7 DAY TOUR - A CLIENTS STORY

Flight Arrival, Saturday flight, arriving anytime on the Saturday (or prior). Direct transportation to the RakiRaki Hotel for overnight accommodation and Breakfast on the Sunday. Sunday is a gentle day of discovery - discovering the local area, a test paddle for comfort, learning the safety procedures, and introducing yourself to the friendly Fijian faces that will greet you. We even get the option of visiting a local church for the Sunday service if you wish. Sunday afternoon & evening is spent at Ellington Wharf, mixing with the staff and observing the Fijian way of life. We retire to the RakiRaki Hotel for a great last nights sleep before the real paddle adventure starts.

Monday morning:

After an early breakfast, we met at Ellington Wharf for the commencement of the days adventure. Our guide prepared the Boats to ensure all our Safety gear was in order, maps, dry stowage, life jackets, extra paddles, and Fiji Water (an exported commodity!). As we had an accompanying 23ft Yamaha Safety Boat, most of our gear was carefully packed in the Boat, ensuring our Boats were light and swift in the water. Only the essentials were allowed to travel, like Chocolate bars and water.

We left Ellington Wharf for a scenic Paddle, past the old Sugar sheds, and followed the coastline past the sparsely populated areas of Nakorokula village, towards Navolau No2 village. The unfinished church on the headland is a reminder of the rate of progress in Fiji. We then paddled past Navolau No1 village and stopped for lunch and a rest. The snorkelling was fantastic - some found the temptation all too great and discovered why Fiji is as much alive underwater as it is above water!

Leaning up against a palm tree it was hard to imagine life anywhere else..the cool S.E. breeze in your hair and the waters lapping at your feet. A local appeared with a Coconut ready to open to taste the sweet Coconut juice - quite refreshing really. A short paddle after lunch and we found ourselves discovering the ancient traditional fish traps around the headlands of Ucuivadra Point, Ucuinairara Point and Ucuinacaucau Point, before we entered the magnificent and large Viti Levu Bay.

Viti Levu Bay is the largest bay in Fiji. Our first nights accommodation was in the Coastal village of Namuaimada. It lies on a pretty white sandy beach, just at the entrance of the Bay. It has tradition as a Fishing Village and the shoreline has fishing nets, boats and motors all in various states of repair. Bluey lives here, an Australian who married a Fijian girl and now operates his large Aluminium Fishing Boat, leaving for overnight fishing adventures. Here Children run freely, laugh, swim and chase small fish in the shallows. The women usually weave mats while the men attend to the crops and farms. Subsistence living is a way of life for Fijians. We were welcomed by the village elders who seemed delighted by our arrival. A small introduction, and a tour of the village was soon interrupted by a cry of afternoon volleyball.

We spent the afternoon talking to the village people and understanding and appreciating their way of life. Dinner was prepared by our guides, and was delicious and wholesome. The Restaurant at Ellington Wharf prepared all our meals and they travelled to our location, ensuring great food and fresh ingredients. It was soon time for the ritual Kava ceremony and our guide formally presented to the Village chief and his elders our offering of 1kg Kava - enough for a month we thought! After a relaxing evening learning and talking, we soon retired to sleep. Several chose the comfort of traditional Bures, while some preferred the open-air option of tents. As new soft mattresses were provided, a comfortable sleep prevailed.

Tuesday Morning:

The sun was shining, and the blue waters were tempting so a cool refreshing morning swim was in order - Followed by breakfast, cereals, juices and tea/coffee. After a leisurely stroll to the end of Ucuivatolo Point for a great view over the village, by 10am we were ready to leave and re-commence our journey. Today's adventures took us to Shag Tree Island, rightly named as it only has one tree and lots and lots of shag birds. A small 50ft island with some amazing rock structures coming straight out of the ocean. A huge tree sits to one side offering shade and shelter for paddlers..and we enjoyed morning tea.

We then continued to Savulu point and paddled into the "unfinished marina" of George Snow. The marina was built when the road gang built the road to Suva (almost finished now !) and points directly out into the beautiful bay. It was built with huge rocks and is quite deep in the middle offering a great refuge to yachts, should they ever discover this area - built before its time they say! A short walk around found swinging coconut trees and abundant wildlife. A trip into the mangroves, up the river behind the point we found the marine life jumping out of the water and the mangrove area alive with life.

We then continued paddling to Nanukuloa Village. This village is close to the Ra Provincial Council, Health Centre and Public Works Depot. We arrived for a late lunch and then relaxed in the village for the afternoon. We learnt how to spear fish with the locals, weave mats, and generally live in a Fijian Village filled the afternoon. The afternoon Volleyball started up at 4pm and ended when the sun goes down. Another great evening meal was enjoyed by all with all the finer touches.

The Village Chiefs and elders were awaiting us and we were then treated to flower arrangement necklaces, and a great evening of dancing, singing and laughs. The village has a main generator for its power and all homes feed of it for lighting. Cooking is still undertaken the traditional way in wood fired cook houses, detached from the main house. Sleeping on a straw matted floor, with our mattresses was a memorable sleep, only disturbed by the morning cockatoos and roosters..no alarm clocks needed here!

