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The Cuenca Orchidarium: Orchids in Ecuador (Orquideario Video)

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Ecuador Travel

We recently visited an orchidarium here in Cuenca. I didn’t even know there was one until my father in-law told me about it. Bryan’s parents are visiting from Canada and have been looking into “things to do” here in Cuenca.

When they told me that they would like to go see the orchidarium, I was surprised because the only one I had heard of is near Gualaceo, about a 45 minute drive from Cuenca. It seems to always be that way, when you live in a place you often don’t know about all the “tourist attractions” because you are no longer a tourist. 🙂

The Cuenca Orchidarium (Video)

Watch on YouTube

Finding The Orchidarium (Orquideario)

The orchidarium is a little hard to find and doesn’t really look like much, but the orchids (orquídeas) are beautiful.

Looks just like a little shoe

Looks just like a little shoe

On Ordoñez Lazo you turn left at the first set of lights, after Hotel Oro Verde. After you cross the bridge, drive straight onto the dirt driveway (rather than following the road which turns left along the river).

You keep to the left of the buildings, taking a little driveway to some small building in the back. You will see a sign that says “Orchidario” then you go down the little driveway between the buildings. The orchidarium is at the end of the driveway.

The orquideario is at the end of this driveway

The orquideario is at the end of this driveway

We paid $1 per person (well, my in-laws paid $1 per person, for each of us – “thanks mom and dad!”) We were assigned a guide who told us that there were over 360 different varieties of orchids in the orchidarium and that they are all from Ecuador.

One of the greenhouses

One of the five greenhouses

What We Saw at the Orchidarium in Cuenca

The greenhouses were set up according to climate zones. It was really interesting to see so many different orchids from the same climate zone in one room. There were many plants not in bloom, so I asked if there was a better time of year to visit. The guide said that the best time to visit is in May and December.

My favorite orchids are the ones that look like they have little monkey faces. I can’t believe how much they look like monkeys!

monkey face orchids

These are my favorite orchids: monkey-faced ones

Our guide didn’t tell us many of the names of the orchids, but this one was named after the University of Cuenca so he was excited to tell us about it. The orchidarium is part of the University of Cuenca and the man that discovered this orchid was teaching there at the time.

This orchid is named after the University of Cuenca

This orchid is named after the University of Cuenca

A couple of others that really stood out to me were, one that looked like a little shoe and the wine colored one that we were told is very rare.

This orchid is really rare

This orchid is really rare

I had only seen a few varieties of orchids before visiting the orchidarium. I was surprised to see such a big difference in their sizes, some were so big and others were really tiny. The variety of colors was amazing.

Our 12-Year-Old Daughters Favorite Orchids

A few weeks ago, I went to the orchidarium with my mom and my grandparents. It was really nice. When we were talking about going, I wasn’t very excited. I like flowers, but not that much. This time though, it was different. The orchids are the prettiest flowers I have ever seen. 


Monkey Faced Orchid in Cuenca, Ecuador


Yellow and white orchid

At the Orchidarium, they have 350 species of orchids. The man said that the best times to go was in May and December, that was when more were in bloom. They have 2 different climate zones; 2 rooms for the ones that need a humid climate, and outside for the ones that need a cold climate. All the orchids are native to Ecuador


I had read a lot about it before we came, so I really wanted to see it. So I’m really happy that we were able to go. I really liked the big variety of the orchids and their beauty.  I also really liked the monkey-face orchids. And my husband loved that they were all from Ecuador. And he also liked that they had 2 different climate zones. All together, we really liked it!

You would think that they would make a place as nice as this easy to find. Think again. It is actually very hard to find. There isn’t even a sign at the main gate.

It is on Av. Víctor Manuel Albornoz, Quinta de Balzay. Next to an archery field. Once you go past the main gate, then you will see a sign off to the left that says Orquideario Cesemin. You keep going down the road. Then you see 2 buildings. Take the first one that says Orquideario. And voila!

red-serpent-orchid big-red-orchid

Being There, Loving It

When I stepped in to the room, it smelled so good! It was such a sweet smell, it made me feel good inside. That has never happened to me before.

There were some flowers that were as big as my head. And others that were smaller than my pinkie. They were all so colorful, and had such a variation of shapes and sizes, that it blew me away! This is one of my favorite places – right up there with the butterfly farm in Aruba.

