If you’re planning a visit to Panama, or if you want to relocate or retire to Panama, you must check out El Valle de Anton. Commonly referred to as simple “El Valle”, or “The Valley” in English, this small mountain town in Panama’s central highlands is the perfect mountain getaway for people of all ages, tastes, and budgets. A short distance from Panama City (about 2.5-3 hours drive), and a quick drive from the beaches of Coronado and Chame (about 45 minuts), El Valle is a true natural oasis, that has its own unique feel, style, and culture. It’s paradise for those who love outdoor adventures, or those who just love resting and relaxing in nature. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy El Valle, and all it has to offer!
Check out the “El Macho” waterfall and trails Just a few minutes from the center of town, you’ll find a small set of rustic booths and parking lot on the side of the road. This is the entrance to El Macho, and the canopy trails that surround it. Signs are well marked from the main road in town, so it’s easy to find. Don’t let the simple entrance fool you, though. Once you’ve paid the $5 entrance fee (or $25-$35 guided tour fee) at the booth, you can access the gorgeous forest canopy trail for as long as you like. The trail hike is well maintained, with rope and metal hand rails to guide you through the steeper parts, and good footing. The trails are easy enough for beginners, and the total hike is about 20 minutes.
There are three amazing rope bridges that cross the river along the way, and the views from the clearing at the waterfall are spectacular. There are lots of picture opportunities, as well as informative signage in both English and Spanish explaining what you’re looking at, and the history of both the falls and the area around them. At the end of the hike, there is even a natural pool, so bring your bathing suit and towel if you feel up for it!
Take a dip in the Pozos Termales (Hot Springs)Nothing beats a natural spa after a long day hiking, or any day for that matter. El Valle is well known for their volcanic-made mud, and hot springs, and they’re a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and spoil yourself at the same time. It costs just a few dollars to take a dip, and you can bathe in two different types of mud, both with unique effects on your skin, and muscle tissue. The combination of mineral rich mud, and hot thermal water is perfect for treating yourself, whether you’re on vacation, or a permanent resident in El Valle.
Rent a bike! There is no better way to see the many country roads, trails, and town of El Valle then by bicycle. Bikes are everywhere, and are easily rentable. You can rent by the day, or just a few hours, and if you bring your own, there’s plenty of space to park it, as well as lots of places to use it. Town has few cars, so choosing to get by in bike can be both efficient and effective when it comes to travel. There are also lots of trails that are bike friendly, and even bike tours that will take you up to some of the most popular natural excursions and sites in the area. The temps are in the high 60s (F) on most days (24-26 C), which makes it much more comfortable to get around on two wheels.
For more on El Valle, and all of the amazing outdoor adventures you can have there, be sure to check out Part 2, coming next week!