Wednesday Morning

We awoke to beaming sunshine, kids playing with soccer balls, and the village women commencing the day's activities of breakfast preparation & washing clothes. The smell of fresh roti floated across the roofs and fresh pancakes were a real treat. After a relaxing morning talking and discovering more culture we left for the paddle up the creek.

After the previous days paddling on the Bay, it was quite nice to plan an adventure up a creek and discover the waterways and channels which the local traffic and fisherman use. We left the Village amongst waves, cheers and really smiley faces all wanting us to return to start the trip up the Rukuruku Creek. The creek started really wide, and then slowly narrowed with overhanging mangroves, trees and shade. Fish jumped and occasionally a coconut boasting a shoot and root system floated past on its way to the sea and many more adventures..

We discovered feeding creeks and channels the locals have cut into the mangroves giving them access from their homes. All covered with a thick canopy of trees, the channels provide some great scenery and bird life. After turning off the main creek, we then paddled up a small feeder, about 25ft wide and discovered an amazing variety of vegetation and bird life. After discovering the local village fish nets and the primitive methods of trapping fish with falling tides, we were then treated to chasing crabs along the mangrove shoots in our kayaks..too fast for us! Another intersection and our guide leads us to Barotu Village and the last 1km of winding stream up the narrowing banks.

We arrived at Barotu Village to find some children sitting on the Sea Wall, whilst others were playing in the river, splashing one another and generally doing what all kids do! As we paddled round the last bend, the cries went out and they started running towards us, offering to help us the last 50metres. It was shallow so they could wade out to us, then started to push our boats into the village area and the protected departure point for the kayaks and boats. We disembarked onto the shore and were surrounded by smiling cheering faces. By now the women had heard the ruckus and had made their way to meet us. A large fresh lemon drink, made by one of the ladies of the village was soon poured into glasses for everyone and a relaxing time on the river bank was enjoyed by all. Our supplies and equipment were in the support boat and was unloaded for those feeling a little hungry or wanting clothes etc. Our Supply boat driver was very courteous and insisted on getting the locals to carry our gear, including the stowage of the kayaks over the sea wall in the village. This is an amazing village, with cement paths connecting all the main arterials together…..The large Village church, meeting hall and Bures seemed to be built with floods in mind, all being raised or on high ground. An optional walk around the local area had some people change their wet shoes for walking boots and disappeared into the foothills for an afternoon adventure after lunch, complete with guides.

This village was more into Rugby, part of the Fijian tradition. The large flat area (village green transformed into a football field late afternoon, was used for a gentle game of touch (fast albeit!). Dinner again surprised everyone with the variety and amazing flavours. We slept in a mixture of Fijian thatched Bures and cement block homes. The peacefulness of the evenings with no city lights to dim the amazing array of stars entertained us for hours. Satellites, falling stars and the sheer abundance of stars left us all lying down and gazing for hours, to the distant sound of singing and the clapping for another bowl of Kava.

Thursday Morning

Again the village life started early. With no alarm clocks, and no bosses awaiting our 8.30am arrival to work, the village life seemed to be guided by the sun rising and falling. The village crops get felled early morning and then the men return to the village for breakfast (some never left, recovering from the Village Kava ceremony the night before!). The women started the food preparation and the variety of food smells wafted over the village. Fresh curry and Roti seemed popular and sweet cake and tea (sweetened by loads of sugar) were also common. After a group farewell by the village elders, members and families, we departed for the Sea Wall and found our kayaks already loaded and ready for our departure. Our guides were beaming and smiling, as they knew from our faces we were enjoying ourselves. A quick farewell of promises to return next year and exchanging of addresses for writing etc, saw the loudest farewell yet

A trip down the creek, and into the flowing waters of the main stream saw us quickly returning to the main bay area and the fascinating scenic backdrop of the mountain ranges of the mainland. Its' incredible how small and insignificant the double kayaks looked with the tall mountain ranges as a backdrop. We hugged to the Eastern edges of the River and discovered some amazing tree root structures overhanging the waters. A quick trip around Verata Point saw us beaching on a really beautiful beach for a swim and a snorkel. The amazing Corals of Fiji were so beautiful and colourful. The fish life is abundant and schools of fish in all shapes, colours and sizes surrounded us as we offered bread for feeding. The beach offered a great location for lunch, so we enjoyed the afternoon weather and played in the waters, blue and refreshing. A small walk around the point soon had us yearning for more Fijian culture, with large piles of Coconut husks at the bases of some Coconut trees - a mystery at first… The quick trip across to the last village, Navuniivi, we saw a great turnout from the village people to welcome us. Co-incidentally the Volleyball court was located on the waters edge, a very overused court. A great bunch of smiling, laughing children were playing, all cheering and waving when we arrived. Joe, the tall elegant Village spokesman, well mannered and graceful in his movements and kindness, formally welcomed us. We were then offered horseback trails in the neighbouring hills, walks with local guides and pig chasing in the local area. A feast had been prepared for us that evening and we all enjoyed a traditional Lovo, usually saved for formal ceremonies like weddings and funerals. Smoked Fish, succulent pork, tender meats and traditional vegetables all emerged from the Lovo pit, to be enjoyed by all in the almost finished community hall. The old church stood proud on the hill and the traditional thatched bures stood out as classic homely living in this village. Everyone was friendly, and wanted to talk about our homes and even more wanted us to stay longer..

