Embark on a unique expedition cruise into the heart of Central America with National Geographic and Ponant. Journeying to five countries, set sail from Guatemala to Ecuador onboard the luxurious 5* Le Soléal. This 14-day expedition cruise will journey across the Pacific Ocean visiting Costa Rica, Colombia and Ecuador. Explore Costa Rica’s wildlife-rich national parks including the Curù Wildlife Refuge and the Manuel Antonio National Park. Walk below the canopy trees spotting breath-taking birds, monkeys and iguanas that call these lush lands home. Reach the island of Cocos, where an array of sea life can be found, keeping an eye out for wildlife such as turtles, dolphins and possibly event sharks, and explore uninhabited lands that are in pristine condition.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soléal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Trip highlights

Visit many UNESCO World Heritage sites including La Antigua de Guatemala from Puerto Quetzal, the national park of Cocos Island, Darien National Park, the historic centre of Quito from Guayaquil.

With our onboard naturalists, spot an array of wildlife including dolphins, whale sharks, monkeys, toucans, iguanas and many species of birds.

Connect with the indigenous Emberas tribe in the Darien National Park where you can experience local culture.

Enjoy many shore visits by Zodiac® where you can get closer to these magnificent destinations and learn more with our National Geographic experts.

Itinerary - 14 Days

1 Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

Guatemala’s largest port Puerto Quetzal is where your expedition cruise to South America will begin. Situated just 100 kilometres from the capital, take the time to explore the old city of Antigua, a World Heritage city where historic Spanish colonial buildings can be explored, before embarking the ship.

2 At sea

On your first day at sea take the time to acquaint yourself with the surroundings onboard the luxurious Le Soléal ship. Relax with a treatment in the spa, enjoy a workout in the fitness centre or enjoy a dip in the deck pool, depending on the weather. You can furthermore enjoy a spot of shopping in the boutique shop or meet the National Geographic experts and photographers who will be joining you for the duration for the cruise.

3 Curú Wildlife Refuge & Tortuga Island

Situated on the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, Curú Wildlife Refuge is one of Costa Rica’s most magnificent nature reserves. As the oldest protected park in the country, there is a distinct focus on ecotourism and research with an onsite research centre that welcomes scientists from all over the world. The park boasts an incredible array of wildlife such as monkeys, iguanas, scarlet macaw and over 200 bird species.

Set out on Zodiac® to explore the paths that criss-cross the tropical forest and lead to magnificent beaches where many of the wildlife can be found.

Tortuga Island or Turtle Island is a picturesque island just 3 kilometres from Curú Wild Life Refuge. Boasting tranquil waters, white sandy beaches and array of wildlife the island is maintained as a preserved forest region and a great place to explore the fantastic flora and fauna.

4 Manuel Antonio National Park

Renowned for being one of the world’s most beautiful parks, Manuel Antonio National Park is a paradise for wildlife. Protected since the 1970s, this small park is home to over 280 wildlife species which can be spotted in the lush tropical forests, white sandy beaches and in the rolling hills. Boarded by the Pacific Ocean, Manuel Antonio National Park is truly one of Costa Rica’s jewels.

5 At Sea

During your time at sea, make the most of the amenities onboard the luxurious Le Soléal. Relax whilst sunbathing and swimming on the deck, enjoy a treatment in the spa, go shopping in the boutique or play a game in the lounge. As you will be joined by National Geographic experts and photographers, take the time to learn more about the destination, improve on your photography skills or attend a workshop.

6 Cocos Island

Cocos Island is an uninhabited island situated 550 kilometres off the coast of Costa Rica. Also known as ‘Treasure Island’ from the age-old tale that pirates in the 17th and 18th century would hide their treasures. There is an incredible ecosystem where wildlife thrives, from the lush tropical rainforests to waterfalls and crystal-clear waters spot turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins. Today, Cocos Island is a destination for distinguished researchers and highly skilled divers. The only way to reach this veritable Garden of Eden is by cruise ship.

7 At Sea

During this day at sea relax with a treatment in the spa, enjoy a workout in the fitness center or enjoy a dip in the deck pool, depending on the weather. You can furthermore enjoy a spot of shopping in the boutique shop or meet the National Geographic experts and photographers who will be joining you for the duration for the cruise.

8 Cébaco Island

Situated off the Pacific coast of Panama, at the entrance to the Gulf of Montijo, Cebaco Island is a picturesque retreat boasting hidden beaches, clear turquoise seas, dense rainforests and flowing waterfalls. Home to a range of hiking routes, discover the diverse wildlife that resides on the island and explore the vibrant coral reefs located in the outlying regions of the Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

9 Sailing Around Pacheca Island & Fuerte Amador, Flamenco Island

Pacheca Island is a small, uninhabited island in the far north of the Pearl Islands.

The Pearl Islands archipelago is formed of over 220 islands and islets with spectacular white-sand beaches, marine life and delicate ecosystems. The majority of the islands are uninhabited and named after the great number of pearls that were found in the region.

Pacheca Island is furthermore home to a wealth of bird species, our naturalist guides will be able to help you spot the different species from the ship’s deck.

Fuerte Amador is an artificial peninsula situated at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal and is the gateway to several noteworthy sites. The impressive Miraflores Locks are close by and are a shining example of the engineering feats deployed during the construction of the Panama Canal. Further north, in villages nestling amid dense vegetation, lives the Embera tribe, guardian of the forest and of the Chagres River.

10 Playa Muerto, Darien National Park & Jaqué

Playa Muerto is a quaint village in the province of Darien with unspoilt lands and an array of flora and fauna. Darien National Park is one of the region’s most important World Heritage sites that connects North and South America. Offering extraordinary scenery of rocky coastlines, mountain ranges, rivers and creeks, Darien is home to a wealth of wildlife.
Playa Muerto is home to the Emberas Amerindian community, and you will get the opportunity to visit the village, enjoy local songs and dance and admire local crafts.

Situated on the Pacific coast next to the mouth of the Jaqué River in Darién Provincial, the area of Jaqué is characterised by mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests.

11 Utría National Natural Park

Heading into Colombia, Utría National Natural Park sits within the Chocó department and is home to a wealth of exuberant tropical rainforests, mangroves and wildlife.

12 At Sea

During your time at sea, make the most of the amenities onboard the luxurious Le Soléal. Relax whilst sunbathing and swimming on the deck, enjoy a treatment in the spa, go shopping in the boutique or play a game in the lounge. As you will be joined by National Geographic experts and photographers, take the time to learn more about the destination, improve on your photography skills or attend a workshop.

13 Guayaquil, Ecuador

Your expedition to South America is almost complete as your journey into Guayaquil, nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’. The vibrant city is the hub of Ecuador which you can enjoy at your leisure, enjoying the unique architecture, parks and landmarks before heading home.

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