Barro Colorado

Explore your scientific side with an inspiring and educational trip to Barro Colorado Island, part of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Formed by the creation of Gatun Lake in 1913 during the construction of the Panama Canal, Barro Colorado teems with biodiversity. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the Barro Colorado Nature Monument is the most intensively researched tropical rainforest in the world. Experts and students have contributed to more than 13,000 STRI scientific publications since Barro Colorado became a reserve in 1923. 

To visit the island, book a tour in advance with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center. When you arrive, a guide will tell you all about the natural history of the island, then take you on a 2.5-hour hike through the magical rainforest. With 400 bird species, some 500 species of butterflies and 500 species of trees, there will be plenty to see—and learn! Plus, lucky visitors may catch glimpses of howler monkeys, colorful toucans, mischievous agoutis and millions-strong ant colonies. 

Getting There
Take a short 30 minute drive through the beautiful jungle from Panama City to Gamboa. 
Your visit to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will include transportation to the island from Gamboa by boat and we encourage you to book your visit to Barro Colorado Island in advance with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute or your preferred local tour operator. Boats leave at 7:15 am on weekdays, and 8 am on weekends, and you’ll want to arrive on time!