Mount Totumas

The small, private cloud forest reserve of “Mount Totumas” is located in the very west of the province of Chiriquí, just a few kilometers from the Costa Rican border.

It can be reached by driving west from Volcán for 10 km in the direction of Santa Clara, until you see an unpaved road on the right and follow it for 8 km until it ends at the hot springs of “Los Pozos” (not signposted). The “Mount Totumas” protected area begins just above the springs. From here, a 2 km long road, also not paved, leads to the main house.

The reserve serves as an important buffer on the border with the core zone of the vast, transnational La Amistad National Park, whose 6,000 square kilometers protect some of the last intact rainforests and cloud forests in Central America. Huge oaks, cypresses and cedars grow untouched here next to ferns that reach astonishing heights. More than 500 species of plants include 130 orchids alone. So far, 263 species of amphibians and reptiles have been discovered, the majority of them lizards. Among the mammal species encountered are tapir, jaguar, puma, ocelot, peccary, skunk and several species of monkeys. Of the 400 bird species counted so far, among others are: The magnificent quetzal, which is relatively easy to observe, especially during the breeding season from March to June, the three-wattled bellbird, the black guan, the highland tinamou and also the magnificent ornate hawk-eagle. Among the fifteen hummingbird species, the magenta-throated woodstar, the brown violetear and the colorful Fire-throated Hummingbird are considered rare.

The infrastructure of the protected area is barely developed, and that’s the way it should remain. Mainly scientists from all over the world come here to do research on animal behavior or botany. A true El Dorado for entomologists is the extremely species-rich butterfly world of the park. Mount Totumas benefits from its proximity to Amistad National Park in the form of biodiversity and ecological integrity that is rarely found elsewhere. Visitors have access to some 26 km of well-marked trails that literally start at the front door and lead through a wide variety of habitats and landscapes, from open rangelands to virgin cloud forest, at elevations ranging from 1500 to 2800 meters. Ambitious hikers can climb (with a guide) to the summit of Totuma or roam the upper regions of the Río Colorado river valley. But even while doing nothing, interesting nature observations can be made, for example, numerous hummingbirds of different species can be observed sucking nectar at the feeders right from the veranda of the main house. The meals in the small restaurant of the main house are mainly prepared from products of the in-house garden and own animal husbandry. The property also includes a small coffee plantation.