Last week I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour through Lo de Perla, an orchid jungle just a few miles south of Lo de Marcos, where we live. My friend, Memo, does a lot of public relations for Galvan Realty, and he often writes about local attractions for their website. He was asked to do a blog about the Orchid Jungle, and he asked me if I'd be interested in going along as his photographer. Of course I was more than happy to. We arrived at the designated "pick-up" area at 9:00 am where we met up with 2 women who were also going along on the tour.
The entrance to the Lo de Perla...
Here's Memo, with the founder and owner, Alejandro de Perla.
This is advertised to be a 2 hour walk through the jungle where you'll see orchids, bromelias and cacti in their natural habitat.
Alejandro is totally chemical-free, and collects only "pure" species of plants.
That's Memo, holding a Shelf Fungi (also known as "Artist's Fungi") that grows on a lot of the trees here. While this is primarily a showcase for orchids, the jungle is just right for many kinds of mushrooms and other fungus. Alejandro told us how many species of trees and birds have been documented in this area, and he could easily conduct a tour about a lot more than the orchids that he loves.
As you walk along the tour route, you'll see artwork and other artifacts pertaining to the people and the culture here.
Many of the orchids and bromelia you see have been attached to the trees with twine. While the conditions are perfect for their growth, they need some help getting started in places along the trail.
I know... this wasn't a bird-watching tour, but of course I'm always on the lookout for bird sounds or movement. I wasn't disappointed... saw this Brown Creeper soon into the walk. There are over 130 species of birds here, so there's a lot more than orchids to see.
I don't know how many of species of plants Alejandro pointed out to us, but most plants in the jungle are not in bloom at this time.
Not part of the Gardens, but doesn't this view of the coast look like it should be in a fairy tale?
Many of these plants won't be in bloom until April... and again in October, when, we were told, the jungle will be ablaze with color.
I loved the way the sun high-lighted his huge leaf!
We did see several orchids in bloom. Most quite small and easy to miss unless you look closely. Alejandro explained how commercial orchids are often hybrids... bred for size or other attributes that are not the "natural" state. His plants are all without modification.
The two women on the tour had a great time taking tons of photos and getting up close and personal with the flowers.
Another sprig of tiny orchids.
We saw so many species of plants I couldn't keep track. I think Alejandro said that there are around 40,000 different species of orchids in the world. I don't know how many of species he has here, but there are a lot. (the brochure says he has more than 1,000 species of exotic plants)
And only about an inch across. It's amazing how much detail can be seen in something so tiny.
Here's Memo... standing at the base of a fig tree. More on this later....
Here's what happens when you give your camera to someone else to take photos. Alejandro took this one of our group as we're standing on the bridge. The stream was dry here, but during the rainy season the water will cascade down creating waterfalls and deep pools.
Back to the Fig Tree.
The original (host) tree is in the middle. That vine is started from the top of the tree... usually because a bird ate the fruit.. passed the seed into the nest... it sprouted... started sending out tendrils... clear to the ground. There it took root. Over time the tendrils and roots criss-cross around the original tree and eventually kill it.
The tour winds through the jungle, up to a huge greenhouse.
This is where the color is today...
Most of these flowers are large and quite showy.
Some even had a lovely smell... not at all like those hot-house orchids you used to get in a corsage for the prom!
Alejandro has a lot of different plants in his greenhouse area. He's standing beside a huge Angel-wing Begonia here.
In November, he is planning to have a fund-raiser to help his efforts in saving the habitat and his beloved orchids. He plans to offer a tour of the gardens, followed by a short drive to this area, where there will be drinks and hors d'oeuvres served. This is a perfect spot to relax, enjoy the view and meet others who are also interested in his work.
As it happened, we stopped at a couple of spots before heading back to Lo de Marcos, and our "two hour" tour lasted almost 6 hours.
We had a great tour, and I enjoyed every minute of it, and come October, Bill & I plan to go back to see all the glory when the jungle is in bloom!
That's All For Today!