10th International Orchid Festival in Concepcion Bolivia
Orchids are the most diverse plant family on Earth, with an estimated 30,000+ species. Bolivia has one of the highest concentrations of orchids in the world, with new species and new genus being identified continuously. Others are in danger of extinction. Here the orchid has become the star of an international tourist attraction in its honor.
The beauty of Bolivia's orchids is celebrated in the picturesque Jesuit Mission town of Concepción in the heart of the Chiquitania region of Santa Cruz (one of the mission towns in which the famed biennial International Renaissance and Baroque Music Festival also takes place). Concepción is known as the "sanctuary of the Bolivian orchid" and is one of the Jesuit Mission Towns that were declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The 10th International Orchid Festival will take place here on October 8, 9, and 10 - 2010. This event attracts orchid lovers and tourists from all over Bolivia and the world. Not only will many of Bolivia's famous orchid species be on display at the orchid exhibit, you'll also have the opportunity to learn about the Chiquitano culture that inhabits this region, observe art, handcraft and wood carving workshops, attend some of the baroque choir and orchestra concerts for which the Jesuit Mission towns are famous as well as various plays, watch typical dances in local costume, learn about the food, customs, and peoples of this region, hike the 'El Encanto' orchid park, and enjoy a 3-day weekend in the beautiful Chiquitania of Santa Cruz.
Bolivia has more varieties of orchids than almost any other place on Earth and over 2000 of them have been classified and named; but there are also varieties that are yet to be classified, and some varieties that are in danger of extinction. This is a beautiful, colorful event, and one of the nicest times to visit Concepción just prior to the beginning of our tropical rainy season. If you plan to go, make a hotel reservation now as demand is high and they fill up fast!
History of the Festival
Concepción is known for its great variety of flora, especially orchids. The most representative orchid of the area is the Cattleya nobilior, which has been selected as the floral symbol of Concepción.
For many years massive quantities of orchids, extracted from the area surrounding the town of Concepción, were sold in markets and on street corners and no precautions were taken to ensure this valuable natural resource was not lost. There was no sustainable management plan for the use of Bolivia's hundreds of varieties of orchids.
The Municipal Government of Concepción and the Concepción Municipal Tourism Council, with support from various organizations such as CEPAD and Cooperación de Extremadura, identified the potential of the orchid as an element to promote sustainable tourism to Concepción and included this in a municipal plan to promote tourism. The "Orchid Festival of Concepción" has positioned this town as the "Sanctuary of the Bolivian Orchid".
The festival began in 2001, rooted in the passion of two private business owners who had a small orchid greenhouse in Concepción. Through the Local Economic Development Commission (CODEL in Spanish) and the Local Economic Development Agency (ADEL in Spanish), civil society was encouraged to participate in the coordination and planning of actions to promote sustainable tourism to the area.
These activities gave value to the orchid as a worthy natural resource. Now, the town's other tourist attractions such as its great mission temple, baroque music, food, dances, handcrafts, art and customs, along with other interesting natural attractions in the area, are all included as a part of this festival, which continues to grow and develop each year into an ever more colorful event.
Myth of the Orchid
You can read the Myth of the Orchid, a beautiful story from the Chiquitania region of Bolivia. It's in Spanish but you can copy and paste the text into www.translate.google.com to read it.