The Botanical Gardens in Quindio, Colombia is small and special. The entire space covers 15 hectares (36 acres) of which only 3 hectares (7.2 Acres) are open for public visits. This is a lovely theme in Colombian parks. Their main goal is to conserve, such that a large portion of parkland is set aside and not available for public access.
Walking the winding paths through the forests one can identify (with the help of the cheery, knowlegable guides) many species ofpalm trees. Colombia has the second largerst diversity of palms in the world with 235 known varieties. At the garden in Quindio, you can enjoy 150 of these species spread though the forest.
Another Botanical attraction is the wide assortment of ferns, giving the park its Jurassic feel. Ferns are the most ancient of plants on earth; so old that they predate seeds, and reproduce with spores. They are everywhere at the botanical garden from smaller ground dwellers to the arboreal, tree-like, ferns. The Heliconias or birds of paradise, is another species demonstrating its wide variation, with 71 species are on display.
The main selling point of the garden is the Mariposario – or butterfly house. This net structure is built in the shape of a butterfly and is home to an array of surprisingly friendly butterflies. If you go slow and gentle, you can easily have one of the large Owl butterflies as your ride-along companion.
What makes this particular garden wonderful is its mix of accessibility and wildness. The paths are clear, but minimal, outlined with Guadua taken from the fallen stalks that decorate the forest. The local Guadua – a species of bamboo native to the region and the strongest in the world – has its complete life cycle on full display. With visible specimens ranging from young sprouts to full adulthood. Interestingly, The Guadua achieves its full high within the first 6 months of its life and can vary between 5 – 30 meters in height and a diameter between 2 -22 cm. As the the guadua reaches towards its full height, it sheds its a paper-like skin along the way. As they age, the stalks slant over and decompose creating a geometric pattern throughout the forest. The guadua also performs an amazing water purifying process. Each morning it absorbs water from its surroundings and then releases it purified and perfect that at dusk!
Other interesting spots adorn the park, such as the small, camouflaged bird-watching cabin; with simple seating and one-way glass, overlooking a beautiful garden where fresh fruits attract the colorful local birds. There is also a fun suspension bridge over a deep gully, a mini-maze and one of the region’s popular lookout towers.