Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Hummingbird Deck

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Using branches and vines we took from a fallen oak tree we created a display on the new deck of the homestead where we attached orchids and bromeliads and other epiiphytes. We then added feeders and this has become a major attraction for guests.  Check out the diversity of hummingbirds here at Mount Totumas on this video.


Spider Monkeys on Mexican Elm

Friday, November 18th, 2016

We made a post awhile back about a troupe of Howler Monkeys on the emergent Mexican Elm Tree in front of the deck of The Bellbird Lodge. Well, today we had a troupe of Spider Monkeys visiting the same tree. Here is some video footage.

Notice the nice seen of preening by the pair at the top of the tree.  These are highly acrobatic monkeys and a lot of fun to watch.


Yellow-Thighed Finch

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

This Yellow-Thighed Finch was flying up to the window at its reflection and then started displaying. Check out how he flashes his yellow pompom thighs at his reflection.

Yoga Retreat Nov 26 -Dec 2, 2016

Monday, October 24th, 2016


Cloud Forest Yoga + Hiking Retreat
Nov. 26 – Dec. 2, 2016

Join Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow, experienced yoga teacher, naturopathic doctor and ayurvedic practitioner, at Mount Totumas for an unforgettable life changing retreat.

Yoga. Meditation. Hiking. Ayurveda. Nature Retreat.

Imagine waking up in our Cloud Forest and practicing yoga and meditation overlooking the rainforest canopy. This is a perfect opportunity to unplug, connect to nature, meet nice people and deepen your practice with expert guidance.

The yoga offered is a slow but steady, vinyasa flow practice that will be workshop style and therapeutic focused. All levels of yoga students are welcome as practices are tailored to suit the individual needs and interests of each student.

Your host, Yasmin, is a Guinness World Record holder for the longest yoga marathon and has taught yoga internationally for over 16 years. Originally from Montreal, she is known for her soulful, yet practical style of teaching. Yasmin offers unique experiences enriched by ayurveda, poetry, music, dance and nature.

Joining Yasmin in teaching is ashtanga yoga teacher Carlo Kuhlenschimdt, who also has a background in restorative yoga and thai yoga massage, and is avid outdoor enthusiast.

We are at the foothills of many hiking trails varying levels of challenge and there will be guided hiking tours available daily. There will be plenty of free time to read, write, nap and recharge. You will also be able to enjoy natural hot springs and take a coffee plantation tour if you’d like.

Your evening sessions will be calming and restoring. Yasmin will share ayurvedic healing principles and Carlo will lead yin and restorative postures and demonstrate thai yoga massage techniques to help ease potentially sore muscles from hiking!

Your accommodations are ultra comfortable and your meals are all taken care of. We have private and shared rooms available, many with magnificent views of the mountains. The menu has been carefully prepared with wholesome, delicious meals for all dietary needs.

Yasmin and her family live part of the year in Panama, so this is your chance to experience Panama like a local.

Whether you come solo or with a friend, you will immediately be made to feel at home and at ease in this beautiful setting and wonderful community. We do all the extra touches to make your experience truly memorable.

For more information, please contact Yasmin : or visit her website

Harvesting Timber from the forest floor; Mexican Elm “Cenizo”

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

One of the emergent trees in the canopy of 2nd growth and old growth forests here is the Mexican Elm Ulmus mexicana. When an ancient tree falls to the forest floor the timber remains intact for decades as this tree is very rot resistant and very hard. When you mill the wood in dimensions smaller than 4×6 beams it tends to warp which is why these trees were not harvested years ago when this valley was timbered. The Mexican Elm is an excellent wood however for joists and columns.

We are now building again, starting our last structure here at Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. So we are harvesting the wood of this ancient Mexican Elm.

Opening up the ancient trunk reveals clean solid wood




See this big slab? We’ll come to this in a few months and show you where this will end up!


Lepidopteran Dreams

Monday, September 5th, 2016

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Meet Albert Thurman. He has been coming to Panama for almost 40 years doing research on Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and he organizes entomology nature tours 3-4 times a year. This is his 6th trip to Mount Totumas.

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Meet John McDonald. He has joined Albert on many of his trips and is an expert on the moths of Panama. John arrived a couple days
early and spent invaluable time going through our collection and correcting all the misplaced specimens!

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Meet Margarita, a student from Ecuador who is attending Mississippi State University and is focusing her studies on micro moths.

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Patience and a steady hand required!

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Bill and John looking at specimens

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At night our restaurant gets converted into an impromptu lab and freshly caught specimens are examined.

