Fiji often gets confused with Mount Fuji in Japan. They sound the same and both are world renowned must-see destinations. However, Mount Fuji is just one picturesque mountain, while Fiji is home to more than 300 islands with lovely beaches and lush mountains. The tallest mountain and the highest peak in all of Fiji is the Tomanivi Mountain located on the main and largest island of Viti Levu.
Also known as Mount Victoria in the past (when the British were still in control), Mount Tomanivi is actually an extinct volcano situated in the northern part of the island. It is within a mountain range that divides the island of Viti Levu and passed through by four river systems, Rewa, Navua, Sigatoka and Ba.
There is something in mountains that makes people want to climb them, more so the tallest mountain in a country. The climb up Tomanivi from one’s hotel could last an entire day for first-time hikers. Although there is an easy path to follow to the summit, it is usually muddy and rocky, but not without a refreshing hike through a lush rainforest. In all, the climb could take six hours up and down. Normally, the starting point is from the southern side of the Coral Coast, on rugged terrain going to the famous Navai Village. At the village, it is customary to first meet the chief, offer gifts before passing through, and pay for the climb, which includes the services of an English-speaking guide that costs $20 and another $40 as village contribution. Hikers are usually welcomed by the village elders and a bunch of rowdy little kids.
The track begins at the end of the village. It is an easy climb rounding out this extinct volcano but gets steeper after a few hours. The halfway point is marked by an old sign pointing the way to the summit. The final third of the climb is very difficult. The final stretch involves a climb up a ridge and two summits, binging climbers on all fours. First-time hikers would definitely need a guide and more experienced companions. At around this time, though, tourists get an amazing view back down on the Navai Village and looking up to the now very near summit. The first summit is right on the crater of the extinct volcano. A few more moments and many more pressing steps upward reveal a spectacular view of the Fijian islands below as hikers linger on top of Fiji’s highest peak.
Fiji is an archipelago, which means it is made up of many islands, islets and a few atolls. It belongs to a group of tiny island-nations in the South Pacific. It is blessed with pristine white sandy beaches and abundant foliage.
The climb down Tomanivi could be as difficult due to the steepness in some areas. Aside from the majestic view and the natural high of being on a mountaintop, the friendly guide is also something to look forward to. Fijians are very friendly and willing to tell stories about the mountain, folk beliefs and Fiji. They are good English speakers and great climbers. Tourists will be surprised that after scaling Tomanivi, the guide would not look tired at all, and still be ready to tell more stories.