14 things to do in El Valle de Anton
I asked a very few people about the places to visit in Panama while there and most of them mentioned El Valle de Anton – Anton Valley too so I decided to give it a try.
I was picked up by the owner of Cariguana Spa to take me to Anton Valley on the way there but there is also a bus leaving from the Albrook bus station in Panama City. I took that bus on the way back 🙂
When driving, 10 minutes from Coronado on the Pan-American Highway there is a sign to the right and then 26 km through the windy curvy mountain so it will take around an hour from there. You will pass through small local towns such as Las Uvas, El Espino, Copecito and las Margaritas to get to El Valle de Anton situated in the Cocle province.
For its proximity to the capital and also cooler weather, El Valle, how the locals simply call it, became a weekend home of Panama’s prominent families.
El Valle is located in the world’s second largest inhabited volcano crater which erupted 5 million years ago blowing off its top.
Isn’t it cool? I mean, 7,000 to 10,000 people do live in a volcano crater there and you can see the shape of it, especially when hiking once you get to the top of one of the mountains around.
14 things to do in El Valle de Anton:
1. Visit the famous local farmers market with fruit, veggies (mostly organic), flowers and just next to it there’s a handicrafts market if you need any souvenirs. Most of the farms here are organic and do not use any chemicals as the products have a lot of nutrients from the rich volcanic soil. Yay, get healthier!
Most locals dedicate their life to agriculture growing plants and flowers. Local men in town are gardeners and their wives work as cleaning ladies and cooks in the houses of the wealthy families from the capital/or expats who have their vacation homes in El Valle, e.g. Felipe Motta who owns Copa Airlines has his Ponderosa house in El Valle but he lives in Panama City.
2. Chorro El Macho waterfall and the Canopy Adventure are great for families with kids and any adventurous souls like me who love nature, animals, fresh water and zip line. I spent more than half a day at the Canopy Adventure in El Valle de Anton and so happy I did. I enjoyed all the signs around making you pause and enjoy the present moment, and also find out more about the nature around you.
3. Petroglyphs – ancient painted stones on the way to India Dormida mount. You have to pay an entrance fee to get to hike the Dormant Indian Girl so if you want to visit just the petroglyphs, you have to pay first. The best is to go with a local kid guy who can explain you what the petroglyphs mean and also show you the way to the top of the Dormant Indian Girl. It is not the easiest hike but so worth it.
4. Visiting natural hot springs – pozos termales is a great way to end your afternoon, mostly if you spend your morning hiking. It cost me just $3 to get into the hot springs and there’s healing mud for your face included in the price. Yes, you hear me right, you can even choose from a normal or sensitive skin mud and put it all over your face right there in the nature with other people doing so too. Pretty funny experience, especially once the mud gets drier and drier which makes it more difficult to speak 😀
Then you just take a shower and are ready for the hot pool. Inside you can just relax, massage your neck/shoulders with the water coming from a nozzle and observe the birds flying around. There’s a few Tanager birds – super beautiful black and red.
5. Hike Cariguana (Cara Iguana mount) – there’s 3 main different mounts to hike when in El Valle and in the beginning I thought it was enough to just hike one of them, the most famous Dormant Girl but after I trekked all the three mounts, I realized why the locals recommend the visitors to hike all the three as each one of them is so unique! There’s various kind of vegetation and the view of the valley is very different from every peak.
6. Visit Cariguana Spa and get some spa treatments to rejuvenate and detoxify your body. The best would be hike Cara Iguana mount in the morning and then on the way back get some spa treatments and enjoy the thermal pool with natural volcanic water of 30 Celsius degrees.
7. Hike Gaital mount or at least to the viewpoint of Caracoral – I just did the second thing, which means the easier one as I am not really a climber and trying to make my way up to the mountain cursing all the way up would be an adventure but not an enjoyable one for me. So I just chose to take a pleasant hike to Caracoral viewpoint to see El Valle de Anton from a different side.
8. The Golden Frog – rana dorada – is an endangered species unique to El Valle de Anton which unfortunately cannot be found in the nature any more. The Amphibian Rescue Center was created here to conserve the indigenous frogs so if you want to see any golden frogs, this is the place to go.
Other things to do in El Valle de Anton:
9. horse-back riding can be done in the valley too and I am sure you would enjoy the ride in the volcanic nature
10. biking around – you will see many locals biking to and from work, going to the market, and even many kids on the bicycles. It’s definitely one of the most relaxing cool things to do when visiting the volcano crater. The town is not hilly at all until you get out of it for a hike.
11. Nispero ZOO is for many one of the main things to do in El Valle de Anton but the more I learn about the animals in cages, the less of a ZOO fan I become. I don’t like to see animals in captivity so I didn’t visit the Nispero ZOO.
12. square trees close to Hotel Campestre – they are supposed to be completely unique to this location and I just wish I had more time to go to visit them.
13. Church and the Museum – the beautiful white church on the main road is open to public throughout the day. You have to check out the colourful mosaic windows and the little chapel.
14. just taking a walk around the town is a very pleasant thing to do – enjoy the flowers along the roads, smiling locals (way friendlier than the inhabitants of Panama capital), peaceful atmosphere anywhere except the main road or get a fresh smoothie at one of the street stands/local restaurants. Watch out for hearts on the road too <3