The best place to view the Panama canal is at the Miraflores Visitors Centre. Located at the Miraflores Locks in ‘the Canal Zone’ (about 20 minutes by car from the city centre), the centre houses a four-storey museum and an observation deck.The 48-mile long (77km) manmade wonder that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans took 34 years to complete and recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. In the early days, an estimated 1,000 ships travelled along the canal each year. These days, however, around 15,000 ships take the journey.
Panama canal partly transit:
You will start the tour between 7:30AM and 9:30AM from the Flamenco Resort & Marine at the Amador Causeway in Panama City. You will take the tour bus which will transport passengers to the Gamboa area, where the trip starts. This transfer will take 45 minutes. Then you board the ship and you will be transiting the Gaillard Cut (Corte Culebra), this area is one of the most important attractions of the trip because it’s full of history. Then you will cross under the Centennial Bridge (Puente Centenario) and that is when you will be on the way to transit Pedro Miguel Locks. Also, you will witness the works being done for the Canal expansion project. When entering Pedro Miguel Locks you will experience a drop of 9 meters in one step and find the Miraflores Lake, an artificial lake that connects Pedro Miguel Locks with and Miraflores Locks. Now you will enter the last set of locks called Miraflores Locks in the Pacific Ocean where you will be lowered 18 meters in two different steps. You will be sailing the Pacific Ocean on the way to the disembarkation point at Amador Causeway but before that, you will be passing under the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de Las Americas). You will be in the Panama Bay and that is the end of this unique trip.
Availability of the Panama Canal Partial Transit:
This Canal Partial Transit is available every FRIDAY AND SATURDAY all year round.
Every year from December to March this tour is available on THURSDAYS, too.
Casco Viejo, also known as Casco Antiguo, and commonly referred to as Old Panama City by Tourists is the Colonial district of Panama City. Literally translating to “Old Quarter,” Casco is known for its colorful buildings built by the Spanish and French in the late 17th century.
In 1904, when the United States began to break ground on the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo was the only Panama City. Eventually being abandoned due to the modern city’s expansion, Casco became a more dangerous slum. Today, Casco is undergoing a transformation, turning it from slum into up-and-coming neighborhood.
After being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, many poor-er residents were forced out of the pastel-facaded buildings into the city’s outskirts. The government, in order to preserve the city’s colonial appearance, has placed a height-restriction on the preservation efforts, meaning that if a new owner comes in, they are not allowed to make the current structure any taller than it already is.
Casco is home to many historic buildings, such as churches, and houses the home of the Panamanian President.
While walking around, you can peak into unique art galleries, explored ancient churches, and passed by unique street art, basically everything a modern city has to offer.
Shrouded in thick vegetation and visible from most parts of Panama City, Ancon Hill is one of the capital’s most prominent landmarks. Located in the former Panama Canal Zone, Ancon Hill was once used as a small US military base for communications and security. Today, it remains largely untouched by urban development and is one of the best places in the city to spot wildlife, particularly if you are an early riser. Up until recently, cars were allowed to drive to the top. However, this is no longer the case and the only way up is on foot or by bike.
Marking the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal is the Biomuseo, undoubtedly the city’s best museum for kids in the capital and most likely, the country. Designed by the renowned architect, Frank Gehry, the museum is housed in a colorful, origami-like building and showcases Panama’s incredible biodiversity. For a country with roughly the same land mass as Ireland, it’s staggering to think it has more species of birds and animals (insects included) than the United States and Canada combined.
The reason for its abundance of wildlife (10,444 different type of plant species including 1200 orchid varieties, 1500 tree species according to Panama’s National Society for Protection of Nature) is Panama’s geographic position. Separating the Pacific from the Atlantic, and North America from South America, the Panama isthmus serves as a land-bridge between the two oceans and two continents, allowing land and freshwater species to migrate across the two lands.
Soberanía National Park :
Near the banks of the Panama Canal, the Soberanía National Park is easy to access from Panama City and is packed full of rainforest adventures. This is a regular escape to enjoy jungle treks, the aerial tram and to take a boat trip up the backwaters of the canal.
Soberania National Park offers an incredible glance at the local biodiversity of flora and fauna, being a refuge of almost 50% of all the bird and mammal species found in Panama; from the variety of bird species such as toucans, motmots and trogons; to an array of mammals such as monkeys, agoutis, and two and three-toed sloths; to the unique insects, amphibians, trees, and plants.
All the trails have something to recommend them, but a few stand out. The 24km Pipeline Road (Camino del Oleoducto), accessed from Gamboa, is world famous for its birding opportunities; you can also visit the excellent, but costly, nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre, whose highlight is a canopy observation tower. Plantation Road, which begins at a right-hand turn-off 1.5km past the Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo follows a stream and offers great birdwatching. It runs some 4km to an intersection with the 10km Camino de las Cruces, the only trail for which you would need a guide. The Camino is a remnant of the cobbled track that the Spanish colonists used to transport their goods and treasures to Portobelo on the Caribbean coast.
Getting there: Access takes between 20 – 45 minutes by car (depending on where you are staying in Panama City).
Within the province of Panama (where the capital is also located) are the picture perfect Las Perlas (the Pearl Islands). This group of more than 200 islands and islets lie some 48km (30 miles) off the Pacific coast of Panama and are easily accessed from Panama City. Many of these islands are uninhabited and their relatively remote nature means that they have been used as filming locations for the American CBS series Survivor and also for British adventurer Bear Grylls’ show, The Island. One of the most popular islands for a quick getaway is Contadora where you can snorkel, explore the beaches, scuba dive, go bird watching or, between June and September, see whales!
Getting there: It takes approximately 1 hour by ferry from Panama City. Boats depart from Balboa Yacht Club on the Amador Causeway and from the Trump
The Metropolitan Park:
Known as ‘the lung of Panama City’, the Metropolitan Park (Parque Natural Metropolitano) is one of the most accessible rainforests in the world. Located within the city boundaries, the park covers 232 hectares of tropical dry rainforest and is home to a smorgasbord of plants and animals. It is also the first link in a chain of protected areas stretching from the Pacific to the Caribbean. This biological corridor not only allows animals to move freely across the isthmus but also protects the watershed and operation of the Panama Canal.
The Monkey Island:
The Monkey Island Day Tour is boat exploration of Lake Gatun and a great opportunity to see 4 different species of monkey, all within 40 minutes of Panama’s capital city. You will also see many other animal species such as Crocks, Toucans, Sloths and many exotic birds. The tour also gives you the chance to bath in spring fed natural pools and kayak in the lake.
Causeway Panama Amador Coastway:
Causeway Amador (some people may call it “Coastway”) built in 1913, with rocks from the excavation of the Culebra Cut during construction of the Panama Canal, is one of the top touristic destinations in Panama City, this six-kilometer long causeway that connects Four Islands to the Amador neighborhood, the islands are: Naos Island, Culebra Island, Perico Island and Flamenco Island at the end.
You can find lot of tourist in Causeway Panama in any given day, people doing exercises (walking, running, biking or roller blading), staring at the magnificent view to the Panama City or simply enjoying a nice meal. There are dozens of restaurants in Causeway, from typical Panamanian food to a good meat restaurant!
You can also visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at Punta Culebra where they have a Marine Exhibition Center where visitors can observe the tropical environment and species that is very abundant in Panama.