Cultural Expeditions, inc.

Exquisite Tours since 1999

Welcome to our blog. We hope you enjoy our posts on Peruvian history, archaeology, cultural insights, events such as festivals, and travel tips.

The Orchids of Machu Picchu

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Orchids of Machu Picchu

The country of Peru has 84 of the 103 biodiversity zones found on earth, 
is home to more than 3,000 of the 30,000 known orchid species, but it is 
estimated that only about 50% of the Peruvian species have so far 
been discovered.

If you like orchids and adventure, and you are not afraid of heights and 
walking then I recommend you visit the Machu Picchu sanctuary. 
The starting point is the city of Cuzco, where you take a train to 
Aguas Calientes. In Aguas Calientes you can visit the Thermal Baths 
that are situated about 800 meters from the railway station, on the 
way you can find three different orchids in flower, Alstenstenia fimbriata, 
a pink Epidendrum secundum and a Lycaste trifoliate.
At the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel you can admire their gardens where 
they claim to have over 140 species of orchids from the region although 
not all are from the sanctuary. The gardens consist of a native forest where 
a lot of orchid plants can be seen, the best months for floration are 
October and November, during the month of April you can see the 
following species: Phragmipedium caudatum, Hofmeisterella eumicroscopica, 
Oncidium scansor, Encyclia fusca, Oncidium pentadactilon, Pleurothalis 
ruberrima, Scaphiglotis leucantha, as well as various unidentified species. 
On Machu Picchu itself there is also an orchid garden that visitors can enjoy.

From Aguas Calientes if one walks 300 meters down the railway line there 
is a path that will take you to the "Mirador", recommended only for young 
adventurous people, since in three places along the path one has to climb 
150 feet of ladders that are stuck against the rock. Nevertheless, in the first 
half of this path, besides the good view of the river, one can see Sobralia 
dichotoma, which by itself makes the effort worthwhile. The Inca Trail is an 
exciting experience that takes on average four days, the highest point is 
the pass at Warmiwanuska at 4800 meters (14500 feet). There also exists 

the possibility of doing the Royal Inca Trail, and takes only two days, it 
starts at Km.104 and climbs from 6500 feet to 10000 feet at Winay Huayna 
(which means "always young" in the Quechua language) this is also the 
name given to Epidendrum secundum that grows throughout the year in 
this region. This is where they usually spend the night. The ruins at 
Winay Huayna are worthwhile visiting, they are surrounded by lush forest, 
and of special interest are the row of baths which still have water running 
between the stone masonry. For the orchid lover, the walk from Winay Huayna 
to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience since it is full of bromeliads and
orchids, you can see Epidendrum secundum, a pink and a white variety, 
Lycaste longipetala, Masdevallia veitchiana, Pleurothalis stenophilla, two 
types of Elleanthus, one Odontoglossum, Maxillaria gigantea and the ever 
present Sobralia dichotoma. The distance from Winay Huayna to Machu Picchu 
is six kilometers that will take from three to six hours, depending on the amount 
of orchids you come across.  See orchids of Peru on our website

Amazing Orchids of Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hey, you orchid lovers Peru is home of 3000 orchid species.
The greatest diversity of species is found in the High Amazon
Jungle located between 500 and 3,600 m.a.s.l. Peru surpasses
the number of native species found in Colombia and Ecuador,
countries that are known because of their orchid variety. 

Orchids were highly prized by the Inca and pre-Inca cultures as
is described in ancient records. Check out our orchid page for
all the locations and genera pictures in each area.

Machu Picchu Sanctuary

The estimates for diversity within the sanctuary reach 200 species.
Among the species that can be found (take a walk in the crossroad
Ollantaytambo Machu Picchu) are Aa, Epidendrum, Masdevallia,
Maxillaria, Oncidium, Odontoglossum, Phagminpedium and the Sobralia.

Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone

Orchids studies do not show significant diversity but do include some
interesting species of the genera Cataseum, Mormodes, Psychopsis
Only by request:

Huascaran National Park

The National Park has High Andean species that have been studied
recently. One of the most representative species is the Masdevalia
amabilis, which grows in rocky mountain slopes. Other genera

are: Aa, Altenasteinia, Epidendrum, Stelis and Trichocerus.

Land of Orchids (also Chachapoyas is possible, beautiful, but remote)

The watershed of the Mayo river (Department of San Martin) is known
as the land of orchids. There are great numbers such as Anguloa,
Brassia, Cataseum, Cattleya, Bollea, Coryanthes, Lycaste, Masdevallia

and many more. The most representative is the Cattleya, locally
known as "Golondrina".

Loreto and Ucayali (beautiful, but remote)

Amazon lowlands have not much diversity. The great attractions are the
species of the genus: Caryanthes, Gongora, Maxillaria, Mormodes
and Cataseum. 

Podocarpus Forests in Cajamarca

The high Amazon jungle is known for the podocarpus forests, the forest
with the highest number of orchids. Many are quite exotic varieties such
as the Masdevalia setacea, Masdevalia glandulosa and Lycaste


The Valley of Orchids (beautiful, not far away from Lima)

The Valley of Chanchamayo (Department of Junin) is a fantastic place
for orchid funds, although nowadays highly depredated. The zone
requires immediate protected area status.The Masdevallia can reach
up to 30cm. The Pschopsis sanderae, known as the royal butterfly,
is a rare endemic species. The majority of genera in Peru are
found in this valley.