|Places of interest and things to do in El Valle:
(for locations look at the map)
Artisan & Vegetable Market | Bird Watching | Canopying | Chorro El Macho Waterfall | Chorro Las Mosas Waterfalls | Golden Frogs | Hiking, Biking & Horse Back Riding | Museum El Valle | Orchids Center | Petroglyphs: La Piedra Pintada | Hot Springs | Serpentario | Square Trees | Zoo
Artisan & Vegetable Market
Here you can buy fruits, ornamental plants, flowers and orchids and have a look at local art and handicrafts. Including: ceramics, bateas (wooden trays), woven baskets, hats, carved and painted totumas (cups made from squash) and trinkets made from acorn. Also, some Kuna Indians offer their handicraft like colorful molas and jewlery. (A few pictures can be found here).
El Valle is one of the best places in Panama for watching tropical birds. You will find them in the valley and in the cloud forest of the Gaital Monument. Through August 2010, 339 species of birds had been registered in El Valle and the surrounding area by El Valle resident biologist Mario L. Urriola Hernandez.
The Canopy Tour and the “Chorro El Macho” waterfall share the same entrance. Here, from platforms 100 feet in the air, you are given a spectacular insight and view of the cloud forrest´s fauna and flora.
On this tour you soar above the waterfall twice. The tour lasts aprox. one and a half hours and costs around 53 US$ per person. More information can be found here.
Chorro El Macho Waterfall
This waterfall is the largest in the región with a drop of 70m.
It is just a 30 minutes walk from the towncenter in the direction of La Mesa.
Since the beginning of 2009 it is not posible anymore to see it close-by or take a bath in the natural pool.
Open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: $3,50
Chorro Las Mosas Waterfalls, along Rio Anton
To reach these rapids it is a1/2 hour walk. From here follow the right side of the river for 30 minutes to reach a natural swimming pool. Here the local youth venture very dangerous jumps into the pond. In the Green Season you hardly can see the path to the pool. It is more or less a climbing at the slippy rockface to reach it. There is danger to slip, fall on the rocks hidden under the water or end up in one of the caves below.
These orange-golden frogs are unique in the world and can only be found in this area. Unfortunately they are nearly extinguished by a fungus. A team of American and Panamanian biologists try to save them. A few frogs can be seen in the Zoo Nispero and at the Hotel Campestre.
Hiking, Biking & Horse Back Riding
A path behind the Hotel Campestre will lead you to the Cloud Forest Reserve of the Cerro Gaital Natural Monument. Here the cloud forrest offers its unique flora and fauna. Serious walkers and birdwatchers will be pleased.
To scale the peak of Cerro Gaital there is another entrance after the village of La Mesa (which is also a great place for bird watching). The village can be reached by car or local buses.
There are two tours from La Mesa: For the large one to the top you should ask the locals for advice, start early in the morning and bring some climbing experiences with you. Up and down it will take about 5-6 hours. The best is to go with one of the local tour guides. You will find them at the IPAT booth at the market. See photos here
The Sleeping Indian or La India Dormida is a hill chain with the silhouette of a sleeping Indian woman in the west of El Valle. The name has it´s origin in a local legend. You can walk by yourself and in about 1 1/2 hours you have reached the top and can enjoy a great view over the valley.
Another interesting tour is to Rio Indio, one hour away from El Valle (by car) in the cloud forrest. You can reach the place with the public pickups that leave in the center of the town a few times a day.
The valley offers excellent roads with great scenic views and little traffic. Bikes can be rented in many hotels.
Horse Back Riding
Another way to discover the valley is by horse. The spot were you can rent them is near the Hotel Campestre. The fee is $5.00 per hour. A guide can be engaged on request
Museum El Valle (next to Catholic Church)
Here you find a well sorted collection of:
Pre-Columbian Art / Religious Art / Etnografics of the XIX. and XX. century / Craftworks / Paintings and geological informations.
For a visit phone David. David is speaking english and spanish. You can reach him under 6425 9239.
Orchids Center (Aprovaca Orquídeas)
The nonprofit organisation APROVACA (Asociación de Productores de Orquídeas El Valle y Cabuya) deicates itself to the task of cultivating and conserving endangered local and regional orchids. At the moment 147 different kinds of orchids can be seen.
Open every day from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tel. 983-6472.
Entrance fees up to 4 persons: Adults $ 2,00, students $ 1.00, minors up to 15 $ 0,75. Entrance fees 5 persons and more: Adults $ 1,50, students $ 0.75, minors up to 15 $ 0,50.
Petroglyphs: La Piedra Pintada
This pre-Columbian pertroglyph (more a rock face) couldn´t be decoded yet. Some locals say it has been a map for traders, other say it is a map of caves connecting the mountain range.
See photos here.
Pozos termales (Hot Springs)
There are two cement pools under the jungle canopy. They are filled with hot mineral water (38 degree Centigrade), coming directly out of the volcanic ground from a depth of 1200 m. Another atraction here is the mineral clay you can use for a face mask or a full body cover. There is also a picknick area and a playground.
Open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Adults $2,25, children 6 to 12 years $1,00
Serpentario (Snake House)
Informations and fotos can be found here.
Scientific Name: Quararibea asterolepis
Tall: 30 meter approximate
"A few miles north of the Panama Canal Zone is 'the valley of square trees.' Only here and in Costa Rica you find these trees with rectangular trunks. They are members of the cottonwood family. Saplings of these trees now are being grown at the University of Florida to find out if they retain their squareness in a different environment. It is believed, however, that the shape is probably due to some unknown but purely local condition. That the cause is deepseated is indicated by the fact that the tree rings, each representing a year's growth, also are square."
THOMAS R. HENRY'S, Where Trees Are Square
This square trees can be found outside of the Hotel Campestre.
See photos here
Zoo El Nispero
Frommer's Review writes about the zoo:
"The Nispero Zoo never planned to be a zoo, it just happened. The owner, an agronomist who runs a small for-profit nursery here, had a large collection of animals and birds, and over time so many people donated abandoned or sick animals that it just made sense to open a zoo. The 2.8-hectare (7-acre) El Nispero sits at the foot of Cerro Gaital National Monument. There are 55 species of birds, both exotic imports from Asia and Africa such as golden pheasants and white peacocks, as well as a few tropical species not seen in any zoo outside Panama. A good representation of endemic animals includes a white-faced capuchin and spider monkey, an ocelot and trigillo margay, and a couple of tapirs rescued from Manuel Noriega's home after the invasion. Note that there are no protective railings between you and the cages, and children (and adults!) should be careful not to stick their hands through the chain-link fence that guards the animals. El Nispero's bucolic property has shade trees and a botanical garden that offer quiet spots for reading a book or just reflecting on nature.
El Nispero is also home to the brand-new Centro de Conservación de Anfibios de El Valle (EVACC), an amphibian study center sponsored by the Houston, San Antonio, and San Diego zoos. The center will study the bacteria that is wiping out the golden frog, among other amphibians, and work to ensure the amphibians' survival. The center has aquariums, exhibits, and a video and reading center in English and Spanish."
Open every day from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Foreigners: adults $3,00, children $2,00
Locals: adults $2,00, children $1,00