Panama With Kids: Casa Mariposa, El Valle de Anton

Family Hotel Review: Casa Mariposa, El Valle de Anton, Panama

A simple, yet unique B&B (with self-catering options) that offers warm hospitality including a cosy cuddle with a sloth!

Best for: Animal lovers; 4+ years (although all ages welcome).


Why You’ll Love It


Casa Mariposa first caught my attention on Tripadvisor. It was ranked #1 in the B&B category for El Valle de Anton and had a Certificate of Excellence to its name, but it was the album of travellers’ photos that sold me – it was full of guests hugging sloths. Sloths! Creatures I had only ever seen through binoculars, stuffed in museums or in encyclopedias. “Who wants to cuddle a sloth?” I asked my children. “Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!” I made the reservation.

We arrived at dusk under a low cloud of drizzle. Our Swiss host, Ursula held back an excited black Labrador as we stepped indoors. Clinging to her chest was a timid-looking sloth with the most lovable smile. My children flung themselves upon as if it were a rugby ball. They say that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions and how right they are. If there is one reason why you’ll love Casa Mariposa it is to have a cuddle with a sloth.



The orange bungalow sits in the middle of this one road town and houses two apartments. Ursula, her husband Harry (who was out of town when we visited) and the sloths live in one and the other is available for both short and long-term rentals. From the main house a gravel path leads the way through a small tropical garden to a private two-bedroom annex. A little stream flows through the property and although it is difficult to access, it does mean that small children should be supervised at all times.

A reminder that this is not a luxury boutique hotel but a no-frills guesthouse. Families should view it more as a convenient base than as a destination in its own right, but with so many good restaurants and activities in the vicinity you won’t need much more than a bed for the night. Furthermore you get to hug a sloth.



Why The Kids Will Love It


Did I mention the sloths?!

Ursula adopted the three-toed sloths, Sammie and Dahabie, when their mother broke her neck in the wild. She explained to my children that they were in luck because, owing to a full moon, they were more active than normal. She also astounded them with a host of quirky sloth facts. Did you know that sloths only go to the bathroom once a week? And that they dig a hole with their tail before doing so? And that they can live for 40 or so years? Ursula, like her sloths, has a gentle disposition and a wonderful way with kids. She scored extra brownie points with my two when she brought hot chocolate to their room in the morning.



This is not the place to come for kids’ clubs and organised kids’ activities (the property itself offers simply family accommodation) but this is the place to come for an experience like no other. For kids like mine who are more accustomed to cities than the countryside, this is a truly unique experience. And these animals are some of the most lovable that we have ever met.



Update: Casa Mariposa has adopted another sloth called Sharky. On our most recent visit we were warned that he bites (hence his name!). Needless to say families are kindly asked to leave Sharky sleeping!



There are two accommodation options available at Casa Mariposa:



The Apartment is available for short or long-term rental and has one double bedroom, a ‘corridor room’ with a small day bed, a kitchen and a living room with TV and sofabed. Extra beds are available for children. A small internal courtyard is shared with Ursula and Harry’s apartment.


The Garden Annex


The garden annex houses two standard Double Rooms, each with a small private bathroom. The two rooms are adjacent to each other but are not interconnecting.



The rooms are simple and colourful, and cooled with ceiling fans (there is no air-conditioning, not that we needed it when we visited). The sheets and towels are a little threadbare but this is reflected in the reasonable rates.


Best Rooms for Families:

The apartment is better suited for families; there’s more space and it feels more homely than the standard double rooms.



Casa Mariposa offers breakfast only. However when we visited but chose to eat out at La Bruschetta just up the road, but if the reviews on Tripadvisor are anything to go by, the breakfasts are very good here!




Activities for Parents & Kids: The obvious activity, and the reason we came, was to cuddle a sloth! Other activities include hiking, bird watching, visiting the colourful local Sunday market, trips to the nearby Nispero Zoo and Botanical Garden, visits to the Butterfly Haven, horse riding, zip lining and the neighbouring snake house.



Extra beds, self-catering.



At the time of writing rates were as follows:

May – October

Apartment (incl. gas and electricity)

Weekly: US $ 270

Monthly: US $ 750

Guestroom 1 person

US $ 45 / night

US $ 180 / week

Guestroom 2 persons

US $ 55 / day

US $ 220 / week


November – April

Apartment (incl. gas and electricity)

Weekly: US $ 290

Monthly: US $ 800

Guestroom 1 person

US $ 50 / night

US $ 200 / week

Guestroom 2 persons

US $ 60 / day

US $ 240 / week


Rates may vary. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.


Note: At the time of reviewing Casa Mariposa, the sloths were present. However, animals do grow and move on! As outlined in our Terms & Conditions, cannot be responsible for any information that is out of date. We recommend checking their availability directly with Casa Mariposa at time of booking.


When to go: 

Panama has a tropical maritime climate with two distinct seasons: the dry, ‘summer’ season (mid December to April) and the rainy, ‘winter’ season (May to December). Rainfall tends to come in short, heavy downpours and builds momentum as the rainy season progresses. Temperatures remain fairly constant all year round with an average temperature of around 27C. Humidity is high all year round.

The weather in El Valle de Anton tends to be a couple of degrees cooler than Panama’s lowlands. We recommend bringing a lightweight jumper.


Location & Travel: 

Casa Mariposa is located in the town of El Valle de Anton, roughly two hours south-west of Panama City, Panama.


Family Guide to Panama

For more information on family travel in Panama see my guide to Panama with Kids.

Panama With Kids


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Casa Mariposa, El Valle de Anton, Panama via @farflunglands

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