Gamboa is a jungle outpost only 20 miles (32 kilometers) along the Panama Canal from downtown Panama City. Until it became the center ... more »of canal dredging operations in 1936, it wasn't much of a settlement. Today it is still known for dredging but also for the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, some of the best bird-watching in the world and a research center for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Many of the Smithsonian scientists live in the old two-story, zinc-roofed duplexes from the old Canal Zone days.
Driving out the Gaillard Highway you will pass Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks before going under a railroad bridge dating from 1929 where you turn left. Along the seven miles (11 kilometers) between the turnoff and the Gamboa Bridge, you'll first pass Summit Botanical Garden on your right. In 1923, the former Panama Canal Administration established an experimental farm to test adaptation of plants from other parts of the world. It was here that teak was introduced in the western hemisphere. It also has a small zoo.
Farther down the road road on the left is El Renacer Penitentiary where Gen. Manuel Antonia Noriega is jailed. less «