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Costa Rica and Panama Canal
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By Alana Fodeman, Correspondent

Treasures of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal // A combination of small ship cruising and cultural land exploration

About Tauck Tours // This tour is part of Tauck World Discovery Treasures Series. As with all Tauck Tours, this one revolves around personalized service. Each tour involves meticulous planning, balanced itinerary, attentive staff and extraordinary destinations. This tour focuses on the cultural sights, natural attractions and educational aspects of destinations in Costa Rica and The Panama Canal.

About Costa Rica // Few places on earth are as rich in natural wonders as Costa Rica and no other man-made endeavor is more magnificent than the Panama Canal. Costa Rica offers exotic rainforests, volcanoes and intriguing wildlife, all in a tranquil setting relatively untouched by humans. Little known Pacific islands bring tropical flowers, birds and butterflies to life as well as opportunities to swim and snorkel in a beautiful paradise. San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is an unattractive urban area of heavily secured homes and shops.

About the Hotel and Ship // The Camino Real Inter-Continental in San Jose, Costa Rica is a lovely, modern hotel with 5 star accommodations. It has a beautiful pool area and first class dining. Our ship for this tour, Le Ponant, Tauck's private sleek sailing/power yacht accommodates 60 passengers and is served by a French staff of 30. She is absolutely breathtaking in the water and just the right size to enjoy the fellow guests. A primary highlight of our trip was seeing one of the world's most incredible endeavors, The Panama Canal which opened in 1914. Aboard Le Ponant, we were able to witness the crossing from both the spacious decks or the upper bridge. It is approximately a ten-hour journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean, during which time Le Ponant will enter three sets of locks and be raised and lowered a total of 85 feet.

Places to See // The Rainforest Aerial Tram in Braulio Carrillo National Park. The Butterfly Farm, Poas Volcano National Museum and Opera House - San Jose, Sarchi, The Panama Canal.

Places to Eat // Both the informal restaurant and the lovely formal continental style dining room in the Inter-Continental Hotel are worth trying. While on board Le Ponant, breakfast and lunch are served buffet style on the deck and dinner is served in the dining room. The French bread is imported from France and is terrific.

Shopping // The jewelry at L.A. Cano in the Inter-Continental Hotel, the Mall across the street and the National Museum is stunning. All the pieces are reproductions of pre-Columbian art. Hand painted oxcarts in Sarchi are beautiful but shipping is questionable. The molas, handmade fabric pictures are a must. They are made by the Kuna Indians and can be purchased directly from them on the San Blas Islands.

Activities // Tauck World Discovery takes care of every tour and activity for you. Everything is included in the price of the tour. They provide local guides for every part of the adventure, the rainforest, the cities, the Panama Canal and naturalists on board the ship. Swimming is available at every stop. Snorkel equipment and kayaks are provided on board the ship.

Transportation // All transportation and transfers are provided by Tauck. There is no need to make any transportation arrangements of your own.

Tips // The weather in March was perfect for all activities. Water shoes are handy since many of the island landings are into the water. Dress is casual throughout the trip.

By Alana Fodeman, Correspondent

As on most Tauck World Discovery tours, the majority of the guests are frequent travelers with Tauck. Tauck provides everything you would want on a luxury vacation; pampering, adventure, "hidden" destinations, all-inclusive pricing, professional tour directors who anticipate all needs and expectations and special commentary by local experts and naturalists. This particular itinerary is best done as part of a group, since safety and driving would make this trip less than ideal on your own. Sailing is the only way to see the National Parks off the Pacific coast, the Panama Canal and the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean.


LOCATION: Costa Rica and the Panama Canal
SUMMARY: A combination of small ship cruising and cultural land exploration