We were on our way to Costa Rica, having travelled through the east to south and now to the western part of Panama, on the border to Costa Rica. We were looking for a beautiful place to stay for a few days to experience and take in the area’s pristine cloud forest. We had opted to visit a Panamanian cloud forest rather than the more visited Costa Rican ones.
A popular place to go for adrenaline seekers is Boquete, but we were looking for a quieter place where we could immerse in nature and hopefully spot some wildlife without too many other people around in less developed surrounding. We found just that at Mount Totumas cloud forest lodge.
Bordering La Amistad National Park, it is the highest lodge in Panama. To get there we flew from Panama City to David and it was a 3 hour drive to Mount Totuma from David.
We arrived in the pitch black at night and were greeted by friendly Alma and Jeffrey who served up a delicious Panamanian soup. We stayed in the Homestead, the original old farm building which has now been converted into a comfortable side building to the main restaurant and lodge with a living room and kitchen.
This is a place to detach from the hussle and bustle of modern life and reconnect spiritually to the natural world. There is a network of 9 well maintained trails that offer guests the opportunity to experience the cloud forest as an intact ecosystem. I climbed mount Totuma with Ronaldo, the caretaker’s son. It was a 5 hour trek and steep horizontal climb through primary and secondary forest. On the way up we spottet the elusive quetzal, a beautiful brightly coloured bird. It was surprisingly cold at the top, a little windy and incredibly beautiful. The trees old, tall and majestic, the moss gently moving with the wind as the clouds came rolling in.
We had dinner every night with Jeffrey and Alma, the wonderful owners of this beautiful place, and a handful of Swiss and German yoga girls. The food was great! Alma and her daughter Karin cooked most nights and one night we had the pleasure of being cooked for by a Ecuadorian chef, a friend of Karin’s. For desert we had dried blueberries with peanut butter honey!
On our first day, not wanting to miss anything, we did three of the treks. Unaware of the shortcut via the waterfall and slightly leaving it too late in the day to walk the 10K roundtrip to Los Pozos hot springs (that actually took us 4 hours!), we came back from our last trek 8 o’clock in the evening in the pitch dark with only the fireflies and sound of the howler monkeys to guide us. My dad was a little tired by that point but all energy was quickly restored by some local beer, great food and stories around the restaurant table.
Apex predators like the jaguar and puma exist here along with 3 species of monkeys, over 20 species of hummingbirds and some of the most sought after bird species of the cloud forest. Coatis and tapir also live here and even a couple of sloths have been spotted.
The resort is powered with renewable energy from a micro hydro power station, almost entirely off the grid. Jeffrey and Alma’s mission is to protect and preserve the 400 acres of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest that represent an important buffer zone for the wilderness in La Amistad National Park. Preservation of biodiversity guides all their decisions in managing the reserve.
I went here with my dad about 6 months ago and we were blown away by the peacefulness and natural beauty of this place. Now I’m going again in a few days, with my family. This time we are going to look after the lodge and restaurant whilst Jeffrey and Alma go on a well deserved holiday. We can’t wait!