I love a good garden. Maybe it’s a sign of my age (shhh!) but I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a day than wandering around looking at beautiful plants and flowers. Unless it’s a day that involves birds too, then I’m really in heaven! So you can imagine how excited I was when Steve agreed with me that a trip to visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens was in order. Having read rave reviews about it we had high expectations, and we weren’t disappointed.
Having gotten used to the Mexican buses we decided to get up early and catch the one that should take us all the way there in 45 mins. I’d read several reliable sources that said the bus runs every 30 mins from the corner of Aguacate and Carranza so we grabbed some tea to go from a cafe and made our way there. The lack of any discernible sign of a bus stop doesn’t seem to be an issue here and after a few minutes anxious waiting the bus duly appeared and stopped to let us on. For 25 pesos each (£1) plus seats together that weren’t even broken, it was definitely the way to go.
We got off right outside the entrance to the gardens, made our way in and discovered that we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Even better! After the gong show noisiness of the tourist zones of PV, the peace and quiet of the gardens were like a tonic. I could already hear the exotic calls of birds that I didn’t recognise and was dying to start spotting! Ok, ok, so I’m a bit of a birder. It’s not that strange, honest!
Anyway, we made our way down to the entrance and paid the 200 pesos each to get in (about £8). We were ready for breakfast by this stage and having read lots of glowing reviews about the restaurant we made our way to the main building. The restaurant is upstairs and has a fantastic view of the jungle valley. There are humming bird feeders thoughtfully placed along the terrace (although we only saw one as it’s not humming bird season) plus a feeding station within easy view. This was attracting a large variety of brightly coloured birds and we sat and had a magnificent breakfast whilst enjoying spotting these beautiful creatures. I was even able to hire some binoculars. Which was just as well or Steve would have been stoping me climbing over the rail trying to get even closer!
We identified some of the birds as: San Blas Jay, Green Jay and the striking yellow-winged Cacique. Not having the photography equipment to get good pictures ourselves, the pics below are for reference only (all credit to the photographers)
Honestly I probably could have sat there happily all day. But we knew there was the rest of the gardens to explore so we set off and wandered around the some of the paths admiring the plants and more birds and just enjoying the peace and nature at it’s best.
We decided to hike one of the long trails that led down to the river and had planned on potentially swimming as it’s safe to do so at this time of the year while the river is low. The path there was great fun. Not as challenging as our hike to ‘Las Animas’ but steep and twisty in places and we hardly saw any other people either. After about forty five minutes we arrived at the end of the trail and discovered a stunning natural pool in between little waterfalls where it looked safe to have a dip. The water looked so invitingly cool after our hike, and having reassured Steve that I didn’t think there were any crocodiles around, we jumped in.
I don’t even know how long we spent splashing around in the river. Time kind of stands still here and being able to just kick back and not worry about anything is an amazing feeling. There wasn’t any phone signal, or wifi, so no distractions. It was utterly perfect.
In the end though we did have to leave and head back to the hacienda. We choose a different trail back and again enjoyed the feeling of being explorers in the jungle and spotting more birds. When we did get back we decided to stay and have some lunch as breakfast had been so good. So we got to repeat the experience of enjoying great Mexican food whilst watching the birds enjoying theirs on the feeding station.
I know we keep banging on about how amazing everything is here but seriously, it is! We totally recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens if you get the chance. Just remember to take your swimwear too!