Smithsonian Barro Colorado Island
Barro Colorado, the largest forested island in the Panama Canal waterway, is part of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument (BCNM) and the site of an internationally recognized biological research station. You will learn about the investigations in progress and the rich natural history of the BCNM. We hope to pique your interest in tropical forests, because you hold an essential role in the protection of this natural environment.
After being picked up at your hotel in Panama City, you will be transferred to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) dock at the town of Gamboa. From there, you will go on a 45-minute boat ride to Barro Colorado Island in Gatun Lake, passing by huge ships crossing the Panama Canal. After a brief introduction on the area’s natural history by your guide, you will go on a 2-3 hour hike through some challenging trails with several inclinations. The hike ends at the Visitor’s Center, where you will find an exhibition regarding BCNM. After the Visitor’s Center you will head to the cafeteria to have lunch. This is a cafeteria-style lunch with a variety of dishes, including a vegetarian section.
Most trails are about 2 km long and include steep sections and stairs. The trails are not appropriate for people who suffer from heart and respiratory conditions, knee injuries, or are in generally poor health. Also, if you are traveling from a non-tropical country, please note that tropical weather (high humidity and heat) can stress your body. We recommend bringing water.
Note: You will not enter or visit the STRI research laboratories but be outside on the trails on hikes exploring nature wildlife and afterwards visiting the STRI Visitor Center.