Fascination Panama Canal – a train ride that is funny or?

A day trip to the Panama Canal

When in Panama, probably no visit leads past the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is already since childhood days always in the focus of different reports and reports and sometime one develops nevertheless a certain fascination for this gigantic building.

Here you can see just 3 ships being piloted into the Miraflores lock. The smallest of them is a tour ship.

Fascination Panama Canal – Facts and Figures

The Panama Canal currently connects more than 140 maritime routes arriving through 1,700 ports in 160 countries around the world. This canal has become one of the most important trade routes for global commerce and therefore has not lost its fascination in recent years.

The canal has a length ofabout 80 kilometers. The Panama Canal goes from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colon on the Caribbean or Atlantic side. Ships must use locks to bridge a total of 26 meters of elevation change to travel through the canal. Ships can thus within 9 – 10 hours from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa. Depending on the time of day, passage is only possible in one direction. The ships save themselves through the Panama Canal about 3 weeks.

Car transporter from Norway which is just passing one of the Miraflores locks.

Vessels must pass through Lake Gatun across the Rio Chagres into the Culebra Cut and are then either raised to sea level or lowered to lake level. This is done via at the Gatun Locks, Pedro-Miguel and Miraflores Locks (which we had visited).

A real feature of the canal is probably the Culebra Cut or also called Gaillard Canal. This 12.7 kilometers was cut through the central chain mountains of Panama.A total of 63 Cheops pyramids could have been built with the excavated material. An enormous amount of limestone and rubble that were taken away for this purpose.

In 2006, a referendum was held and the Panamanians voted that the channel should be expanded. Then, as early as 2007, construction of even larger locks began. The inauguration could take place already few years after the referendum. (here should cut off once the Berlin airport a disk from). On 26 June 2016 were then opened the expanded channel. With the excavation of the new Miraflores lock, a completely new beach promenade was filled in Panama City on which you can play basketball in many places.

Here you can see a ship passing the new lock.

Before the opening, the maximum dimensions of ships (Panamax dimensions for short) were limited to 294.3 meters long, 32.3 meters wide. Since the new lock, it is now possible for ships of 366 meters in length and 49 meters in width to pass through the canal

How expensive is a passage through the Panama Canal?

Depending on size and loading, shipping companies have to pay different fees here. There is an overview what a ship must pay for the passage. The fee is calculated via the so-called Panama Canal net buoy. This is mit 2.21 USD $ per loaded Panama Canal net ton and unloaded with 1.76 USD $ per unloaded Panama Canal net ton calculated. Of course, you can now imagine all-too-much here if you are not an old sea dog.

The highest fee that was charged so far had to pay a freighter from Japan. It was paid here by the shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines a total of 829,468 USD $ to Panama .  For a cruise ship are currently about 400,000 USD $ due. Therefore, a crossing by cruise ship is also quite a costly endeavor.

On average, ships have to pay between $120,000 – $250,000 USD depending on cargo and size. Thus, Panama Canal revenue accounts for 8% of Panama’s gross domestic product

Impressive numbers, aren’t they?

More ships are coming to pass through the locks.

The Panama Canal Experience

Unlike the headline suggests, we did not go to Colon by train. the train to Colon, for it we had also some reasons we in the Article once more precisely want to illuminate. We have ourselves for the inspection of the Panama Canal via the Miraflores Visitor Center. Booked we booked the tour through a tour operator we had found on the Internet which in retrospect was totally superfluous – since the Miraflores Visitor visitor center was built like a museum with a lot of information directly about announcements or also about info boards on the wall.

Simply a gigantic experience!

Martina gave our guide the name talkative, nice and very accommodating cab driver – as he ended up being nothing else during our tour of the Panama Canal.

In the Visitor Center of the Miraflores Locks you will find a four-story museum with all kinds of important and interesting information about the Panama Canal. In addition to the museum, there is also an observation deck for visitors that was quite crowded during our visit. However, here you have a great view over the two older Miraflores locks and in the distance you can also see the new lock that was opened in 2016. There are some restaurants and the possibility to stay for a few hours in the visitor center. In addition, there is a cinema where every hour on the hour a dry documentary (which is more like a novel) is played in English. In between there is the documentary in Spanish. The show lasts 20 minutes.

Martina in the showroom
Max steers a ship through the canal in the visitor center simulator!

Admission to the visitor center is $20 for adults and $15 for children and students.

The easiest way to get there is to take an UBER – the price for this is about 6 – 8 USD $ each way. Our chatty cab driver incl. water and ride and some nice comments without entrance fee was about 38 USD $ per person. 

Museum on the Panama Canal

The Miraflores Visitor Center is, in our eyes. definitely worth a visit – an experience you won’t soon forget. will forget.

Welcome to Miraflores!

Why we didn’t take the Panama Canal Railway?

Our plan was actually first that we go with the Panama Canal Railway from Panama City to Colon and visit the free trade zone there. However, we were advised against this apparently yet very crazy idea very often by the residents here, because Colon is apparently a real hole. A resident meant to us that Colon is the part of the government was deliberately forgotten – and then could not be improved although, for example, new apartments have been provided by the government for small money for the people there.

But the people there do not want to pay even small money and thus the government’s buildings remain empty. The reputation of Colon in all of Panama is really really bad – the city is always described with the adjective lazy and even the Panamanians don’t want to go to Panama.

There were also some travelogues we had read and seen about the region that also spoke a clear language “Can do if you’re into the thrill of being robbed.” Even the government of Panama advises against going through the streets of Colon without police escort.

It is even recommended the way from the station at the one in Colon after the 55 minutes train ride would arrive (the trip costs simply per person 25 USD $)with a cab back since one on the 300 meters to the free trade zone already times to be robbed and/or in another way to be ripped off could. Here is the official site of Panama Canal Railway.

After hearing so many “positive” things about Colon and the access road (which supposedly only goes through the forest and you see very little of the canal) we decided we’d rather experience the trip to the Panama Canal via the Miraflores locks.

Then we preferred that a motivated captain beckoned!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top