Destination Guide: Exciting Travel on Fiji’s Adventure Island

While visitors such as myself can barely take a step without sliding over the edge,  thrills and spills on Fiji’s adventure island. My saviour and our other two guides from nearby Wainiyabia Village have been making regular treks to this natural playground since they were kids.

As soon as we arrive they dive into the water before shimmying up a steep ledge on the other side and jumping from a spot several metres high into the whitewater.

As with everything on this hike, it is not as easy as it looks.

When I attempt the same climb it requires pulling my entire body along by holding on to any hanging vine in sight before quickly taking the plunge.

After the hour-long trek through rain and rainforest, it is a welcome dip.

The trip had begun from nearby Pacific Harbour, about three hours drive from the international airport at Nadi, which boasts it is “the adventure capital of Fiji” in every sign you see.

After being dropped off at the foot of a mountain, we trekked up a wet clay slope, across a marshland with grass taller than we were and waded through several deep streams before we reached our destination.

Along the way our lead guide William points out herbal medicines that his ancestors used to remedy such ailments as sprained ankles.

On the return journey our guides playfully tease and tackle each other in the deep mud.

By the time we reach the river, we are covered in dirt so thick we all jump straight into the water with all our clothes and shoes still on.

After that, it is a scenic ride in dug-out canoes back to the coast and the boys’ village, where we say farewell before being picked up and returned to nearby Uprising Resort.

Our guides have been working tirelessly for several months building jetties, wooden railings and bridges in anticipation of the introduction of guided tours this month, in the hope the much-lauded tourist dollar will help their village.

While we take the slippery path on the final leg in this preview trek, those who follow will be able to make the journey with the help of yet-to-be-erected support ropes.

The waterfall trek is just one of the many activities available to guests of Uprising’s “flashpacker” accommodation.

There are also shark feeding tours for PADI-accredited divers, horse riding along the beach, day-long jet ski safaris to surrounding islands and game fishing.

You can also book whitewater kayaking trips to the Wainikoroiluva – or Luva – River in the Namosi Highlands or through the Upper Navua River Canyon, described as “Fiji’s Grand Canyon”.

The resort was opened two years ago by 29-year-old Rene Munch, who promptly made his affable childhood friend Alfie Christoffersen general manager.

The pair’s number one goal was to create jobs for people from the local area where they grew up.

The resort has many times more staff than it actually needs, meaning they have plenty of time to chat and interact with guests.

None had any formal training in tourism, but their natural enthusiasm has made them a hit with visitors.

As well as a 24-bed dormitory, the resort offers six charming ocean view bure (bungalows) and six garden view bure and there are already plans for expansion to cater more for the luxury market as well.

The resort also has a wonderful restaurant with free wireless internet access, which served the tastiest meal I experienced during my week-long stay in Fiji – a freshly caught snapper cooked with ginger, garlic and soy sauce and served wrapped in foil.

My next adventure is Zip Fiji, at nearby Wainadoi, the only zipline in the South Pacific.

It is a huge rush zipping over the picturesque river and through the lush green rainforest on a series of flying foxes, some as long as 120 metres.

After the 45-minute trip, it is worth popping next door to visit the Spices of Fiji farm.

Here visitors are encouraged to walk around the tranquil gardens and taste pepper, coriander and cinnamon straight from the plants they grow on.

Another new trek well worth checking out is to Nalotu Cave, about a 30 min drive from Nadi.

Before Viti Eco Tours founder Michael Crocker asked permission to take tours to the huge limestone cave, the Government and Tourism Fiji didn’t even know it existed. In keeping with his company’s ethos, Crocker spent a month training villagers from Tau Village – which sits at the base of the mountain which houses the cave – to be guides.

It is a 30 to 40 minute hike up a steep zigzag track to the entrance of the cave, where you are greeted by two bare-chested warrior guards, wearing a garland of leaves around their heads and forearms, a sea shell necklace and white cloth around their nether regions.

Tradition dictates you must introduce yourself to the guards and tell them why you are there before you are allowed to enter.

More guards are spread on rock ledges inside the impressive chasm, where you can see the communal cooking area the villagers’ caveman ancestors used 4000 years ago and the stone “last wall of defence” used to protect them from enemies.

After all the hiking and zipping, the Sabeto Mud Pools, also run by the villager owners of the land, are a great place to soothe aching muscles.

If you don2t mind sticking your hand through a squishy layer of wet leaves and dark, silty earth, you can lather yourself in a thick layer of mud before washing off at one of two hot spring pools.

But stay away from the third – while it is has the clearest water and is most appealing of all, it is so warm locals have been known to boil eggs in there.

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