Tourism authority pledges 30km for public trails.


The Panama Tourism Authority (Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá, ATP), together with the private sector and local governments, inaugurated the first phase for the Ruta de la Caldera in El Valle de Antón this Friday, composed of 30 kilometers of trails, aiming to position El Valle as an adventure tourism destination.

This first phase that was inaugurated is made up of 5 trails around the extinct volcano: Cerro Gaital [Gaital Peak], Cara Iguana [Iguana Face], La Silla [The Chair], Los Berrales [The Berrales] and India Dormida [Sleeping Indian Woman].

Through these trails, visitors will be able to enjoy beautiful mountain landscapes, learn about the biodiversity of El Valle, as well as listen to the local legends such as the India Dormida, or honor the pre-Columbian groups that lived in the area, in the Piedra Pintada [Painted Rock].

The El Valle de Antón volcano is a stratovolcano in the Central Cordillera of the Isthmus of Panama and the easternmost volcano along the Central American Volcanic Arc. Approximately 1.3 million years ago, a large amount of the magma inside the volcano was expelled, emptying it and removing the support of the great volcanic cone. Having no support, the upper cone collapsed into the empty chamber, giving rise to the highly visible caldera, recognizable by the amphitheater shape that surrounds the town of El Valle with its spectacular walls. Hence the name of the Ruta de la Caldera!

The Ruta de la Caldera is the pilot initiative for the “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project, launched in 2021 to develop terrestrial and aquatic trails around the country, improving the livelihoods of rural communities that live in the area and will be able to earn a sustainable income through tourism. The first that will be able to benefit from the new trails will be local tour guides. 57 new local tour guides were trained by the ATP, and 38 of them have already completed their registration process as official guides. They are now in the capacity to provide the optimum experience to visitors, sharing information of the amazing biodiversity and local culture.

This project has been a great example of cooperation among different entities from the private sector, local authorities and surrounding communities, in conjunction with the central government. Thanks to this collaboration, improvements were made in eroded land, benches in rest areas, huts, an overlook with a spectacular view, and 35 interpretative maps and signs were designed and printed with materials resistant to inclement weather.

The Minister of Tourism, Iván Eskildsen, stated that the project is part of the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Master Plan 2020-2025, which prioritizes local communities at the center of tourism development, and he
ensured that the Caldera Route is being developed using this approach.

“All of the trails have nearby communities with additional trails and waterfalls, where visitors can extend their stay in the area, and live experiences with the locals; this is all a great opportunity for these rural communities to generate income and improve their livelihoods,” noted the Minister.

Adrián Benedetti, coordinator of the 1,000 Kilometers of Trails National Project, pointed out that the Caldera Route is the central ring to create other routes branching from it, as from El Valle you can walk to the Caribbean, the Pacific, El Copé, and Campana.

In addition, he said that this project is important to grow the national outdoor recreation industry. “There are many people who live in El Valle or on the beaches of the Pacific Riviera who also walk these trails on a recurring basis and purchase equipment, eating in restaurants and shops during and at the end of their trips, generating a positive economic impact to the community.”

In order to promote the Ruta de la Caldera, the ATP held a fam trip, or familiarization trip, with 25 tour operators and community leaders from other regions, that participated in a training session (Adventure EDU) with international representatives of the Adventure Travel and Trade Association (ATTA), the world’s largest tourism adventure association.

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