Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Panama and It's Canal

Leaving Iguazu Falls, we flew over the heart of the Amazon Basin. It was mostly cloudy but upon nearing the equator, we caught a view of one of its main branches.

The meanders are incredible, especially when you consider how big these rivers are. The photo was shot from 39,000 feet

Huge ships transit the Panama Canal carrying goods from around the world. The countries with the biggest transport needs here are the U. S., China, Japan, Chile, and Canada. Fees of $200,000 per transit are not uncommon.

Shown here is a section of the Galliard or Culebra Cut, where the Continental Divide has been breached. Note the tilted strata in the cut, raised to this position as the Panamanian Land Bridge was formed about 3 million years ago.

Panama is actively constructing a wider canal, with new locks, to be completed for the 100th anniversary in 2014. Here are some of the machines that are making the Galliard Cut wider.

A view of the Pedro Miguel Locks on the Pacific side of the canal. It is an ingenious scheme where water is let down into these locks from a reservoir on the Chagres River. Ships transit the reservoir at 85 feet above sea level.

A view of a "Panamax" ship, one that is just able to fit into the locks. Modern shipping allows for wider ships, thus the canal is being completely redone to accommodate larger ships.

Exiting the canal onto the Pacific Ocean, there is an incredible view of the Panama City skyline. Huge condominiums are being constructed on the coast here. However, a part of old Panama still exists.

The old and the new in Panama

This area was in much decay a few years back but it is being restored to its former glory. There were many similarities to the French Quarter in New Orleans.

A beautiful bouganvillia in Old Panama marks the end of this incredible journey.


Russell Ownby said...

Great trip Wayne! Those falls are gorgeous and the thought of the size of the Amazon river is baffling! Definately adding to our life list! Thanks for taking the time to post it all up for us armchair travelers. Cheers!

Anne said...

Good eye, Wayne! Incredible photos. I had no idea about your blog -- but then again, I'm pretty new to the scene. Stop by when you get a chance, and let me know what you think! Anne