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- Address: 40km (25mi) north of Panama City
- Hours: Open daily
- Admission: Free, costs for tours vary widely
The glistening, artificial heart of the Panama Canal, Lago Gatún covers what was once the fertile Chagres River Valley, until 1907 home to scores of small villages and wondrous rainforested tracts. When it finally filled, by 1913, it was the largest man-made lake, buttressed by the biggest dam, in the world.
Today, swathed in rainforest and scattered with islets, Lake Gatún is the most scenic spot on this famed passage between the oceans. This well-watered world surrounded with protected parkland, beautiful lodges, monkeys and rare tropical birds, as well as a fine selection of family-friendly amusements, including zip-line canopy tours and aerial trams. Boat tours can easily be arranged to include fishing, hiking and more.
You'll traverse the scenic 33km (20mi) shipping channel through Lake Gatún on any full transit of the canal. It's much cheaper, easier, and quicker to take a taxi or bus from Panama City, and book boats for shorter excursions here.