Unrushed. Uncrowded. Unbelievable.
That is how UnCruise Adventures describes their trips and I agree! We just spent a week on the Safari Voyager boat with 39 other passengers traveling from Costa Rica to Panama, ending with a trip through the Panama Canal. UnCruise brags about having small ships and big experiences. They’ve got that right!Our week began with an overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica, the land of pura vida! We squeezed in a coffee plantation tour at Britt Coffee before boarding the ship. The tour was informative and entertaining and they made it very easy to ship coffee home.
Our first full day began with a hike 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, 2.5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity is found on the Osa Peninsula.We saw spider monkeys swinging from the trees and numerous white-faced capuchin monkeys who were incredibly bold, grabbing food from our lunch plates.I joined the early morning yoga class on our second day on the Safari Yoyager and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise before heading out to kayak through the mangrove swamps of Golfo Dulce, the area that separates the Osa Peninsula from the mainland.Every excursion included a very knowledgeable UnCruise guide to identify birds, plants, wildlife and tell stories! Jenny took us kayaking, hiking and snorkeling.Golfo Dulce is a tropical botanical reserve exploding with colour, and a birder’s paradise.
We traveled from Costa Rica to Panama and explored Coiba National Park from a skiff where we saw herons, waterfalls and orchids, then headed to an empty beach and had the afternoon to snorkel and swim!
We watched the sunrise on the instagram-worthy Isla Granito de Oro from the boat and were informed we would be heading there after breakfast.I couldn’t decide which lighting I liked better on the uninhabited island…early morning or late afternoon…so I included both photos!The incredibly friendly UnCruise staff delivered kayaks, paddle boards, chairs and coolers filled with cold drinks to Granito de Oro so all we had to do was climb out of the skiff. We snorkeled around the island and watched thousands of fish and a few turtles swim. After a cold drink, we kayaked around the island and saw dolphins swimming. And then we were off to Bona Island, Panama, known for large quantities of brown pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds.
Pretty much the only signs of human life we saw during the week was the island of Taboga, situated in Panama Bay, right near the Panama Canal. The early morning light on the colourful houses was beautiful.Our activity on the island of Taboga was a fairly steep climp to a cross on the hill, Cerro La Cruz. A local guide from the town joined us to navigate the slippery path.The view was incredible, we could see the charming town, the skyline of Panama City and ships moving towards the canal.The island is also known as the island of flowers (and I would add the island of colours) and was delightful to stroll through.
We returned to our boat by skiff and moved towards the Bridge of the Americas and the Panama Canal for our estimated 8 hour passage. The Panama Canal opened in 1914, was chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1994, and has been administered by Panama since 1999. The 48 mile waterway connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, providing a maritime shortcut for the transportation of goods. UnCruise provided a local guide to narrate the crossing providing us with canal history and information.We entered the canal at sunset and were spellbound by the operation. Running on steeply rising tracks along both sides of the locks, electric locomotives attach to the sides of the boats by cables to keep a ship from bumping into the sides of the canal. And then there are the actual locks, or water elevators. Three locks lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake at 85 feet above sea level and three locks lower the ships at the other end. It is an engineering marvel!The passage through the Panama Canal provided an excellent way to re-enter the world and leave behind the beauty of the isolated coast of Costa Rica and Panama. UnCruise Adventures was an excellent host for this week long journey. I’ve already started looking at their trips to Alaska and Hawaii! Contact me if you want to know more!