12 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN EL VALLE DE ANTON (ANTON VALLEY)
El Valle de Anton or ‘El Valle’ for short is a town I based myself in for a month. El Valle means ‘The Valley’, and this beautiful region just a few hours out of Panama City is much more than a valley, it is a volcanic crater from many years ago. There are plentiful hikes around the rim of the crater and in the surrounding region. As well as hikes you will find an abundance of natural beauty amidst canyons, waterfalls and spectacular ridge trails. Throughout my month in El Valle, I explored in the region and in all of Cocle Province. This blog post list all of my favorite adventurous things to do in El Valle de Anton (Anton Valley).
In this blog post, I will share with you all of the best things to do in and near El Valle de Anton. I will also detail where I stayed for an entire month and other recommended places to stay in El Valle. I will also share information about transport, WiFi and other tips you might want to know before visiting the valley in the middle of a volcanic crater that is, El Valle de Anton.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL VALLE DE ANTON.
For one month, I stayed at Bodhi Hostel right in the center of the valley. Normally, that would be way too long in a hostel but this place has great vibes. Every morning starts with the free breakfast of fresh fruits and pancakes the staff cook for you as well as free coffee and tea. They also serve machine coffee and the best real-fruit smoothies at the bar.
The dorm room is large with lots of beds but the great part is it is set up in a way that you have privacy. A blind pulls across each bunk bed so you can shut it all out if you want a break. There are also lockers so you can keep your stuff safe during the day when you are hiking. I think the other great part about Bodhi Hostel is that because it is in a small town with no nightclubs, the vibe is chill and the nights are quiet. Everyone is going to sleep early to wake up for sunrise hikes so it has this real adventurous vibe with everyone in a positive mood, ready to enjoy nature. Bodhi Hostel also offers a number of private rooms, which are basic but definitely a comfortable option for couples or those who prefer a bit more privacy than the dorm.
The staff at Bodhi Hostel are always up for a chat and you can tell they are proud of El Valle de Anton. Every new guest that checks in gets the full speech about all of the cool things to do in El Valle de Anton. They receive a map and lots of suggestions. I don’t promote too many accommodations but the staff at Bodhi Hostel and the awesome memories I have of El Valle de Anton have all centered around the hostel and the nearby adventures.
If you would like something a step up from Bodhi Hostel there are two hotels that I personally visited and am happy to recommend.
The Golden Frog Inn and Caracoral Boutique Hotel & Spa were both beautiful hotels and if you have a little bit more to spend they would be a great place to relax after some seriously good adventuring in El Valle de Anton. I didn’t stay at either but toured both properties throughout the month randomly and Caracoral Boutique Hotel & Spa, in particular, was a beautiful boutique property that would be my number one choice for a luxurious getaway in the valley.
TRANSPORT IN AND OUT OF EL VALLE DE ANTON
The beauty about El Valle de Anton is that you can reach all of the nearby hikes by walking. Cerro Gaital, Cerro Cara Iguana, Cerro La Silla and La India Dormida are all within walking distance. That covers most people for their 2-7 day stay in El Valle de Anton. After that, the bus will take you to some other adventures. If you do have a hire car it will make things a little easier on the legs but the local bus is great. You just stand out on the main road and jump in the local bus/van that has the name of the place you want to go. It’s a smooth system and you rarely have to wait more than half an hour. Bodhi Hostel rents bicycles if you just went to head around town checking out waterfalls and hikes.
WIFI IN EL VALLE DE ANTON
As you can imagine, I quickly find out the availability of WiFi in a new town. At Bodhi Hostel, the WiFi was great and I blogged every night about all of the places I was visiting. For $5 I also bought a DigiCell card at the grocery store, which gave me unlimited Data for 7 days. I topped that up every week and was connected all the time!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN EL VALLE DE ANTON (ANTON VALLEY)
With the logistics covered it is now time to list my favorite hikes, waterfalls and adventurous things to do in El Valle de Anton or Anton Valley as the ‘Gringos’ often call it (Yes, I’m well aware I am a Gringo!) This list is in no particular order but were all memorable experiences.
