you ashore for a hike to the Río Claro. Pass lush flora as you walk along the trail, before arriving at the tranquil river for a swim. Scarlet macaws nest along the route, and you may spy white-faced capuchin monkeys, red-legged and shining honeycreepers, chestnut-mandibled toucans, and black-cheeked ant tanagers, a bird endemic to the Osa Peninsula.
In the afternoon, Isla Caño offers excellent snorkeling with opportunities to see a variety of Pacific Coast reef fish such as triggerfish, angelfish, and barracudas, among many others, plus rays, sea turtles, and white-tip reef sharks.
February 21 Puerto Caldera / Disembark / San José / USA
This morning arrive in Puerto Caldera, disembark the ship, and transfer to San José. This afternoon board your independent flight homeward.