There’s a hidden place in Sierra de Vallejo where civilization has yet to arrive. This is where the mountain meets the sea and the shades of green are so intense your eyes will almost have a hard time committing them to memory: welcome to the Lo de Perla Jungle Garden, the “orchid paradise” of the Riviera Nayarit.
Located in Las Lomas ranch (just five minutes from the coastal town of San Pancho on federal highway 200), “Lo de Perla” is more than just a botanical garden: it’s nature at its best, spread out over 13 hectares. Here the orchids grow at their leisure, misted by the breeze off the ocean that lies just beyond the jungle.
A tour through this gorgeous paradise takes about three hours, though time really does fly and it’s very easy to get around—the pathways are dotted with resting areas as well as a cabin, a wooden bridge, and an altar with several monoliths erected in honor of those who founded the garden.
“We’re in the northernmost jungle of Mexico,” said José Moreno, one of the location’s top guides who will accompany you through the labyrinth of trees and palms covered in vines. Their branches form enormous natural domes of up to 40 meters that barely allow the sunlight to peek through.
The giant breadnut and fig trees are home to parrots, magpies, carpenter birds, chachalacas, pigeons, and macaws. There are also plenty of coconut oil palms and trees known as papelillos, or paper bark trees. Fruit trees, fabulous mushrooms, bromeliads, cacti, roses, and thousands of other plants coexist in complete harmony.
As far as local fauna, don José added they’ve spotted “raccoons, wild boars, armadillos, foxes and even the occasional jaguar and snow leopard.”
The guides are very happy with the reproduction of the orchids: there are over 3,500 of them perched along the pathways or hanging from the trees. They pretty much reproduce on their own with a little help from insects and small birds.
The grand finale is the hothouse, called The Sanctuary, which houses a collection of more than 500 orchids cultivated in vitro, among them 70 endemic species to the state of Nayarit.
“This project was born of love… love for the flowers and for nature, though it also has a noble purpose: to help the town of Las Lomas flourish,” said Alejandro de Perla, founder of the garden, who extends an open invitation to all nature lovers to come visit his paradise.
The main objective of this tiny non-profit venture is the conservation of nature. The financing is personal, based on tours by nature-loving visitors and diverse donations.
The Jungle Garden is about three kilometers down a primitive road from the entrance to the town of Las Lomas. You can contact Alejandro Perla at 322 1811 909 | mobile (55) 3988 0540 or by visiting the website at http://lodeperla.org.