"Gamboa Panama for Animals and Adventure" Gamboa by ladyrumrunner

Gamboa Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 16 photos

Arriving in Panama

After arriving from the States we rented a car from the PTY airport and followed the Corridor Sur to Panama City. We drove the 35+km to Gamboa, approximately 30 to 40 Min depending on the time of day that you arrive at the international airport. The road to Gamboa from the airport takes you through Panama City to the Panama Canal and follows the canal towards the Atlantic coast. On the way you will pass one set of the locks (the Mira Flores Lock) of the Panama Canal See below and then thru small towns that are located in what is called the old canal zone.

Gamboa Rainforest resort is a great location for your base camp if you plan on walking up the Pipeline Road, going up to the top of the rainforest tree canopy on the “Canopy Tour”, Peacock Bass Fishing on Lake Gatun, taking a boat ride over to Isla Mona (Monkey Island), taking a dug out canoe trip up to the Embera Indian Village.

Gamboa Rainforest resort is located on the Charges River that feeds Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal. The resort consists of 2 different type of lodging The Villas and the Hotel. Last year I stayed in the Villas they are old Canal workers home that have been converted into hotel suites. They are old but they give you the feeling of actually living in the rich history of Panama that you are seeing while in Gamboa.

They have 1 and 2 bedroom villas that have a Living Dining room area small kitchenette with the fridge and coffee maker, and a private bath, they are set next to the jungle so you can see all kinds of wildlife night and day. The Hotel is located at the top of the hill with a view to die for over looking Lake Gatun.

They have 3 restaurants and the Monkey Bar lounge, and a swim up bar at the large pool. The hotel rooms are your standard hotel room but when we stayed their this year we were only in the room to sleep the rest of the 6 days their we were out experiencing Panama.

Embera Indian Tusi Pono Village

This is a wonderful day trip that you can go on either from Panama City or Gamboa, you go by van to the national park where you are greeted by men from the Tusi Pono Tribe and their balsa wood dug out canoes. After taking you on a canoe ride through the 1st growth rainforest up the Charges river you are takes on a 1 mike hike up a small creek to a beautiful waterfall. Make sure you ware shoes that can get wet and muddy for the trail to the waterfall. Once at the waterfall you are invited to go for a swim. After everyone has enjoyed the waterfall you go back to the canoes for a ride to their village where you are served a traditional lunch served in banana leaves and given a demonstration by the village chief about their culture and heritage the whole village gathers and you are entertained with local music and dancing. There are also great handicrafts that you can purchase from the artist. The prices for the handy crafts are very reasonable.
If you go to the village the kids as well as the adults enjoy candy as a greeting. I bring hard suckers. It is funny to see the Village Chief with a sucker sticking in the side of his loin cloth while he is giving his speech about he village. Yes the whole village is dressed in Loin Cloth for the men and skirts for the women. The younger generations are now starting to ware beaded breast plates for the women and beaded backside plates for the men. But it is still a very interesting day tour for the whole family.

Canal Zone

This is the most traveled area panama. Mira Flores Locks, Balboa, Amador, Summit Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Ancon.

Your panama trip should not be complete until you go to the Mira Flores Locks (two lock levels) and watch the big Ocean Tankers transit from sea level up 85 feet to Lake Gatun to get to the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific. There are two other locks on the canal Pedro Miguel (one Lock) and the Atlantic Side Locks (All three steps at one site). But the only one that you can actually go and see the tankers, cruise ships and private boats actually go thru the locks is at the Mira Flores Locks. They have an observation tower that you can go up on and watch the ships be raised and lowered depending on which way they are going thru the canal. There is also a great museum dedicated to the building of the canal and the rainforest. After going and watching a ship or two go thru the locks you can go down to Balboa and behind the YMCA building there is a Big Red warehouse looking building that you can purchase local handicrafts from the indigenous Indians of Panama, as well as tourist travel trinkets. I would recommend that after shopping that you either go to Rino’s Italian Restaurant in Panama City, or head down to Amador for a walk and enjoy a cold drink at the Balboa Yacht Club at the entrance of the Panama Canal.
then head out to the end of Amador and stop at Barko's for Dinner and sunset over the canal entrance.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:You are right in the middle of the rainforest
  • Cons:Rent a car for your time their to travel around the area
  • In a nutshell:Trip of a life time I have done twice and will do again.
  • Last visit to Gamboa: Mar 2007
  • Intro Updated Jun 24, 2007
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