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Barro Colorado Island

Nestled deep within Gatun Lake on the Panama Canal, an enchanting adventure awaits for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Prepare to be captivated by Barro Colorado Island, a hidden gem where the Smithsonian has been unraveling scientific mysteries for over a century.

My day began with a delightful boat ride from Gamboa to Barro Colorado Island. Sharing the boat with researchers, tourists, and students, we embarked on a short 20-minute journey that transported us to this remarkable island. As we set foot on the island, our guide warmly welcomed us and introduced us to the main area of the research station. Before setting off, we enjoyed a quick cup of coffee to energize ourselves, taking a moment to relish the cozy atmosphere of the air-conditioned classroom. Our guide then treated us to fascinating stories about the research station's history and the diverse wildlife that inhabits the island. Surprisingly, this small island is teeming with life!

Finally, the time had come for us to embark on our guided walk. The trail, thoughtfully paved with cinder blocks, ensured that we could explore even during the rainy season. Although the path was relatively short, around 1.5 miles, we encountered a few sets of stairs, especially at the beginning and end of the trail. While the walk itself wasn't too challenging, the jungle's heat and humidity made me reach for my water bottle quite frequently.
Path on Barro Colorado
Path on Barro Colorado (Jess Heuermann)
We took our time strolling through the lush jungle, keeping our eyes peeled for any signs of wildlife along the way. Our enthusiastic guide pointed out intriguing contraptions used by the island's scientists, like hammocks collecting seeds and ropes for tree climbing. It was captivating to learn how these tools contribute to ongoing research on the island.
During our 90-minute adventure, we were treated to amazing sights of capuchin and spider monkeys swinging through the trees. The vibrant calls of toucans filled the air, even though we couldn't spot them amidst the foliage. We also came across iguanas, colorful frogs, and an array of fascinating lizard species.
Green Lizard
Green Lizard (Jess Heuermann)

After our invigorating hike, we sat down to savor a simple yet satisfying lunch. We then gathered to watch an intriguing documentary showcasing the latest research being conducted on the island. Reluctantly, we bid farewell to Barro Colorado Island, cherishing the memories we had made before boarding the boat back to the mainland.

As Barro Colorado Island primarily serves as a research station rather than a tourist attraction, the amenities are modest, and tours are conducted in groups led by certified Smithsonian guides. Given the limited availability, it's advisable to work closely with your trip planner to ensure that this unique destination is seamlessly integrated into your itinerary. Trust me, it's an experience you won't want to miss!
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