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Panama Canal – Miraflores Locks
The Miraflores Locks
No trip to Panama would be complete without a visit to the Panama Canal. It’s an amazing engineering feat that is fascinating to watch for young and old alike. There seems to be something universally fascinating about watching a huge ship rise up (or lower down) in the chambers, the lock doors slowly open, and then the ship moves on at the adjusted water level. People crowd to the railing and snap endless photos of this slow motion ballet.
The canal consists of three sets of locks that vessels must pass through to get all the way from one ocean to the other. But Miraflores is the most visited and easiest to get to, simply because it’s so close to Panama City. The excellent visitor center has plenty of exhibits on the history of the canal, a short movie to watch, a restaurant and coffee shop .
Lots of websites exist that can give you all the technical details of Miraflores, so I don’t see any point in attempting to repeat all that info here. If you’re anything like me, all the dry facts last in my mind for only minutes before they start to fade. What I do remember though is the actual experience… mostly awe as I try to get a real sense of how massive these ships and locks really are.
If you’re looking for facts and/or general info, here’s a couple links:
Updated instructions on how to get to Miraflores
What I can help you with is some updated instructions for the cheapest way to get there. Most instructions tell you to take a bus from Albrook marked Gamboa or Paraiso, get off at the road to the locks, and then walk 15 minutes to the visitor center.
Good news… you don’t need to do that anymore! And no need to go through the little turnstile to access the out-of-city buses.
There is now a standard Metro bus marked Miraflores. You catch it in the same sidewalk lineup at Albrook like all the other city buses. Simply get on and it will take you all the way directly to the visitor center. Walking that last bit in the heat and humidity is no longer necessary.
Above are my two favorite photos from my time at Miraflores. To better get a sense of how massive things are, I waited for one of the workers to walk along side the vessel in the chamber. Then later I edited the photo and circled the man to illustrate how very tiny he appears. I only wish I could have gone down there and stood along side it myself.