Background – Gamboa


Gamboa is a strange town at the end of  a highway across Panama full of scientists, townies, resort goers, and canal workers. It sits in the middle of the country directly at the intersection of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal. It was originally an American township built for canal zone workers, but as the US relinquesed control it became more Panamanian.

Now it is often heavily used by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as both a launching off point for travel to Barro Colorado Island, as well as the site of many scientific research labs. Scientific residences are often in modified dock worker houses which have been reappropriated as luxury condos for rent from the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. A primary field site for many individuals is along Pipeline Road. This trail along an old oil pipeline transects some of the best parts of the jungle, and serves as a tether from which to sink into its depths.


Erin Welsh, a STRI scientist posing in front of typical Gamboa Architecture (also a sloth).

Here’s a website / blog / resource summarizing daily life along with tips and tricks for figuring out his strange place