The Gatun Locks are on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal and they lift or lower ships 27 meters in three steps, going from sea level to the level of Gatun Lake. There is no museum at Gatun Locks, just a viewing area. However, the elevated viewing area is very close to the east set of locks. When you are on the viewing platform, it is only about 30 feet to the ships as they pass through the middle of the three locks. The mules keeping the ships centered in the locks pass right below the viewing area.The view is pretty amazing, especially when the big Panamax ships pass through. It looks like they have zero clearance on either side. Great place for close up pictures.
We did this as part of a tour with Rudy's Tours that included the Panama Canal Railroad, Fort San Lorenzo, Colon, and Portobelo. Fort San Lorenzo is on the west side of the Canal and you pass over a single lane bridge over the locks that opens and closes to alternate ship and vehicle traffic to get to the road to San Lorenzo. Rudy is a great guide. He speaks excellent English (and Spanish, Italian, and German), has very nice vehicles, is very knowledgeable about Panama, and was always on time.
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