Guide Panama. Guide to Panama.
This is a guide to Panama with answers to questions, directions, descriptions, places of interest, useful information about Panama, – basically, everything that, as experience shows, tourists need and that they currently can not find either in books or on the Internet.
Valle de Anton, a town in a volcano’s crater
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Provincial Panama is quiet and peaceful, cozy, unhurried and very welcoming. Valle de Anton is full of attractions: Central Market – you won’t find a more colorful place – selling vegetables, fruits, souvenirs, flowers, including orchids; Church of Valle de Anton and Museum of Local Lore, waterfalls “Chorro del Macho” and “Chorro de las Mosas”, petroglyphs, terrarium, orchidarium, zoological and botanical garden “El Nispero”, Golden Frog Conservation Center (closed on Tuesday), mountain “Sleeping Indian”, canopy tour above the waterfall.
For those who decide to stay a few days there are many hotels from expensive boutique hotels to economy pensions, restaurants, spas, thermal springs, horseback rides, bicycle rentals, climbing the mountain “Sleeping Indian” and many other offers for leisure activities.
I personally recommend the Los Mandarinos Hotel – not cheap, but a very nice and beautiful boutique hotel. It has a spa, a pool, and a bar-restaurant.
If you appreciate elegance and sophistication, check out La Casa de Lourdes. This restaurant is right next to the Los Mandarinos hotel.
There is also a not bad place, cheap, where by the way you can not only eat well and cheaply, but also sleep – before you get to the market. The restaurant is called Mar de Plata. The hotel is Don Pepe.
- Occurs extremely rare, but, nevertheless, be warned – you can be bitten by cheetra – a small gnat, the bite of which can leave blisters for a few days. It happens at sunset, around 5 pm. Bring with you a spray against mosquitoes. But otherwise, do not be afraid of anything. In Valle de Anton is very comfortable.
- In the evenings can be cool.
- Valle de Anton is the only town in the world, which is located in the crater of a dormant volcano.
- Valle de Anton is located at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level.
- If you go for a day – take your swimsuit with you – there is where to swim.
- It often rains a little bit on the mountains. Take raincoats or an umbrella just in case.
- El Nispero Zoo sells animal feed. PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE AND DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS OTHER FOODS. A bag of corn kernels costs 25 cents.
- If you plan to climb local peaks – don’t go without guides – one, wear hiking shoes – two, and take enough water – three! Guides can be found at the hotel, or you can ask at the cashier’s desk at the Chorro del Macho waterfall.
- The starting point in town is the market. There is a kiosk of the Ministry of Tourism. There are many signs in the town, so it’s hard to get lost.
- The numerous children who wait for tourists at the entrance to the petroglyph or the zoo are not beggars. They moonlight as tour guides. You can pay them $1 and listen to the story of the petroglyph, which they all tell in the same way, word for word, as taught to them by the local priest. They tell the story in Spanish.
The Pan American Highway is a little over an hour’s drive if from Panama City. After the village of San Carlos, go another 4 km and turn right. Take the mountain road for 32 km.
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Why move to El Vale de Aton, Panama?
This small mountain town is located 700 meters above sea level in the province of Cocle, only 120 kilometers from the capital of Panama. Panama’s capital. The town lies in the crater of an extinct volcano with a radius of 6 kilometers that was formed over a million years ago. The fertile soil of the crater has created a beautiful fauna with different kinds of birds which attract thousands of tourists. The climate here is mild, reminiscent of spring-like, the average annual temperature during the day is within 28 degrees Celsius, and at night no less than 20 degrees.
The dry season in El Valle runs from mid December to early May, and the rest of the year is the rainy season, after which nature thrives even more and it is the best time for hiking and trekking. It’s not an internationally renowned and sparsely populated Panama City is popular for weekend getaways from the sun and the hustle and bustle of Panama City. There is also a community of resident immigrants who have chosen to stay here and have small businesses in the form of small cafes, bars, and restaurants. The main attractions of the town are located along the green valleys and hills, which you can walk or bike, by the way, the main means of transportation here is a bicycle. If you want to sunbathe on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, you will need a 40-minute bus ride, the ticket for which will cost in the region of $ 4. However, you need to pay attention to the schedule, as it can be unpredictable and the driver can leave at any time if the bus is completely full, despite the departure time. In this case, it is better to rely on the advice of locals. The cool clean air, clean quiet streets that surround the slopes with bright fragrant flowers create an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility.
One of the main public places in El Valle de Atón is the town market, which is located in the center of the city. It is the only market in Panama where farmers sell their goods and products every day, especially on Sundays. If you live in El Valais, arrangements can be made with the vendors to have food delivered to your home. Nearby sell handicrafts of Ngobe-Bogle and Guna-Yala, to sell their colorful jewelry, baskets in the style of the Mola, beads, semi-precious stones and wood products. Various sculptures, panama hats, carvings of Tagua (palm seeds) and coconut trees can be bought for 30-35 USD while exactly the same items in the Panama City market are sold for 10 USD. This difference in price is motivated by the authenticity of the product and a guarantee of making it exactly by the indigenous Indian people, but before you decide to buy, try to make sure. The city has a lot of different hotels at budget prices, as well as quite a sufficient number of services in the form of grocery stores, pharmacies, ATMs, post offices, restaurants and Internet cafes.
