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Gatun Lake, Panama Canal

Explore the isolated forests
surrounding our renowned
research station

Barro Colorado
Seminars & Events

Currently, we have no upcoming seminars. For more information click here.

Barro Colorado Island was formed by the creation of Lake Gatun in 1913 during the construction of the Panama Canal. The 15-square-kilometer island is home to one of the oldest tropical research stations in the world, where studies have been carried out for more than 100 years. Every year, more than 400 scientists visit this rainforest-covered living laboratory to study biology, ecology, evolution and animal behavior.

Day visitors are welcome to Barro Colorado Island. Visits must be booked in advance, and include boat transportation to and from the island.

Days Visits Hours
Tuesday 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm

Visitors are asked to be at the Smithsonian dock in Gamboa half an hour before departure. STRI's boats adhere to a strict schedule.


General Admission Rates Cost
Foreign adult $125.00
Foreign student $75.00
Panamanian adult $55.00
Foreign with Panamanian residency status $55.00
Local student $30.00
Panamanian retiree $44.00

We accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express credit cards. 



Flora and Fauna

BCI teems with biodiversity. It is home to almost 400 bird species, some 500 species of butterflies and 500 species of trees. Lucky visitors will see (and hear) troupes of howler monkeys, colorful toucans, mischievous agoutis and millions-strong ant colonies.

Nature Trails

Dozens of trails weave through the forests of Barro Colorado. The trails for visitors include dozens of stops where guides will tell visitors about the history and scientific discoveries of the islands. The trails have moderate inclines and descents that may not be suitable for all visitors.

Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal

With views of the lush forests along either bank of the canal and the chance that you’ll cross paths with an enormous cargo ship, the boat ride to and from the island can be an adventure in itself.

Professional Guides

BCI is one of the few protected areas in Panama where expert, multilingual naturalists are there to explain the wonders of tropical nature to visitors.

Science in Action

With dozens of scientists working on Barro Colorado Island at any given time, visitors can get a firsthand look at research in action.

Full-Service Cafeteria

Visitors to BCI are served lunch (with vegetarian options) in the island’s dining hall, offering you the opportunity to enjoy a meal alongside BCI’s resident naturalists.

For School Groups

School groups with less than 10 people can visit BCI on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. School groups with more than 10 students (but less than 30 people) can visit on Saturdays and Sundays only. The minimum age for visitors to BCI is 10 years old. BCI does not receive visits on Mondays and Thursdays. 


A mecca for tropical biologists, Barro Colorado Island and five surrounding peninsulas provide easy access for scientists to central Panama’s lowland tropical forest. Collaborations among the more than 400 students and experts who visit each year yield research projects that help us understand one of the world’s most complex terrestrial ecosystems.


Jennifer Saucedo

Jenniffer Saucedo

Visitors Program Coordinator

Aldy Mariscal

Aldy Mariscal

Public Programs Assistant

Contact us

For reservations or visitor information

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