El Valle de Antón is a beautiful mountain town nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano. Located on the mountain side of the Riviera Pacifica, a visit to El Valle de Antón will make the perfect compliment to your beach trip. Not only is there plenty to do and see there, but you’ll also beat the heat of the lowlands, as the town is 600 meters above sea level. In El Valle de Antón, expect to see beautiful landscapes, flower-lined streets and lush, green mountains. You’ll also get to enjoy fresh, crisp mountain air and temperatures ranging from 10º to 25ºC, making the valley the perfect place to hike.
With plenty of trails to choose from, hikers of all skill levels are encouraged to visit El Valle de Antón. Keep in mind that some trails are not well marked, so for those you’ll need to bring a guide. Novices and pros alike should start the day on La India Dormida Trail, where you can access one of the most popular sunrise viewpoints in the area. This beautiful loop hike will take you about 45 minutes from start to summit, where you can enjoy the epic views before heading back to the trailhead along the crater’s edge.
Just outside of Valle de Antón, you can hike Cerro la Gaita. This hour-long trek will take you to a set of wooden stairs that rise above the jungle for incredible views of all the surrounding mountains, as well as the beautiful San Carlos Lake.
Experienced hikers will have the chance to hike the trail that some consider the toughest hike in Panama, at Cerro Gaital. This intense trek will take you through dense rainforest and steep vertical rock climbs before leading you to the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the entire valley.
For more nature activities, consider visiting Chorro El Macho, a massive waterfall in the area. Or, if you’re in the mood for a soak, visit Los Pozos Termales, the local hot springs located on the west side of town. You can also go to the Nispero Zoo to see the Panamanian golden frog, which is actually extinct in the wild. Panama has made incredible efforts to preserve this species since it became threatened by a fungal pathogen over the last 40 years. Today, The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute along with the Panamanian Golden Frog Species Survival Program is working on a plan to get them back into the wild, and you can see them first-hand at the Nispero Zoo.
If you visit El Valle de Antón on a Sunday, be sure to check out the market, a favorite of locals and visitors alike. There, you’ll be able to pick up artisanal crafts made by members of the Ngöbe-Buglé community, as well as traditional molas crafted by members of the Guna community. At the market, you’ll also find traditional Panamanian hats known as “sombreros pintaos,” and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
El Valle de Anton is 120 kilometers from Panama City, and you can get there by bus or car.