Welcome to Panama Field Semester 2017!!!

This 12- week course is designed to introduce you to some of the most amazing ecosystems on Earth, and learn about their natural history, ecology, and conservation.

During the course, you will be exposed to some fairly extreme conditions: 90° heat and scorching sun on the coast along with cold, misty 45° weather. There will be some pretty torrential rains and some very sunny days, and most of all, there will be some pretty incredible organisms like you've never seen before.

The Town of Gamboa

Gamboa is a small town located on the east bank of the Panama Canal, immediately north of the Chagres River. In the early 1930's, the Panama Canal Company constructed Gamboa at the confluence of the Panama Canal and its principle source, the Chagres River, to house its Canal Maintenance (Dredging) Division. Located 27 km north of Panama City, the township of Gamboa is easily accessed by a single road that runs for 10 km through the center of the Soberania National Park.

Located approximately 30 km from STRI's main headquarters in Panama City, Gamboa provides laboratories and accommodations for researchers interested in conducting investigations in the lowland tropical rainforests and streams of Soberania National Park.

Gamboa Schoolhouse

This is former wooden schoolhouse (a 10-minute walk from Bldg. 183) that STRI has furnished as a dormitory facility for field courses that use Soberania National Park and nearby forested sites. Four large classrooms have been turned into sleeping quarters. There are two bathrooms with showers. There is a single room with a half-bath for the course leader. A washer and dryer, as well as a fully equipped kitchen, are available. Two additional classrooms have been appointed as a dining room and a projection facility (a slide projector, a screen and an overhead projector are available).

Currency Information

The Panamanian currency in the Balboa and has the same value as the US dollar. Panama uses US paper currency and has its own coinage which has the same denominations, shapes and sizes as US coinage.

There are Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in Panama that work with most US cards.

All major credit cards are accepted in Panama at most shops, supermarkets and hotels. However, you do require currency for making small payments.

Health Tips

The government of Panama does not require any vaccinations in order to enter the country. Most medicines are widely available in Panama City and at a similar rate to that in most western countries. Most medicines are sold by the same trademark names used in the U.S.

For emergencies, there are many good private clinics and hospitals throughout the country, but the biggest and best equipped are located in Panama City.


Panama has some of the cleanest drinking water in Latin America (if not in the world). Water is safe to drink from the faucet but also purified bottled water is sold in most hotels and supermarkets.


Telephone: Calling cards are required to make international calls from the Schoolhouse. You can buy them at any local store of pharmacy. They usually cost several "units" per minute of talking. If it says 100 minutes, it's probably good for about 15 minutes of international talk time.

At each site, there will be phones nearby. But in some places, the phones are not immediately accessible, so you may only be able to call home every other day at most.

Internet: Internet is available for free at the Gamboa Schoolhouse, but when you travel inside the Country you will have to attend any local Internet Café on your own.

Mail: This address may be used by your family and friends to SEND LETTERS ONLY. NO PACKAGES ARE ACCEPTED! Regular U.S. Mail rates apply.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Center
(Name of Student )-Princeton Field Course
MRC 0580-12
Unit 9100 Box 0948
DPO AA 34002-9998 USA

Access to User Free Zone

STRI’s Office of Information Technology, will provide access to Internet to the visitor personnel equipments that during their visit to STRI, does not require the use of internal services of the Institute (*See note in next page ). This access will be provided through the Visitors Zone. Users will have access to this network in specific places designated for this purpose. The Visitors Zone is a parallel network to the STRI's production network, that only has access to the Internet services (Web sites, FTP, Instant Messages Programs, among others). Users will be responsible for the programs and files installed in their computer and of maintaining their operating system and antivirus updated. It will not be a requirement to bring the computer to OIT for inspection before being connected.


For any additional questions please contact us at: