Text and photos by Benjamín Collantes
| A golden orchid in the highlands of Ollanta, Peru.
(LIP-wb) — This is the colorful description of a journey into the heart of the mountains around Ollantaytambo in search of a magical orchid which for many years was hidden from Western eyes. Biologist Benjamín Collantes led the search and brought us this account, which all those who love nature and believe in its conservation will enjoy…
“You, who are in search of orchids, look higher and imagine what you may find in the heights of my temple, there where the condors fly swiftly. If you can’t see me, then you will at least see my golden tears in the form of golden orchids spread across the Andes.
They are tears of joy, not of sadness, because in these places my subjects preserve the ancient traditions and maintain my garden – a sanctuary which nobody enters or despoils”. I heard this ancient call in my dreams whilst in Ollanta, one of many remote corners in the Urubamba Valley.
In this way my restless urge to find the Orchid of the Sun was born, which I called Qoriwaqanki (“the wakanki of gold” – due to its similarity to the Masdevallia veitchiana – the orchid which is the symbol of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary). One might think that the Qoriwaqanki is just a fantasy, but in fact it actually exists. Its botanical name is Masdevallia davisii, and it was discovered by Walter Davis in Cusco in 1873.