The Chagres River in Expedition Kayaks is such an amazing adventure to include in your vacation in Panama. This is one of the best places to kayak in Panama since you will paddle for the last 12 kilometers of the Chagres River until you reach the Caribbean Sea in Colon. The route will take you through some of the main components of the Panama Canal including passing by the Gatun Locks and the Gatun Dam.
Along the route there will be plenty of opportunity to see the local flora and fauna. Upon arrival you will reach the Fort of San Lorenzo. This fort shares with the Fort of Portobelo a designation of Patrimony of Humanity from UNESCO. It was built by the Spanish conquistadores as a fortress to protect the Camino Real de Cruces which transported gold over the isthmus of Panama using the Chagres river. Pirates wanted this gold so they would constantly attack the route.
The Gatun Lake was created in 1913 by building the Gatun Dam at the Chagres River before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in order to establish the Panama Canal waterway. It was once the largest artificial lake in the world. Many of the mountain tops in the area became islands after the lake was built. You can visit these islands in the Monkey Island Tour. 52,000,000 gallons of fresh water are spilled from the Gatun Lake every time a ship crosses the Panama Canal.
The Chagres River in Expedition Kayaks starts at 7 a.m. when you will be picked up from your hotel in Panama City. One hour and a half later you will arrive at the Panama Canal Gatun Dam to start your kayak tour around 9:30 a.m. You will cross the third bridge over the Panama Canal which is known as the Atlantic bridge. This route used to be crossed by ferry which was a lot more interesting but it is no longer possible after the built the new set of Agua Claras Locks.
Paddling time will be between three to four hours on the Chagres River in Expedition Kayaks. This depends on the wind, river current and the conditions and skills of participants. It is possible to finish in as little as two hours with advanced paddlers. There may be some morning mist in the forest which will give the jungle a unique feel as if you were going back in time to the time of the Spanish conquistadors. At the end of the tour you will visit the Fort of San Lorenzo and arrive back to Panama City around 5 p.m.
- Transportation to and from Panama City
Available: year round on Saturdays.
Time: 10 hours.
What to bring? Swimsuit, light or dry fit clothes that can get wet, aqua shoes / strapped sandals / sneakers, hat, sunscreen, towel, windbreaker, rain jacket or dry bag in the rainy season, change of clothes and passport or ID.
Important information: the Chagres River in Expedition Kayaks is offered every Saturday with a minimum of 4 passengers. ONLY book this tour for Saturday. Additional dates will be added with a minimum of 6 passengers, please consult if you want to do this tour on an alternative date. There is a maximum of 12 people per tour.
Anyone between the ages of 12 to 70 can participate in the Chagres River in Expedition Kayaks. Minors must have a responsible adult. Current is usually stronger from September through November since it is the rainy season and there is more water release at Gatun Dam. From mid January through March participants will have to paddle against the north wind using river banks as shelters.