Barro Colorado Island and the Smithsonian Tropical Institution (STRI) have a symbiotic relationship with the Panama Canal and the town of Gamboa. This relationship has endured for almost 100 years since the island was set aside as a nature reserve in 1923. The island is an important spot for tropical biologists. Today we had the opportunity to visit both the town and the island.
National Geographic Quest
Barro Colorado Island and Gatun Lake
The last day of our expedition exploring Costa Rica and Panama began with a lovely sunrise. The first sunrays revealed the lush tropical rainforest of Barro Colorado Island. Howler monkeys howled in the distance to announce their foraging area and ensure that no other troop would disturb them. Right after breakfast, we geared up to explore the Smithsonian Tropical Research Field Station. The station is located on what was once the highest peak of the valley of the Chagres River. After they dammed the river to create Gatun Lake, the peak became the lake’s largest island with a large diversity of plants and wildlife. We had a great morning exploring the island’s trails and their surroundings. Wildlife sightings brought joy to each of our guests. We learned about the different research done in the field station. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to explore part of Gatun Lake. We were all impressed, knowing that the islet in the lake used to be hilltops. We explored little coves in the lake, and we enjoyed all that Mother Nature had for us to see. It was a great way to conclude our expedition this week!