With great natural attractions and an extraordinary cultural and historical wealth, the province of Coclé (with around 265,149, according to 2019 data) has become a center of tourism development over the years. In order to discover these intangible treasures, we enter this place, land of the caudillo and national hero, the guerrilla Victoriano Lorenzo, one of the main protagonists of the indigenous movement that rose up against the injustices committed by the conservative authorities against the Isthmeños. , when Panama was still part of Colombia.
During a tour of Penonomé, the capital and one of the districts of this province, located in the center of the country, I got to know the historical colonial route: ‘Penonomé makes me fall in love’, inaugurated within the framework of the VI Ibero-American Meeting of Rural Tourism (Iberoatur). which took place in El Valle de Antón last October.
Paula María González, mayor of Penonomé, explained to La Estrella de Panamá that it is the first tourist route based on the history and culture of Penonomé as a colonial center. «What is sought is that not only the eight sun and beach spots that Coclé has as a tourism destination are considered, but also that people know where we are from, who our heroes, poets and historians were.»
“This route begins with a tour through the center of the city of Penonomé. Along the Juan Demóstenes Arosemena avenue, the visitor will be able to visit the Paseo de los Hombres Ilustres, several monuments that tell the story of those heroes who left a great legacy on the site, as well as the museum of Penonomeña history and tradition, with more than 500 pieces in its different rooms that date from pre-Hispanic times, through the Spanish conquest to the early years of the 20th century”, explained the mayoress.
He added that another of the points is the public market, since it is the main place for the sale of native handicrafts, including our emblematic pintao hat; There is also a walk through the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista; the old House of the Municipality that later became the Government, without neglecting that in «our district there are also interesting ecological trails to walk, and the third point corresponds to the tours of the agrotourism farms that are around of Penonomé”, explained González.
“It is a route for the economic reactivation of the place and a way of telling the country that it is worth making that effort, because each district and corregimiento has its way of being noticed. The inland towns are the most classic, despite the fact that we have been updating and modernizing, we have still preserved our customs and traditions,” explained the head of the Municipality of Penonomé.
What else can we see and visit in Coclé?
According to Francisco De León, director of Culture of Coclé, apart from Penonomé, visitors can also explore the El Caño Archaeological Park, in the district of Natá, where excavations have been carried out and indigenous cemeteries have been found that reveal the existence of a civilization pre-Columbian who may have lived between 700-1000 AD This epic discovery has been widely publicized by National Geographic and is still part of an ongoing archaeological investigation that the visitor can witness.
The site was discovered in 1925, however it was not formally investigated until the 1970s, but very superficially and it was not until 30 years later, in the early 2000s, that a team led by archaeologist Julia Mayo began a formal new investigation at the site where a grave with an ancient warrior chief was found in 2011.
Another attraction is the Conte Archaeological Site, also an indigenous cemetery where ancient pieces of gold and ceramics were found; petroglyphs in the district of La Pintada.
According to De León, Coclé also has important colonial attractions, among which the Minor Basilica of Santiago Apóstol de Natá de los Caballeros stands out, the oldest inhabited city in Panama.
The province also has as a tourist attraction the salt flats of Aguadulce and several kilometers of paradisiacal beaches within the Pacific Riviera such as Farallón, in Río Hato, Playa Blanca, Santa Clara, among other beaches with warm, crystalline waters and white sand.
The province of Coclé is also recognized for its rich folklore and artisan production, in which the making of the pintao hat stands out, whose artisan techniques and preparation procedures were declared on December 7, 2017 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the Organization of the United Nations for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco).
“The province of Coclé is also recognized for its rich folklore and artisan production, in which the making of the pintao hat stands out, whose artisan techniques and preparation procedures were declared on December 7, 2017 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)” FRANCISCO DE LEÓN
DIRECTOR OF CULTURE OF COCLÉ
cocle has it all
For the mayoress, Coclé offers a wide variety of places that make it the perfect destination to spend summer vacations or any time of the year. “From sites that tell our history to beach destinations with all-inclusive accommodations and boutique hotels in the mountains, surrounded by exuberant vegetation and wildlife, for the most daring or nature lovers, as well as many other places of interest within its six districts (Aguadulce, Antón, La Pintada, Nata, Olá, Penonomé) that manage to capture unique experiences in visitors”.
An ideal place is El Valle de Antón. Located inside the caldera of an inactive volcano, the visitor will be able to find a pleasant climate, surrounded by hills and lots of vegetation; It is ideal for hiking, biking or horseback riding, enjoying waterfalls, streams and streams. In addition to knowing the processes of grinding cane to extract its juice (guarapo), and make honey, panela or raspadura.
The flora and fauna are abundant in this region, which is why it invites you to contemplate the infinity of birds and plants, such as orchids, roses and ferns, as well as endemic species such as the golden frog and square trees.
Being El Valle inside the crater of a volcano, it has thermal wells, with service hours from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, following all biosafety measures and protocols. The site has a variety of wells with different temperatures ranging from approximately 34 to 38 degrees Celsius, and are of different sizes.
In La Pintada, agrotourism or rural tourism stands out. Visitors can request the services of guided walks to the area of the pre-Columbian petroglyphs and huacas.
This community is famous for its pintao hat, which has achieved international recognition, to such an extent that today it is an export item. It is said in history that the tradition is older than the Republic. During the Thousand Days War, the Victorian warlord Lorenzo already wore a straw hat.
While in Aguadulce, the tourist cannot fail to see how the salt production process is in the salt pans that are located on the road to El Salao beach, south of the Aguadulce district. «The salt flats of Aguadulce offer visitors their characteristic landscape of the coastal zone, which is why it is a must for anyone who likes adventures,» said De León.
In addition, the practice of salinization in a «traditional» way becomes a cultural attraction, because through this exploitation model an important part of our historical heritage continues to be preserved. In addition, you could take a tour of the artisanal fishing areas and enjoy a walk through the virgin mangroves.
Definitely, Coclé has everything to experience incredible adventures. From nature tourism to the most unexpected places, to sun and beach tourism, as well as folklore, archeology and heritage. According to the interviewees, all national and foreign tourists have to visit Coclé because its tourist offer is wide, and thanks to the fact that it has the Scarlett Martínez International Airport, in Río Hato, it has become a reference destination in the international market. , especially for travelers from North America (Canada and the United States).