The 6 Best Things to Do in El Valle de Anton, Panama

El Valle de Anton, also known as El Valle, is a small mountain village located in a beautiful setting a few hours’ drive from Panama City. It is a unique place because El Valle de Anton is entirely located within the crater of an extinct volcano. The village holds a world record as the largest inhabited volcanic crater in the world. You can enjoy fantastic hiking here, and El Valle de Anton is the perfect destination if you want to explore the mountains during your trip to Panama. Because it is located higher up in the mountains, it is a few degrees cooler than, for example, Panama City, and there is often a lovely fresh breeze. Hike up to the crater rim via one of the trails for an extra magical experience during sunrise. Watching the sunrise from here may be one of the highlights of your trip to Panama.

How to get to El Valle de Anton?

Most travelers come to El Valle de Anton from Panama City, Playa Venao, or Santa Catalina. Below you can read how to travel to El Valle de Anton from these destinations.

From Panama City to El Valle de Anton

By bus: From Panama City, take the direct bus to El Valle de Anton. Buses depart every 30 minutes from Gran Terminal de Transporte at Albrook Mall. The journey takes about 2.5 hours.By rental car: With a rental car, the journey takes about 2 hours.

From Playa Venao to El Valle de Anton

By bus: Take the bus from Playa Venao to Las Tablas, and then transfer to the Chitré bus. In Chitré, take the bus to Las Uvas and then take the bus to El Valle de Anton. The entire journey takes about 7 hours.By rental car: With a rental car, the journey takes about 4 to 5 hours.

From Santa Catalina to El Valle de Anton

By bus: Take the early morning bus to Sonas, then transfer to the bus to Santiago de Veraguas. From there, take the bus to Las Uvas, where you will transfer for the last time to the bus to El Valle de Anton. The entire journey takes about 8 hours.By rental car: This is a journey of 5 to 6 hours.

What to do in El Valle de Anton?

You visit Valle de Anton mainly for its beautiful hikes, but there are also other fun things to do.

The Cerro La Silla hike

If there’s one hike you can’t miss in Valle de Anton, it’s the Cerro La Silla hike. This is an easy hike with an amazing view at the top. The best time to be there is either for sunrise or sunset. The mountains turn yellow-gold, creating a magical moment. There can be a strong wind, so bring something warm. The trails of the Cerro La Silla hike are clear, and there is not much elevation change. You will soon reach the crater rim where you can continue to follow the narrow path. Depending on how long you stay up there, this hike takes about two to three hours. The route is a total of 4km.
The starting point of the Cerro La Silla hike is located a bit further from the center of Valle de Anton. If you are going for the sunrise, it is nice to have a rental car to drive to the starting point. You can also arrange for a taxi through your hostel or hotel to take you to the starting point and then take the bus back to El Valle de Anton. If you are not going during the sunrise, you can walk to the starting point, which takes about an hour. You can also take the bus. This is the bus towards San Carlos or Panama, and you should hail it on the main road in El Valle de Anton. Ask the bus driver to stop at El Roble.

Admire the most beautiful butterflies at Butterfly Haven El Valle de Anton

In the center of El Valle de Anton, you will find a small and charming butterfly garden where you can enjoy admiring up to 16 different species of colorful butterflies. You will first receive a tour where you will learn all about the butterflies while they fly around you or even sit on you. You can also watch a short documentary for a few minutes that beautifully shows the transition from caterpillar to butterfly. A fun activity to alternate with hiking.

