The Panama Canal

To see and travel through the Panama Canal has been on my bucket list for some time, and I was finally able to make it. It did not disappoint!

Panama City is a huge metropolitan area, with tall buildings, restaurants, shops, and boulevards. The country has much to offer, but I was there for the Canal. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is truly an engineering marvel.

Day 1

Although the French began the endeavor in 1880, they failed. In 1903, the United States bought out the French and finished the Canal in 1914. It takes six to eight hours to transit the entire Canal. We entered from the Pacific Ocean side and went through the locks, which are filled entirely by gravity. The doors open and close to flood the locks to bring the ship up. The ships are guided by rail cars, but they operate under their own power.

Day 2

This day was all about nature. We made a visit to Monkey Island to see the white-faced capuchins, the tamarinds, and the howler monkeys. They were friendly and ate right out of my hand!

Also of interest was Lake Gatun, which was formed in 1913 with the formation of the Gatun Dam across the Charges River. At the time, it was the largest earth dam and man-made lake. The lake flooded 425 square miles and it is this lake that gets the ships from ocean to ocean.

Day 3

We viewed the locks from the side of the Caribbean Sea and were able to see the newest of the locks. It was truly a day of transcontinental travel, as we traveled over land from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and back again.

It was a fantastic adventure, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. The travel was easy – we flew from Lincoln to Houston, and from Houston to Tocumen International Airport.


Fun Facts about Panama:

  • Panama is slightly smaller than South Carolina.
  • Volcan Baru is the highest point and the only place on earth you can see the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the same time.
  • The fee to cross the Canal for a small ship is $1,000; larger ships pay between $200,000-$1,000,000.
  • The currency is Balboa, but US dollars are accepted everywhere.
  • Language – Spanish
  • Two seasons – wet & dry



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