In March I went to Thailand for a couple of weeks to see orchids growing in their natural habitat. It was an absolutely mind-blowing trip, I would go back there tomorrow if I could.
This is the first of a series of posts about my Thai adventures; below are a few paragraphs about the tour itself, if you would like to know more details please visit the tour organisers’ website:
Orchids of Thailand
The aim of the Orchids of Thailand tour is to take tour members to a range of different orchid habitats and enable them to actually see orchids growing in their natural wild state, at a time when many of the plants are in flower. This makes it possible to compare the climatic conditions and observe the different orchid species growing in each habitat.
The organiser, leader and guide for the whole tour is Peter Williams, who owns a nursery in Thailand and runs all aspects of Mae Tang Orchids. He has lived in Thailand since 1990, prior to this he was the manager of a large garden centre in England. Peter spends around four months a year in the UK, promoting the orchid tours and selling his orchids. The rest of the year he is in Thailand, supervising the growing of orchids at his nursery and undertaking exploratory trips to various wild habitats.
During the tour there are several treks into special orchid-rich areas that Peter has discovered over several years. These treks are exclusive to the tour as the areas visited are in remote places, which are not promoted. This is why the orchid flora is so great, as in the well known trails around national parks the orchids within reach have been removed by the locals to sell.
For this reason Peter is also accompanied by local guides, who live and work in the forests and have a wealth of knowledge; they know the areas visited like the back of their hands. As the guides are regulars on Peter’s tour they know exactly what needs to be found and often know of new orchid-rich areas they have discovered since the previous years tour.
Whilst on the tour there is also the opportunity to visit orchid farms, local plant markets, botanical gardens and some of the many cultural attractions of northern Thailand. This enables tour members to not only witness the truly spectacular orchid flora but also to become completely immersed in the surrounding culture, gaining a rounded experience on a personal as well as a botanical level.
The tour is aimed to coincide with the end of the cold season and start of the hot season which is when a large number of orchids stimulated by the rise in temperature after winter dormancy start to flower – hence this is the best time of year to see a wide range of different orchid species in flower.