The brochure sounded intriguing.. “Where Mexican plants meet the imagination”. We decided to check out the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
Their website says:
More orchid species are found in Jalisco than in any other Mexican state. A current goal is the creation of the National Collection of Mexican Orchids, the most complete collection of Mexican orchids anywhere in the country. Donations allowed the construction in 2009 of a micro-propagation lab for endangered orchid species.
After breakfast, we headed out to catch the “El Tuito” bus at the corner of Carranza and Aguacate. This bus leaves every half hour or so. This bus will also return you to PV. Bus fare is 20 pesos (about 1.50 USD) each way. An exciting forty minute wild ride along the coast, winding up hills and around corners , bouncing over speed bumps and hanging on around corners. After following the coast, the bus turned inland. The gardens are up a river and at a higher elevation, 1300 ft. The drive took us through the jungle and some small villages.
Once we arrived, we wandered slowly toward the main building, following the pathways outlined in the guidebook, enjoying a variety of flowers and trees, taking way too many photos of everything.
The main building is quite interesting with a lovely gift shop, beautiful ceramic tiles and displays of butterflies and bugs. The decor is very colourful. We had lunch on the upper floor with a wonderful view of the jungle valley and the hills beyond.We were immediately served complimentary Hibiscus tea and spiced cucumbers to enjoy as we looked over the menu. For lunch, I ordered an avocado and tomato salad and Dave had Caesar salad, complete with anchovies. Good food, great service at the restaurant.
After lunch we headed down to the river, we were looking for the challenge of what they list as the more “difficult” hiking trail. The trail took us along the river, between some boulders then headed up. The trail is a series of switchbacks climbing up to the plateau. We did have to fight off the wildlife, a lizard and many butterflies, but no mosquitoes thankfully.
It was a hot day so we went back to the restaurant to have a beer and some amazing, creamy, smooth vanilla ice cream served with chocolate syrup and a cookie. Did I say it was delicious?
We sat, taking in the fresh air, enjoying the view and the wonderful atmosphere.
As we sat sipping our beer, we were entertained by the many birds at the feeders. The yellow and black ones were the most abundant. I wish I knew the names of these birds. Can anyone identify them for me?
There is a lovely open air sitting area on the main floor. It is decorated with colorful couches and lounge furniture that gave me the feeling that I had stepped back in time. It is set up so that one can relax, put their feet up, and either read or nap. Gentle breezes will keep you cool. The lounge also looks out over the jungle valley.
There is a large flat grassy area with paths and gardens where the flowers of Mexico are featured. Lots of bougainvillea in whites and pinks and reds, orchids of all kinds, many other cactus and succulents.. I am not a botanist, but I enjoyed the variety. Such beauty. There is a butterfly garden with a variety of butterflies flitting about. We heard a lot of birds and caught sight of a few in the trees.
We wandered on some of the “easy” and “moderate” trails through the jungle vegetation. While the trails were not long, I had to be careful with my footing because there were lots of hazards, roots and rocks to trip over. The rickety hand rails, held together with duct tape, gave the illusion of safety although I didn’t want to put them to a test. A couple of places were very steep, but steps made the climb easier. If you don’t walk the trails, the only thing you miss is a walk in the jungle and a bit of exercise.
We enjoyed our day and found that the gardens are well worth the visit. We will definitely be going back again. We may take a guided tour next time in order to glean more information.