One of my “must see” locations when planning for my trip to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival was to visit the Botanical Gardens.  Wow, incredible, amazing, out of this world–are all phrases that come to mind about this experience.

First a little background…then the story.

Some of the oldest palm trees in the world reside in the Rio Botanical Gardens…they were planted more than 200 years ago in 1808 by the royal family of Rio.  And they are massive…they line an entire street and are the most prominent indicator you have arrived at this destination. There are about 330 acres within the garden, more than 6,000 species of plants and trees.  Tons of greenhouses with one of the most famous orchid exhibits in the world.

Another interesting fact about the garden’s is that the royal family when it was first established refused to share the it with the masses of its citizens. Selfishly keeping it for themselves. They also burned the seeds of the massive palms as to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands…aka someone of a lesser class.

Classism is really overt here in South America.  There are definitely the “haves” and the ” have nots.”  Perhaps helps explain the exclusivity of the gardens back in the day.  Luckily i 1822, the royal family decided to share the gardens with the public and hence I, as a lowly tourist, was able to experience the wonder for myself.

It only costs $5 reals, which about $3 US dollars.  You get a splendid map and you explore.  We wondered through the tropical paths, with different aromas at every turn.  It was definitely sticky…it felt like an NC day in the middle of July right before a major thunderstorm.   It was almost like walking through a solid.  Luckily with all my NC southern weather experience, I was fully prepared 😉

Here are some of the amazing orchids on display:

Palms galore, some tall, some short, some fat, some with BIG leaves, some with BIG frawns, some just giant clusters(I feel like Dr Suess when I wrote this last sentence)…all sorts of Palms every where.

Little lizards scampering about…and one of my most favorite wonders…the different ecosystems, from tropics to a cactus garden that was almost desert like.

From waterfalls to water lilies…an endless procession of exotic flora.

Enjoy the pics and if you are looking for a cool vacation spot…consider Rio.  An incredible place with beaches, mountains, rain forest and an excellent botanical garden.

This sure inspires me for my tropical garden this summer…but that will be a whole other posts.

Happy gardening.