The La India Dormida hike

‘La India Dormida’ means sleeping Indian woman. This name was given because the contours of this mountain resemble a sleeping woman, with a little imagination. The La India Dormida hike is the most famous trail in El Valle de Anton and is popular to hike at sunrise. This is because you can see the sun rise from the village in the valley. The path runs through a dense jungle, so the view remains a secret during the walk up. Along the way, you will come across a number of waterfalls and when you reach the top of the mountain, you will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view over the valley.
From the center of El Valle de Anton, it’s about a 30-minute walk to ‘Piedra Pintada’, the huge rock with rock paintings that is seen as the starting point of the hike. Unless you are super early for the sunrise, you will pay a few dollars for the hike at this point. From this point, your journey starts and takes about an hour uphill over a path of steps, rocks, and tree roots. After reaching the top, there are two different routes to walk back. You can continue the route along the crater rim to the other end of the trail or you can walk back down through the jungle. If you have walked in the dark on the way there, it’s nice to see the waterfalls on the way back through the jungle and maybe take a refreshing dip. The total hike takes about 3.5 hours for both routes. Due to the humidity and occasional rain, this climb can be quite slippery and therefore a bit more challenging.

Tip: When you walk during sunrise or sunset, keep in mind that you’ll be walking in the dark. A headlamp is very useful as it allows you to have your hands free to walk.

Visit the 35-meter high waterfall Chorro el Macho

Chorro el Macho is a beautiful waterfall located a few kilometers from the center of El Valle de Anton. The waterfall is 35 meters high and is situated in a gorgeous piece of nature. However, a visit to Chorro el Macho is relatively expensive. You pay $5 per person for admission for a walk that lasts no longer than 15 minutes, and for this price, you are not allowed to swim in the waterfall. You have to pay extra for that. It’s a beautiful, small, but expensive piece of nature.

Tip: If you have time and want to enjoy a beautiful waterfall where you can swim and relax, go to the Pozo Azul waterfall. It’s an hour’s drive from El Valle de Anton and perfect for spending an afternoon.

Relaxing in the hotsprings of El Valle de Anton

If you want to relax after a hike, you can visit Pozos Termales in El Valle de Anton for a few dollars. There are two small hot springs and two foot baths, which are not necessarily worth your visit. The best part is that you get a small pot of clay with your admission, and you can give yourself a mineral-rich face mask. There is a large board with all the minerals in the water and clay listed. It’s nicely designed, but unfortunately, not well maintained, which makes it look a bit dirty at times.

The Cerro Cara Iguana Hike

Hike to the top of Cerro Cara Iguana and enjoy the view over the entire valley. Now you’ll understand how the crater is put together. It’s a completely different experience than the other hikes, and the view at the top is also different from the other hikes in Valle de Anton. You can hike the Cerro Cara Iguana trail all day, but it’s best to watch the sunset from the top.

From the city center, it’s about a 40-minute walk on an unpaved road to the official starting point of the hike. Although it’s a simple path, it’s quite steep. From the official starting point, the path becomes less steep. It’s a beautiful trail where you first walk through pine forests and then walk up to the crater rim via narrow paths through grassy plains. On the way back, you take the same path. The whole hike takes about two hours.

Best restaurants in El Valle de Anton

Unfortunately, there aren’t that many good restaurant options in El Valle de Anton yet. However, here are some of our favorites for now:
Volcanito’s – Here you can enjoy delicious Mexican food. It’s located a bit outside the city center.
El Valle Market – This is the local market in the center where you can buy fresh vegetables, fruits, and other groceries to cook your own meal. This is a place where many residents of El Valle de Anton come together.
L’Italia Ristorante – The menu features delicious Italian dishes.
CocoLatte – Treat yourself to a delicious smoothie or ice cream.
El Rincon Colombiano – Here you can have tasty food for a very small price.

Our favorite places to stay in El Valle de Anton

The coolest hostel in the center of El Valle de Anton is Bodhi Hostel & Lounge. There’s a great atmosphere at this hostel, and it’s easy to meet other travelers. The hostel organizes many activities, such as yoga classes and group hikes. You don’t have to search far for breakfast because it’s delicious here. Casa Grimaldo is a nice B&B in the middle of El Valle de Anton. You’ll stay in a spacious room that’s beautifully decorated, and there’s a beautiful garden with plenty of seating. The Golden Frogg Inn is perfect if you’re looking for luxury. There’s a lovely pool where you can relax after a hike. There’s also a beautiful garden full of flowers and plants that attract many birds. A delicious breakfast is included in the price.