The Panama Canal Railway: Ocean to Ocean

Discover another side of Panama and take a journey on the historic Panama Canal Railway, the first ever transcontinental railroad of the Americas. In just one hour passengers will be transported from bustling Panama City to the Atlantic Coast of Panama and the city of Colon.

Having once carried over $700 million worth of gold from California during the 1849 gold rush, today passengers climb aboard the train’s beautiful vintage cars for a coast to coast journey. With interiors that feature exotic wood panelling, glass-domed windows and open-air viewing, passengeres can gaze at the rainforest’s flora and fauna in style. The gorgeous Gatun Lake and Panama Canal are also visible on the ride.

Surrounding the Caribbean province of Colon, at the Atlantic end of the route, lie the beautiful ports of San Lorenzo and Portobello. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, San Lorenzo boasts amazing views of the Charges River and exudes history. Tourists to this port can visit the ruins of the crumbling Spanish colonial fortress, Fuerte San Lorenzo. The coastal city is also home to 12 different eco-systems including mangroves, marshlands and rainforests. The preserved forests are rich in birdlife making for wonderful hiking and wildlife-watching as well.

Originally founded by Christopher Columbus, the Caribbean fishing village of Portobello was once the greatest Spanish port in Central America. Like San Lorenzo, Portobello is home to the ruins of several Spanish forts. Tourist attractions are the remaining Fuerte Santiago, Mirador Peru (a watch tower), and Fuerte San Jeronimo (the largest fortress ever built to protect the bay). The city has recently experienced a ‘cultural revival’ as the Congos, or the decedents of Africans who were once brought to Panama as slaves, have brought their culture to life, with a surge in their traditional art, music and dance. Every year on October 21, the city comes alive for the Festival de Cristo Negro (Festival of Black Christ) which is one of the country’s most spiritual celebrations.

With plenty of sites to discover at the Atlantic end of the route, passengers are encouraged to take a guided tour down the railway, where they will learn about the hardships endured throughout the five year construction of the first ‘transcontinental’ railway.

For more information on booking tours and purchasing tickets for the Panama Canal Railway visit: http://www.panarail.com/en/passenger/index-01.html

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