Posted on April 4, 2016
The Panama Canal has always fascinated me and I knew one day I would get to see it first hand. By no means did it disappoint – it is one of the most interesting places I have had the pleasure of touring, with the engineering marvel that it is, there is so much to see and experience while at the Canal.
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The country of Panama is an adventure all in itself; with its beautiful beaches, culture, wildlife and tasty cuisine. Aside from all of that goodness in my opinion, one of the greatest learning experiences is to visit the Panama Canal. We’ve read about its shaky beginning when France started the build process and had to eventually quit due to the enormous challenges that erupted, to when in 1903, the United States bought out the French and backed Panama in its secession from Colombia in exchange for control of the Canal Zone.
Currently there are three locks to the Canal that can be toured: The Miraflores, Pedro Miguel, and Gatún Locks. We arrived at the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center, which is located just a few miles outside of the City of Panama. The Visitor Center has four floors that is loaded with an array of interactive exhibits that to me are mind-boggling in the way of so much information. I never dreamed it was so big and full of things to see. One can learn everything and anything about the Panama Canal as well as the 5.25 billion dollar expansion project that began in 2007 and has a scheduled inauguration date that is set for June, 2016. The new canal will be able to allow today’s ginormous tankers and cruise ships to pass through with ease. The expansion will double the capacity of traffic through the canal having a huge and positive impact on the shipping industry.
There are several viewing platforms to witness first hand how this incredible engineering construction works. We were very lucky to have arrived just as a huge tanker was entering the first lock, Miraflores on the Pacific side. On average it takes roughly ten hours to pass through the entire Canal. Sounds like a long time? Try the alternative..twenty one days around the tip of South America. Now, ten hours doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
The tour will last between 3-4 hours visiting the Canal. The entry fees for non-residents are $15 for adults and $10 for children between ages 6-12. If you don’t want to go on your own, there are many tour companies in Panama City that offer tours to the Canal as well as other points of interests in and around Panama City. I have added two videos of a recent visit to the Panama Canal.
Panama Canal- A Ship In Transit
I love checking out webcams from areas all over the world. Especially from places I hope to visit. Here is a link to the Panama Canal Web Cam for your viewing along with tons of other information about the Canal. There is also a webcam on the expansion project that is cool to see.