Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Playa Blanca and Rancho Quemado

    This morning National Geographic Quest arrived at Playa Blanca and we went out to visit interesting local entrepreneurs organized by a local association called Caminos de Osa.

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  • Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

    This morning we woke up on the outer side of the Osa Peninsula. Once described as the most biologically dense place in the world, the Osa Peninsula (and particularly Corcovado National Park) is one of the last remaining intact rainforests in Mesoamerica. 

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  • Playa Blanca, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

    The calm waters of the Golfo Dulce are one of the best places on earth to enjoy a warm tropical sunrise. Our second day in Costa Rica unfolds on the Osa Peninsula in Playa Blanca, a small beach town connected by a dirt road to the much bigger town of Puerto Jimenez.

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  • Golfito & Casa Orquideas

    On our first day in Costa Rica, we visited the little bay of Golfito and its surrounding mangrove forest, by kayak and by Zodiac. 

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  • Coiba National Park, Panama

    Our last day of expeditions in Panamanian waters took us into one of the pristine national parks of Panama. Coiba National park was created in 1991 to protect the immeasurable natural value of its marine and forest ecosystems. It is comprised of a group of 38 islands that represent over 50 thousand hectares and more than 200 thousand hectares of marine ecosystem. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005 due to its regional importance and also its importance to the marine corridor that includes Cocos Island in Costa Rica, Malpelo in Colombia and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

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  • Octoque & Bona Island Gulf of Panama

    Our last expedition of the season and the first day of spring, March 21 equinox, gave all of us some great active sightings this morning in the Pacific Gulf of Panama.  The upwelling was evident, the temperature of the waters were much cooler as comfortable winds blew. We explored these rookeries teaming with pelagic bird life.  From the Zodiacs we could see the frigate birds’ kleptoparasitic behavior, as they attacked the hard-working pelicans and boobies. These islands are only 12 miles off shore, but yield wonderful opportunities to see and photograph brown and blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds, yellow crowned night herons and American oyster catchers, to mention a few.  The island is covered in epiphytic cactus and stunted trees, an ideal scenario for these nesting birds at this time of the year.

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  • Panama Canal and Barro Colorado Island

    Our tropical journey, on board National Geographic Quest, began last night with the crossing of the first set of the Panama Canal Locks, the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean Sea side.  This first segment took us directly to Gatun Lake, formed by the damming of the Chagres River in 1923, which also created the first – and one of the three most productive – research stations in the Neotropics, Barro Colorado Island (BCI).  With segments that include part of the mainland, BCI is nowadays declared a Natural Monument, and we got the chance to explore this amazing site three ways: a walk on the mainland site known as the Discovery Center, another one on the original island, or via a Zodiac cruise, exploring the island’s edge.  Whatever we chose to do, we were rewarded with great sights of various animals like black throated and slaty-tailed trogons, spectacled owls, golden-orbed spiders, howler and white-throated capuchin monkeys and many more.  This is just the beginning of our week’s journey through Panama and Costa Rica.

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  • Laughing Bird Caye National Park

    This morning, National Geographic Quest began our trip in Belize by visiting one of the most incredible of the Cayes, the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. The Laughing Bird Caye was named after the laughing gull, the birds that once used this island to nest.  Now, the park is making efforts to bring them back by not allowing visitors into one of the sections of the islet. The national park was created in 1991 and it covers an area of only 1.8 acres, protecting a magnificent bed of coral where you can see a great variety of coral, fish and other sea creatures.

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  • Barro Colorado Island and the Panama Canal

    On the last day of our Central American Journey, the National Geographic Quest anchored right in front of the research facilities of Barro Colorado Island inside the Gatun Lake.  Turned into an island when the lake was formed to create the Canal, BCI as it is most popularly known, is one of the most important Neotropical research stations.  Anything from phenology, ecology, ethology, entomology and many more branches of biology are studied within its few square meters.  Since 1923, the island has been run by the Smithsonian Institute, as a means to learn about the tropics.  Many famous scientists have walked the same trails we walked today.  We could do three things, walk the BCIs trails, take a last Zodiac ride along the lake or visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Centre on mainland.  Whatever outing we took, we all came back with good sightings and fun stories. 

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  • Bona Island and the Panama Canal

    Today we finally arrived to the Gulf of Panama, This gulf is characterized by having powerful northeastern trade winds crossing the isthmus and hitting the surface of the wáter. This causes an upwell, and this effect promotes an abundance of fish and therefore some of the islands of the gulf are used as nesting sites for thousands of seabirds. Bona is part of a group of three islands where we can observe the nesting behavior of pelicans, brown boobies, blue footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds

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