Talk about the experience of a life time!
The Sigatoka River Safari tour is described as “Simply Unforgettable” and two days later my heart still lies in the Village of Vunaqoru with my new friends, especially Aggie.
The day started from our resort in Denarau with a scenic bus trip through the countryside to the Coral Coast town of Sigatoka where we ventured further through the Sigatoka Valley enjoying spectacular scenery of the Fijian country side.
We then began our safari Jet Boat ride with Captain “Jack Sparrow” (Josh) learning about the cannibal history in Fiji. Christianity was introduced to Fiji which put an end to cannibalism but not after a missionary Thomas Baker was eaten for touching a comb in the chiefs hair which the then Fijians felt brought them years of hardship in their villages… click here to find out more. We also discussed the operations of the river and history of the valley.
Upon arriving at our village we were met by a lovely local lady named Aggie and were guided a further 500m into the Fijian highlands. After the protocol was explained including the wearing of a sarong (ladies must be covered past the knees) and the removal of hats & shoes due to respect for traditional culture we proceeded to meet the Village Chief and elders participating in a traditional kava ceremony.
We then walked throughout the village viewing the simplicity of their lifestyle and learning about their day activities. Aggie told us they have no electricity and their next village project is to bring a cable across the river which would cost $11,000 then $300 for each home to be connected to the electricity. They are nearly finished rebuilding their church that was destroyed with the floods in January due to the help of a $5,000 donation from an Australian business man who also fell in love with the villagers on his visit. The villagers use a generator to operate two televisions, have running water from a spring, pay $60 per acre to hire a tractor and sell the numerous vegetables they grow to create an income. The process in Fiji seems to be to raise a little funds, do a little more work to your project, taking time and numerous stages to complete a project which could be seen in the construction of a house and the church.
You will soon notice in Fiji everything is done on Fiji Time – No Hurry, No Worry!
Aggie explained to me they have early nights without electricity, not much TV makes lots of babies, we both couldn’t stop giggling again.
200 people live in the village with the children crossing the river each morning and walking 2km to go to school. Aggie goes to the town once a week on the bus, after crossing the river to buy supplies and said she thoroughly enjoys her day out but it is hard work to get everything back across the river.
The villagers gave us an amazing home cooked lunch and then sang songs and kindly invited us to dance. I couldn’t stop laughing at some of our new groovy moves and had an absolute ball leading my first ever Fijian Congo line through the villagers in the Community Hall.
Upon leaving, I felt terrible for not asking the Chief if he may enjoy a dance!
I asked Aggie if the Chief would mind if I took a photo with him. She said she would ask and couldn’t stop giggled saying “You Single, Chief Single!!” I then also couldn’t stop laughing ,specifying just a photo would be more that generous!
I had so much fun dancing, Aggie offered I could stay with her overnight any time I liked and we could dance all night with breaks to catch our breath. What a kind offer and something I would be delighted to do one day.
As we left in the jet boat it was lucky I had on my sunnies as I felt such sadness and a tear in my eye, thinking how blessed I was to be part of such a special day with such friendly special people and couldn’t stop waving to Aggie till I could no longer see her.
On the return trip we did a few donuts / 360 degree burnouts with Captain Sparrow, squealing with laughter and getting quite drenched.
What a once in a lifetime experience!
I would recommend this tour if you have the privilege of visiting Fiji, get away from the tourism and become a part of the real heart of the Fiji, the people! Your life will be touched by the experience…
10% of your ticket cost is donated to the villages plus you are able to make a personal donation on your visit if you chose to do so.
There are 12 villages in this exciting project with this soon to be 14.
Sigatoka River Safari
Feb 2008 – Awarded Fiji’s Best Adventure Tour at the Annual AON Tourism Awards
Feb 2009 – Awarded the Best Fiji Experience at the annual AON Tourism Awards