LA INDIA DORMIDA ‘THE SLEEPING INDIAN’ HIKE
La India Dormida hike is one of the most popular sunrise viewpoints in all of Anton Valley. The hike only takes about 45 minutes to summit from the town, making it a perfect way to start your morning. The loop trail takes you along the edge of the beautiful mountains of the crater, which resemble the body of a sleeping person. This is where the hike gets its name and we will delve into the Legend of the Sleeping Indian in this blog post as well as everything you need to know about hiking La India Dormida to enjoy an epic sunrise.
Legend has it that Luba, known as ‘Airflower’, was the youngest daughter of heralded Chief Urraca. Urraca was the leader of one of the many Guaymi Tribes in Anton Crater. Luba was a rebellious girl and despite her tribes fighting with the Spanish for years, she fell in love with a Spanish official who lived in the town. Yaravi was a brave warrior from the tribe who loved Luba but she didn’t love him back. Yaravi couldn’t handle this and took his own life, throwing himself off of a mountain while Luba stared in a perplexed fashion. Luba didn’t want to betray her town and in a desperate panic of crying and mourning she loses herself in the bushes and dies
Need more information? Full blog post: HIKING LA INDIA DORMIDA FOR SUNRISE
CERRO CARA IGUANA
My first hike in Cocle was a short, sweet and eventually very wet trek to the summit of Cerra Cara Iguana. Anton Valley is actually a giant volcanic crater. It is said to be the only volcanic crater, which is inhabited. It’s pretty crazy to think that at some stage a key-decision maker decided that the best place to set up camp was inside a volcanic crater.
What you have now is a beautiful town surrounded by epic mountains. In short, the Anton Valley unintentionally placed itself as a future adventure tourism destination. Cerro Cara Iguana gives you a great view of this crater. The ridge of Cerro Cara Iguana extends out towards the middle of the crater, more than any other point and it was great to do this hike early in my stay in Anton Valley. It gives you a great idea of the layout of the town.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO CARA IGUANA HIKE
Often labeled as ‘The toughest hike in Panama’, Cerro Gaital hike will definitely challenge you while making your way up to the epic viewpoint.
Cerro Gaital leads you through a tunnel of the dense forest before hitting you with intense vertical rock-climbs into the foggy summit. The hike takes less than three hours depending on how long you spend at the top. It is possible to walk to the trailhead from Anton Valley Town or you can catch a bus to the trailhead for $1.
From the top of Cerro Gaital, you have views over the whole valley and beyond. I sat atop the small cement hut eating my lunch enjoying yet another empty mountain in El Valle de Anton!
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO GAITAL HIKE
CERRO LA GAITA
Although it is not directly in El Valle de Anton, Cerro La Gaita is only a short drive or even a bus trip away from the town center. This makes it one of the best things to do in El Valle de Anton or at least nearby.
Every mountain in Anton Valley seems to surround you as you emerged from the jungle to rise above the canopy on a wooden platform. For an hour you trek up the slippery path and then the stairs that pierced through the dense jungle. You will reach the summit of Cerro La Gaita and the view over Cerro Picacho and San Carlos Lake was is beautiful.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA GAITA HIKE
POZO AZUL WATERFALL CANYON
In what seems to be the middle of a quiet farmland region is one of the wonders of Panama. A lot of places around the world get hyped up but surprisingly Pozo Azul was spoken of as a nice spot but I didn’t expect to encounter such an epic location. In the depths of the jungle, a series of waterfalls flow down from one level to the next into crystal clear azure pools. Rock climbing, cliff jumping and the ultimate waterhole await you at Pozo Azul in Cocle, Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: POZO AZUL WATERFALLS
HOT SPRINGS (POZOS TERMALES)
The hot springs are an interesting one. I saw many people come into the hostel and the first thing they wanted to see was Pozos Termales. This is good for a rainy day but don’t pick it over anything else on the list. It is more a man-made spring that is a fun afternoon rather than a beautiful natural hot spring. Nevertheless, it is a great place to enjoy with some apparently great health benefits!
