After 100 years, the Panama Canal is still working just like it did back in August 1914 when the S.S. Ancon passed through for the first time. The entire construction process took 34 years and much scandal in the beginning.
The French government first started building it in 1881 but dropped the project around 1888 due to illnesses and money issues. Then the U.S. government took over construction in 1904 and finally in 1914, the incredible Panama Canal was ready to connect the Pacific with the Atlantic.
A magnificent bridge for commerce and transportation, it takes from 8 to 10 hours to cross but it is much faster and costs about 10 times less than sailing 18,000 miles around South America. They told us that they charge $82 per container, so the big cargo ships pay from $300,000 to $400,000 to pass the canal and 30 to 40 boats cross on a daily basis.
Getting to the Panama Canal
The canal is also a huge tourist destination, being the most visited and most famous place in Panama. We visited the Locks of Miraflores which are located very close from Panama City and is easy to get to.
You can take a Metro Bus from the bus terminal at Albrook mall or pay around $5 to $10 to to take a taxi from the city. The entrance fee is $8 for adults and it includes a mini 3D movie about the history of the Canal and a visit to their exhibition.
Where to Eat
There are 2 cafeterias and 1 restaurant that all have outdoor seating so you can enjoy a meal and watch boats pass through. The restaurant is a buffet that costs $35 per person but if you aren’t that interested in spending that much for lunch you can head to the cafeteria.
We decided to eat there where they have hotdogs, hamburgers, salads, empanadas, and drinks for cheap.
What to do
You can watch the short movie and venture through the exhibit to learn more about the canal. There are four levels in the exhibition and each floor contains information and pieces of the canal, you can even sail your own boat through the canal and see some fish in their mini aquarium.
Ad of course you can’t forget the main attraction of watching the boats go by! Even though it sounds kind of boring, it actually wasn’t. In fact, we had the chance to see 2 boats crossing the locks which was very impressive and it was way bigger than I imagined! These huge boats passed by with just 20 inches of room on each side since the width of the canal spans 1000 feet and the boats were around 975 feet wide.
This shows that the Panama Canal is one of the biggest engineering feats ever built and incredible science went into creating this system. Boats from all over the world pass through here- China, Europe, Africa, the States and more. Expansion of the canal has begun so that they will be able to handle the biggest cargo boats in the ocean.
Visiting the Panama Canal
The canal is something that all travelers should visit, it’s an extremely important part of Panama and piece of our world that should be seen and experienced by everyone.
Last canal visit is at 4:30 PM.
This is a short video of us visiting the Panama Canal
Looking to do something other than visit the canal? Here are a list of things to do in Panama City