Vallarta’s Botanical Gardens are a special place that definitely should not be missed. A combination of Orchid houses, nurseries, nature trails, a very nice restaurant and even a place to take a dip, await you upon arrival. It was just what I needed to relax and escape into nature for a day.
Getting there is easy; catch the bus, bound for El Tuito, at the corner of Aguacate and Carranza streets in the Romantic Sector of PV. The fare is 20 pesos, and you are dropped off right at the Garden’s entrance. Now for me, on my Sunday visit, I did have an adventure getting there. Our bus had a small calamity. The turbine overheated, filling the bus with smoke and causing us to pull over to the side of the road, the driver quickly doused the engine compartment with water and we all spread out and awaited another bus to pick us up. The thing was; nobody got terribly upset, we all just sat roadside and waited the 20 minutes for our rescue – boarded our new bus and headed off to our destination.
After picking up a map at the entrance, I set off. I decided to walk the nature trails down by the Emerald Pools first. This path is rated Difficult, but with a good set of walking shoes, it is very manageable. The clear and cool stream, the deep green pools of water along with the sound of the rushing water made it all very worth it. I lingered for quite a bit of time there.
The trail back up was well marked out and while difficult, was a great nature walkway. The work they have done here to reforest this land is astonishing. Much of the land here had been used for cattle and was terribly overgrazed and cleared. The volunteers and the staff have totally transformed this place.
The trail lead me back to the Hacienda de Oro, just in time for lunch! The building is covered with Bouganvillas and is brilliantly painted. There is a very nice gift shop, offering many local products, including some wonderful and such fragrant whole Vanilla Beans. Upstairs is the restaurant, where I settle in for a lite lunch of Tortilla Soup and an Agua Fresca [Hibiscus flavoured] . On this Sunday morning, opera arias were playing in the background and the view from up here is magnificent. My lunch started with a little tray of fresh cucumbers, jicama and radishes sprinkled with Tajin. This has been served to me in several other restaurants here; and is a habit I intend on continuing. Crisp, refreshing and a bit spicy – an excellent tradition. The soup arrived in a diminutive earthenware pitcher and bowl. A delightful presentation and delicious to boot; It was richly flavoured and topped Guacamole and Sour Cream. The restaurant offers wood-fired oven pizzas and other traditional Mexican offerings, along with an extensive selection of tequilas.
After lunch, I joined the tour through the Orchid house and nursery. I would highly recommend joining this – the varieties are almost endless. Robert Price, Founder and Curator of the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens has developed an outstanding collection of orchids and in the propagation lab, endangered species of orchids are being cultivated.
To finish my day, I headed off down to the Vanilla Trail area; a more rainforest feel to these gardens. Coffee plants abound along with Vanilla orchids and Capomo trees. Theses trails are a bit easier to navigate and were a great way to finish up my trip to the gardens. I cannot over state the special nature of this place; a bit of paradise not far away for the city of Puerto Vallarta and a must visit.