Length: 7 full days
Route: Cerro La Cruz, La Laguna de San Carlos, Valle de Antón, La Pintada, Nata de los Caballeros, and Aguadulce.
We start the next tour heading to all these beautiful sites that are west of Panama City.
- Cerro La Cruz
The first stop is 58 kilometers from Panama City, arriving at the town of Chicá. The entrance is just before Campana, turning up onto the road on the right hand side just across from the famous "Enchanted House", which is a private estate but with an aspect that makes the locals tell ghost stories. At the Ministry of the Environment (ANAM) station, you are advised to stop and record your personal information for security reasons. The entrance to Cross Hill is 3.1 kilometers down the road and marked by a curious sign that reads "FARM I'M NOT HERE". The trail to the cross is well maintained and marked, but do take care climbing up and down the rock if it is muddy and the ground wet. The hike up can take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- La Laguna de San Carlos
The adventure continues and next we invite you to the Laguna de San Carlos, known simply as "The Pond". Surrounded by green mountains and set in a natural landscape, the lake is a good place for you to practice sport or subsistence fishing and catch a variety of fish, such as sardine, common carp, and black crappie. It is located west of the hill Cerro Picacho, in the village of La Laguna, district of San Carlos.
- El Valle de Antón
From the lake in San Carlos we descend to a magical valley, El Valle de Antón, that abounds in flora and fauna by virtue of its favorable climate.
Tectonic activity ages ago created what are now the tourist attractions of The Sleeping Indian and Gaital and Iguana hills that encircle the crater of a dormant volcano. Lodging options in El Valle de Antónare in hotels, hostels, cabins, or a spa center. Feel free to walk around the area and enjoy the landscapes. El Valle is blessed with hot springs that boast healing properties. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe over 100 species of animals and 180 types of plants and trees from the well-marked paths inside El Níspero, the local zoo and plant nursery. El Valle de Antón is located 125 kilometers from Panama City. Turn off onto the road about 4 kms after passing San Carlos and you will reach the town in another 28 kilometers.
Next stop is at the picturesque town of La Pintada, recognized for their handicrafts and high coffee and citrus production, especially oranges. It is here where artisans display their skills in making the traditional Pintao, or painted, hat, as well as in pottery and other crafts. To reach La Pintada, first drive to Penonomé, the provincial capital of Coclé. At Simón Bolívar Park, take the highway next to the police station and in another 15 kilometers or so you will arrive at the charming town of La Pintada.
Very close to Penonomé, some 30 minutes down the Pan-American Highway, you will find the towns of Natá de los Caballeros and Aguadulce.
Natá de los Caballeros
The main attraction in the town of Natá de los Caballeros is its Church of Natá,whose walls relate that it was one of the first cities built on the isthmus during the colonial era, and a few silver pieces from the 17th century conserved inside the church merit it being declared a National Historic Landmark. Natá is also known for its strong development in the sugar, dairy, and shrimp industries.
Visit the Santiago ApóstolBasilica and San Juan de Dios Chapel
Visit the natural springs
Yet another quaint village we encounter in our excursion along the Pan-American Highway is Aguadulce, or fresh water, named after what immediately bubbled up from a well dug by the first settlers. It is nicknamed "The Land of Salt and Sugar" for these major industries in this region. Aguadulce is situated on a vast valley some 195 kilometers from Panama City.
Visit the Salt and Sugar Museum
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Along the Pan-American Highway you can find restaurants serving international fare, as well as roadside snack stands where you can sample dishes that are typical of the region.
Each town also has shopping centers with stores selling clothing, food, and gasoline. There are banks and ATMS accessible to visitors, and travelers can spend the night in hotels, hostels, cottages, or homes for rent at a range of prices.
General Tour Activities
Go on hikes
Visit swim spots and rivers
Photograph the landscapes and sites
Buy regional fresh fruits and vegetables
Relax at spas
Purchase exotic plants
Nightlife in casinos