Chiriqui mountain high Las Nubes resort

David Dell

By David Dell

At 2,200 meters, it’s Panama’s highest residential project. It’s also Panama’s first Eco-green development, its home to howler monkeys, the resplendent Quetzal and a hundred hummingbirds. It has the best view up to Panama’s highest peak and best view down to Chiriqui’s Shangri-La valley – this could be your home in the clouds because this is Las Nubes.


Owner Ricardo De La Espriella, invited my wife and I to sample a night at his guest hostal. It was a cool rainy afternoon in Volcan as we made our way up the mountain. Ricardo apologized because he said the generator was on the blink and we would have to rely on candles for light and a wood fire for warmth.

Sitting next to fireplace

We arrived at the base of the mountain and picked up his cuidador Amador, who guided us up the tricky concrete rails of the road that leads to the chalet. We were shown into a small cottage that was reminiscent of some rural French farmhouse. Another caretaker, named “Chillo” supplied us with firewood and we both set about lighting the fire.

After ten minutes of huffing and puffing and after burning copious amounts of newspapers the fire finally crackled into life. There were about a half-dozen candles around the room and these gave more than enough light. The ceiling had exposed beams and the floor was made of inlaid hardwood planks. There was a large antique couch by the fire, we decided it was either Queen Anne or Louis XIV. Who cares, neither of them needed it anymore, for us it was elegant, long and comfortable.

My wife Lydia opened some wine and with our 15-year old Schnauzer snuggled between us we sat down in front of the fire. With Beethoven’s “Eroica” playing on the laptop, the rain dancing on the roof and the crackling logs on the fire this was one of the most relaxing nights I could remember.

Before the light outside had faded I did walk out onto the covered balcony and looked up at the fading, mist shrouded majesty of the mighty Baru Volcano. A thousand feet or so below me was the twinkling lights of Cero Punta and to my left the gold and green streetlights, of Gaudalupe.

I can promise the future residents of Las Nubes, the six months or more of the dry season, will be a time of electrifying beauty. The stars will be unbelievably bright. The lack of light pollution will for some mean they will clearly see the myriads of galaxies of the Milky Way – perhaps for the first time in their lives. The full moon will highlight the rim of the Baru Volcano and light up the entire valley. The days at Las Nubes will be scenic, but the nights will take their breath away.

Walking in the rainforest

Next morning Chillo gave me a tour of the project. He and his co-workers were completing the base of the mirador. Easily seen from this lookout will be great views of the Shangri-La valley. He asked if I wanted to climb to the site of the new hotel and then onto the ridge which is the spine of continental divide. Foolishy, I believed his claim of “Cinco minutos.” Chillo has a typical warm and friendly Panamanian smile. I am sure he could lure people to and through the gates of Hades.

Forrest views

We reached the site of the proposed hotel complex after a hundred feet or so climb. At this higher elevation the hotel guests are in for a treat. He pointed up the hill and asked if I wanted to go to the top. Not wishing to be thought of as a gringo wimp – I agreed. Again the time period was another “Cinco minutos.” An hour later, after climbing at times on my hands and knees, we reached the top. I am sure the view was magnificent if it hadn’t been for all the damn trees in the way. I was grateful I hadn’t asked my wife to go with me. I am sixty three years old and was finding it hard going, but my wife is … my wife is a wonderful lady.

The climb down was a merciful fifteen minutes, the wet mud meant most of it was done on my backside. The sun came out and I was able to see Las Nubes in all its wonder. Las Nubes is a family owned property which borders a world heritage site, the Amistad International Park. The De La Espriella family, and particularly Francisco, can proudly call themselves part of the blue-blood founding fathers of Panama. Their respective portraits hang on the wall of the hostal visitor center.

Ricardo’s sales theme is “Visit Las Nubes before you buy.” A night in the mountains in front of a roaring wood fire, may be all the time you need before you decide on your dream retirement home.

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