Our Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama just ended and it was so spectacular. I am thrilled that we are going back for a second Yoga & Hiking Retreat in February. This upcoming retreat will also include a certificate in Ayurveda + Yoga Healing I which can be used as continuing education credits or put towards a 200 or 300 hour yoga teacher training.
My husband, Arturo and I discovered the Mount Totumas ecolodge about a year ago when we were looking for places of interest near Volcán, a small town near the boarder of Costa Rica where Arturo spent his summers growing up. It took us a couple of attempts to reach Mount Totumas, because to get there requires a 4x4WD vehicle and a lot of patience. It is 10 kms (or 45 mins) on a rocky mountain path into the “Cloud Forest“. When we finally arrived, we were blown away about its beauty and remote tranquility. We knew in an instant that we wanted to host a Yoga & Hiking Retreat here.
Perched high in the mountains boarding La Amistad National Park, Mount Totumas ecolodge sits 6,300 ft above sea level at the foothills of myriad hiking and nature paths. We trekked through first and second generation rainforests, to waterfalls, hot springs, highland pastures and a coffee orchard. The air is fresh and when the clouds part at night, the sky is a blaze with stars that actually twinkle. It is an idealic setting for a retreat.
Our group arrived on Friday Nov. 26, just days after the tropical storm/ hurricane Otto ripped through Panama causing torrential rains, landslide and school closures across the country. Panama doesn’t get hurricanes, so this was historic.
We drove in convoy along the above mentioned 4x4WD road and as we approached the second of two rivers, it was clear that our CRV would not make it across the swollen waters. So we left it on the side of the road and squeezed into the other vehicles (baby Koji too!) more equipped for deep water. The journey was a nice little adventure and the challenging drive on the mountain road made us feel all that much more removed from the civilized chaos of our daily lives.
Because we arrived at the end of a hurricane and in last days of rainy season, most mornings were clear and sunny. The clouds and rains moved in just after lunch, which made napping and restorative yoga practices all that much more peaceful.
Our Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama days looked like this, although the timing of activities was flexible :
- 7:00 am Wake up, tea, greens and/or fresh locally grown coffee – coffee is the hidden gem of Panama, artisanal and incredible;
- 7:30 – 8:45 am Meditation & Yoga flow practice overlooking the rainforest canopy – we frequently stopped to observe exotic birds and monkeys playing in nearby trees;
- 9:00 am Breakfast of pancakes, oatmeal, eggs or granola;
- 9:30 / 10 am Departure for hiking – slow trek, pausing to observe and appreciate the miraculous nature surrounding us;
- 12:30 / 1 pm Lunch of homemade soup and corn bread or tortillas;
- 1:30 – 3:00 pm Free time – napping, reading, colouring, day dreaming, etc.;
- 3:00 – 4:30 pm Yoga practice – restorative, long hold poses, myo-fascial release work, breathing exercises and/or partner yoga, all workshop style;
- 4:30- 5:30 pm Hummingbird Happy Hour – hummingbirds are very active at this time, so we watched up to 17 different species of hummingbirds swarm around 6+ feeders on the “hummingbird deck”. These little birds are so active that feeders need to be refilled twice daily!
- 5:30 – 7:00 pm Late afternoon session – journaling, ayurveda workshop, discussion or free time;
- 7:00 pm Dinner – delicious fresh meals that catered to all tastes and diets: curries (chicken or veg), lasagna, ratatouille, fish, etc.
- 8:00 pm Evenings – free time, insect observation (amazing bugs!), movie night, spa night, or discussions;
+ usually an early bedtime around 10pm.
The owners of Mount Totumas were fantastic. Alma created superb restaurant quality meals for us and made us all feel at home. Jeffrey has a background in biology and ecology and generously shared his knowledge, passion and excitement for birds, flowers, plants, monkeys, etc. with us during our hikes. In short, being at Mount Totumas was amazing experience, kind of like walking through the pages of National Geographic magazine.
Here are some of the highlights shared by the group since the retreat:
Seeing three species of monkeys: Howler monkeys, spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys. The spider monkeys are acrobatic and followed us throughout one of our hikes.
The natural hot springs were so soothing.
The amazing food clearly made with love.
Seeing how coffee is grown, harvested, roasted was really cool and so was tasting it!
Having a chance to concentrate on developing and deepening a daily yoga and meditation practice in nature.
Spending time with like-minded individuals and getting to know people for who they truly are.
For me, being able to teach, share what I love, spend time and have my husband, parents and baby join me on this adventurous Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama.
Thank you to all participants, to my adventurous husband and to my amazing teaching assistant Carlo Kuhlenschimdt, whose thai yoga massage techniques were appreciated by all.
The best part is that we have another Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama Feb. 25 – Mar 3. Would you like to join us?