Ecuador: An Orchid Lover's Paradise
Ecuador, named for its position astride the line that divides the planet into north and south, offers a fabulous range of flora and fauna, with one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world. For lovers of orchids this is paradise – one in every four plants here is an orchid and the variety is bewildering, as we will see when we discover countless species, both cultivated and in their natural habitat. And what a habitat this is – the cloud forests of the Andes, where still-active volcanoes add to the sense of drama here in one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. Bromeliads, epiphytes and alpine plants feature alongside more familiar cultivated species in a selection of gardens, national parks, jungle and forests as we journey from north to south and take in some of the highlights of a captivating country - including the opportunity to stand with a foot in either hemisphere!
We begin in the attractive capital city Quito, at an altitude of around 3,000m above sea level, where a visit to the botanic garden provides a good introduction to the flora of the northern Andes. We also visit the Botanical Garden of Quito, the beautiful gardens of Hacienda Cusin and El Pahuma Orchid Reserve. We cross the equator on our way to Mindo, an area of pristine cloud forest with a staggering abundance of flowers and wildlife. From here we turn south, travelling down the Avenue of Volcanoes and through awesome mountain scenery to Baños, where we will enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the rain forest, discover the indigenous cultures and learn about the important work of the Amazonian Flora Rescue Centre. On the way to Cuenca we visit the Inca ruins of Ingapirca, the most important monument of pre-Colombian Ecuador, and we conclude with a visit to the country’s biggest orchid centre and a day exploring El Cajas National Park, where a variety of grasses and bizarre ‘paper trees’ can be found.
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What to Expect
- Spectacular waterfalls in the Amazonian Basin
- Ingapirca, one of the most important Inca complexes
- Butterfly, hummingbird, coffee and chocolate experiences
- Stand astride the Equator at the Quitsato Sundial
- Orchids, orchids and yet more orchids!