In Peru, the Orchidaceae family
features some 3,000 species, most of which
grow in the tropical jungle on the eastern slopes of the Andes:
the cloud forest region. There, amidst the
exuberant vegetation produced by nearly 5,000 mm of rainfall
a year, orchids multiply, forming veritable natural gardens.
In the far northwest of Peru, in the departments of Tumbes
and Piura, one can find several attractive
species of orchids such as the Cattleya maxima,
with large, violet flowers. To the east, the department of
Amazonas features vast stretches of cloud
forest which are a haven for a series of striking orchids
such as the Masdevalia. The Mayo
River Valley, in the department of San Martín,
has been dubbed "the land of orchids", where one
can find the Cattleya rex, considered a symbol
of the region's wildflowers.
Huanuco is the gateway to the tropical jungle
and an ideal place for orchid lovers: cloud forests and dense
vegetation which hide hundreds of plants, including the Epidendrum
which grow on tree branches, amongst rocks or on ground-based
The Cordillera Blanca mountain range and
the Callejon de Huaylas valley in the department
of Ancash add to a breath-taking landscape
the chance to spot interesting varieties of native orchids,
including the wakanku (Masdevalia amabilis).
The Chanchamayo Valley in the department
of Junín is home to an ideal series
of circuits for orchid fans. One particularly interesting
trail is the route that runs through Pampa Hermosa
and Moyobamba, outside San Ramon,
where one can find an enormous diversity of species such as
the Royal Butterfly (Psychopsis sanderae)
and the lovely Star of David (Huntleya vargasii).
Finally, the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary
is home to more than 200 orchid varieties. The finest include
the wakanki, which in the Quechua language
means "you will weep" (Masdevalia vetchiana),
and wiñaywayna, "forever young" (Epidendrum
secundum). The best way to study orchids and at the
same time take in the spectacular countryside is to hike the
Inca Trail, which links Qorihuayrachina
(on the outskirts of Ollantaytambo), with the Inca
citadel of Machu Picchu.
Remember to read our "Recommendations"
for your trip to Peru, as well as other important issues in
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