An evening of dancing, jovial music, guitar playing and generally social talking with the locals, had us all learning about their lifestyle, way of life and daily patterns. Another great sleep capped off the evenings activities.

Friday morning:

We awoke to the roosters, and hens playing, chirping to everyone to get up and join them. We refused but later enjoyed a breakfast with a wonderful view over the water. Joe had two homes, the official thatched Bure and a more modern Cement block house, complete with straw woven floor mats - quite an experience understanding the difference in culture.

We then had a final walk around the village and those last minute horse trail rides taking more photos and memories. After a 10am final debrief from our guides, the boat was packed with our luggage, the kayaks all prepared ready and we slipped into the comfort of our kayaks and paddled across the bay and back along the coast towards Ellington Wharf.

We arrived back at Ellington wharf, mid afternoon, completely satisfied and happy. Those who were feeling the pressures of late night dancing and festivities on the Kava were offered a tow from the rescue support boat and several were seen leaning back, enjoying the sunshine being towed, paddles up smiling!!

We arrived back at Ellington Wharf to smiling faces of the staff, all eager to learn from our stories. Fresh mango juice and snacks were prepared for us, while we enjoyed the afternoon watching the sun setting over the water. Stories flowed well into the evening. It soon dawned on us that some of the group had to depart that evening for Nadi and a early morning flight home, so they were quickly exchanging details with fellow crew members while their gear was being loaded into the waiting minibus for their transfer to Nadi and the overnight hotel.

Several of us had decided to extend our stay and also do the 3 day Kayak trip starting on Monday, so we had a few days to relax in the local area.

The trip saw us travel to 4 different Fijian Villages, and learn from their culture. It was an exceptional experience, being able to see first hand what the "real" Fiji looks like and how they live, and operate. It was apparent that money was not a primary function of the economy, however the trading of coconuts, and Kava crops for other desirables blended itself more towards a subsistence culture.

The food was excellent and was all prepared by the Ellington Wharf Restaurant, being transported daily to our village arriving just in time for our evening meals. This ensured the quality was fantastic, wholesome and plenty. Drinks were ordered and delivered accordingly. Those who wanted soft drinks were catered for and a cool delivery of Fiji Bitters kept others happy. Our supply chain was clear and worked really well. If we wanted additional items (some not even food related), then these were ordered and usually delivered that evening. Great food helped contribute to a great time! The variety of Indian curries, Roast Chickens and roasted vegetables, Traditional Lovo feast, and Fresh Fish with vegetables saw us all adequately filled and very complacent, happy with what makes or breaks a trip - great Food!

Those of us who didn't have to go home, had a relaxing few days on the island resort, preparing ourselves for the Monday morning departure for the big island of Malake.

 

Seven Day Sea Kayaking FACTS

Location: Safari Lodge - Fiji is located in the RakiRaki area of Fiji, on the main island, 2hr north of Nadi Airport on the Sunshine Coast. We paddle to Viti Levu Bay - the largest Bay in Fiji and paddle between the 4 villages within the large bay.

Accommodation: Safari Lodge supplies the mattresses and linen, so only sleeping bags are required. Accommodation is in traditional Fijian Bures in the villages or large 2 person Tents - your choice!

Food: Ellington Wharf Restaurant provides all the Food for the trip, covering all meals required, offering tasty wholesome meals required by hungry healthy paddlers!

Transport: Safari Lodge can organise transport from all areas of Fiji to Ellington Wharf, RakiRaki so please contact via email or phone for available options.

Costs: The Tour costs include three meals a day, all soft drinks, accommodation and kayaking. Non inclusions are contained in our Booking Conditions and Terms.

Who Comes ?: The seven day Sea Kayak is a great introduction to soft eco-tourism and culture. The paddling is not covering large distances, ensuring all ages and both males and females are very suited for this tour. Singles, couples and families are all welcome.

Culture: , Safari Lodge has designed a fantastic program of Fijian Culture, Authentic Village overnight accommodation, Fijian ceremonies and kayaking through spectacular scenery on route.

Starting / Finishing times: The Tour commences from Ellington Wharf at 9am on Monday morning and completes at Ellington Wharf 5pm on the Friday afternoon. Sunday prior is a warm up paddle introduction day. Accommodation starts on Saturday prior evening to ensure a great sleep and ready for Sunday introductions and test paddles. Also allows for Sunday culture in local area.

Safety: A 23ft Yamaha Rescue boat is always available and accompanies the Sea Kayaks ensuring our high levels of safety are maintained.

Essential items to bring: Upon booking we will send you further information about what to bring.