I would recommend this to people who love to explore and travel. It was a very nice experience.

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

About the Orchidarium in Cuenca

  • Horario: De 08h00 a 12h00 y de 14h00 a 18h00 de lunes a viernes. (Schedule: 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday).
  • Dirección: Av. Víctor Manuel Albornoz, Quinta de Balzay.
  • University of Cuenca: contact the University for up-to-date hours and contact information.

Map of Orchidarium in Cuenca

Have you been to an orchidarium here in Ecuador? Let us know where it was and what you thought of it by sharing your comments on this post.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

14 comments… add one
  • Pat Cole Jan 18, 2015, 1:39 pm

    I grew orchids in the U.S. and got an import licence for orchids from the Dept of
    Agriculture in the US and always had it with me when I traveled outside the US.

  • Jean Brady Jan 27, 2014, 12:08 pm

    We took a taxi (sort of) to this place, the driver did not know how to get there, but after a few phone calls found his way. There was no one there but someone watering the plants and when I told him we would like to see the orchids, he just said OK and motioned to the 3 greenhouses indicating that we could look all we wanted. There weren’t very many plants in bloom, but it was a nice day and we took a few photos of the blossoms we found.
    The best part of the morning was the walk back to town along the river. We passed a few parks, one with exercise equipment, saw women washing their clothes on the rocks in the river. The walk back took about an hour.

  • TerryDarc Dec 22, 2013, 3:05 pm

    We went to the private orchidarium near Zamora at the very nice inn of Izhcayluma ( which nice b/c you can easily get to the Zamora gate of Podocarpus, hire a guide, etc.

    We were told that orchid buffs are not entirely to be trusted b/c someone in a group of them walked off with or tried to abscond with one of their rarer orchids. You mention in your piece that the purple orchid is quite rare. I suspect that it and the others need protecting.

    Wonder how hard it is to import orchids to North America? In the US, you’re always asked about bringing plants in, so at a minimum the honest person would have to stand in a separate line and explain to customs what you were bringing back.

  • Myriam and David Thelemaque May 6, 2013, 4:13 pm

    I enjoyed very much your video; this sounds like a great place to live when you
    have retired. The idea of not suffering the cold cold cold weather we had last year in New Jersey sounds like an invitation. Thanks very much for your very enlightening presentation. We might see you there. Regards, Myriam Thelemaque

  • michael Jan 17, 2013, 6:42 pm

    Love the monkey faced ones too…

  • Lisa Jan 17, 2013, 4:32 pm

    Amazing how many orchid varieties there are. All so pretty, yet so different. So much to discover and learn. Take care, and keep discovering.

  • wayne Jan 17, 2013, 2:52 pm

    If you like orchids, you will like Ecuagenera, a huge orchid operation that exports all over the world. They give tours and it is located just before you get to Gualaceo.

  • mcooks Jan 17, 2013, 10:49 am

    This looks like a good place to visit. We have friends who has dozens of kinds of orchids in front of and behind their home. They gave us one that just bloomed and is beautiful, and completely different from the ones shown here! With thousands of varieties of orchids around the world, it’s amazing that there are so many just here in Ecuador.

  • David Short Jan 17, 2013, 10:41 am

    Thank you for this beautiful article Dena.There is so much more to learn about Cuenca
    and all of Ecuador

  • Kris Jan 17, 2013, 10:37 am

    How beautiful! What a nice video too. Thank you. We moved to Panama from Sarasota FL, where there is Selby Gardens, known for their orchids. They are such beautiful flowers, but you may have shown us even more interesting varieties than I’d seen in the US!

    • Dena Haines Jan 17, 2013, 1:09 pm

      Hi Kris,

      I’m glad you liked the video.

      Thank you for your comment.

  • Maryse Irizarry Jan 17, 2013, 6:48 am

    We discovered the orchidarium by walking from Palermo to the river.We were very impressed by the number of orchids, like you I love the monkey ones.

    • Dena Haines Jan 17, 2013, 1:02 pm

      Hi Maryse,

      I love the monkey ones too!

      I’ve always thought that a monkey would make an amazing pet, they are just so cute and funny… so when I saw the monkey orchids I was really taken by them, now I want one 🙂

      They are not the most strikingly colorful orchid, but – wow!!

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