Not long after we arrived in Boquete Will decided that we needed to take a trip to the town of Volcan. According to our trusty GPS it was just a short distance away, and Will decided to prove it by taking a seemingly random road out of town.
I think we made it about 15 minutes on that one before we hit a dead end on the slopes of Volcan Baru.
We tried again a few days later on a different road and made it about 30 minutes on that one. It was a beautiful drive but, alas, no Volcan.
After getting proper directions from a live human being and conducting a brief round of Google searches we decided that we would head out on the coming Saturday, and we even had a specific destination.
The Finca Dracula Orchid Farm.
Home to a rare and magical species of orchid that only shows its spooky face by the light of the moon, Finca Dracula is located in the village of Cerro Punta, just outside Volcan. Now that we realized we had to go around the volcano instead of over it, and we had an ample supply of Pringles for the trip, we headed out to meet Dracula.
It’s about a 2 hour drive from Boquete through the rolling foothills of the volcano. Dotted with cattle ranches and highways that boast more horses than cars at times, the road swoops down then up and over rivers and gorges, and the weather alternates between rolling mist and bright sun depending on the mile marker.
Volcan is small, but it’s a great place to stop for lunch or a bathroom break. Cerro Punta is about 20 minutes further down the road, and you’ll know when you get close to it.
Have you ever had those moments when you stop and think, “Hey. I know I’m in X country, but I could swear I was Y right now.”
Yeah, Cerro Punta made me look over my shoulder for a fondue restaurant and people wearing Swatches. Bursting with lush green meadows and alpine forests, the Cerro Punta area feels so Swiss that there is even a village called Nueva Suiza. I’m not kidding.
It even comes with a little hotel dressed up as a chalet.
Finca Dracula is located just past the downtown area of Cerro Punta. If you feel lost there are several tourist kiosks on the main road, staffed by people who will be happy to help you. I was handed a very nice map and a coupon for a free night at the local hotel just for stopping in to use the bathroom!
The last portion of the road to the farm is badly rutted and is suitable only for 4×4 vehicles. However, you can easily park at the bottom of the road and walk in. You’ll cross the bridge on foot and work your way up the road to the small office and greenhouse area.
As I said, we visited on a Saturday and expected the place to be packed with orchid enthusiasts. After all, Dracula orchids are quite rare. However, we were the only ones there and the lady in the office said that they didn’t do guided tours on the weekends.
We then walked around the grounds on our own. There are a number of beautiful tropical trees and flowering plants on the well-kept path, but I came for the orchids. We hurried through the trail and went back to the office.
The lady then, very kindly, offered to take us into the greenhouse. Not all of the orchids were in bloom, but the ones that were took my breath away. I’ve seen quite a few orchids in my day, but I’ve never seen some of the varieties that they keep at Finca Dracula.
Our impromptu guide rattled off the Spanish names of the orchids, but I couldn’t pay attention. I was too busy staring into the corner where Dracula sat in his pot, his purple face bent over against the midday sun that filtered through the roof. I had heard that the Dracula orchid could be placed into a bucket of water briefly and it would open, no matter the time of day. Our guide didn’t seem to understand what I meant when I asked, but I might have used the Spanish word for drown.
We looked around for a few minutes more and I tried unsuccessfully to buy some of the orchids. Either they simply weren’t for sale or the lady thought I’d drown them; I may never know the real reason why she wouldn’t let me leave with an orchid of my own. We then left and made it back to Boquete in time for dinner.
All in all it was a great day and a great drive. The Cerro Punta area is gorgeous and worth a visit, and that visit should always be capped off with a stop at the Finca Dracula Orchid Farm.
Note to Scientists: If you’re an orchid enthusiast or expert I apologize for the inaccuracies regarding the photos. I was never able to establish the proper names of the orchids, so I had to improvise.
How to Get There: If you’re driving take highway south from Boquete toward David. At the 14 kilometer mark take a hairpin right at the gas station onto highway 13. Continue to Volcan then turn right on the road marked Cerro Punta. If you’re taking the bus, grab a local bus out of Boquete to David, then change to the local Cerro Punta bus.
Consequently, you could ask a live human to avoid any mixups.
There is an admission charge of $10.00 per person, which may or may not include a guided tour.