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Quito botanic gardens

South America is a veritable botanist’s paradise. Quito Botanic Gardens is a hidden marvel, holding a collection of thousands of orchids, ferns, bromeliads and fuchsias. Whenever I visit the Ecuadorian capital city I try and spend an hour or so here. It is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Within the La Carolina Park in the north of Quito, just a short taxi ride from most hotels. Quito’s Jardin Botánico has been voted by the online magazine Gardenista as one of the best 100 botanical gardens to visit around the world. This magazine puts the gardens in 11th position in a ranking that includes the Royal Botanic Garden of Kew, the New York Botanical Garden, Kyoto Gardens and other world-renowned urban green places. For its size, Ecuador is the most biologically diverse country in the world. The gardens display regions from around the country: the high moorlands or paramo, fertile cloud forest, tropical rainforest and arid spiny scrub. They give you a map at the gate to navigate your way, or if you speak Spanish you can request a personal guide. There is a section where medicinal plants are grown, the gardens original purpose. It is also a great place for bird-watching, as the gardens attract over 50 species, including many hummingbirds, fly-catchers and colourful tanagers. For locals the shop provides a source of young plants and for tourists there is the inevitable café. I drank from a fresh coconut in the nearby park and dreamt I was on a palm-fringed beach…

All photographs copyright David Horwell 2019

Related: 9 Reasons to Visit Quito

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