Verfasst von: rbontour | September 27, 2010

Fiji – Off The Beaten Track (Part I)

Still hanging around on Atiu, we discussed if we should change our travel plans. Should we eventually cancel our trip to Fiji? We thought that another 3 weeks on a South Pacific island would be too much of the same things to do. Wow, we have been incredibly wrong and we are glad that we didn’t re-schedule anything! The Fiji Islands have nothing to do with the Cook Islands – the culture, the people and the activities are different, although the clear waters and some beach scenarios may be similar. In Fiji, we are facing a much more mountainous and an even greener landscape with lots of waterfalls and rainforests . Oh, and not to forget… the prices are also much different and more favorable for long-term backpackers like us! (Sorry to mention the finance side over and over again, but costs are always a big consideration for world travelers:-)).

Let’s start with culture. Unlike many other Fiji visitors, we decided to do things in a different manner. Everyone knows that the 333 islands and atolls are an absolute paradise for “beach and sunshine junkies”. Nevertheless, we were a lot more curious to experience the real Fiji first. We wanted to get off the beaten path, to escape from the mass tourism. We didn’t want to be part of the partly “fake” world in all the overly expensive all-inclusive resorts on the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands. (BTW: These two island groups are the most photographed and the most visited islands – beautiful, but not the right location to experience the country’s culture).

Heading Inland To Navala Village
With these thoughts and aspirations we arrived still a bit clueless in Nadi on Viti Levu (the main island) – our backpacks on our shoulders and a sense of adventurism in our minds. After a couple of hours a successful sales lady managed to convince us that a 4WD (four wheel drive) would be our best choice if we want to get to the rural mountain areas. Another lesson we learned – a few days later we found out that a 4WD wasn’t at all necessary as local (and slow) public transportation brings a lot more fun and excitement. Anyways, finally in the car and still jaded from our night flight, we headed inland up to the Nausori Highlands. Our final destination: Navala Village. It was an extreme bumpy ride, but the landscape was fantastic. We drove through some small villages scattered in the hills; no road signs, no gas stations, no Google Maps. So whenever we spotted a person (= definitely a rare occasion) we stopped to ask for the way. It seemed as if the villages and villagers became more traditional and medieval the further away we got from the coastline. We passed Fijian farmers, who ploughed their fields with bulls, or Indo-Fijian ranchers, who carried the crops from their fields on horses. It was like entering another century…. (and honestly, we felt like idiots in our monstrous 4WD). After some more rugged serpentine roads, we caught our first glimpse of Navala.  A medieval-looking village surrounded by amazing scenery. It just sits there, peacefully and quietly, next to a pretty river… almost like an oasis on a small plateau in the middle of the highlands. The houses looked more like little shacks to our pampered, Western eyes, but absolutely gorgeous as all houses are still traditional Fijian thatched bures (~ 200 of them). Once we got closer we passed laughing children carrying sugar cane back to the village and friendly farmers with bright smiles, who greeted us welcomingly.

Our Own Bure
From a lady in Nadi we knew that there is only one place we could stay in the village – a homestay accommodation. It was already getting dark when we arrived, but our Fijian hosts, Bulou (mom) and Tui (son), saluted us with a cheery ‘bula’ (hello), a big smile and an even bigger hug.

We dropped off our bags and Bulou showed us our own little bure and asked us to come up to her place for some tea and dinner once we would be ready. After a long journey, we were in extreme (!!) need of a shower. But ups, our bure had no electricity and the water pressure of the shower head was comparable to the remainders of water coming out of a garden hose after you turned it off. Alright, we are flexible. Things like this won’t discourage us. It was dark anyways… so we just had a few water splashes here and there and things were fine. Fortunately we brought a flashlight, so changing our clothes wasn’t too difficult – and thanks god… despite the flashlight it was still dark enough so that Brigitte didn’t notice this one, fairly large insect sitting above the shower head, yet!

Coming up in “Fiji – Off The Beaten Track (Part II)”: The gigantic insect, our first narcotic kava drinking session and the tour through the village, where we could visit a rural school.

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Responses

  1. hello Brigitte & Robert,
    its really amazing to read your reports and adventurers, I’m getting envy doing the same in my next live with Bulou :-), but she cant take these little animals not seen and hidden somewhere. 333 islands is crazy by itself you could spend month’s to explore them. Please keep on going and sending information and the pics talking by itself, all the best, and stay healthy, love
    Dad and Bulou says hello and hugs you guys as well 🙂

  2. hi robert & brigitte

    take care and have a lot of fun. your pics are amazing….

    ttysoon
    andi


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