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Barro Colorado Island
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Panama Canal Full Transit Tour
Ranked #128 of 356 things to do in Panama
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Owner description: This 607-acre island, accessible by boat from the town of Gamboa, is a perfect spot to study the lowland moist tropical forest.
Omemee, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
335 reviews
147 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 193 helpful votes
Reviewed July 12, 2013

Our guide, Marcos, was passionate about this island and the research projects being conducted there. He got us engaged in the rainforest ecosystem and its importance. Marcos had a great sense of humour which made the tour that much more fun. I would recommend this tour to people in good shape and who are truly interested in the rainforest ecosystem.

Visited July 2013
2 Thank Julie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 reviews from our community

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English first
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“If you want to see exotic birds/animals/plants to a zoo o a botanical garden..”
Reviewed June 15, 2013

I went there in a group, and spent about 3 hours walking in the rain forest which is just like any other rain forest on this planet, and the only exception may be that is a facility by the Smithonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) which has a large number of visiting/resident scholars mainly from many North America and Western Europe. For a regular tourist, there is not much to see unless you are a lucky and your get to see the crocodiles, and colorful birds, and monkeys from the STRI's colorful brochures. The boat departure is quite exact at 8.00am from the STRI's dock in Gamboa area which is about 35 minute drive from Panama City. It takes about 45 minutes to get tot he island. Upon arrival on the island you are shown the STRI facilities, and a ppt presentation with nice photos and sounds of different birds and animals you are "about to see" on the island.. but I guess most of visitors never see them during the 2 hour walk through the rain forest. Even though there are 2 or 3 different routes, there is a very little chance to see something. This isn't a zoo or a botanical garden. A simple lunch [pasta with meat sauce] was included in the price of US$35. We left the island right after lunch at 2.30pm, of course after having taken group photos with the sign in the background "Beware of crocodiles".. which may have just happen to be hiding from the annoying humans with their cameras... It was a Saturday, and if I recall, there is a slightly different schedule during the weekdays.

Visited May 2013
4 Thank Erjan2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“View of real science in action”
Reviewed April 17, 2013

For me this was a trip I had waited about a year for. Read "The Tapir's Morning Bath" for an inside look at the scientific work being done on this island. BCI is the largest island in Gatun Lake and has been a research center for The Smithsonian (STRI) for almost 90 years. The tour was really a nature walk with a trained guide. We saw three types of monkeys, many species of birds, agoutis, frogs, blue morpho and others. Lunch was in the scientists and staff cafeteria - not fancy but substantial. Remember it has only been in the last decade this research center has allowed visitors. We booked directly with The Smithsonian. I would highly recommend this for anyone with an interest in nature.

Visited April 2013
3 Thank Walter D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waltham, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“the best thing we did in Panama”
Reviewed January 28, 2012

Since we did not rent a car in Panama and stayed in the city, we booked an all-day tour through Sendero, which included pick-up at our rental condo. Our guide and driver was reliable and told us so many great things about Panama. He dropped us off at the Gamboa dock and we met our guide for the Barro Colorado Island tour there. Wendy did a great job, too! After the 45 min boat ride to the island, we took pristine trails through the jungle. We saw spider monkeys and howlers, Great Tinamou, agoutis, leaf cutter ants, a crocodile, bat, great orb spider and more. The biological diversity was truly thrilling. We had lunch at the Smithsonian research facility there and Wendy gave a presentation about the history and work on Barro Colorado. On the way home, our Sendero guide, Christian, took us to the Pedro Miguel lock so we could see how the canal works. The tour on the week days is a little longer; we had an 11 hour experience. I didn't need insect repellent but was glad for my hat, long pants, comfortable shoes, water and snacks in my backpack.

Visited January 2012
4 Thank Abbie H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“A hiden gem for those that enjoy nature”
Reviewed January 14, 2012

We started our Barro Colorado experience by taking the boat at the Smithsonian dock in Gamboa. Our guide met us there and gave us an introduction about the history of the island and surrounding areas. Once in Barro Colorado, we were offered some coffee and watched a short video about the wild life and research taking place on the island. Then we headed to our trail and walked for about 3 hours but at a very slow pace to allow for time to listen to and observe the rainforest. Our guide was very knowledgeable and identified many different bird calls for us. He also explained the uses of the many plants in the area and pointed out the multiple research tools that we encountered on the field. We saw frogs, bats, birds, many types of insects, rodents, monkeys, a turtle and even a crocodile. After the walk, we had lunch, watched a few more videos and then relaxed on a porch overlooking the Panama Canal. The only bad thing was that despite wearing long pants and using plenty of insect repellent we all got our fair share of bug bites, but I still think it was worth it.

Visited January 2012
1 Thank Melanie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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