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Jul 17, 2013 12:52 PM CST
|For many years now we have been buying Orchids from Ecuagenera and for just as many years have we thought about taking one of their interesting Orchid tours offered (nowadays at their website). This year it seemed the timing was perfect for the July tour and we contacted Jose Portillo of Ecuagenera. He assured us that we would be able to take the trip with them, even if we were the only participants. So we booked the tour and flights.
We were picked up at the Quito airport by Gilberto Merino, one of the founders of the company, and - as it turned out, we were the only participants this time, so Gilberto was our personal guide and driver the whole duration of the trip. We started out by taking a walk through Quito, visited the Equator and then the "Orchid hunting" ( by camera only of course) started by driving towards Mindo. Gilberto knew exactly how and where they were growing and flowering.
The main roads in Ecuador are excellent, a far cry from the hair-raising, very narrow, spiraling Andean roads experienced in the middle nineties in Bolivia. It seemed whenever we left a main road and it got bumpy, the Orchids were soon to be found. We traveled in a very comfortable Mazda 4x4 and Gilberto was a very capable driver, so there was no problem.
Every evening Gilberto labeled the Orchid pictures in my camera, which was very helpful, since we saw so many Orchids on a given day, it was tough to remember all.
I am thinking of posting my pictures in the form of installments, in the order taken. I will delete many and it will still be quite an armchair trip.
Starting in Quito after a few hours sleep:
Notice the Orchids in the Cathedral windows!
La mitat del Mundo ( Equator)
Jul 17, 2013 1:38 PM CST
Traveling towards Mindo
Lots of Epidendrum secundum type visible right from the road, along with other most interesting vegetation
and on another location
Cyrtochilum serratum, long beautiful spikes on several locations
typical Bromeliad encrusted trees, Orchids are usually nearby on same branches
Lycaste( Ida) longipetala
and at another location
healthy Epidendrum roots on tree
Ponthieva parvilabris, growing in the dirt/gravel at roadside
Trout for lunch
Jul 17, 2013 1:58 PM CST
Jul 17, 2013 2:05 PM CST
|Marvelous, Ursula. Glad you got the pictures of the Lycastes with hands for size comparison. Those are some huge flowers!
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Jul 17, 2013 2:19 PM CST
|Around Mindo -
vegetation is a raining Cloud Forest and it did rain every day. It is advisable to bring a Polartec jacket for warmth and rain gear. Shoes will get soaked on this trip and most of the socks are ready to be "disposed" by the end of the day. I took many pictures on this trip under the protection of an umbrella, to keep the camera dry. Despite that we were comfortable and happy to climb a hill, trot knee-deep through vegetation which many times consisted of orchids, to visit the many habitats.
Klaus and Gilberto
This place was a Hummingbird paradise, I spent some time watching them around the feeders.
Cranichis sp., very pretty along the path
Taking a break here
Jul 17, 2013 4:24 PM CST
|I am glad you are already reading along, Ted and Elaine!
Yes, you will see our hands and fingers every so often, mainly to steady a tiny bloom or as in here, pointing out a specific feature.
It should be mentioned that Ecuagenera schedules their Orchid tours around the flowering times of the various species in their particular areas, the November tour will be quite different from the July tour. We never expected in our wildest dreams to encounter so many Orchids and also in bloom.
Keeping going - around Mindo
Another beautiful Cyrtochilum serratum, showing the sticky substance which is the reward for the pollinator
Fruit break - we loved the delicious ripe fruits, yum!
Again the beautiful Cyrtochilum serratum
This Cyrtochilum grew right over the road. And this particular road was very rough and watch what blocked the exit!! Our jaws had to be picked up here....
It took ca 30 minutes to create an opening for our car. In the meanwhile, I loved the beautiful Tibouchinas, they are growing in many places, but the blooms were really fresh on this one.
Sobralia gentryi, with pollinator
And lots more Sobralias and Elleanthus, we are walking, standing in them!
We saw lots of Gunnera with their huge leaves
and some more Pleurothallis cordata
Stopping here to prepare the next group of pictures.
Jul 17, 2013 4:44 PM CST
|Leaving Mindo Garden, visiting a nice Mariposario
Gilberto with Butterfly on leg
Jul 17, 2013 5:59 PM CST
|On our way to Cotacachi -
Prosthechea fragrans ( Prosthechea = nonresupinate, Encyclia = resupinate flowers)
another Habenaria plant in bloom, many times one stepped out of the car and there they were!
Pitahaya farm ( Dragon fruit) I think these are Hylocereus triangularis, producing a yellowish fruit
A Sobralia filled slope
and high up on a slope a large clump of Ida ( Lycaste) heynderyxcii
Klaus showing the thickness of vegetation
Phragmipedium lindenii, a Phrag without pouch, growing very high up on a hill. Gilberto took some nice pictures for us on this one.
