El Valle is a magical place away from Panama’s lowland heat –a fertile volcanic valley filled with bright flowers, square trees and golden frogs, just an hour and a half’s drive from Panama City.
A major draw to El Valle is the market held every Sunday morning in a market hall on the main road. Apart from vegetables, fruit, plants and flowers, you can buy handicrafts such as wooden bowls, paintings on wood, hammocks, molas, baskets and ceramics.
There are also several waterfalls around the valley that are beautiful at any time of year and impressive during the rainy season. The most frequently visited is El Macho, a five-minute drive from the center. The waterfall is a few minutes’ walk off the road on a path through cool, thick forest.
The entrance fee includes the loan of a bamboo walking stick to help you cross the sometimes slippery stones. Also at El Macho, if you’re not scared of heights, you can try the Canopy Adventure, an unusual way to get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest. You start by walking uphill for about half an hour with a knowledgeable guide who will point out any birds and animals he spots and tell you about the trees you pass. Then comes the adventurous part– put on thick gloves and a harness, attach the harness to a rope and whiz down a series of ropes suspended high up in the trees, passing over the waterfall.
El Valle also has some petroglyphs — rocks decorated with what are believed to be pre-Colombian art. The rocks with their strange designs are worth a visit, if only for the walk there that gives you lovely views of the valley.
By: Léa Maillard