South Africa Garden Tour 2014
Wednesday October 8th to Thursday October 23rd, 2014


October 14th Durban

Today our visits take us to the Victoria Street Market. On the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets in Durban, it is rather like stepping into another world, with its blend of all things Indian and African. Spices and incense rent the air in which more than 170 stalls display their wares. The Vic, as the Victoria Market is now known, is set in a huge building that resembles something out of a Maharajah’s story. The Indian community in Durban is the largest outside of Asia. They have had a huge impact on the character of the city of Durban, and the open air markets that have evolved into the Victoria Street Market were first opened in the 1870s - a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the colour, smells, boldly colourful material and bartering that is so characteristic of their community. You can buy saris, scarves, arts and crafts, woven baskets, beaded dolls and animals, oriental ceramics, and Chinese wholesale goods and a whole lot more.

We then head to the beautiful Durban Botanic Gardens for our private guided tour. This is Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden. The lawns and flower beds are beautifully maintained; there are benches scattered throughout the Gardens from where to admire the fauna and flora. Orchids, bromeliads, palms and cycads are the main collections of the gardens; the mature trees make a perfect backdrop. Founded in 1849, Africa’s oldest surviving botanical gardens houses one of the world’s top collections of “living fossil” plants. These pre-dinosaur cycads (seed-producing plants extending back 250 million years) face possible extinction in the wild. The Wood's Cycad species is named for founding Durban Botanic Gardens curator and botanist John Medley Wood, who, in 1895, discovered a single, surviving cycad plant in a Zululand forest. Walking through the gardens cycad forest is a bit like stepping onto the set of Jurassic Park.

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