CHORRO EL MACHO
Chorro El Macho is the most popular waterfall in El Valle de Anton. It is a 35m high waterfall and one of the few easily accessible in the region. Many visitors to El Valle will visit the waterfall and do a hike all in one day. It wasn’t even in the top 20 of the waterfalls I visited in Panama for natural beauty but I was there for 100 days, so my standards were high. It is a good little adventure but don’t expect Niagara.
CERRO LA SILLA
Cerro La Silla is a short journey to an epic viewpoint atop the mountains to watch the sun rise over the horizon with views of Valle de Anton and beyond! It’s interesting that Cerro Cara Iguana and India Dormida hike are the most suggested but you don’t hear a lot about Cerro La Silla. Having experienced all three I would say it is hard to separate them all but La Silla possibly has the best views.
Just before the sun was about to break over the horizon we made it to the summit where we sat down beneath the giant cross, which seems to be common at viewpoints in Valle de Anton. We could see all the way back into the crater of Valle de Anton but also out to Cerro Picacho.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA SILLA ‘THE ARMCHAIR’ SUNRISE HIKE
SEE THE NATIONAL FLOWER OF PANAMA AT LA ORQUIDERIA
Normally, I wouldn’t suggest orchards in an adventure blog. But the national flower of Panama is very unique. It almost looks fake. At La Orquideria, they have lots of interesting plants but if you are lucky they will have the national flower on display. It looks like a dove is blooming from within the flower. Definitely check it out if you have a spare moment between the hikes! It is a non-profit run by organization Aprovaca who helped us run our Adventure Bag clean-up. They are great people and I believe the entrance fee is only $1-2.
CERRO PICACHO IN SAN CARLOS
Overlooking San Carlos Laguna, the Cerro Picacho hike in San Carlos (West Panama) is one of the best viewpoints in the region. It is a steady incline through the dense forest, which leads you over roots, through muddy paths, and underneath a beautiful canopy. The tropical conditions mean that as per usual you will be sweating, hot and searching for air when you reach the summit.
There are two viewpoints to Cerro Picacho in San Carlos. The first is a really cool boulder that sticks out of the trail and gives a great vantage point of the lake and the other peak. The other peak is incredibly steep although I have seen a video of someone sitting on top of it. From the boulder lookout, we could see other hikes like Cerro La Gaita platform. It is a great spot to check out the other mountains in the area.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO PICACHO HIKE IN SAN CARLOS
CERRO TUREGA HIKE
Cerro Turega is an epic trail that leads you past waterfalls before up an intense incline to reach the three peaks at the summit with panoramic views! The hike is only a 6km trail. However, the hike is regularly touted as a 4-hour journey and this is because the terrain is incredibly steep and slippery making it very slow going.
There are three epic peaks but as far as I know, you can only reach the first where you can see us standing in the photos. They are very steep and I would be surprised if peak two and three are accessible. The views are beautiful and we got a few glimpses amidst the fog and stormy clouds.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO TUREGA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE
ISLA FARALLON DAY TRIP
Isla Farallon is a unique island off the coast off Farallon on the southern coast of Panama, only a couple of hours drive from Panama City. We ventured down on three buses from Valle de Anton in about an hour and enjoyed a day of soaking up the sun, exploring Isla Farallon and beach volleyball on Farallon Beach. This is a family-friendly beach with nothing but chill vibes, sun, and salt!
It only took us just over an hour to reach Farallon Beach from El Valle on two buses. Farallon Island only takes another fifteen-minute boat trip from there. I thought it would be handy in this guide as sometimes in El Valle de Anton, you forget what the beach looks like when you go on daily hikes!
Need more information? Full blog post: ISLA FARALLON AND FARALLON BEACH
I hope you enjoyed this guide to one of my favorite places in the world. With all of these epic things to do in El Valle de Anton, you definitely need to spend a week to totally enjoy the region!