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which locks to visit?

hawaii
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571 posts
109 reviews
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which locks to visit?

hello

cannot decide if we should go to gatun lock in colon or stick with a visit to miraflores locks

is it true that at miraflores you take your chances with being able to see a boat through but that the museum and viewing area are better?

however at gatun locks you are much more likely to see a ship going through?

help

any information would be helpful

thank you

Panama City, Panama
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1. Re: which locks to visit?

I would have thought that both locks are similar regarding the chances - as they are at opposite ends, they will mirror each other.

Panama City, Panama
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2. Re: which locks to visit?

Miraflores Visitors Center = great exhibit area, good observation deck (it can be hot) and it has a restaurant (little expensive).

Gatun Locks = you are closer to the ships AND just down the road they have this new observation center www.youtube.com/watch… which gives you a great look at the construction of the new locks.

No difference in the number of ships you might (or might not) see at either.

If you are staying in PC, it's obviously much easier (cheaper) to zip out to Miraflores. Gatun would be more of a "day trip" thing in combination with Fort San Lorenzo and Portobelo. If it's during the week you could also take the train to Colon and taxi to the local sights.

Enjoy Panama.

Steve www.panamanotes.com

Willemstad, Curacao
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3. Re: which locks to visit?

If you like to be really close up with the locks and the boats go to gatun (you also may be the only tourist there). Miraflores has the exhibition center and is very near PC.

Louisville, Kentucky
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4. Re: which locks to visit?

As the others have said, it depends on where you are. However, if you really want to get an experience, then take a trip THROUGH the canal and you can see all the locks from the inside. Of course, it will cost you about $170 and an entire day, but it is the best way to see the Canal without exception.

Colon, Panama
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5. Re: which locks to visit?

Good evening Desslock:

Yes, it is true that at Miraflores locks at certain time of the day (between 2-4 hours) there are no ships to see in this lock. This happens daily after the last ship of the northbound morning convoy (Pacific Ocean) leaves the locks and B4 the first ship of the southbound convoy (Atlantic Ocean) reaches Miraflores locks. This happens because in Gaillard or Culebra Cut (13 km long area between the Continental Divide) is the only part of the Canal that there is still one way traffic, thus the first ship coming from the Atlantic side has to wait until the last ship of the northbound convoy passes Gamboa B4 it enters the Gaillard cut. It takes a ship about one hour to pass thru the cut, thus the 2-4 hour waiting period for ships in Miraflores locks.

It is also true that at Miraflores locks there is a museum and it has four exhibition halls, organized by themes, and the exhibitions are dedicated to the history of the Canal, the importance of water as a source of life, the Canal's operation, and its crucial role in world trade. Historical objects of Canal operations, interactive modules, video presentations, and models of the Panama Canal are exhibited in the Center. ($8.00 entrance fee)

However at Gatun locks this does not happen and you will always get to see the ships passing thru the largest set of locks of the Canal (Gatun). At Gatun Locks there is a small visitor’s pavilion ($5.00 entrance fee) and you will be able to see and understand how a ship is raised up 85 feet (26 meters) in three steps from sea level (Atlantic Ocean) to the level of what was once the largest manmade lake in the world, Gatun Lake. If you are lucky, you will also see the first ships that started their transit on the Pacific side being lowered back down to sea level.

Also, just like stxSteve stated at Gatun locks you have a closer view of the ships and you can include a visit to see the area where the new set of locks is under construction from the newly inaugurated Visitor’s Pavilion overlooking the construction site of the new set of locks ($15.00 entrance fee).

Hoping this info will help you ienjoy your stay in Panama!

Best regards,

Roberto

hawaii
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571 posts
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6. Re: which locks to visit?

thank you so much everyone for such detailed information!

this will really help us out on our upcoming trip to panama.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
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7. Re: which locks to visit?

Another little tidbit about Gatun Locks. There is a one-lane swing bridge across the canal. Currently, this is the only way traffic can cross the canal north of the Puente Centenario (at the mouth of Gaillard Cut). There is a pedestrian lane on the bridge, also. The bridge is at the waterline of the Caribbean, and walking across it, you will have an excellent view of the first chamber (if it's open), or at least the gates and the ships above you.

If you go to Gatun, have your driver drop you off so you can walk across this bridge. He can drive to the other side and pick you up when you've crossed, or you can walk both ways. As you're crossing the bridge, you're literally walking from South America to North America, as the Canal is geo-political division between the two continents. (Although, Colombianos will debate this.)

Herts UK
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8. Re: which locks to visit?

Just to recap - since I seem to have got myself confused with all the reading I have done! - it is not only possible, but also a good day trip to take the train from Panama to Colon, then get a taxi tour to take us to the Gatun locks ( including the bridge gb williams mentioned), then continue to Fort San Lorenzo and Portobello, before heading back into Panama? Am I gathering it's probably a good idea to book a taxi - but how? bewildering choice of guides i fear. There are just 2 of us - anyone have ballpark figures on the cost of such a trip.

many thanks.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
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9. Re: which locks to visit?

If you take the train to and from Colón, you should be able to get a SET taxi when you arrive. The cost, of course, is dependent on where you're going and how long. But, you should be able to do Gatun, San Lorenzo (if the road is open) and Portobelo for somewhere in the range of $60.

I recommend you send a PM to RobertoW_10, as the SET taxis are his company.

It's not correct that ships are always going through Gatun Locks. There is a limited amount of room for southbound ships to wait in Lake Gatun while the northbound ships clear the cut. When those spaces are filled, they stop transiting ships through the locks until the northbound ships have cleared the cut.

10. Re: which locks to visit?

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