With over 4,000 different species of orchids, hundreds of which are not found anywhere else on the planet, it’s no mistake that Ecuador is called the Land of the Orchids. Being located on the equator and a consistent climate gives orchids an ideal environment to grow, and these striking flowers are found in three regions of the mainland: the mountain range (home to 66% of Ecuador’s orchids), Amazon, and the coast.
Quito Botanical Gardens
For less than $4, visitors can see a large collection of orchids from all around the country at Quito Botanical Gardens. The gardens have different greenhouses that are adapted to the orchids needs of humidity and temperature. Its accessible location in the middle of Carolina Park in Quito makes it a must-visit is staying for a short period of time.
Quito Botanical Gardens, Pasaje. Rumipamba, Quito, Ecuador, +593 2 333 2516
El Pachuma Orchid Reserve
North of Quito is the Cloud Forest of Ecuador. For orchid lovers who want an authentic reserve experience that works hard to protect threatened habitats (and is connected with researchers), El Pahuma is an unbeatable destination. Along with endemic orchids, the reserve also has hummingbirds and other plants to observe.
El Pachuma Orchid Reserve, Quito, Ecuador, +593 2 513 9770
Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve
Not far from El Pachuma is Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve, which features day-long and multi-day tour opportunities from Quito. If traveling alone, the reserve is fairly easy to get to and also serves as accommodation. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings and trails, and students can take advantage of research opportunities.
Bellavista, Km 52 Ruta Quito – Nanegalito, Tandayapa, Ecuador, +593 2 223 2313
Cabañas Armonía y Jardín de Orquídeas
Consider combining checking out orchids with a stay in Mindo. Cabañas Armonía y Jardín de Orquídeas (just two blocks from Mindo’s main square) is worth checking out for either the cabins or the 200+ species of local orchids in the garden.
Baños, most famous for its beautiful waterfalls and the swing at the end of the world, is also home to numerous rare species like white and green lady slippers and unique micro orchids, as well as to Phaedranassa tungurahua and Phragmipedium pearcei. This has also made Sir David Attenborough a champion for these species.
With over 2,500 different species, the Azuay region has the largest concentration of orchids in Ecuador. Known as the Gardens of Azuay, Gualaceo allows visitors to observe orchids in the wild. Ecuagenera has a huge greenhouse with thousands of different preserved orchids, as well as a shop with orchids for sale.
Ecuagenera, Calle Cuenca, Gualaceo, Ecuador, +593 7 225 5237
Run by the University of Cuenca, Cuenca Orchidarium has a collection of almost 400 orchids, is a top institute for researching and recovering endangered species of orchids, and is definitely worth a visit in Cuenca.
Suchipakari is a jungle-lodge 45 minutes from Tena in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Its orchid garden has over 100 different species, and in off season, its trails are lined with photos of the flowers in bloom. The orchids in the Amazon orchids tend to be larger than other varieties because of the high temperature and humid environment, and they can be spotted in the wild through an organized tour or with an ecolodge.
Suchipakari, Pusuno Bajo, Puerto Misahualli, Puerto Napo, Ecuador, +593 9 9271 7038
Santo Domingo’s orchids are found in the wild on the outskirts of the city, between the mountain range and coast where the warm climate and high altitude makes it a good environment for them to grow. Padre Julio Marrero Jardin Botanico, the botanical garden, also has a notable collection of orchids.