Cerro Chucantí is so amazing that it is hard to believe it was almost unknown before the 2000's. Because of its elevation (at 1,439 meters, it's the ninth tallest mountain in Panama) and its isolation, the Cerro Chucantí Private Nature Reserve offers some of the most spectacular views in Panama, with massive waterfalls in the lower areas of the reserve while the higher elevations provide views of the whole landscape out to the Pacific Ocean.
Although its isolated location on the border of the Darién province can make things difficult, we've worked hard to ensure that the reserve is as accessible as possible. There are multiple field stations around the reserve that function as base camps for activities during one's stay: the primary field station established at the same time as the reserve, one higher elevation station, and one lower in the reserve. A system of trails also exists throughout the reserve to access different areas of interest.
Photos from the Chucantí Reserve
The Environment of Chucantí
The forests of Chucantí host populations of many species of special concern, such as the black spider monkey, Ateles fusciceps rufiventris. , and Great Curassow, Crax rubra. Additionally, several species new to science have been discovered, including a new frog, snake, a plant of the coffee family, and many more which do not yet have names.
This diversity is supported in different habitats within the reserve. Most of the area is covered in forest, but the forest changes a lot depending on elevation, distance from water, and the type of land use the area experienced before it was bought for the reserve. There are also multiple rivers and magnificent waterfalls throughout the reserve which separate different regions of the mountain.
Some areas of the reserve were cut down for timber and agriculture before we purchased them, but as the forest regrows, these fields sustain a different community of species. For those who like birdwatching, there are many anis, seedeaters, and raptors in this habitat to see, while researchers may be interested in comparing these fields to the forests.
Tropical Wet Forest
The lower forests in Cerro Chucantí (below 1,200 meters) are considered Tropical Wet Forests, the most common type of forest in Panama. The species that live here are also mostly common and well known like toucans, tanagers, and monkeys, but the forest in Chucantí stands out as particularly old and pristine, perfect for nature lovers of all kinds!
The forests above 1,200 meters are very different than the rest of Panama: they are much colder and have poor visibility because of the constant fog from the clouds. The species which live there cannot survive in other areas of Panama because they cannot handle the heat, leading to a high local rate of endemism. There are many species which only live in the cloud forests of Chucantí!
Planning a Trip to Chucantí
The Chucantí reserve is wonderful to visit, but it is still a wild area which poses certain challenges. If you are considering or planning a trip to Chucantí, the following information can help you to prepare.