Brazil’s Estrada Real

July 2, 2021 Nick Snakenberg , Curator of Tropical Collections and Associate Director of Horticulture

In October 2021, in conjunction with Reefs to Rockies Travel, I will be hosting a group of travelers on a tour of Brazil’s Estrada Real, or Royal Road, from Oct. 3-11.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, a massive gold rush contributed to a flood of colonization and development in this area of southeastern Brazil. Cobbled streets and Baroque architecture dominate small towns and cities along the Estrada Real and over the years, fantastic gardens, museums and monuments have arisen. 

During my years at Denver Botanic Gardens, I’ve been fortunate to visit several wild tropical environments. But when the subject of cultivated tropical gardens comes up, there is one name that is always part of the conversation – Roberto Burle Marx. Known for his modernist style, Burle Marx (1909-1994) was a naturalist, artist and landscape architect who has left a massive legacy in Brazil’s urban spaces – including parks, gardens and even on Copacabana’s beach promenade. The work of Burle Marx will be prevalent in many of the gardens and museums we visit and will be a highlight of the trip for me. 

Other highlights include a visit to a coffee plantation, taking the tram to the foot of the monumental sculpture Christ the Redeemer and visiting one of the most extensive palm collections in the world. We may even get to see the national flower of Brazil – one of the country’s abundant orchid species – Cattleya labiata.

If you are even a bit curious about tropical plants, Baroque architecture, landscape architecture, modern art (or even steam locomotives!), this could be the trip for you. 

I hope you can join us!

Itinerary and More Information


Images from Reefs to Rockies.


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