Howdy Fellow Travel Fans,
When I hear the name Gamboa Rainforest Resort, it congers up all kind of images of the tropics, dense jungle, exotic animals, and the Panama Canal. What it doesn’t so much bring to mind are things like a luxurious and beautiful environment, a remote location or a great base for tours; all of which it also is!
I have known about the Gamboa Rainforest Resort for years as an RCI timeshare resort. I have tried many times to book in but they never seems to have any availability, even a year or so in advance. Our first time in Panama, I had to go and check this place out. What could be the draw? Why is it always full?
This resort is located close to a place called Gamboa which is a small town where the Chagress river flows into lake Gatun, which is part of the canal. Before the canal existed , three miles further up the Chagres river was the town of Las Cruces, where 19th century travelers and cargo disembarked from river barges to take the overland Las Cruces trail by mule, to cross the isthmus. Gamboa was built around 1911 and eventually became the base for the canal company dredging operation in 1936.
Gamboa is in the old canal zone and is only a short 30 minute drive from the outskirts of Panama City. Is well worth a day trip. On the way you will pass the zoo at the summit of a small mountain you cross on the way to Gamboa. It’s worth a stop as they have lots of native Panamanian specimens including the Harpy Eagle, which is the national bird of Panama and the largest most spectacular eagle. It has a wingspan of over seven feet.
At the end of the small car and rail bridge crossing the Chagress river, turn right and travel down a local road with bamboo growing on both sides. It is beautiful with the muted light filtered through the vegetation that arches over the road. Pass the Iguana Crossing sign and once through the security gate (just say restaurant) where you can go straight or up the hill. If you go straight, you will come to a beautiful old open air restaurant covered by a huge palapa roof that is built out over the Chagress river. It is an incredible spot! You won’t find one with better atmosphere.
If you go up the hill, you will pass by a number of two-story canal style homes before arriving at the resort. When you enter the lobby of the resort you are immediately struck with the stunning vistas of the Chagress river visible through the massive floor to ceiling windows that offer vistas of jungle and the Chagress river. It is an old resort that has been carefully maintained. If you walk down the outside deck of the hotel, you will come to a ballroom with a beautifully painted oval sunken ceiling. It is a real showplace. The views of the Chagress from the deck are amazing. You feel that you are really out in the jungle.
The Gamboa Rainforest Resort has a good choice of tours available that leave from the resort so it becomes a great base for a number of tours. There is a onsite tour that involves riding up a chair lift to a platform that provides beautiful vistas of the valley and canal. There is also a butterfly house down by the river that is a great spot to visit with a camera.
Even if you aren’t staying here, pay it a visit. It is an amazing place with beautiful vistas right out in the jungle. It shouldn’t be missed.