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Margarita on the left and Ana on the right. Ana is studying entomology at the University of Panama.

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Meet Tatiana. She currently lives with her husband Brian in Boquetee. They are both entomologists who come up and stay with us when
Albert visits. Tatiana creates beautiful original paintings of fauna of Panama and she has done a series of lepidoptera of Panama.
This painting is of a geometrid moth first collected here at Mount Totumas by Charles Covell of the McGuire Center in Gainsille Florida.
This species is new to science and is currently being described.

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New geometrid species from our collection.

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Alma and Tatiana displaying Tatiana’s work.

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The following images are from the collection here at Mount Totumas. All the insects displayed were only collected here at this single
location. This collection is a window revealing the immense biodiversity here in the cloud forest.

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Eribidae with Eulepidotinae (right hand columns)

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Sphingidae of Mount Totumas

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More Sphingidae of Mount Totumas

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Saturnidae of Mount Totumas

More Saturnidae of Mount Totumas

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Eribidae; Catocalinae of Mount Totumas

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Sematuridae and Uraniidae of Mount Totumas

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Eribidae; Arctiinae of Mount Totumas

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More Arctiinae

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Geometridae of Mount Totumas

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More Geometridae of Mount Totumas

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Display of diverse beetles and other insects of Mount Totumas

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Misty new moon warm nights with no wind and this is what happens when you put up black lights and mecury vapor lamps.

In The Field Spotting Birds

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Some times you have to step back from spotting the birds and observe the observers. Here are some fun shots of friends and guests in the field spotting birds and helping each other locate them.


David La Puma, Director of from Cape May Bird Observatory, on a recent visit digiscoping with and Iphone

Mike Lanzone and family in the background. Fruiting mistletoe was drawing in Ochraceous Wren, Golden Browed Chlorophonia and several tanagers.

Cleveland Natural History Museum visit

Birding from our safari landrover

Volcan hiking club spotting a Respledent Quetzal.



Male Three Wattled Bellbird spotted!


Tatiana, Alma and Reinaldo on the Quetzal Trail.

MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA Little girl looking into our game camera on the big tree loop trail.

Introducing Alma and Karin and our Restaurant at The Bellbird Lodge, MTCF

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Alma is the soul of the kitchen here at our restaurant at MTCF. She is an alchemist and creates dishes that span the continents from thai to italian, panamanian, filpino, mexican, french, and american.

Karin with empanadas smiling in kitchen Karin, our daughter, joins us in the high season. She graduated from ICE Culinary Institute in NYC and she brings her skills as she gleans fruits and vegetables from our garden and wild pastures and creates new dishes, sauces, marinades.When you combine Karin and Alma together in the kitchen magic happens, along with occasional high drama!

karin with salad She means business and she knows it.

Fresh salad from our garden and hydroponic green house. The Chioggia beets from our garden as well!

alma karin leche flan Leche Flan

Alma Lasagna

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Chicken Curry with lemon grass, thai basil, and galanga from our garden. The kafir lime was hand picked from our tree in south florida and brought with us to Panama.

Home made spring rolls.

Bellbird Lodge living area where meals are served.

Lunch today is bean soup, patacones and fresh fruit.


Volcan hiking club at the table and having desert


Empanadas filled with pesto, potatoe and ground beef.

huevos rancherosHuevos Rancheros for Breakfast

Buffet spread when we have large groups.

Quiche with Portobella mushrooms.




Alma, Kevin and Sierra preparing Naranjilla fruit and arbol de tomate for marinades, jam or chicha.

tomatoe fruit 1 Naranjilla fruit and arbol de tomate from our gardens

Crepuscular drifting clouds

Friday, August 26th, 2016

rainy season mood

In the rainy season late in the afternoon as day turns to night clouds often drift up and the Colorado Valley is shrouded in moving mist. The view from the lodge is of forest fading in and out of the clouds. Silent at times punctuated by the call of a forest falcon, this infects the viewer with a stillness, one stops all the internal chatter and feels and breathes the moment, all there ever really is. Scenes like this send gentle reminders.

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Volcan Hiking Club Hikes to Mr. Vega’s Homestead

Monday, August 15th, 2016

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Over the weekined we had the Volcan Hikling Club up for their third visit to Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. This time we hiked to Mr. Vega’s homestead. Mr. Vega cleared and homesteaded his land back in the early 1960’s and has spent over 50 years living off the grid in a small humble cabin tending to his livestock. He represents a way of life that is fast disappearing in Panama and in most places in the world. Not a digital device to be found in his cabin. He is a lucky man.

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