Most visitors are aware of the fact that for the Panama Canal construction, a couple of artificial lakes were made. These lakes are part of the Panama Canal watershed, the reservoir that enables the Canal to function during Panama´s dry season. The main Canal lake, Gatun Lake, is the largest in the country and was formed deviating the waters from the Chagres River. Being at the heart of the Canal, it is not a surprise that this Lake gets thousands of visitors every year.
But there is another huge man-made lake, and it is a forgotten one, because it is located in eastern Panama, traveling in the direction of the Colombian border, near Darien province, one of the places with the lowest population density in the country. This lake is called Bayano Lake.
Bayano Lake was built in the 1970´s with waters from the river of the same name; the river got its name after a local rebel, back in the days of the colony, made a resistance group and hid in that region. The purpose of Bayano Lake is to feed a hydro-electrical facility, so it provides a clean and safe source of energy to the country.
Very few Panama tours include a visit to this lake, given its “out of the touristic route” location, but the truth is that the landscape around the lake is unique and beautiful. The lake is home to several fish species and many birds. There are parts of the lake where the original trees that stood there before the lake was built, can still be seen. Some of the tallest, stronger trees are still standing and birds use their dry dead branches to rest. Visitors can navigate through this phantom forest imagining what it was like when there was no water…
On the shores of the lake, hidden behind a small fishermen town, a cave system can be found. Very few people have been to those caves, making it a pristine, must see place.
So even though Bayano is out of the regular routes, if the reader is an adventurer, and is planning a Panama travel, this lake is a place that should be considered.