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Garden of the Sleeping Giant

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Garden of the Sleeping Giant

Orchid

We haven’t been online much recently as we’ve been travelling for birthday celebrations and holiday preparations. Also, we’ve had varying internet access, so we’ve been making most of our time unplugged. Garden of the Sleeping Giant

For my birthday weekend, we took a road-trip around Viti Levu. We met up with family in the West and explored places that were new to both of us. One of the highlights of our time in the West was the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. It’s located just 4 miles north of Nadi International Airport on Wailoko Road.

Jack

The Garden is in a valley surrounded by the mountain feature called “the Sleeping Giant.” Upon entering, we were free to wander through the colorful orchids, a lilly pond, and native flowers and rainforest.

Light

Orchid

We took our time walking through the garden, as there was so much to see. We found it all to be very family friendly; our 1-year old niece and 2-year old nephew had a great time.

Nephew the photographer

Orchid

Orchid

We went in the morning, and it was quite hot, so we wouldn’t recommend going in the afternoon this time of year. We reckon this would be a great place to take a book and read after an early morning stroll through the gardens; and it would also be a spectacular wedding venue!

Orchid

Orchid

Pineapple

In the visitor area, there are beautiful lithographs by French artist, Jean Chalot. This was exciting for us, as we have been planning a trip to a church where he’s painted a series of frescoes including a monumental Black Christ.

Jean Chalot print

The entry fee is $16 FJD per adult; we found it to be worth it as the grounds are very well maintained. Read more about the garden and its history on Fiji’s tourism website.

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Kula Eco Park

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Kula Eco Park

Musk Parrot

We visited Kula Eco Park with our parents last week. Kula Eco Park is named for Fiji’s brightly colored rainforest bird also known as the Collared Lory, and it focuses on the preservation and protection of Fiji’s wildlife. The 28-acre park is located in the Sigatoka area on Viti Levu, between Nadi and Suva. Kula Eco Park Kula birdsThey offer self-guided tours daily, and guided tours are available with advanced booking. We enjoyed taking our time with the self-guided option through the picturesque coastal forest. The admission cost of $30 FJD per person is the sole source of funding for the park, and it also allows free environmental education for visiting school children.

Kula Eco Park is the only captive breeding facility in Fiji for endangered indigenous species. They have focused on breeding Fiji's Peregrine Falcon, Fiji's Yadua Taba Crested Iguana, Fiji's Ground Frog, and Fiji's newly discovered Monoriki Crested Iguana. Their program aims to breed and release healthy populations back into their natural environment.

Jack with the Fijian Crested Iguana

Kula Eco Park also has a Wild Rescue Rehabilitation Program, through which they house injured, sick, orphaned, or smuggled animals, including those who cannot be released back to the wild.

Fiji Hawk

When we visited, there were staff members who showed and provided information on the Fijian Crested iguanas and Pacific boas. They explained the Fijian Crested Iguana lays her eggs and then leaves them unguarded in the forest soil for 7 to 9 months, opening them up to introduced predators. At Kula Bird Park, they have been successfully breeding the iguanas to release them on sanctuary islands.

Alise with the Pacific Boa

Fiji’s natural balance has been upset by a number of introduced species. The mongoose was introduced to Fiji to control the non-native rats. However, with no natural predators, the mongooses have taken over Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, causing the extinction or severe decline of native ground-nesting birds and reptile populations. The Cane Toad was introduced to manage insects, and it can now be found in large populations throughout the Fiji islands.

Jack and Pacific Boa

The park features cockatoos, hawks, falcons, and fruit bats. The fruit bat, also called the flying fox, is only indigenous terrestial mammal in Fiji, and it is one of our personal favorites. While at the park, we learned that unlike insect bats, they rely on their sense of smell and excellent vision. Our perspective on bats completely changed after we looked after an orphaned baby bat on Taveuni. He was like a flying puppy- incredibly social and affectionate. The bats Kula Eco park are older, but very social and interested in meeting everyone who passes by.

Joey, our flying fox friend from Taveuni

The musk parrots, kula birds and a few others are in large enclosures that visitors can walk through. They also have a marine area of soft coral and reef fish. They have a couple of Hawksbill Sea Turtles who will be released into the wild in the near future.

Fijian Musk Parrot

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Throughout the park, there is signage with information on the plants and animals. Many signs tell how the individual animals came to Kula and their plans for release into their natural environment. Kula Eco Park has also created a traditional medicine display based on the information in Dr. M A Weiner, Ph.D’s book “Secrets of Fijian Medicine.” They have 12 native plants on display, with plaques identifying their medicinal uses.

Soft CoralReef fish

Cicada

We highly recommend visiting Kula Eco Park and supporting their efforts. The park is open from 10am to 4:30pm 7 days a week, and is only closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. Read more about the park on their website or on Fiji's tourism website.

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Joey, the Fijian fruit bat

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Joey, the Fijian fruit bat

Joey the fruit bat

Joey the fruit bat Last week, Jack found a small fruit bat (aka flying fox) hanging near our room. He was on a dead coconut branch with his head touching the ground. Jack moved him to a higher branch and fed him some mango using a Fijian sasa (bristle used for a  broom). The next day, he was still there, so we checked on him and Jack fed him again. On the third day, we didn’t see him so we’d hoped he flew away to safety. Later that evening, we heard him chirping and followed the sound to a low branch in the Mango tree. We’re not sure if he flew or if someone kindly moved him there. Now, he chirps when he hears our voices and we’ve been feeding him with mango and water. We’re calling him Joey, since he resembles our Zoey. We think he’s very young, and are hoping that he’s flying independently soon.

Jack feeding Joey Mango

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