Canopy Family Panama

Activities for Non-birders

Water banner by Kike Calvo
River Water by Kike Calvo

 

El Valle has plenty of things to do for those visitors not particularly interested in bird watching, as follows:

Canopy Adventure

This is a zip line that goes over a magnificent waterfall in a pristine private reserve. There is also a natural swimming pool to take a dip after exploring the canopy of the rainforest.

Horseback Riding

You can rent a horse and explore the farthest areas of EL Valle and see the beautiful scenery of the surrounding mountains.

Bicycling

El Valle is the perfect place to bicycle because it has flat, paved roads. You can stop in one of the bakeries and buy a piece of freshly baked bread. The best baker is Abdiel Cano, son of the late Mr. Cano, a Nicaraguan immigrant who settled in El Valle in the 1930’s.

Mud Baths and Thermal Pools

Being an extinct volcano has its advantages, the main one is the presence of mud baths and thermal pools. This is a community-owned health center which charges the amazing sum of one US dollar to go in and take a dip in thermal pools. The mud baths are a little bit extra! There is a masseuse on weekends.

Hiking

There are plenty of trails around El Valle which will take you to the mountains that form the edge of the crater. Some of the mountains have beautiful names, namely, Sleeping Indian Maiden, Holy Cross, Sheppard. The tallest is Cerro Gaital, and on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from its summit.

Archeological Museum

This is surely the smallest museum in the world, but don’t let its size discourage you from visiting. It is managed by Padre Noto, a retired Italian priest who was the head of the village parish for many years. He has collected beautiful samples of pre-Columbian artifacts found around El Valle which are worth seeing. There is also a graphic explanation of the volcanic origins of El Valle which will help you appreciate better the uniqueness of this area.

El Valle Amphibian Rescue Center

A joint venture of the Houston Zoo and Panamanian biologists, a “must see” for anybody interested in the beautiful and colorful frogs of the neotropics. The purpose of the Center is to rescue as many species of frogs as possible in order to avoid their demise due to the fungus which is exterminating frogs all over Central America. The idea is to breed them in a controlled environment and reintroduce them to the wild once a cure for the fungus is discovered. The Center has an exhibit open to visitors.

Orchid Farm

Financed by the Government of Japan, this is an organization formed by the “campesinos” of the surrounding hamlets to grow and sell orchids to visitors. In addition to providing much needed income to its members, the sale of these orchids discourages the taking of wild orchids from the forest.

Gourmet Dining

One of the best chefs in Panama, Lourdes Ward, closed her restaurant in Panama City some years ago and moved to El Valle where she opened a new restaurant called, appropriately enough, La Casa de Lourdes. People come from miles away to eat here.

10. Music Festival

If your visit coincides with the last week-end in January, you will be able to attend a presentation of Panama’s Symphony Orchestra in the village church. The setting is moving, the acoustics fantastic and the concerts outstanding. Famous musicians have come from Europe, Asia and the US to perform in this classical music festival.

Semana del Campesino

This is a celebration of the local folklore and traditions. It takes place the third week of September and consists of parades, street celebrations and the wearing of traditional dresses.

Semana Santa

Holy Week (Easter), there are processions every night of this week in which many locals participate carrying images of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Visitors are welcome to join the processions as they walk solemnly around the streets of El Valle accompanied by the band of the Firemen’s Brigade.

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