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San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

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San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

I am researching tours to San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks for my Panama trip in a couple of weeks. I am traveling alone so I'm interested in group tours so I'll meet other people. The tours I have looked into are very expensive $150-$200. Would it be cheaper to just have a driver take me to these places?

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Gatun Locks
Gatun Locks
671 Reviews
Colon, Panama
Panama
Panama
Central America
Atlanta, Georgia...
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1. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

You could probably negotiate a deal with a taxi driver for $90 to $120, based on $15 per hour. Depending on how long you plan to stay in each location, it will take you at least 6 hours and possibly 8 hours for the trip. (1:15 from Panama to Gatun; 1 to 2 hours at Gatun; 1/2 hour to Fort San Lorenzo; 1 - 2 hours at FSL; 1/2 hour return to Gatun/main road; 1 hour lunch; 1:15 return to Panama.)

Another option is take the train to Colón and back ($25 each way) and pick up an SET (Servicio Especial de Turismo) taxi in Colón. The train leaves Albrook/Clayton at 7:15am and leaves Colón at 5:15pm. You could get an SET taxi in Colón to take you to Gatun, Ft. San Lorenzo and Portobelo. I believe the price would be somewhere around $70 to $80. The SET taxi drivers speak English, know the area and are fairly well versed on the history, (although legends tend to outweigh facts).

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Albrook Inn
Albrook Inn
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Panama City, Panama
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2. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Thanks! I guess either way it will be close to $150. I contacted Tony Rocha a travel guide recommended on TA and he has a tour for $250 (single traveler) to San Lorenzo, Gatun Locks, Portobello and Isla Grande. I am going to go on this one as it covers more. I just have to face that I will pay more as a solo traveler.

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Gatun Locks
Gatun Locks
671 Reviews
Colon, Panama
Isla Grande
Isla Grande
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Colon, Panama
Colon, Panama
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3. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Good evening MsNNikiT :

Fort San Lorenzo is currently closed to the public. The heavy rains in December damaged the road to San Lorenzo and they have not repaired the road since. You should inform your guide this and make a stop in Portobelo on your way to Isla Grande instead.

Hoping this info will help you enjoy your stay in Panama!

Best regards,

Roberto

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Fort San Lorenzo
Fort San Lorenzo
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Colon, Panama
Isla Grande
Isla Grande
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Colon, Panama
Panama
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4. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Thank you Roberto. I was unaware of this and will ask my guide about it.

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5. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Roberto my guide said the road to Fort San Lorenzo is open now. It was closed in December.

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6. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

He is going to double check now that I asked though.

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7. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

The $250 seems outrageously on the high side, considering that in all the places you are going, you're barely going to have enough time to look around before you have to leave. That isn't a tour, it's a whirlwind.

Let's just add up the MINIMUM travel times: 1:15 Panama to Gatun. Assuming the road is open to San Lorenzo, add :30. San Lorenzo to Portobelo: 1:45. Portobelo to Isla Grande: :45. Isla Grande to Panama: 2:15. Water taxi to and from Isla Grande: :30 That's 7 hours minimum time just in transportation.

The killer is Isla Grande. Unless you plan to stay over on Isla Grande, there's really no reason to go. It's a very quaint, small village on the water. There are a couple of nice, local restaurants and a very cheap rastafarian bar where you can plunk down shots of Havana Club for $2 each and some very spartan cabanas and an ex-pat lodge or two with very mixed reviews. Except for a very weird sculpture of Jesus on the cross with a seagull, there is really nothing to see on Isla Grande.

Listen to Roberto. If anyone knows which roads are open in the Province of Colón, it will be Roberto. Better yet, send him a PM and ask him what the SET taxis will charge to A) pick you up at the train station in Colón at 8:00am, drive you to Gatun, San Lorenzo (if the roads are open), and/or take you to Portobelo where you will see far more than either Isla Grande or Fort San Lorenzo and return you to the train station in time for your return trip to Panamá; or B) pick you up in Panamá for your tour and return you there. If it works out for you time-wise, the train across the isthmus is a very worthwhile trip.

For $250, I'd consider flying from Atlanta, renting cars for the day and giving tours, myself.

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Panama
Panama
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Isla Grande
Isla Grande
225 Reviews
Colon, Panama
Fort San Lorenzo
Fort San Lorenzo
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Colon, Panama
Atlanta
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8. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Thanks gb! I did send Roberto a message. If FSL is closed there is no point in me paying that price for the tour. $250 did seem high to me but as I mentioned in my initial post all the quotes I got for group tours were $150-$200. I even got one that was $400 because I would have to pay a two person minimum! I will consider taking the train and a SET taxi but I am a solo female traveler and have read that Colon is not safe so I was hoping to have something prearranged.

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Colon
Colon
Colon Province, Panama
Panama City, Panama
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9. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

Colon city is not safe, but I don't think there is a major problem with the station.

Though the problem with using the train is there is only one train each way, isn't there ?

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Colon
Colon
Colon Province, Panama
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10. Re: San Lorenzo and Gatun Locks Tour

You're right about Colón. It's not the place you want to be wandering about. But, the train station isn't in the heart of Colón and there are plenty of taxis there when the train arrives. Most of the people on the train are businessmen who work in the free trade zone and commute from Panamá. The rest are tourists like yourself. You shouldn't have any trouble. I'm sure Roberto or one of his drivers will be happy to meet you there.

BTW - I hope you're planning to do this trip between Monday and Friday. The passenger train doesn't run on the weekends.