Fodor's Expert Review Esclusas de Gatún

Colon Marina/Pier

Twelve kilometers (7 miles) south of Colón are the Esclusas de Gatún, a triple-lock complex that's nearly a mile long and raises and lowers ships the 85 feet between sea level and Gatún Lake. There's a small visitor center with a viewing platform and information about the boats passing through is broadcast over speakers. The visitor center doesn't compare to the one at the Miraflores locks close to Panama City, but given the sheer magnitude of the Gatún locks (three sets of locks, as opposed to two at Miraflores) it is an impressive sight, especially when packed with ships. You have to cross the locks on a swinging bridge to get to San Lorenzo and the Represa de Gatún (Gatún Dam), which holds the water in Gatún Lake. At 2½ km (1½ miles) long, it was the largest dam in the world when it was built, a title it held for several decades. Get there by taking the first left after crossing the locks.


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