Just a short trip from Nadi International Airport in Fiji you find the fantastically and romantically named Garden of the Sleeping Giant. This garden, located at the end of a dirt road, past traditional Fijian villages and their sugar cane fields and churches, is focussing on the magical world of Asian orchids and Cattleya hybrids. In my view, it is probably one of the prettiest corners of the island.
The garden used to be the private property of the late actor Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame. Today, it is completely open to the public, a welcoming and calming place where you can happily spend hours within the beauty of nature’s most daring creations.
The name is very apt indeed: it is not so much the delicate beauty of the orchid blossoms that will make you feel small and insignificant, it is rather the gigantic rainforest trees and boulders, the fist-sized nuts hanging above your head and the large palm leaves that make you feel as if you we were visiting the backyard of a nature-loving giant.
Our tour begins with the most beautiful of orchid flowers on display. They seem to come in all shapes, colours and sizes, but they all have an otherworldly beauty in common, delicate petals, luring designs. Each one of them a masterpiece of creation, perfected over hundreds of thousands of years.
Once you are past this more organised garden display you leave behind the canopy-covered walkway to enter the rustic boardwalk which will guide you deep into the rainforest. Here, there are bigger species, palm trees, mango trees, and a peaceful lily pond. It is so quiet around us, we think we can hear our own heartbeats. This, and the soft falling of leaves, the chirping of parrots, the snapping of twigs.
The walk splits into two directions at the lily pond, the beginning and the end of the circular route through the forest. While not difficult to master you do need to climb a little bit on this way to fully enjoy the last part of the garden. The trees here seem enormous, their roots poking out of the earth so that they make excellent play equipment to children. It is simply perfect: no mosquitoes, plenty of shade, the rich fragrance of earth, water and plants in tropical bloom.
The Garden of the Sleeping Giant is worthwhile the trip when you stay in one of Fiji’s beach resorts, or like us, at the Starfish Blue private villa at the Suncoast. It’s best to combine a visit with the trip home to the airport, one last stop in paradise before heading home and back to your everyday life I guarantee you, you will take home a bucketful of magical impressions that will last with you forever.
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The Garden of the Sleeping Giant, Wailoko Road, Sabeto, Nadi, Fiji. http://www.fiji.travel/activity/garden-sleeping-giant