On the fifth day of our excursion, we took a short bus ride on the Panama Banana to the Gamboa Rainforest, about thirty kilometers northwest of Panama City. Upon our arrival to the rainforest, we paused to take in the view before boarding a fun, animal-print bus as seen in the photo below.
The bumpy ride took us to the start of the cable car ride, where we learned about the rainforest itself and its inhabitants. Listening to an informative audio guide, we ascended into the rainforest hitting many trees with our cable car as we went. The cable car system itself consisted of a few tall towers, resembling a ski lift, with cars traveling in both directions simultaneously. Our guide of the trip, Luis, commented on its similarities to the theatrics in Jurassic Park.
At the top of the cable car ride, we took a short hike through the rainforest to reach the bottom level of the observation deck. Taking a square-shaped inclined ramp up many levels into the air, we made it to the top of the observation deck to see beautiful views of both the Panama Canal and the Chagres River. A tour guide stationed at the top took our group photo and informed us about the wildlife and landmarks that we could spot from the deck. During our short time on the deck, we heard and saw a yellow train go by near the Panama Canal reminiscent of the use of the railway during the canal’s construction. Photos of the hiking path and view of the river from the observation deck are below.
The rainforest was always moving. Leaves on the trees fell or drifted in the wind while bird calls and animals rustling could be heard, although not always seen. One cable car in particular was lucky enough to spot the first monkey of the trip, frolicking through the trees. We first heard its rustling, before eagle-eyed EJ pointed it out near the top of the trees. We were lucky to see it, as we were told the wildlife tends to only appear close to dawn and dusk. It was a Panama Bucket list item for many of the students.
We arrived back to the resort ready to eat and splash in the pool. We were served a delicious and filling buffet lunch with food from a mixture of cultures, though the nachos were a fan favorite. Towards the tail-end of lunch we were hit with a short blast of rain that many of us watched from our seats. The rain left as quickly as it came, and we watched it move into the hills and out of sight. With sunny skies, it was time for the pool!
The GLCM crew spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and in the resort (pictured below). We took advantage of the free refreshments and played a few pool games, including Monkey in the Middle and something we coined Hand-Baseball. Others spent time sunbathing or reading and enjoying the nice weather. It was a relaxing day for all of us; the perfect activities for a Saturday in Panama.
Blog by Michaela Patton