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Jungles, mangroves and chocolate

In Panama

With its groves of cacao (chocolate), banana and coconut, La Loma Jungle Lodge & Chocolate Farm covers 23 hectares stretching through the tropical forest from the mangrove shores of Bahia Honda to one of the highest points on Bastimentos Island.

Relatively isolated and free from the bustle of Bocas town, the closest city, it is accessible only by boat, not without admiring the spectacular National Marine Park bordering the site, as well as the while sand beaches, only 5 minutes away from the lodge.

The site is relatively modest with its 4 ranchos, discreetly perched in the lush forest, from where one can peacefully watch, almost as neighbors, birds and butterflies lounging after their nectar-rich lunch.

Surrounded by chocolate trees

It is almost surreal to live amidst thousands of chocolate trees, especially for a chocolate lover! In fact, a truly sustainable tropical forest crop native to the Americas thrives under the jungle canopy in compost rich soil entirely free of pesticides and fertilizers.

White-faced capuchin and Night douroucoulis (Night Monkeys) feast on the pods they appreciate, just like us.

Visitors can appreciate the process the colored and fragrant pods go through, from fermentation to drying and roasting before becoming a 100% pure chocolate product that will in turn be transformed and end up in our plates for our pleasure.

The ranchos

The lovely four hand-made ranchos are discretely hidden in the jungle. Built using vernacular architecture, they are simple but beautiful havens made out of the wood of naturally fallen trees and recyclable materials, such as bamboo and wild cane.

Each rancho has its own bathroom with a hot water shower, comfortable large beds with giant mosquito nets and furniture crafted on site by local workers using local materials.

It should be noted that one has to be relatively fit to stay at La Loma; three of the four ranchos are reached only after a rather steep 5 to 7-minute climb. But the view of the sea is worth the effort!

Responsible tourism

Solar panels provide power and water is supplied from on-site springs and a rain catchment system.

Air-conditioning is replaced by the cool breezes from the jungle and ceiling fans and TVs are replaced by images found at the other end of binoculars used to watch the jungle’s exuberant life.

Rates are reasonable and include transportation from the city of Bocas upon arrival and departure as well as three meals a day. Alcoholic beverages are not included.

Chocoholics

If you are elsewhere in Panama and are attracted to this chocolate farm, La Loma offers Chocolate Farm Tours. For a reasonable $15 per person, you get the tour and if you add a little more you can add lunch, dinner, or both.

International recognition

La Loma is on the list of 75 finalists for the prestigious “World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016”. Those awards were created in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring initiatives in responsible tourism. They are led by Responsible Travel and ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism. The list of winners will be disclosed in August.

Should members of the jury be chocoholics, La Loma Jungle Lodge & Chocolate Farm’s chances to qualify are, we think, quite good! The best of luck!

Research and writing: Christiane Théberge

   

 

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