Orchids in Machu Picchu


Waqanki Tale (*)


"In the kingdom of the Andes there was a beautiful young princess. She fell in love with a brave and handsome warrior of the Inca. Once her father, knew of the love affair, he prohibited any relationship between them because the princess was destined for the Sun God.


When the princess learned of his decision, she ran over the Andes, crying for her forbidden love and was turned into the beautiful "Waqanki" flower. So, each time the warrior found this flower in the Andes, he also would cry remembering his lost love"


The spirit of beauty is still there, expressed also in our days in a song that we can hear even now:

"You will cry, my most beautiful flower
with your pretty eyes.
Because of you
jealousy surrounds me.
To you, I am betrothed,
beautiful Waqanki,
Flower blooming in the heights.
What shall your song be
when I carry you
in my heart"


(*) This is the only testimony of appreciation of the orchids that existed in the empire of the Incas and has been preserved until the present day through oral transmission.



The meandering paths and trails on the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel grounds are designed to provide the guests with unparalleled opportunities to observe and explore on foot the impressive wealth of orchids at the Sanctuary. Bromeliad fanciers and bird watchers will spot many specimens, as well. The three walks vary in length, difficulty and frequency of use.


It is believed there are some 350 native species in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. More than a hundred of these may be easily seen in these orchid trails, in their natural habitat.


The Ñusta Orchid Walk
Is the first area that guests see. Ñusta was the official title of the Royal princess of the Inca Empire, This paved walkway was painstakingly hand-cut and laid by indigenous stonecutters in the tradition of their ancestors. The path meanders through the Hotel grounds around casitas that lodge guests in gardens so carefully crafted that they appear entirely natural. Visitors immediately enjoy the sight of orchids from the tranquility of their windows, and exotics orchid plants that are carefully identified and described to provide botanical information on the marvels at hand.


The Imperial Orchid Trail
Is also located on Hotel property. In these natural retreats we learn more about native orchids and theirs growing habits. Again, we will recognize terrestrial, or ground-growing orchids as well as epiphytic orchids, which are "air plants" that grow attached to trees and shrubs, deriving their nutrients from de air. Along this trail, accompanied by the trill of exotic birds, we will undoubtedly observe exquisite orchids which centuries ago delighted Inca rulers and subjects alike. From either, you might have the unforgettable experience of sighting one of the exotic birds native to the Sanctuary, such as the "Gallito de las Rocas" the brilliant orange and black Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks (Rupicola peruviana).


The Orchids Explorers' Trail
The old mountain trail used by Hiram Bingham on his way to Machu Picchu, is carefully designed to be an exiting and educational orchid identification search which will familiarize the trekker with several different orchid habitats. The walk begins in avocado orchard and a vegetable garden belonging to the Hotel and continues as a hike up into the higher-altitude of the Urubamba Valley canyons, which reach 2460 meters / 8000 ft. above sea level. The emotion of seeing orchids suspend over rushing water or contrasted against brilliant blues skies will be your most treasured souvenir. Strict Hotel rules require that all trails be visited only during daylight hours and that, without exception, guest be accompanied on their explorations by a Hotel designated guide or interpreter.


Anguloa virginalis
This is a large, terrestrial, trifoliate plant with dark green pseudo-bulbs.
Flowers: From September to December; it bears single, medium-sized, creamy white flowers with purple-rose spots on sepals, petals and lip.
Habitat / Distribution: It grows in dense shade in the cloud forest and has a widely extended habitat stretching from the north of Peru, in the Cordillera del Cóndor, to the south in the high cloud forest of the Department of Puno. The Anguloa is the most common orchid in Peru.


Epidendrum schomburgkii
Impressive because of this height and the size of its flowers, this terrestrial plant forms great masses when growing well. It has stems from 1 to 1.5 meters / 3 to 5 feet tall.
Flowers: Its flower are among the biggest of the Epidendrum, 5 to 10 cm / 2 to 3 inches. They are brilliant orange and appear from September to December, before the rainy season.
Habitat / Distribution: Terrestrial plant. Native to the Central Forest of Peru, grows at altitudes around 1 500 meters / 5 000 feet.


Zygopetalum Intermedium
These plants grow in the ground and have ovoid-conic pseudo-bulbs with 3 or 4 leaves at the apex.
Flowers: Three to six large flowers hang in clusters from the peduncle. They are green, heavily mixed with light crimson. Sepals and petals are the same color, a white lip is adorned with purple veins. It flowers from September to December.
Habitat / Distribution: Terrestrial. A common species in cloud forest areas at about 1 500 mt. / 5 000 ft.




Orchids in Machu Picchu Photo Gallery

372 species of orchids at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, the world's largest diversity of native species set in their natural environment at your reach.



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