The 7 Wonders of the Modern World: Panama Canal
Imagine going to the front doors of the Louvre museum in Paris, France and not actually walking in. Or visualize hiking to a luscious vantage point to see the Coliseum, but find there are too many trees in the way. An excruciating disappointment at that moment is what you would also feel if you didn’t experience the 48-mile long Panama Canal within its entirety. In order to help you avoid this experience, I’m going to relate the following three ways to see the Canal and which one is the best.
Panama: One of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World
1. Land: When you see the Panama Canal by foot, you have wonderful but limited look out points. This is where you are on that hike to see the Coliseum, but can only make out glimpses of it. Those on foot can walk into the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center to watch the ships move through Gatun Lake or stop by the Miraflores Visitors Center. It is quite a sight to behold, but you might as well be looking through the windows of a pastry shop with your mouth watering. Although a different perspective and a beautiful one at that, this choice is more expensive for only a limited view. With this option, you lack an intimate experience with a part of history itself.
2. Round Trip: Cruising round trip is a great option for you to perceive a lot more of the Panama Canal than you would have otherwise on foot. But this is also the point where I get to the Louvre, but I don’t step inside. A cruise ship leaves from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, Florida, passes through the Atlantic locks, reaches Gatun Lake, and turns around to the same port the ship started its voyage. Those who take this route miss the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks (on the Pacific side), The Bridge of the Americas, the Culebra Cut, and the entrance to the Pacific Ocean- the very sights you want to see!
3. Full Transit: Experiencing the canal by full transit is by far the best option. In what is often a 14-day journey, ships depart from Los Angeles, California and travel to Miami, Florida, or vice versa. The ship ports in cities such as Los Cabos, Mexico and Puntarenas, Costa Rica. In about 8-10 hours, you see the total formation of what took 10 years and more than 25,000 lives to construct. Ships go from one end of the canal to the other accomplishing in one day what originally took ships about 2 weeks to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. You should not only WANT to experience the Panama Canal by full transit, but you NEED to.
If you are going to see the Panama Canal, make it worth your while and see the whole thing. Why shortchange yourself for only a part or a couple “look out” points of the canal? Take advantage of this breathtaking world wonder by experiencing it the right way. Happy Travels!