Keith's Panamanian Travel Ramble

The wanderings of Andrea and Keith around Panama

A Drive from Los Altos de Cerro Azul to Gamboa


Infrastructure construction progress here has been spectacular. When we left last year in March 2016, evidence of the new Metro was limited to only a few traffic barriers and some large drills, taking core samples along the new route. When we returned in October 2016, the progress was amazing! Overhead guide way supports were well under construction with many of the precast guide ways already in place. The contractor is from Brazil and is currently being investigated for bribes in the millions of dollars.

It occurred to me that you might find images from a drive across town to be of interest. Here, in the city, you will find a varied terrain covered with homes, both new and old. Homes range from mountain homes to city dwellings. You will see jungle, modern multi-lane toll roads and old narrow winding single lane mountain roads. You will also see a few shots of the new Metro construction. Now, these photos are taken through the windshield of our car as it bumps and winds down the mountain and through the not too smooth roads in the city.

Our route takes us down the mountain road to the main gate of our complex and further down the mountain from there. The road width and smoothness does improve, marginally, as we descend. We take a shortcut that takes us past a shopping center and that has our favorite fruit stand at the side of the road. A right turn will take us on to the Interamerican highway, currently construction bound with unpredictable traffic. In a short while, we begin to see some of the new Metro construction but turn on to one of the two main toll roads to cross the city. They are called Corredor Sud (south) and Corredor Norte (north). Our trip takes us across the city on Corredor Norte.

Part way through our trip on the top of a hill, we see the Bahai Temple, one of only nine in the world. It looks like an egg. It is a beautiful place with a great view of the city. Some of the older homes are built on the hillsides in the area close to the temple.  We got some entertainment at a red traffic light.  Rather than just begging, you will often find entertainers that hop out into the stopped traffic to perform something while you are delayed.  This time it was a juggler.  Just before the traffic starts up again, they walk down the line of traffic hoping for a tip or two.  Unique.

We also pass the massive precast plant where the new Metro guide ways are created and stored until the construction calls for their installation. Much of the terrain here is undeveloped jungle. It is hard to recognize that you are still in the city. We exit the toll road at Via Centenario (Centennial) and continue on, to the exit just before the Centennial Bridge, and head north on Avenida Gaillard to the Gamboa turnoff. This is a popular biking route and it is common so see groups of riders, all decked out in cycling gear, on the road. We also see cyclers riding up our mountain. That takes them from sea level to an altitude of about 700 meters in the space of around 20 kilometers. Now that’s hard work!


Turning toward Gamboa, we are in a National Park. We proceed along a jungle lined cement two lane not too smooth roadway that takes us over the summit, where you will find a large popular Zoo. Continuing on about 10 kilometers, we come to a single bridge which also has track for the Panama Canal Railway. Shortly before the bridge, we pass the prison that houses Manual Noriega, the infamous Panamanian President come drug lord.  Crossing the bridge we find the small town of Gamboa. This location is about half way through the canal and is the base for the dredging division of the canal. Here, you will also find the Rainforest Resort, which is a pretty expensive, beautifully located hotel in a remote place right on the shores of the Chagress River. They have a restaurant right on the Chagress River, which is  worthwhile for lunch.

Our return is over the same route. One way will take you about 1.5 hours driving time. Tolls for the round trip will run you about six dollars. Hope you enjoyed!

4 Responses to “A Drive from Los Altos de Cerro Azul to Gamboa”

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