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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkTravel & Outdoors 

Exploring Panama's Anton Valley with Emily Murray

June 10, 2015

Piedra Pintada is a giant rock, the largest of the petroglyphs and carvings found in Panama's Valle de Anton dating back from the Pre-Columbian era possibly as many as 8000 years ago.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Here at Banderas News we want to share our never-ending passion for traveling to exotic lands and faraway places with you, so this Summer we will be exploring Costa Rica and Panama through a series of travel articles from staff writer, Emily Murray, and our friends at The Real Deal Tours. Our journey starts in Panama...

Piedra Pintada: Mysterious Petroglyphs of Anton Valley

Modern life. Isn't it absolutely amazing the things that we humans have achieved in the last few thousand years? If you think about it, the amount of evolution that has taken place since the wheel was first invented is astounding!

And we are all connected; every recent achievement has had a door opened by a previous achievement. Every story that is being told today has a preface that was written yesterday. This is but one reason that ancient art, cave paintings and carvings are so fascinating to us in the modern world. These gifts from ancient civilizations help us construct the timeline of where we were, where we are, and where we are going.

One such gift is Piedra Pintada, the giant Painted Rock located in a far corner of Panama's Anton Valley, or El Valle de Anton.

Piedra Pintada is a giant rock, the largest of the petroglyphs and carvings found in the Valle de Anton dating back from the Pre-Columbian era possibly as many as 8000 years ago. The mystery of the stories they told way back then are still here as relics for us and for future generations to discover and try to decipher.

Because the rock is so ancient, it is hard to say exactly what the message is but everyone has their own theory. In the archaeological world it is largely believed that the paintings are mainly artistic and religious in nature, while historians believe it might be a harvest calendar indicating tidal swings and the moon's influence. Still others think it is a rendering of the surrounding topography: mountains, rivers, and trails, making possibly a "trade map" of sorts. And there are even communities of people who believe some of the carvings depict UFOs and alien life.

For a small donation of a few bucks, any of the local children will happily tell you their own version of the Piedra Pintada. Although entertaining, if archaeologists and historians have not yet been able to crack the code of petroglyphs at La Piedra Pintada, I highly doubt the knowledge of a 7 year old trustworthy.

Whatever it is, one thing is very clear: the Piedra Pintada in Panama has international attention, and everybody's got a theory on it!

The main rock is dubbed Piedra Pintada, however there are many others nearby which also bear markings. Piedra Pintada is the size of a small house, at roughly 10 feet high and 19 feet long, so it is hard to miss!

In fact, the entrance to the Piedra Pintada is even wheelchair accessible! El Valle de Anton is also very accessible by bus or by car, so it's possible to make Piedra Pintada a quick stop to "check the box" on your Bucket List, or you could easily take the better part of a day here, hiking and exploring throughout Anton Valley.

If you'd rather stick on the straight and narrow, the trail is well marked and easy to find, and the level of difficulty is low. If you are more adventurous, you may want to hire a guide and explore the nearby grounds and trails at the base of the India Dormida and up to some amazing views of the entire Anton Valley. Along the trails you can find numerous other rocks with markings just waiting to be interpreted.

Insider tip: While the region itself is relatively crime-free, there have been a lot of break-ins of cars in the parking lot. Therefore it is recommended that you take a taxi or a less expensive bus then just take the short walk to the base of the park. It is actually a very pleasant walk through a very stunning neighborhood full of lush gardens. If you want the full experience of El Valle de Anton, take a one day tour from Panama City.

It's no secret that ancient civilizations the world over have left us some fantastic finds, and that Central America is the lucky recipient of many such gifts. Were they leaving time capsules for future generations to find? Or were they just making maps and calendars? Who really knows why the Piedra Pintada petroglyphs exist? Maybe what fascinates us so is that we can't possibly know what the ancient people's true intention was... we can only look with new eyes as we discover more and more of what was left behind many hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago. And maybe it's OK not to know, just to speculate. To explore the various options with the limited understanding we have, knowing that our understanding is limited, and let the questions hang in the air.

From beyond the grave, the ancients know the answers to the questions we now have... they wrote the preface of our story for us, and we can physically go there and be with it now. Was that on purpose, or just a happy accident?

Either way, the gift of the Piedra Pintada in Panama is one of the best time capsules ever.

The Real Deal Tours is your one stop shop for tours, activities and information in Costa Rica and Panama. Every excursion offered at is discounted to below market price, so you always know you're getting the best deal possible. They're your activities specialists, and your next adventure is just a click away. So don't delay, book and save today!

A freelance writer and yoga teacher originally from Seattle, Washington, Emily Murray has been a resident of Puerto Vallarta since January of 2015. But her love affair with the Banderas Bay region began years ago, while living on a sailboat passing through during the winter months... it was then that she experienced the friendly faces, warm hospitality, gorgeous scenery and temperate climate that Vallarta is so famous for... and frequent trips to the region finally turned into a permanent move. As a valued member of the Banderas News Team, Emily is one of our contributing writers, helps with advertising sales and renewals, and even teaches us yoga when we let her. She can often be found in the company of her rescue dog Ruby, who is an excellent high-fiver and table scrap eater. If you see them around Old Town, be sure to say, "Hello!"