hike cerro iguana in panama
Panama Adventure Travel

Hiking Cerro Cara Iguana: El Valle, Panama (2023)

In the small town of El Valle de Anton, just a few hours west of Panama City, you will find some of the best hiking in Panama. Located inside a volcanic crater in Panama’s Cocle province, El Valle is home to many picturesque hiking trails. This guide will help you plan your Cerro Cara Iguana hike, my favourite.

Cerro Iguana Trail Overview

Distance: 2.5 miles | 4 km

Elevation Gain: 307 m | 1007 ft

Trail Type: Out-and-Back

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 3 Hours

cerro cara iguana hike anton valley

Hiking Cerro Cara Iguana

Cerro Cara Iguana, also called Cerro Iguana or Cerro Cariguana, is a moderately challenging scenic hike in the Panamanian mountains. This extinct volcano contains the second-largest town within a volcanic crater worldwide, which is amazing all on its own.

An out-and-back hike, you will use the same path to and from Cerro Iguana’s peak. It takes about 1.5 hours to hike from downtown El Valle to the summit. 

Once on the trail, the path is well-marked making it easier to know the way. You will hike through a gravel road until you reach the trailhead with a giant sign labelled Cerro Cara Iguana. From there, you walk through some trees emerging into a grassy area. The remainder of the hike will be along a dirt-lined grass path. There is a steady incline during the majority of the hike, but not as steep as Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.

At an elevation of 1185 m, the views from Cerro Cariguana are not to be missed. With the peak sitting at 895 m above El Valle, the view from the top is incredible!

There and back is 4 km and will take approximately 3 hours, depending on your pace and how long you stay to admire the view and capture photos. The hike is not overly challenging, and no guide is required.

With panoramic views of the valley, Cerro Cara Iguana is worth visiting. I highly recommend adding hiking Cerro Cara Iguana to your Panama itinerary, if it isn’t already. 

Hiking Safety Tips

For safety, please do not hike unless you feel comfortable. Never get too close to the edge. It can get windy at the peak, so please be careful. The trails get slippery when wet; it is best to not hike in the rain or when it has just rained. Have fun and enjoy the view!

When to Visit El Valle

The best time to visit El Valle de Anton is during the dry season, December to April. Elevated from the mainland, El Valle’s microclimate provides comfortable temperatures year-round. Because of this, temperatures average around 28 celsius annually.

The busiest tourism season in Anton Valley is June and July. You can hike Cerro Cara Iguana year-round. Even in the rainy season, it does not tend to rain all day, so you can still enjoy Anton Valley.

What to Pack to Hike in Anton Valley

  • Comfortable hiking shoes/sandals or running shoes: These are a foundation for any hike, I recommend Keen sandals for warm outdoor adventure activities
  • Day bag: You need something to carry around your hiking accessories, I recommend a packable day bag
  • Reusable water bottle: Stay hydrated and stay away from disposable plastic by bringing a water bottle 
  • Snacks: Expending all the energy you will want to refuel, pack snacks such as granola bars
  • Camera: You will want to capture the incredible views; bring one or purchase a camera for your trip
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How to Get to Cerro Iguana

There are two ways to get to Cerro Iguana from El Valle; by walking or driving. These directions can be used for walking or driving and will take you to the trailhead.

From Route 71 in the downtown core of Anton Valley, near Bodhi Hostel and Lounge:

  • Turn left onto C. la Planta 
  • Continue straight (you will pass the Butterfly Garden) – the road changes names into C. Central 
  • Turn right onto Avenue los Millonarios 
  • Turn left onto an unnamed road 
  • Follow the unnamed road, curving as it goes, until you reach the entrance where you will see a large green sign reading: Area Protegida Reserva Hidrica Cerro Cara Iguana
  • Enter the trail and hike to the summit
hike cerro iguana el valle de anton panama

Cerro Cara Iguana Hike – What It’s Like

The Cerro Cara Iguana hike was the main reason I included El Valle de Anton as part of my Panama itinerary. Canada may have great hiking in the Rocky Mountains, but I just can’t get enough of visiting volcanos whenever I can. I was excited to get the hike started. 

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going in the right direction. It was taking forever walking on this gravel road looking for the trail. The steady incline had my calves burning. I couldn’t give up and kept walking. I knew the start was somewhere around here. 

Turning around the winding upwards road, I saw the trail entrance in the distance. 

There it is, finally! Cerro Cara Iguana on a huge green sign! I’m going in the right direction! Now there was a trail to follow. Climbing up, I followed the trail until I reached the peak. 

The view was unbelievable! I could see the whole town from up here. It is everything I dreamed it would be. Lush green grass, and a view of the entire valley, it is so beautiful.

It was starting to rain, so I hiked down in the rain. My camera stayed dry, but my passport got soaked. It was a fun day hiking Cerro Iguana, one of the most memorable moments of my Panama trips, right up there with watching the sunrise at Baru Volcano in Boquete.

cerro cara iguana hike el valle de anton panama

Other Hikes in El Valle, Panama

  • India Dormida – a moderate 3.5 km loop hike including a view of a waterfall
  • Cerro Gaital – a challenging 6.1 km loop hike overlooking Anton Valley below

Where to Stay in El Valle de Anton

Despite its small size, El Valle has quite a few accommodation options. Here is where to stay in El Valle for every price point:

Bodhi Hostel and Lounge – the best pick for budget travellers; a laidback hostel with private and shared rooms, a great vibe, and welcoming staff

The Golden Frog Inn – the best pick for mid-range travellers; a relaxed hotel with an outdoor pool

Coracoral Boutique Hotel & Spa – the best pick for luxury travellers; a beautiful boutique hotel with an outdoor pool – I swam in the pool during my visit, and it was very relaxing with a scenic view of the mountains.

Call it Anton Valley, El Valle, or El Valle de Anton, but this small town inside a volcanic crater is one of the most beautiful places in Panama and offers great hiking trails. Whether you choose to hike Cerro Cara Iguana or one of the other hikes available, you will not regret it. Get out there and explore. 

Hope this information helped you plan your hiking Cerro Cara Iguana adventure.

Happy travelling!

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