Costa Rica & Panama

Join NYU Tandon Professor Fletcher ("Bud") Griffis, PE, PhD, on an educational trip to explore the Panama Canal! 


DAY 1: San Jose, Costa Rica

Pura Vida! Your journey beings in San Jose, Costa Rica. Upon arrival, you will be met by your expert local guide and transferred to your hotel. 


In the evening, you'll meet with NYU Tandon Professor Griffis for a casual conversation over cocktails. This gathering will be followed by a festive Welcome dinner!


Overnight in San Jose: Park Inn Hotel

Meals Included: Dinner


DAYS 2 & 3: Arenal

In the morning, you will depart for La Fortuna, Arenal, the base town for the Arenal Volcano. Once you arrive and get settled, your guide will take you to Ecotermales La Fortuna where you can relax and soak up the healing, nutrient rich waters heated right from the heart of Arenal Volcano.


The next morning, you will head to Arenal Hanging Bridges. The hanging bridges are an eco-tourist system of trails and bridges surrounded by nature. This private natural reserve, with almost 250 hectares of tropical rain forest, has a vast variety of species from the area. It is ideal for bird watching and enjoying the quiet nature of the forest.


In the afternoon, you'll see the most extraordinary views of Arenal on a gentle hike along the base of the volcano. The hike will take you through the forest, over recent lava flows, and the area that was destroyed in 1968 now in the process of regeneration. 

Overnights in Arenal: Hotel Arenal Springs Resort

Meals Included:(Day 2)Breakfast, Lunch (Day 3)Breakfast, Dinner

DAYS 4 & 5: Punta Leona

This morning you'll have another opportunity converse with Professor Griffis. In a casual setting, you can sip coffee and ask questions about the educational aspects of the trip. 


Afterwards, you will depart for the Central Pacific Coast. This region encompasses almost everything that attracts visitors to Costa Rica, exuberant tropical forests, green hills, a vibrant sea and pristine beaches. On your way, you will stop en-route for a Jungle Crocodile Safari!


Upon arrival to the Central Pacific Coast, you will visit the Carara National Park. This incredible protected area measures about 4,700 Hectares and is home to approximately 48% of Costa Rica’s aviary species. Be on the look-out for sloths, monkeys, tree frogs and many exotic birds!

Your next day at Punta Leona is for you to take in at your leisure. Enjoy the white sandy beaches, a swim in the ocean, and all that paradise has to offer you on your own time. In the evening, the group will gather together for a fresh seafood dinner.

Overnights in Punta Leona: Punta Leona Hotel

Meals Included: (Day 4)Breakfast, Lunch  (Day 5)Breakfast, Dinner


DAY 6: Panama City

Early this morning, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Panama City. In Panama, you will continue with your expert local guide to the Amador Causeway, a road that connects three Islands in the Pacific Ocean and offers magnificent views of the Canal on one side, and of Panama City’s skyline on the other side.

Afterwards, you will visit Casco Viejo, Panama City’s colonial quarter. You’ll feel set back in time as you admire the lovely colonial houses, the narrow roads and the impressive churches.

In the evening, NYU Tandon Professor Griffis will host a lecture on the engineering significance of the Panama Canal. NYU's Panama Global Team will also attend giving you the opportunity to converse with locals on the subject. As you enjoy tasty hors d'oeuvres, you'll listen to the impressive background on this 48 mile waterway that is one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. Much of the history and success of the lock system can be attributed to an NYU Alum!

Overnight in Panama City: TRYP Panama Centro Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner


DAY 7: Panama Canal

Today, you'll embark on a comprehensive journey to explore the Panama Canal and celebrate Henry Goldmark, an 1874 graduate of Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, (now NYU Tandon School of Engineering), and co-engineer of the Canal's lock system. Goldmark received a medal of honor from President William Howard Taft for his contributions to this project, and lives on as a point of NYU Pride for all alumni to share in. 