For those who choose to live here in retirement, it is a very comfortable and quiet place. So renting a house with good conditions of an apartment with two or three bedrooms will cost from 600 to 900 USD. There is a reliable supply of electricity, access to cable TV, clean water – in general, everything you need for life is here, and most importantly several times cheaper than in the U.S. or Europe. Payment per month for internet is within 15 USD, for water you will pay 10 USD, in order to live and have average level is enough for 1 200 USD for two people (not including the rent of the apartment), and for more comfortable and better – we need 1 500 USD. You will never be bored in El Valais, you can always go somewhere, here are the main attractions:
1. El Níspero Zoo.
This zoo is located in the heart of a tropical environment and offers spectacular and unforgettable views. Originally Nispero Zoo was not a zoo, but it used to be the property of an agronomist and a kindergarten. The kindergarten contained different kinds of animals and birds and over time the number of animals increased. Often abandoned or sick animals were brought in and cared for by garden workers, and many people donated some money for their upkeep. As a result of the accumulation of a large number of animals, it was decided to organize a zoo and botanical garden, which today belongs to the National Reserve of Cerro Gaital.
The zoo covers an area of 2.8 hectares and is home to 300 species of birds, as well as other species of tropical creatures brought from Asia and Africa, such as white peacocks and golden pheasants, which you will not find in zoos in other countries. Local animals are represented here by the spider monkey and white-faced capuchin, the long-tailed cat and the ocelot cat, and tapirs. Entrance fee for foreigners is 3 USD and for locals 2 USD.
The Zoo is home to an educational research center sponsored by the city of Houston, USA, and collaborating with zoos in San Antonio and San Diego. The bacteria that adversely affect the population and exterminate the Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) are studied here and every effort is made to ensure the survival of these individuals, as large numbers have become extinct over the past decade. This type of frog is specific to the El Valais area, the golden frogs are kept in a large glass terrarium in the center of the room, while other species of amphibious toads and frogs are displayed nearby.
El Nispero Zoo’s property includes a botanical garden with rare trees, endemic plants, and rare tropical flowers.
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2. Chorro El Macho Falls
Chorro El Macho waterfall is very popular with tourists, it is the largest waterfall in El Valais, its height is 70 meters. It takes 30 minutes from the city center or 5 minutes by car to reach it on foot.
At the foot of the waterfall you can swim in the natural pool, admire the falling water and the surrounding nature. Further exploring the mountain forest thickets, a ten minute walk from the waterfall, you have to cross several wooden bridges suspended on ropes and cables. To feel more confident on the wobbly bridge, the guides give tourists a stick that serves as additional support. For the thrill seekers, there is a whole rope crossing attraction that tourists come to after a short climb to the top of the ridge. Certain wooden platforms are located on two different slopes, between them stretched a rope to which the tourist is attached by a carabiner on belts, plus a safety cable.
There are four such platforms and they are located as you climb to different heights. Tourists then begin to cross to the opposite side, twice passing through waterfalls of water, and with a slight acceleration hovering at the level of the treetops and greenery. This attraction starts working from 8 am until 4 pm, later do not work because after four pm it starts to get dark in the woods. The tour lasts for 1,5 hours and costs 65 USD for a single person.
3. thermal springs
Since El Valle is located in the crater of an extinct volcano, it has been very successfully used as a treatment center. There are many spas, yoga centers, and a number of thermal pools with mud baths, especially in the western part of the city. For only a few dollars you can go to the center and bathe in the healing hot springs, procedures with mud baths will cost a little more expensive, also, however, only on weekends, you can use the services of a masseur. The therapeutic water of thermal pools contains a lot of sodium, calcium and potassium, so it has a beneficial effect on the skin. But it is not recommended to be in the water for a very long time, for the effect to be useful, you can bathe no more than 45 minutes. According to experts, it is desirable to come repeatedly to such procedures to achieve the desired result, also thermal springs are used in the treatment of sleep problems, stress, as well as asthma and rheumatism. The chemical composition of thermal waters contains a high concentration of bicarbonate, so visitors must be aware that they should not drink this water, otherwise laxative effect may occur. Water in a thermal pool is flowing, its temperature varies from 36 to 42 degrees Celsius, for children and disabled people use smaller pools, which, as well as common daily rinsed and cleaned from contaminants under pressure.
4. Mud Treatments
The thermal water park El Valle de Aton offers to take advantage of the healing properties of volcanic clay, which eliminates obesity, improves blood circulation, treats skin diseases and rheumatism. The therapeutic mud (clay) is first cleaned of unnecessary components, and then packed into special containers. Mud applied to the body, when exposed to sunlight, has a beneficial effect on the body, and after drying is washed off, then recommended other procedures to improve health.
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