Volcan Baru at 3400m

One valley over from Mount Totumas Cloud Forest is the town of Volcan, named by the dominant geological feature in Western Panama, Volcan Baru at 3400m, the highest elevation in Panama.

After almost 5 years here in Panama we finally had the opportunity, thanks to the invitation of local mountaineer and bird guide, Gonzalo Chaiy Aizpurua, to join his family on a climb to the summit.

Starting at 5 AM in the dark with flashlights we started the ascent, passing through 5 different life zones until arriving at the peak 6 hours later.

Maguey agaves accent the grassy lower lava fields

These orange flowers are from a parasitic mistletoe that grows on the trees.

One of the last trees at over 3000m where the elfin forest transitions to Paramo grasslands.

yours truely

All the seƱoritas at the peak.

Finding members of the heath family (Ericaceae) in the paramo habitat above 3000m reminds you of alpine habitat in the Canadian Rockies. I was thinking, where are the blueberries?

One of the highlights of the day was watching a beautiful Fiery-Throated Hummingbird feeding on this tubular flower. The Volcano Hummingbird was also seen that is mainly only found on Volcan Baru and is common on the restricted habitat of the Paramo mainly above 3000m. Other Paramo specialties seen were the Volcano Junco and Sooty Thrush.

This fern was restricted to the highest elevations at 3400m and was thick and succulent.

Head down, drooping shoulders, short of oxygen, step at a time in mild delirium!

What lilly is this? Is it even a lilly? Any ideas?

Steep upper slopes approaching the peak.

Indian Paintbrush, those North American hikers will surely recognize this flower. Another old friend met on the trail.

Annette with Volcan in the background

Indian Paintbrush

Lyra, our daughter

And her mom, Alma

Solomon Seal relative, now we are in the Appalachians? This was in the slower slopes in rich forest habitat.

Forest scene with Clusia sp. tree in the foreground.

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