If you have ever visited Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico, you may have spent most of your time at the hotel pool, eating and drinking and walking the charming but hilly (and car choked) streets.
Lots and lots of lovely stairs!
Ouch! This is how your feet feel after a few days…
So if you’re craving a quiet and beautiful spot with fresh air and mountain breezes, take your rental car or hire a taxi and head south down Highway 200. As you drive twelve miles outside of town, you’ll be enveloped by the Sierra Madre mountains, 1300 feet above sea level. Here, the environment is dry but lush; this is where the uniquely situated Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens were built and planted six years ago and opened to the public in 2005.
This botanical garden was created as a research centre and pleasure garden; it encompasses 20 acres of land that is comprised of an orchid display, palm and rose gardens, a tree fern grotto, gardens planted with drought-proof agaves as well as a carniverous plant collection and natural displays of Mexican wildflowers.
When I visited in 2006, the gardens were in their infancy but you could tell that it would be a short time before the plants would fill in and flowers would start overflowing.
The bougainvillea that you see starting to grow up the posts are now, five years later, covering the facade in blooms!
This was the Orchid House with the beginnings of their plant collection. I wish I could have bought several and taken them home, but alas, Agriculture Canada phyto-sanitary certificates and all that…..
This was my lunch! And Kent thinking to himself, “You’re not going to eat all that are you?” Note, you cannot see what he’s eating, but chances are its a burger and fries!
This is the organic vegetable and herb garden. Their intention is to grow much of their own fresh produce for the restaurant; you can see the purple leaf basil and some cherry tomatoes under the palm. If you look closely on the hillside to the rear left you can see it dotted with plants; these are young agave plants that, over time, will cover the slope and colour it blue!
This leads you to the spectacular washrooms!
Although I don’t have any photos of the walking trails through the gardens to show you (they were newly planted and the specimens were quite immature), I can direct you to other more recent pictures (and visitors’ perceptions) here.
The charm of this garden is largely as a result of its infancy; you will not find a Kew or a New York Botanical garden here. This place is a non-profit endeavour, registered as a charity both in the United States and Mexico. It does not receive any government assistance and relies solely on donations from the public and monies generated through its own initiatives (restaurant, guided group tours, wedding receptions, special events, etc.)
For a brief bio on Robert Price, the American entrepreneur responsible for this wonderland, you can go here.
If you visit, don’t forget to bring your bathing suit. The paths lead you down to the Rio Los Horcones, a clear, crisp gentle river (at this location!) that runs through the mountains and valleys. It’s picturesque and peaceful with softly rounded boulders and placid pools. And stay for lunch and a drink. One Tripadvisor reviewer called the pizza and Marguerita they enjoyed ‘the best ever.’
Open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Admission: 50 pesos (about $4 u.s.); children under 10 are admitted free.
|from their website:
To build Mexico’s greatest botanical garden here in the enchanted highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.
To create Mexico’s foremost botanical garden for the propagation, study, discovery, conservation and display of Mexican native plants for enjoyment by Puerto Vallarta’s residents and its visitors.