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The Rainforest-- Only a Cab Ride Away

Birds, hiking, wildlife less than 30 minutes from Panama City
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.4 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  Gamboa is a jungle outpost only 20 miles (32 kilometers) along the Panama Canal from downtown Panama City. Until it became the center ... more »

Tips:  When to go
Early morning when birds and animals are most active.
You have less chance of getting caught in a tropical downpour in the ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Gamboa Bridge

The only way in and out of Gamboa is an iron and wood bridge, built early in the 20th century for two-way trains. The occasional train still passes on one span, but narrow planks have been laid over one track for cars and trucks. Traffic is one-way, governed by a stop light.

The bridge crosses the once powerful Chagrez River as it enters the... More

The first turn after the bridge leads to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. On Goethals Boulevard at the top of the ridge, you'll drive past a row of old wooden Canal Zone buildings before arriving at the five-star resort which offers guests jungle walks, an aerial tram and visits to Indian villages and monkey islands as well as spas and a two-level... More

3. Gamboa

At the end of the road, canal-side Gamboa at its peak more than a half century ago had its own school, a 9-hole golf course and a civic center where the USO entertained American troops stationed in the surrounding hills during World War II. Today it has a bit of a forlorn air. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Center has a field station in the old... More

4. Titan Floating Crane

One of the largest floating cranes in the world, this giant can lift 350 metric tons. The U.S. claimed it was war booty from the Nazis after World War II. It spent 50 years in Long Beach, CA where it was known as "Herman the German" or "the German crane." Since 1999, it has been doing heavy lifting when the doors on the locks need repairing.

5. Pipeline Road

The Pipeline Road - Camino del Oleoducto - is every birdwatcher's and nature lover's dream. The gravel trail was cut through virgin jungle during World War II to transport fuel from one coast to the other in case the Canal was attacked. Never used, it now gives easy access to Soberania National Park, 55,000 acres (220 square kilometers) of raw... More

The lodge is located 600 meters (1/3 mile) off Pipeline Road. Water, cold drinks, snacks and souvenirs are available. Around the covered deck are feeders that attract more than a dozen species of hummingbirds.

A short walk away is the 8-meter (25-foot) canopy observation tower made of iron. The top deck, reached by 174 steps, is above the forest... More

7. Barro Colorado

This six-square-mile island was a mountain top before the Panama Canal was cut across the isthmus. Today it is one of the most studied places on earth and a nature preserve for 74 species of bats, 225 species of ants, five monkey species, tapirs, sloths, peccaries, coatimundis, agoudis. It also has more than 1,200 plant species and is part of an... More