Sign for Gamboa

 Before we arrived in Panama, Lyn had made a booking for us to spend 2 days and a night in Panama City to save driving back and forth.

Sign for Gamboa

We were up early and on the road by 6am as we were first going to visit the Gamboa Rainforest, Sloth Sanctuary and Frog Farm. To see the forest itself, it was our plan to take a ride over the canopy on the Aerial Tram. It was beautiful. This area of Panama is very abundant in trees and plants being on the Atlantic side of the mountains and gets rain most of the year. The soil is very rich having come from the volcanic eruptions.

Entrance to the RainforestAt the entrance to the Rainforest Reserve

Gamboa is very close to the Agua Clara Locks of the Panama Canal and lies on the banks of the Rio Chagres and Lago Gatún. To book for the Aerial Tram we called at the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve which offered a number of photographic opportunities. While we waited for the bus to take us to the Tram station we wandered around the hotel grounds and verandahs and enjoyed the beauty.

Flags in hotelThese 4 flags are in the Atrium of the hotel with the 4 symbols of Panama

Hotel garden and Chagres RiverView from the hotel verandah

Hotel poolsHotel pools and the Rio Chagres

Orchid garden with sloth in hotelOrchid Garden in hotel entrance with artificial sloth and lizard

The bus first stopped at another ticket station for those who had not purchased them, to get tickets and then continued on to the Tram Station itself. We then followed a tour group up the ramp to the station where one boards the car which seats 4 or 6 persons. We were each given a hand held radio to listen to the commentary on the forest by an expert naturalist. The 85m ride to the top of the hill took approx. 15 mins at a gentle pace. As we glided over the top of the canopy and listened to the commentary we were able to identify a number of the trees. We saw just a couple of birds and could hear the Howler Monkeys in the forest but not see them.

Aerial Tram carriageA Tram car in the middle of the trees

Across the treetops to the townAcross the treetops to the town and the river

Rastafarian Date PaalmIn the centre is what is known as a Rastafarian Palm due to its flowering organ

Gamboa JungleThe Rainforest 

At the top was a 30m high observation tower and it proved easy to climb up to the top as there were no stairs, just well-designed non-slip ramps with easy inclines. One could push a pram or a wheelchair up the ramps with ease but getting this equipment into tram car might prove challenging.

Vicky Tyrone and Trevor climbing to the platformResting on the way to the top

Once at the top we were treated to the most magnificent 360deg view of the Gamboa Forest, Rio Chagres and Lago Gatún, all within the Soberania National Park The commentary continued informing us of what we were seeing starting at one point of the viewing platform and working all the way around. We were at the point where the River flows into the Lake and were fortunate to be able watch a ship progress through the Lake from the Pacific end and making its way to the Agua Clara Locks.

A ship coming through the lakeLooking up the lake to see a ship coming towards the Agua Clara Locks

Ship going passedShip passes below the Viewing Tower

Chagres River flows into the lakeChagres River flowing into the lake

Large bird on tree stumpA hawk on a tree stump

On one of the river banks we saw a settlement of the Emberἀ Indians, one of the original tribes of Panama. They live their traditional life undisturbed.

Tribal villageA house in the village is just visible in the trees

On our return to the lower station we went to the Sloth Sanctuary which forms part of the Rain Forest Sanctuary. The Sloths are brought in if they require any special attention such as recovering from an injury or having been orphaned. They really are fascinating animals to watch and are very difficult to see in the wild.

Sloth on tree trunkA Sloth climbs a branch

Lyn and Vicky at the Sloth SanctuaryLyn and Vicky at the Sloth Sanctuary

Next door to this was another Orchid Garden with plenty of the plants in bloom. Just beautiful. Here are some of the blooms.

Long stemmed orchidPurple and white orchidLilac spotted orchid

Finally there was a very large pond where various species of Panamanian frogs are kept. These were very difficult to photograph.

Green frogsA green frog

We were taken back to the hotel to collect our vehicle and move on to Panama City. On the way down the hill from the hotel there was a lane of Caribbean style homes that seemed so different from any others we had seen in Panama that I had to get photos of them.

Cadibbean style homeOne of the Caribbean style homes

The 25km drive to Panama City didn’t take long and we decided to book into our hotel before doing any exploring.