Special Programs

  • Look here for upcoming Special Events, Special Tours to join, and Special Pricing





  • A great month for gardens, celebrations, and all of our tours

November 2013

  • Bi-annual International Choral Festival. Calling all choristers and music lovers – international choirs invited. Non-competitive festival.

Jardin de los Helechos

Jardin de los Helechos

Jardin de los Helechos is a remarkable place. Situated just outside Santiago this acre of tropical splendour, is a fern and orchid garden, research and study centre. Once a family home, and still lived in by the original family, it is a salute to the passion and persistence of its Director Manuel Caluff.

Manolito fell in love with ferns. The result 30 years later is the most complete collection of tropical ferns in the Americas, and a growing collection of orchids.

The Institute’s collection of 3000 tropical ferns requires constant attention. Watering, tending the beds, keeping plants free from disease consumes the work of 5 people. Research students from the university and other countries, visiting botanists and other fern cultivators value and use the resources of this centre constantly.

As many of our clients know this wonderful garden is one of the highlights of our tours.

The Jardin de los Helechos has several major projects for which it is seeking your assistance:

  1. A New Upper Irrigation System For The Garden. Maintaining the ambient humidity of a tropical fern garden is difficult in the best of times, and when the garden exists in one of the driest areas of Cuba, it is a constant battle with two waterings per day. The deep morning watering is important to maintain the humidity of the soil and to spot any problem areas. For the afternoons when it doesn’t rain, the most important thing is an aerial spray of water to provide a misting. This would minimize the amount of water used, the time taken for the second watering, and control the danger of water left overnight when temperatures can drop precipitately to 10 or 12C and with the wind chill much lower.

    The total cost of the system including installation of all pipes and sprinkler heads, electric pump, and connections to water supply is 4500 CUC (6300 Canadian).

    1 meter of installed pipe costs 10.00 cuc (14.00 Canadian)

    The electric pump costs: 200 cuc ( 280.00 Canadian)

  2. Alarm, Light and Intercom System. Unfortunately because of its solitary nature, Jardin de los Helechos has been raided on several occasions by thieves, who not only stole large and valuable plants in their hand made pots, but also did extensive damage to others which they were not successful in removing from their plant beds.

    Budgetary constraints will not permit the Institute to provide the necessary manpower to patrol the grounds during the hours of darkness.

    The best alternative solution will be a system of solar powered security lights coupled with an alarm system which will ring both externally and internally. A gate intercom system would allow the gates to be locked most of the time, to discourage vandals.

    The estimated cost of such as system is 3000 CUC

  3. Perimeter Wall. The garden needs to be enclosed by a wall to increase its internal humidity and to provide more space and more appropriate positioning of some of the ferns. The wall constructed so far is of limestone rocks placed to provide the ideal growing conditions for a wide variety of ferns.

    Estimated Cost 5000 CUC

  4. Cascade. Many ferns enjoy a habitat of constant water spray. To provide a natural setting as part of the overall enhancement of the garden a cascade built as part of the wall would complete the general ambience of restful calm, and eliminate the problems of still water pools which currently house the collection of primitive and aquatic ferns.

    Estimated Cost 1000 CUC

  5. Education Room. Jardin de los Helechos provides seminars, lectures, and talks to an incredible assortment of groups, ranging from visiting dignitaries to school children. All are attended by the knowledgeable staff of the garden. Education is part of the mandate of the Institute and would be greatly enhanced by a video room. The room would require: television, DVD player, VHS player, air-conditioning etc.

    Estimated Cost 1500 CUC (donations of used equipment can be accepted – especially of DVD players, air-conditioners and flat screen TV’s)

All donations will be acknowledged by the Director and will be held in a designated account in Cuba for use for these projects only.

Please contact us by e-mail for account information for deposit in Canada. Direct deposit to Cuba is possible but is very expensive – please contact us.

Expedition Clothing And Equipment

In addition to the above Jardin de los Helechos is in urgent need of expedition clothing, and equipment. The search for new species of orchids and ferns takes place during the summer months in the most rugged of conditions. Cuba receives most of its rain during the months of July through October. This is when most of the ferns and native orchids are flowering. Cuba’s mountains are precipitate, with narrow trails and often dense bush. These are the conditions in which the Director and his research team must live for several weeks to accomplish their research, collection, drawings etc.

The clothing and equipment required are:

Boots – high boots with studs, camouflage type pants, jackets and shirts, hats, mosquito netted hats, tents, sleeping bags, water purification pumps, backpacks, etc. (donations of used equipment and clothing can be accepted – and will be gratefully welcomed)