With my family in 2007, we cruised through the Panama canal. Going through the locks was quite an amazing experience, in no time the water filled up and we moved onto the next level. After passing through the 3 locks on the Western side of Panama we sailed through into the largest man made lake where we got off for a while and explored the jungle.
A little boat tour began showing the different vegetation types of the area and we encountered some howler monkeys which were very excited by our presence =). Headed into the jungle for a 1 hour brisk walk along the old railway that was constructed for the building of the canal. It was amazing to see that parts of it were still there!! Along the way the chorus of birds entertained our ears, and marvelous plant life stunned our eyes. Of particular coolness was the leaf cutter ants. I was exceptionally excited to see these little guys and truly loved watching them at work!
Headed back to the cruise boat after the walk ended and watched it pass through the locks. There is nothing like driving along the countryside and just randomly seeing a boat in the middle of the field (with the water hidden behind a wee hill). That night on the cruise we also tasted the local cuisine which was picked up especially for the trip. Mmmmmmmm.