Cerro Gaital Hike, El Valle de Anton, Panama
Cerro Gaital Hike was the toughest and most challenging out of all three treks we've done in El Valle de Anton, Panama. Here we bring all the information you need to know before hiking the summit of Cerro Gaital.
Cerro Gaital is a quite challenging hike close to El Valle de Anton. It requires some level of physical fitness and ability to overcome three or four sections with ropes, but we made it and so should you.
Only be careful when you decide to do this hike during the wet season after rain, as the trail can become muddy and rocks slippery - actually, we would recommend you to postpone your plans or at least hike with someone else for your safety.
The hike takes four to six hours, depending on your pace and also on where you start hiking as you can walk directly from El Valle de Anton, or you can take a bus to the trailhead and save some time and energy.
HOW TO GET TO CERRO GAITAL HIKE TRAILHEAD
As we mentioned, there are two ways how to get to the trailhead of Cerro Gaital hike.
Walk | We decided on hiking, so it took us about an hour only to reach the trailhead. Use Maps.me app which proved to be reliable here. From the northeast corner of the village follow La Entrada del Valle road for three or four kilometers (depends on where are you staying) and then turn left (the turnoff is in the app). In case you are not adventurous enough or don't have time, we recommend you to take a bus as the walk from El Valle de Anton to the starting point was not that interesting, and we also had to walk through a couple of gates and private properties (luckily no strayed dogs) in order to get to the trailhead.
Bus | The other and less painful way how to reach the trailhead is by taking a local bus with a sign La Messa on the window. The ride cost $1. Ask a driver to drop you off at Cerro Gaital trailhead.
The first section of the trail leads through a mossy and dense forest, but it changes quickly as you will have to go through bushes for the longer part of this trek.
In the beginning, before you turn to the one-way path leading to the summit, you can decide if you will go left or right. It actually does not matter, as it is a loop and you can return the way you had not hiked before back.
There is only one, narrow path to the top, so you don't need to worry about getting lost.
On the way to the top, you will pass one viewpoint (mirador). In case you don't feel like climbing up the hard section, this is the place where you should turn. Otherwise, continue further up, climb three or four short steep sections with ropes, and soon you will emerge on the top of Cerro Gaital.
We must admit that views from the top are quite limited, but we liked that the hike was again a bit different, and because of the difficulty, we did not meet anyone on the trail.
Right behind the sign announcing the start of Cerro Gaital trek is a fence and a building where you should sign up (write down your name, passport number, and purpose for your visit). There was no one in the building, but later we met a local man who asked us if we wrote our names down in the book. We replied yes, and he just nodded and let us be.
Generally, we've done three hikes in El Valle de Anton, apart from this one also La India Dormida Hike and Cerro Iguana Hike, and we did not have to pay an entrance fee, even though there was always a sign announcing the fee is $3 - $5.
We felt pretty safe in El Valle de Anton and Panama overall, and we did not have any safety concerns on Cerro Gaital hike as well.
The biggest danger could be the slippery surface and underestimating the parts where you need to use chains and ropes.
Go through these sections slowly.
WHAT TO PACK
Cerro Gaital is the most difficult hike we've done in El Valle. Wear good trail walking shoes, rain jacket and bring plenty of water.
If you decide to watch the sunset or sunrise, bring a headtorch.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL VALLE DE ANTON
Rooms in El Valle are quite pricy, especially on weekends when herds of visitors from Panama City arrive to enjoy well-deserved time off. For us, it was hard to find a budget accommodation as it was carnival time and everything was booked up, and we had to pay double than usual for a room.
Budget | Bodhi Hostel & Lounge - The most popular option in town for budget travelers have everything you might need (wifi, kitchen, patio, and garden) plus it has a laid back atmosphere.
Mid-range | The Golden Frog Inn - Nicely appointed rooms, beautiful settings, outdoor pool, and free bike rentals are the best features of this hotel.
Luxury | Los Mandarinos Boutique Hotel & Spa - This hotel is the best choice for travelers seeking a luxurious retreat after all day out exploring the valley.
You can also search for all hostel options using HostelWorld.
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