What do you think it’d be like to live in a volcano crater? If someone would’ve have asked me that a few weeks ago, I’d have responded with impossible!
It’s hot, like rock-melting-hot…or if the volcano has already blown it’s top, the crater is a lake! So unless you’re a fish, there’s not much for ya. Surely it’s impossible?
You know where this is going, don’t you?
It’s going all the way to Panama, about 2 hours outside Panama City to a very small town called El Valle de Anton. Or affectionately, El Valle.
This teeny town is located in the second largest inhabited dormant volcano in the world. Can we just remind ourselves what a dormant volcano actually is?
A dormant volcano would then be one that hasn’t erupted in the past 10,000 years, but which is expected to erupt again – Thank you Oregon State University for that definition.
EXPECTED TO ERUPT. WHEN!?! That’s what I want to know.
Okay so I’m actually unclear as to whether this is an extinct or dormant volcano because different sources say different things. The Smithsonian Institute says there’s currently “a geothermal exploration program…underway to evaluate the energy potential of the caldera.” (Read more here.) That doesn’t mean much to me, but maybe it means something to you?
Who cares, it’s still freaking cool and the entire time we were there, I was hoping El Valle wouldn’t blow it’s top — and us — into the heavens.
When Matt and I were there, we stayed in the belly of the beast, by which I mean in town but in the outskirts at Kare Lodge in a safari tent that was imported from South Africa. Oh ya, Glamping in a freaking volcano in Panama!
It was pretty special waking up in the morning, stepping outside, having a teapot of coffee on the deck and looking up at the caldera of the volcano. We felt a deep connection to nature.
When we arrived, we didn’t really know that much about El Valle or what there was to do so we followed Conrad’s advice about things to do. (Conrad owned and operated the lodge.)
He suggested hiking India Dormida (The Sleeping Indian) — we did that and loved it.
It was about 1.5 hours up and 1 hour down, steep at times but thankfully never too muddy. The view at the top was incredible of course, but even better were the sounds.
On one side of the path you overlooked nothing but forest and it was completely silent. On the other side of the path,you overlook the town and you can hear trucks and dogs barking. I found that really incredible — one path, two completely different worlds.
Matt managed to catch our hike and our dip in the hot springs on film. Here they are!
Other things that are totally worth doing:
- Wandering about town
- Eating bruschetta at Bruschetta
- Visiting the butterfly sanctuary
- Stopping by the little museum beside the church
There’s tons of outdoor activities in El Valle, including hikes to waterfalls and around the caldera at various places. With the beauty of the landscapes, the freshness of the air, and all the adventures to be had, it’s easy to see why it’s such a hot weekend destination for Panamanians and travellers alike.
— Cyn and Matt