On August 15, 1914, the SS Ancon became the first ship to pass through the canal – baptising what engineers now call one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Some might say it’s a wonder it ever came to be! During construction, ownership of the territory was first Colombian, then French, and then American, and from conception to inauguration, the project was mired in burocracy, construction deaths, and anti-american riots.
But this feat of human accomplishment against the odds has been in operation for a century, and you’d be amazed at how many things in your home and office have travelled through her locks. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008, and in 2007, an expansion plan was announced, which will allow ships double the size of the current maximum allowed to pass through.
Did you know that you too can travel through the world-famous canal while you’re in Panama? And it doesn’t require the typical 15-hour voyage of a giant freighter. With Rainforest adventure Tours, a short bus transfer from Panama City will take you to the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal to board a small canal pleasure boat. From there, you will start your partial canal transit, traversing both Miraflores Locks and Pedro Miguel Locks. The best part? Your boat will be raised 85 feet above sea level – wave to the tourists on the banks!
After the locks, you’ll slowly enter the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, bisecting the Continental Divide. ALl the while, your live tour guide will give you lots of information about the locks, canal, and ships that pass through every day. The tour takes around 3 hours depending on the number of other transiting vessels, and you willl disembark at Gamboa in the center of the Panama Canal, where your bus back to the city awaits!