A Day in El Valle
El Valle de Antón is situated in the 6km wide caldera of a dormant volcano. The town offers year-round spring like climate, sitting at an altitude of 600m with the highest point of the caldera reaching to 880m. 28 km from the Pan American Highway in the Province of Coclé, the steep and windy road promises a drive no less than 45 minutes. El Valle boasts great restaurants, spas & hotels, trails for hiking and an abundance of wildlife. No visit is complete with out a swim in a nearby waterfall, a basket full of fresh produce from the local market and an authentic Italian meal. Both the volcano and the village of El Valle de Anton are part of Panama’s first national preserve created in 1966, the 19 square miles Altos de Campana National Park. The park is a great place for hiking. Get an early start; this is when birds, butterflies and many other species are the most active. While there are many well travelled trails to explore, a guide comes highly recommended. A guide will take you directly to the best spots and save you from getting lost.
The Canopy Family is a trusted guide company with locations in El Valle and La Sobreraína National Park. They offer tours by foot or zip line of varying difficulties. Hike to a nearby waterfall “Chorro El Macho” in less than 1 hour, on well-marked trails through the cloud forest. The more adventurous can take on the summit hike, a three-hour climb to the volcano’s peak.
Los Nispero Zoo is a great place to see animals you may have missed on your nature hike. Toucans, macaws, hawks, spider monkeys, tiki monkeys, sloths and more reside on the 7-acre plot of land, owned by a local agronomist.
If it is butterflies you wish to see, head to The Butterfly Haven (El Mariposario), an enclosed habitat where 12 different species of native butterflies live and breed. The sanctuary is open everyday except Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It is easy to get to the Butterfly Sanctuary from the main road into El Valle. Make a left just before the El Valle Market; Melo and the Police Station will be to your right. Follow this road until you see a blue butterfly sign with a red arrow on your right hand side.
Before heading down be sure to pick up some fresh produce from the local market. Hand woven baskets, orchids, and freshly picked vegetables can be purchased in the market. Generally everything is fairly priced; but if the ticket price seems high there is usually some room for negotiation.
Casa Florencia is a great place to stop for dinner on your way back to the highway. Franco, Cinzia & Stefano offer a warm welcome and some of the most authentic Toscana meals in the area. The open-air dining room offers space for large parties. The restaurant is open Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from 3pm – 9:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday & Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Closed Mondays. (Except holiday Mondays) KM 6.5 El Valle de Anton, San Carlos