If you ask me to pick which tourist attraction in Fiji is most compelling, I would say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Fiji is just teeming with unique and first-class attractions from the white-sand beaches to cultural centers, from a traditional village to colorful coral reefs. Now, what about Navua River? Let me tell you how this charming river could compete as one of the Fijian spots that you should visit.
Located on Fiji’s main and most important islands, Viti Levu, this 65-kilometer long river is known for its serene and scenic beauty and to flow from an equally picturesque rugged mountain landscape. If you take a leisurely boat trip against the current, you would pass by traditional villages, amazing waterfalls and breathtaking gorges. You would want to stop at one of the villages to meet that locals and join a traditional kava ceremony. This is possible, especially if you are in a tour package. I would definitely advise that you hire a professional English-speaking guide or get into a tour so you would know when to get off and what activities are available along Navua River. If you are on your own, you could miss the spot where tourists normally take a swim in fresh mountain water. Now that would be a sad thing.
Here are the many activities that happen in and along this popular river: a visit to the Nukusere Village and experience firsthand its culture and traditions, take part in a kava ceremony (more about this later), enjoy a delicious yet exotic tropical lunch, see untouched Mother Nature as its finest, take beautiful pictures to prove that you’ve been to a river that is not like any other in the world, and go for that dip in fresh mountain water.
About the kava ceremony. All Fijians know about this ceremony, and all tourists must experience it to truly say that they’ve been to Fiji. Well, first things first. You should know what a kava is to know what the celebration is all about. A kava is an age-old herbal drink in this part of the world. In the past, it was drunk by the Royal Family and was considered sacred. The kava plant grows abundantly in Fiji and other islands in the Pacific. History would tell you that the drinking of kava and the natives’ high regard for it was one of the first things that Captain Cook noticed when he first saw the islands in the 18th Century. The natives chewed or pounded on the roots and mixed it with brackish water. The result was an anti-depressant drink that is very soothing, medicinal and bitter.
Now that you know what a kava is, know too to buy or bring along at least a half kilo of kava, either powdered or in root form if you knew that you are joining a ceremony. It costs about $12 to $20. As the village elders gather around you, the ceremony begins as you hand over the kava you’ve brought. Then, all you have to do is sit down and wait for the kava drink to be served. Much of the ceremony happens in Fijian so you won’t understand anything but will most likely hear your name spoken. The elders will be talking about you, thankful for the kava you’ve brought. A small band of guitarists will play local music in the background.
The ceremony is participated in by the men in the village. If you are a lady tourist, there’s no reason to be threatened because they will never touch or harm a woman. Whoever does so becomes cursed for the rest of his life. I guess the West could learn a thing or two about respecting women from these villagers. Lady tourists have in fact have engaged in a Homestay tour package in this village and never felt threatened at all.
Seeing and experiencing Nukusere Village along Navua River is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you shouldn’t miss. Check out this important river if only for the village and the kava ceremony.