Barro Colorado Island is part of the Barro Colorodo National Monument, an ecological natural reserve administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1946. It is about 1500 hectares and STRI’s primary site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests.
Since it is mainly a research station with modern laboratory facilities, only a limited number of tourists are allowed to tour the island with a proper guide during the day. As you tour the island through thick jungle, you will get to see monkeys, anteaters, rodents, tropical birds, exotic plants and flowers, and you will ocassionally encounter scientists from STRI or American universities doing research. There is an inventory of 1369 plant species, 93 mammal species (including bats), 366 avian species (including migratory) and 90 species of amphibians and reptiles.
The only way to get there is by taking an early morning, beautiful boat ride from a small port at about 38 km from Panama City, and the visit needs to be arranged with STRI. The best way to arrange one is with a Panamanian eco-tour operators. But be sure you are being taken to Barro Colorado ISLAND, not to one of the other islands within the natural reserve.