I took this picture, I think it was a Phrag lindenii plant
Another group of the Ida heynderyxcii high up next to Cyrtochilum
and this Odontoglossum pardinum also very high up on the hill
Jul 17, 2013 7:13 PM CST
|Oh my! What a fun trip! It's neat, and helpful to see these plants in their natural habitat.|
Jul 17, 2013 7:22 PM CST
I will keep going tomorrow. Still have a lot more to go.
Jul 17, 2013 7:23 PM CST
Jul 17, 2013 8:41 PM CST
Jul 17, 2013 9:59 PM CST
|Ursula, this is indeed a wonderful armchair trip you're treating us to.
I love the spider with the face on his abdomen. And the Ida's with their droopy petals, but my favorite so far is the Epi. tridens. Looks like a little space ship.
The Cyrtochilums have wild floof, or should I say "floof in the wild" ?
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Jul 18, 2013 5:27 AM CST
I am having fun going through these pictures!
Jul 18, 2013 7:14 AM CST
|Driving down to Lita (if you are counting along, this is day 5)
Here I was excited to see how Schomburgkias grow in the wild and this was really interesting. But first to get there -
Don't you love these roads spiraling the Andean mountains? The scenery is always impressive!
I was reminded of Passiflora molissima, but this one was red. It is probably a variety of P. tripartita /red Granadilla
Lupines at Alpine zone
At the Hosteria Rancho Santa Fe, a huge sprawling hotel surrounded by a large property, but a bit empty at the time of our stay.
Some Cacti along the way, it is a bit drier here
Exploring the vegetation here -
A large plant of Schomburgkia splendida grew on a large tree that had now landed on the ground. Other plants of this were a lot more exposed to straight sunshine as they grew high up in the canopy.
Stopping at a very interesting place/farm, with lots of Pitahaya plants cultivated over large boulders and it was here that we saw Schomburgkia splendida also growing in rupicolous fashion.
Jul 18, 2013 6:22 PM CST
|Back to the lady with her delicious Pitahaya/ Hylocereus, Schoms and a lot of other interesting plants:
Cyrtopodium paniculatum, not in bloom, but growing right there on this rock.
Schomburgkia splendida growing in straight sun also on these rocks, Papaya in the background
picking a bag full of Pitahaya to take along, so delicious and sweet and juicy, but - beware of the Pitahaya moment 2 hours later if not used to it.....
Chicken soup for lunch
beautiful tall spikes of Selenipedium aequinoctiale
Step out of the car and see Habenarias!
Phragmipedium longifolium, another beautiful slipper Orchid
Tillandsias growing on wires
Jul 18, 2013 7:54 PM CST
|"Step out of the car and see Habenarias!"
That really sums up the awe I'm feeling right now. Actually saw a plant or two I have
Jul 18, 2013 8:38 PM CST
|Another very busy day ( day 6) - towards Baeza ( Hotel Rodrigo)
climbing to 4000 m and exploring Paramo vegetation before driving east to the Amazon side and looking at lots of different species. But first we saw a large, very fancy replica of an Inca sundial.
Pterichis/Cranichis galatea ( need to confirm)
And here comes a showstopper: Telipogon hutchinsonii, very beautiful!
pretty Cyclopogon leaf
Another Telipogon hutchinsonii in bloom
Huge Maxillaria species around this tree
Trout (?) in Garlic sauce for Dinner and we were usually served rice along with french fries or sometimes Yucca. I liked the Fish very much
Jul 18, 2013 8:41 PM CST
|Ted, this group has more Habenarias..... |
The amount of Orchids we got to see here was staggering! I am in awe myself just looking through my pictures now again.
Jul 19, 2013 12:20 PM CST
|To Archidona on day 7 (staying at the very beautiful Hosteria Las Bromelias)|
We had a pretty wet day with lots of camera action under the umbrella to keep the camera dry.( I also stuck the camera between pictures into the front of my jacket, as it started to make strange crrrrk noises when focussing and also so it didn't bounce around when moving.The strange noises have stopped in the meanwhile and the camera is fine) I did my best to take pictures...
After a while of walking around in wet habitats, we didn't even notice the rain any longer and wet feet were simple part of adventure.
I am not sure, but this may have been a Cryptocentrum
The Lichen in this area were really interesting and I can imagine a special study could be made of those.
Epidendrum sp ( breviraceum?) with thick fleshy growth
Maxillaria ecuadorensis brown
Gilberto manages to stay dry!
Orchids Orchids Orchids!!
Passiflora mollissima, this time it IS the pink one.
Maxillaria ecuadorensis alba
Epidendrum bracteacrumenatum album
Beautiful pool and swim before Dinner at the Hosteria Las Bromelias
and neat Moths on house-wall in the evening
and leaving the Hosteria las Bromelias next morning