There are a few botanical gardens in Machu Picchu Pueblo but our favourite is the Machu Picchu orchid garden run by the Mendoza Mora family located on the train tracks on the way to the Mandor Waterfall. Don’t be put off by the approach which is either up a dirt trail on the right just before the Inca bridge and Museum or along the train tracks about 25 minutes out of town towards Machu Picchu.
It’s hard to avoid the crowds in Machu Picchu but the orchid garden is most definitely off the tourist trail. I didn’t meet one other person as I wandered around this self-guided circuit which takes about 30 – 40 minutes depending on the time of the year and how many orchids are in flower.
A small wooden shack selling drinks and snacks opposite the entrance to the gardens is where you will find either Eucelio or his son Bernardino who have run this orchid garden for 15 years. The garden is slightly run-down, think rickety hand rails and a slightly unkempt feel with building materials lying discarded around the place but despite this it has a certain charm in its simplicity.
The best time of the year to visit is between December and March in the rainy season when the majority of the 400 orchid species are in flower. I however visited when there were only 15 species in flower and I was still amazed by the beauty and delicacy of the orchids, some so small they are easy to miss as you walk along the trail. A nice way to spend an hour off the well-beaten tourist trail.
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- If Bernardino happens to be at home he will guide you around the circuit, otherwise his slightly gruff father will show you a few species of orchids behind the ticket desk and will then direct you to where the self-guided circuit begins.