At the time of its construction in 1913, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world. It was created by the damming of the Chagres River, and a crucial part of the creation of the Panama Canal as its waters operate the Panama Canal locks each time a ship passes through. It also provides the integral community amenity of drinking water to Panama City and Colon. It spans some 470 square kilometers (or 180 square miles) and is an important tropical ecological zone in the Atlantic Forest Corridor. Ecotourism is a huge activity here due to the sportfishing for non-native Peacock Bass.
Known for its preservation and beauty, Gatun Lake is surrounded by impenetrable rainforest areas, creating a barrier for the areas surrounding Panama Canal. Today, they are some of the last remaining untouched regions of in the world where native animal and plant species can flourish unscathed.
The lake is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, operated on Barro Colorado Island, the largest island in Gatun Lake. Some of the most crucial groundbreaking scientific and biological research discoveries have occurred on Barro Colorado Island.
One of the most popular Gatun Lake Tours is for fishing. Peacock Bass love the waters of Gatun Lake, and was first accidentally introduced to Gatun Lake by a local businessman in the late 60’s. They are called Sargento and are not a native fish of Panama. They originate from the Amazon and Rio Negro River basins in South America and were brought to the lake accidentally. Today, they are a huge game fish that Gatun Lake tours operate to allow visitors to catch.
Whether in Panama to go after a sizeable Peacock Bass or just to relax, check out Magnolia Inn in Casco Viejo, a well-appointed, luxury boutique hotel and hostel in Panama City, Panama. In addition to being one of the best reviewed hotels and hostels in Casco Viejo by Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Hostel Word, Magnolia Inn is conveniently located near a variety of attractions. In Panama City, these include:
- the Panama Canal
- the Panama Canal Museum
- the jungle around Gatun Lake
- Monkey Island
- Amador Causeway
- Frank Gehry's Biomuseo
- the Bridge of the Americas
- Avenida Balboa
In Casco Viejo, these include: