Jungle hikes, a Panama Canal transit, and plenty of local immersion: Lindblad Expeditions’ new Panama City-to-Cartagena cruise offers a glimpse into some of Central and South America’s most biodiverse and culturally enriching regions. The eight-day voyage, in partnership with National Geographic, is set to launch this October. The 100-passenger National Geographic Quest will sail along the Caribbean coastline with a crew of expedition leaders, naturalists, photo instructors, and wellness specialists onboard.

The partnership with National Geographic means access to lesser-explored parts of the Caribbean. Here, three experiences we’re looking forward to on this National Geographic Quest itinerary this fall.

Explore the historic downtown of Santa Cruz de Lorica in Colombia.

Traverse the Panama Canal under Moonlight

During a full-day excursion on the shores of Gatún Lake – a manmade entranceway to the Panama Canal –  travelers can learn about the region’s rainforests at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, hike through the jungle in the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, or hop in a small boat to explore the mouth of the Chagres River. Come nightfall, cruisers will return to the Quest to witness the 50-mile engineering feat of the Panama Canal in action as they cross into the Caribbean Sea.

Shop for Vueltiao Sombreros and Other Handcrafted Souvenirs  

Halfway through the voyage, travelers onboard the Quest will wake in the Guna Yala archipelago, a collection of 368 protected islands off Panama’s northeast coast. Here, local Guna people will welcome Lindblad cruisers and showcase their traditional craftwork, including hand-stitched mola textiles typically worn as a blouses, skirts, or scarfs. Two days later, on a visit to the indigenous mountainside village of Tuchín, Colombia, cruisers can pick up a vueltiao sombrero – a bold-patterned, black-and-white hat woven from cane plants.

Vueltiao hats for sale in a Colombian street market. (Getty Images)

Practice Your Capuchin Call in Cispatá Bay

There will be plenty of opportunities to get out on the water throughout the voyage (including an array of snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding jaunts), but cruisers shouldn’t miss the outing to the mysterious mangrove forest of Cispatá Bay. A late-afternoon small-boat cruise will slip past undulating mangrove roots and offer views of rare local wildlife such as endangered crocodiles, cocoi herons, capuchin monkeys, and red American flamingos.

Departures: Multiple dates, October 10 through October 31. Find more information and connect with a Virtuoso travel advisor here.


Top photo: Getty Images. This article is sponsored by Lindblad Expeditions. Images courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions unless otherwise noted.

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