Your partial Panama Canal transit starts with a motor coach ride to the town of Gamboa where the Panama Canal Dredging Division is located. Once in Gamboa, you will aboard the cruise ship to start the water portion of the tour. You will enter the canal at the north end of the Gaillard Cut. The Gaillard Cut is one of the main points of interest because it was carved through the Continental Divide and this section of the Canal is full of history and geological value. Your boat will travel the Cut's 13.7 kilometers on the way to Pedro Miguel Locks. In this area you will also be able to observe the work in process for the Panama Canal expansion project. Before reaching the Pedro Miguel Locks at the southern end of the cut, you will be able to view the new Centennial Bridge which crosses over the Canal. Once in the Pacific Ocean, the vessel will sail to the beautiful Flamenco Marina where you will disembark. On the way to Flamenco, you will pass under the Bridge of the Americas, and later, you will be able to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City's splendorous skyline. 

After an adventurous day, you’ll regroup at the hotel for a casual discussion over cocktails and share viewpoints on the brilliance of the Panama Canal. The cocktail reception will be hosted by Professor Griffis. 

Later, head out on the town for dinner on your own.

Overnight in Panama City: TRYP Panama Centro Hotel             

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch


DAY 8 & 9: Panama City / Home 

After breakfast, your guide will bring you to the local train station for a train ride on the historical and original railway from Panama City to Colon. This 1-hour journey leads you through the jungle along the Panama Canal.


In Colon, you will continue with your guide to Embera Indian Village on Gatun River. A fascinating and dense jungle will surround you on a short boat trip to this remote village. Downriver, you will step out of the dugout canoes and enter the village of the Embera Indians, one of seven indigenous tribes in Panama. The people of the Embera tribe will welcome you at the pier and gladly give you an idea of how they still live today. 


Later, you will return to Panama's capital for a festive Farewell Dinner.

On the morning of your last day, your guide will facilitate your transfer to the Panama City International Airport for your return flight home.

Overnight in Panama City: TRYP Panama Centro Hotel
Meals Included: (Day 8)Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Day 9)Breakfast

*For travelers interested in spending extra time in Panama, we will continue to hotels in Panama City following the airport transfer.

Trip Details

2018 Pricing


Single Supp: $475

Deposit: $500^^


Prices are per person in USD based on double occupancy.

^ Price includes airfare from San Jose to Panama City, this fare, including all taxes, is subject to change until 60 days prior to departure.

^^Deposit is refundable, less a $15 processing fee, up until 105 days prior to departure.


Dec 8-16, 2018


Min. Group Size: 11 travelers

Max. Group Size: 25 travelers


The best way to connect with fellow travelers from your alma mater and the local culture is in a small group, which is why we limit the group size to no more than twenty-five travelers. Destination Partners' NYU Alumni Travel Programs are exclusive to NYU alumni and their travel partners and require a minimum of eleven travelers to operate. In the unlikely event the program is under enrolled and cannot run, all payments made will be refunded 105 days prior to departure.


The properties throughout our Signature Series itineraries

 are selected because of their unique sense of place, allowing you to enjoy the destinations in comfort and style and explore them to the fullest.


Accommodations including daily breakfast, lunches & dinners per the itinerary, airport transfers on Day 1 and the final day of the itinerary only, services of expert local guides throughout, transportation, entrance fees for included activities, all taxes and service charges.


Airfare to San José/from Panama City, gratuities for drivers and guides, alcoholic beverages with meals, personal expenses, airport taxes and baggage fees, any required passport, visa or other government entry fees if applicable, optional travel insurance.


Please plan to arrive San José by 5pm on Day 1 of the itinerary.  You may depart from Panama City at anytime on the final day, an optimal departure could be between 11am and 2pm. If you need assistance with your flights, Destination Partners air department will be happy to assist with your round-trip travel arrangements, per person ticketing fees apply.

Peace of Mind Registration!

Hesitant to commit until the 2021 travel landscape becomes more clear?

We understand, so we are happy to accept registrations for this trip without asking for any financial commitment

until 60 days prior to departure

Simply select the registration link below for the program you are interested in and we will confirm you on the trip roster.

Then - only 60 days prior to departure - you will have the option of either canceling your registration without penlaty, OR confirming your place on the trip with full payment (Trip Cancellation Insurance available)

The payment due dates for each program are:

Tanzania: January 01, 2021

Peru: July 07, 2021

Brazil: July 16, 2021


That’s what we call “worry-free” registration!