• Adam

El Valle de Anton, Panama: A town in an extinct volcano

About 2 hours southwest of Panama City is the charming little town of El Valle de Anton (Anton Valley). What is unique about this place is that it sits in the crater of an extinct volcano! While it is lush and green, the hills rise steeply above the town in all directions, and a popular activity is to hike up there. Truth be told, that is basically all I did there. (It's a sleepy town without much going on, which is part of its charm.)

View south of India Dormida with rain clouds crossing over on the left, and the town of Valle de Anton inside an extinct volcano on the right

The main hike is to a point above town called "La India Dormida", the sleeping Indian woman. I set out shortly after I arrived: A 4km (2.5 mile) walk from my hostel at the center of town to Mirador Cerro La Cruz, up a steep road about 600 feet. Then I turned north and followed the crest of the hills along the edge of the former volcano until I found the India Dormida and the trail downhill. At times I thought I had lost the trail because it is NOT well marked, but I kept the town in my view down below and checked my location on my phone from time to time, so I ultimately ended up where I was supposed to. (Download MAPS.ME to keep track on your phone.)

The trail (left) and the valley/town below (right)

Another view of the trail heading north towards India Dormida Rainbow!

One of a few waterfalls I encountered northeast of India Dormida on my way down.

Petroglyphs on a rock by the eastern entrance to the hike

The views were incredible, but what was wild was that rain clouds were swirling through - not overhead, but they passed right by me (and through me)! It rained briefly which was a relief from the heat, but made the trail heading downhill from India Dormida a bit slippery. Along the trail to the bottom were a couple waterfalls, one with a large pool for swimming! The water was a refreshing reward after a long hike, with a quick walk through town all that remained of the hike afterwards.

I wanted to do another hike, and after reading some online blogs decided to wake up at 4:30am the next morning, before sunrise, to do a sunrise hike. I don't remember the name of the hike but I started walking east from the hostel, and a dog started following me! I did not want to lead the dog out of town (nor let it follow me) so I tried all sorts of ways to distract it and eventually hid behind a rock when it wasn't looking so it would walk the other way! Soon a pickup truck with room in the back for passengers came along and I jumped in for a couple miles to the eastern edge of town (50 cents I think) and then started walking south on a side road. It was dark and the directions I had weren't very good (walk beyond a gate and some transmission towers) but I just kept looking for an uphill direction and I ended up at 8.57953, -80.09667 without knowing if I was in the right place.

In the dark I walked this path (or somewhere parallel to it) to get to where I was standing

It was still dark and, ask I was up high (nearly 3,000 ft elevation) where there were no trees, it was very windy. I ended up laying down in the tall grass and attempted to get some sleep until the sun rose an hour later.

The view from where I ended up, with the Pacific Ocean visible in the distance

I was treated to an expansive view with the Pacific Ocean in the distance and even a white cross that marked the hill fallen onto the ground! Unfortunately, there were too many clouds to see the sun, so after taking in the views I retreated back into town.

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