Just a short taxi ride or bus adventure from Garza Blanca Preserve, Vallarta Botanical Gardens is one of Puerto Vallarta’s best kept secrets and well worth a morning or afternoon outing.
As you navigate the winding road south along the coast from Garza Blanca Preserve, you will feel the air begin to cool as your journey takes you higher into the mountains. A small sign marks the entrance of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens and invites you to park in a designated parking area near the entrance where you will be greeted by a member of staff who will charge you a small fee for entering the gardens. As the Vallarta Botanical gardens are a registered charity, all money paid goes directly to the upkeep of the gardens as well as research and educational programs.
Leaving the parking lot, you can either follow one of the signposted trails starting a mini tour of the gardens or go directly to the main building where you will find a restaurant, gift shop selling local produce, orchid gallery and day beds where you can lounge, read or simply meditate for the day. The restaurant is open during the day for breakfast lunch, teas and coffees and is an idyllic haven overlooking the river worn ravine below and the gardens.
From the main house, you can follow any of the trails and discover all kinds of tropical plants, from cacti, agave, vanilla, coffee, tobacco and more. In fact, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens is home to a wide selection of endemic plants from tropical western Mexico and hosts an extensive collection of orchids. Some of the jungle trails offer a wonderful insight into what it might be like to be lost in a dense tropical jungle with the security of following a worn path and the comfort of seeing signposts and informative notices dotted along the trail. You can also follow a path along the river and take a plunge if you are brave enough to face the cold water.
Apart from being a beautiful day trip, visiting the Vallarta Botanical Gardens gives you the chance to support a local venture whose mission is to help protect the wildlife and vegetation that surrounds Puerto Vallarta. The Gardens organize a number of educational programs, carry out conservation work to support Macaws and other parrot breeds as well as host festivals like the Vallarta Bird Festival and the Flower and Garden Show.
Open everyday from 9am to 6pm (except Mondays – April to November), the Botanical Gardens should be high on you list of local activities to do during your stay at Garza Blanca Preserve.