July 17, 2016
WHAT: Take a walk through the Orquídeas Moxviquil, a botanical garden filled with flowers native to Mexico’s southern region.
WHERE: The garden is on the northeast side of San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state.
WHY: For nature lovers, the 9.8-acre Orquídeas Moxviquil offers an opportunity to see some of the region’s most exquisite flowers and learn about local efforts to conserve the flora for future generations to enjoy.
Find the garden within the Reserva Ecológica Moxviquil, a wildlife reserve that protects some 100 hectares (247 acres) of forest, local flora and fauna. Visitors can walk the garden’s trails to see more than 400 different species from the state’s forests and jungles.
One of the more prominent flowers of the garden is the fragrant and bright orchid, for which the garden is named.
Orquídeas Moxviquil was opened in 1994, primarily to preserve endangered Chiapas flora. That same year, the Mexican government published regulations establishing procedures for the protection of endangered flora and fauna. Those regulations specified 180 species in the orchid family that were in danger of extinction, threatened, rare or otherwise subject to special protection in the country.
Craig Robert Dietz, founder and director of the botanical garden, says orchids are still in danger today.
The high degradation of forests, coupled with the unsustainable extraction of flowers for commercial or religious reasons, have shown that locals are not fully aware of their impact on nature, says Dietz, whom everyone knows by his nickname, “Cisco.” Visitors at Orquídeas Moxviquil can learn about the vulnerability of these flowers and what can be done to protect them.
Orchids are a focal point, but the garden preserves and exhibits many other types of plants, including bromeliads, anthuriums, and cactuses.
There are two rules at the garden, Dietz says: Play like a child and celebrate the richness of Chiapas.
“This is not an ordinary orchid museum,” Dietz says. “We want people to see the flowers, but also how these flowers live, that they have the experience of feeling the forest or the jungle.”
DETAILS: Orquídeas Moxviquil is at Periférico Norte 4 street in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The garden is a 10-minute drive or a 35-minute walk from the city center.
The garden is open from Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is 30 pesos ($1.60) for Mexican visitors, and 50 pesos ($2.68) for foreign visitors.
Lourdes Medrano translated this article from Spanish.