Nearly five million years ago, the foundation for a picturesque mountain town in Panama had been laid in an unconventional manner. The location chosen for the job had plenty of fire in the belly, quite literally. It was a burning volcano waiting for its time. As days passed, the molten rocks and hot gases in the mountain’s belly began to swell; the raging inferno was soon looking for a way out. Before long, the volcano blew up with such mighty force that a huge crater was formed by the excavation and in the process the groundwork for El Valle de Anton had been completed. The caldera has transformed into a cradle of life and natural beauty over time. As you step out into the fog-filled valley of El Valle, spectacular scenery abounds in any direction you turn. It is evident that the forces of nature have played a significant role in weaving magic at El Valle, in turning an extinct volcano into a paradise that it is today. Walking around gazing at the distant snow-clad peaks is quite an experience: romantic and divine; you may feel the presence of an “unseen hand” that has marveled at modeling remote villages with the finesse of a master craftsman. Visitors at El Valle de Anton will find it difficult to believe in the place’s scarred past.The rich volcanic soil and round-the-year, spring-like climate makes El Valle an ideal getaway for all seasons. Because the valley is located at a higher elevation (about 2,000 feet above the sea level), El Valle is among the cooler places in Panama with day and night temperature varying in a narrow range of 16-20° C (61-68° F). Add to that the hill station is just a couple of dollars or two hours away from the sultry heat of Panama City depending on the mode of transport and the time you spend watching the breathtaking views on your way to the village.Exotic views and interesting activities await the discerning tourists who will find a different face of Panama here: panoramic views of the valley, ebullient waterfalls, natural caves, expansive canopies, thermal springs, salubrious climate, tiny golden frogs, and a curious ostrich at the zoo among the many attractions. From luxurious lodges like the Los Mandarinos, a boutique hotel, and Canopy Lodge, set in the middle of the rainforest, accommodations come in varying sizes and packages.For birders, El Valle is a paradise of promise. Blue-crowned motmot, tody-motmot, lance-tailed manakin, rufous-and-white and rufous-breasted wrens, rufous-capped warbler, and tanagers are among the elusive birds elsewhere that you will spot without much sweat. Canopy adventure is a highly recommended activity for visitors who want to experience a ride through the high rising trees of the rainforest stopping over at platforms to catch glimpses of the extravagant canopy life. The canopy ride takes you through El Chorro Mocho, a waterfall that empties into a pool with its mythical curing power.If you have three hours and loads of attitude, a hike to the legendary La India Dormida, which you can see from the town and looks like a sleeping Indian woman, is a fulfilling experience for the body and soul. If you are keen to learn about the unique composition of the cloud forest ecosystem, head straight for Gaital National Monument nature preserve, hire a guide and explore the core areas.The sights and smells of El Valle are best experience during a bicycle ride. Apart from partaking in the beauty of the surroundings, you’ll come across local Indian artisans selling their handicrafts in the open air market. Read about a wonderful tour to El Valle.