Floating Through Fiji

Rivers Fiji offers an authentic adventure and cultural experience

By: Jamie Wetherbe

For Fiji-bound clients seeking more adventure and local culture than a beach chair can provide, you might want to book them on a rafting trip with Rivers Fiji.

A subsidiary of O.A.R.S. a U.S.-based adventure company in business for more than 30 years Rivers Fiji opened in 1998 and is the only company allowed to operate trips on the Upper Navua and Luva rivers. With offices located on the Pearl Resort’s property in the Pacific Harbour about an hour outside of Nadi, Rivers Fiji offers a range of adventure options, from short day trips to two-day kayaking camp-outs.

My mom and I opted for the Luva River journey that also includes a trip to a local village, a popular choice for those looking for calmer kayaking combined with a more authentic Fijian cultural experience.

We meet our guides and group at 8 a.m., and ages ranged from mostly teenagers to my nearly 60-year-old mother. While the trip was about an eight-hour commitment, the bus ride to the river occupied most of the morning.

Bouncing in an open van for two hours through the narrow backroads of the Namosi Mountains proved more intense than kayaking the Luva. While the tour operator is working on acquiring a more comfortable vehicle, prepare clients for a bumpy ride.

We stopped once along the road to snack and take in views of the rainforest which was worth the bumps, as was the village visit to meet the chief. As we walked through Nakaviki, children popped out of houses and greeted us by waving and shouting greetings of bula. The chief greeted us warmly inside his home and was anxious to hear our impressions of Fiji; we shared stories and a couple of rounds of kava (a traditional Fijian drink made from a root) before boarding the bus.

Upon reaching the Luva, we geared up with helmets, paddles and single-seater, inflatable kayaks. Not everyone in our 10-person group including me had kayaked before, and the guides gave a thorough lesson before we were let loose to explore.

The river was only a Class II, and after a few trips down some tame rapids, I soon felt comfortable paddling past forests, cliffs and crevices in the rocks sometimes pausing to swim through waterfalls. It felt like we had the river to ourselves not once did we encounter another group.

We also stopped for lunch along the way, and the guides prepared a spread of sandwiches, cookies, juice and fresh fruit. While we ate and rested up, some travelers took the opportunity to do a little cliff jumping.

After a few hours on the river, we returned to the bus for a 45-minute ride to Pearl Harbour. After arriving at the resort at about 5 p.m., I was ready to get back to the beach chair.

The Details

Rivers Fiji
P.O. Box 307
Pacific Harbour, Fiji

In addition to the Luva River trip for $115, Rivers Fiji offers other one-day trips, including Beqa Sea kayaking for $130, the Upper Navua rafting trip for $150 and coastal sea kayaking for $55; the two-day Luva River camping trip costs $285. Transportation from Nadi, Vuda Point and Suva is available for $23-$35.

What to Wear: Tell clients to pack sunscreen, a swimsuit, comfortable shoes that will stay on and clothes that can get wet. Clients might also want to take along dry clothes for the bus ride home.

Commission: Agent commission is available. Agents also receive a 50 percent discount off the rack rate.