With its moderate climate, rich soil, diverse range of animal and plant species and growing expat community, the town of El Valle is one of Panama’s best kept real estate secrets. Located just 45 minutes from from Panama’s best beaches, El Valle offers residents a diverse range of cultural and outdoor activities in a peaceful, spring-like mountain setting. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
A cool breeze tickles my neck as I take in the view from Gaital Hill. The sky is a gingham pattern of crisp blue and white now that the mists have dissolved in the afternoon sun. The fauna is deeply green and seems to cover everything. At the foot of the hill lies my destination…“the valley.”
The drive into El Valle is my favorite part of visiting here. In the morning mist, the view of the Gaital Hill and Nature Reserve seems to appear out of nowhere as I follow the road that snakes into the town. The houses below are camouflaged by trees, so all I can see is green and more green. That is, until I reach the famous market, a riot of color bursting with flowers and sweet tropical fruit.
From its once-mighty volcano to its minuscule golden frogs, El Valle is a treasure of a town. Residents, many of them retired members of the Panamanian elite, rave about the strategic location and Spring-like climate.
Perhaps the best kept secret in Panama, El Valle is tucked into a crater five miles wide. About 2,000 feet above sea level, El Valle boasts fertile volcanic soil and a misty mountain clime. The combo makes this a gardener’s dream. Best of all, this cool oasis is only 45 minutes by car from Panama’s best Pacific beaches.
A tiny town, El Valle has grown in past years and today hosts a growing expat community, including North Americans, Europeans, and South Americans. Though there’s not much of a night life, the expat community in El Valle and the surrounding beaches has become much more active over the past two years. Expat events in the region include festivals and charity work, concerts and gourmet cooking classes, and much more.
Plus, El Valle is a true paradise for lovers of the outdoors. Whether or not you’re a bird watcher, you’ll marvel at the sheer variety of species. Tanagers, hummingbirds, and rare birds such as the mottled owl are frequently sighted here. It’s also the perfect place for plant lovers; city dwellers flock here to buy orchids at the weekend market.
One of the nicest places to visit is El Nispero Plant Nursery and Zoo. You’ll find more than 200 orchid species, as well as peacocks, storks, serpents, crocodiles, and the famous golden frogs that are unique to Panama.
If the walking trail at El Nispero doesn’t whet your appetite for adventure, there are more challenging trails on Cerro Gaital. Or hike to the 125-foot waterfall, Chorro El Macho. The waterfall empties into a cool creek, the perfect spot for a swim or a summer day picnic. Or seek the therapeutic heat of the thermal springs and mud baths just off the main road to El Valle. Locals sit in the springs and then plunge into cold river water.
If you’re interested in indigenous culture, visit the El Valle Museum or La Pintada, a site where undeciphered petroglyphs baffle historians.
Round out the day with a gourmet dinner at the hotel La Casa de Lourdes, known for its tasteful Tuscan décor.
This article has been republished from International Living.