Day 20 – 24th January 2020, Fiji Tour

14 Our boat heading up through the rapids

Tour – Navua Village River Tour

  • Type – Ship’s optional tour
  • Name – Navua Village River Tour
  • Summary – 1 hour bus to the Navua River, where you board a long boat for a lively high speed cruise to the waterfall, which is an interesting 10-15 min hike. Returning down river, you visit a local village for Kava Ceremony, cultural performance & lunch.

Read on for a detailed description and photos of this excellent tour.

With only 7 hours in port, we were up and out by the crack of dawn, departing the port by 07:30, for the almost 1 hour drive to the Navua River. During the trip, our guide talked constantly about Fiji’s customs and the points of interest we were passing.

At the river, we disembarked the bus at the boat yard, where we were provided with a plastic garbage bag to keep our backpacks somewhat dry and a made in China lifejacket. The plastic bag should have a harbinger of the impending drenching to come.

Once kitted out, we headed down the steps to the boarding area, where they loaded about 8 of us into each longboat. The boats were shallow draft, with very low seats, so getting aboard was a challenge for some. With no keel, as soon as someone stepped aboard, the boat tipped sharply. However, the staff were brilliant, providing lots of help to ensure we were all safe and reasonably comfortable.

05 Departure dock for river cruise

Just departed the boat yard

Our boat had a 40 HP outboard, and our Captain believed in using every one of them, hurtling up river at high speed. Initially we only had spray both sides, but further up river we started shipping waves over the gunnel.

06 Heading up river shortly after departure07 Heading up river 109 Heading up river 4

10 Heading up river 6

Cruising up the lower reaches of the river

08 Couple kids waving from bank

Couple of young kids

The locals were all super friendly, waving at us as we cruised along the river.

11 Heading up river 9

Starting to catch up with boats up ahead of us

Our Captain figures he is the Jackie Stewart of Fiji longboats, as we were constantly passing other boats.

12 Heading up river family fishing

Family out fishing

13 Heading up river 11

Approaching the rapids where we had to walk

15 Heading up river our group portaging

Walking around the rapids

Approaching the rapids, our Captain ran us aground, so the boat was stable while we disembarked, for the short walk.

16 Above rapids and reboarding boats

Walking down to the re-boarding area

Above the rapids, they ran the boats aground again, so they were stable, as we got back aboard and settled on the seats. Once we were all aboard, a group of young guys helped get us back afloat, by literally lifting the boats.

17 Heading up river 12

Back under way at high speed

Series of waterfalls visible from the river

On arrival at the main waterfall, the Captain again ran the boat aground, so it was stable as we disembarked for the hike to the waterfall. Although rather a challenging 10-15 min hike, especially for Judi, the young staff were brilliant, helping everyone that needed assistance.

21 Heading to waterfall 1

The trek started easy, lulling us into a false sense of security

22 Heading to waterfall 2

Path becoming narrower and undulating

23 Heading to waterfall 3

First set of stairs, note no railing on water side

24 Heading to waterfall 4

With a steep down followed by narrow steep uphill, this was the worst section

25 Heading to waterfall 5

As we climbed this section, others were also trying to return

26 Heading to waterfall 6

No outboard railing or line

27 Judi sitting having reached the waterfall

Judi made it to the waterfall

28 Waterfall 1

Waterfall with slow shutter

29 Waterfall 2

Swimming in the waterfall pool

We then retraced the path back to the boats, which we boarded for the trip back down river to the village. Re-boarding the boats, after seeing the waterfall, we were a little damp, but probably more from sweat, then spray. However, our Captain ensured we were thoroughly soaked to the skin, by the time we reached the village.

He managed to pick up a few waves, which got us progressively damper, then his crowning glory was a full on wave that hit Judi and I, smack on the face, then gravity ensured we were entirely soaked. At the rapids, were we walked up, he gunned the engine and hit them, riding the rapids down to smoother water. Great fun!!! It really was most enjoyable. Sadly, some were complaining about getting wet. As far as we are concerned, getting wet is part of the ambiance of signing up for this type of tour.

30 Village 1

First sighting of the village

On disembarking the boats, we climbed up some fairly steep steps to the top of the bank, entering a large grassy area.

37 Village community hall

Village hall where we joined the Kava Ceremony and enjoyed lunch

During the Port Talk the previous day, we were informed of the local customs of removing hats and shoes before entering a building, which was repeated many times by our guide in the bus. Most of us complied, doffing hats and removing socks and shoes at the door. Sadly, we had to remind 2 people to remove their hats, as it is a sign of disrespect towards our host, the village Chief.

31 Village hut preparing for ceremony

Our 3 Chiefs, one from each bus

Due to an impending departure at 14:00, insufficient time was available for everyone to receive a bowl of Kava. Therefore, each of the 3 buses were represented by a Chief, who volunteered to drink the Kava. The 3 Chiefs are seated in the middle of the room facing the Kava bowl, awaiting the ceremony.

32 Village Chief

Village Chief welcoming us to his village

Kava is made from ground up roots, which are placed in a cloth, which is then placed in the water. It is wrung out many times to flavour the water. The roots should be at least 3 years old, with older roots providing more spice.

33 Village Kava ceremony 3

Warrior offering Kava to our chiefs

34 Village Kava ceremony 5

Village Chief drinking a cup (coconut shell) of Kava

On completion of the Kava ceremony we were welcomed as friends to our new home away from home. Next on the agenda was a cultural performance, with 2 dances.

35 Village cultural performance 3

Warriors spear dance

36 Village cultural performance 5

Ladies traditional dance

Once the show was complete they cleared everything away and served lunch, where we had the choice of Subway (Chief’s description) or Polynesian food. The Subway option was a freshly made for you roll with your choice of chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese. The Polynesian included rice, chicken, poached fish in coconut milk, spinach, bread fruit and vegetable curry. Judi had the Subway and me the Polynesian. Very tasty and enjoyable.

38 Village 3

After lunch, we had a few minutes before boarding our buses for the trip back to the ship. We were due back at the ship by 12:30, but didn’t leave the village until then.

39 Village pre-school

Village Pre-school

With busy traffic in Suva, it took a full hour to return to the ship, with the bus dropping us off right at all aboard time of 13:30.

Summary

While this was a tough tour for Judi, especially the getting in and out of the boats, we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure, we were soaked, but when you sign up for a trip in a long boat over rapids, what else do you expect.

Getting in/out of the boats was tough and they weren’t overly comfortable, but the staff were amazing with the assistance provided. They literally hauled many passengers up from a seating position to standing.

The cultural experience in the village, while curtailed by time, was excellent.

If you are visiting Fiji, we highly recommend this tour, just remember to bring a towel and maybe a change of clothes. A good sense of humour is also helpful.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the tour and seeing the photos, as much as we enjoyed the tour.

 

3 thoughts on “Day 20 – 24th January 2020, Fiji Tour

  1. We where on the first Viking cruise so we’ve been following your cruise with great interest . Our weather was apparently the same even the high humidity! Enjoy your stops in New Zealand and Australia, they are one of the most beautiful and interesting places ! Not to take away from your trip, but in Sydney, try the fun Bar Tour in the Rocks . Enough said , enjoy your Wonderful Cruise!

    Like

    • Thanks for the suggestion. We are wandering through the Rocks on day 2 Sydney, so will be trying most of the pubs. Been in most of them before, but that was back in the late 1970’s.

      Like

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