Fiji’s interior is a realm of extremes. Deep in the northern highlands of Viti Levu stands Fiji’s highest mountain, Mount Tomanivi. Here also lies the headwaters of Fiji’s longest river, the Sigatoka River. Two days’ hike away is where the last recorded instance of Fijian cannibalism played out. This is the ‘Fiji’ that is memorable. Yes, Fiji is home to stunning beaches and is the ‘soft coral capital’ of the world. But her heart and character are in her mountains and valleys and the gentle lives (that were not always so gentle) that are lived there. This region is often overlooked by visitors and local Fijians alike. Both life and landscape are less refined in these parts, making it difficult to access but quite easy to love. “They could film a movie here. You know, those scenes where they’re running into battle.” This is the reaction from our photographer as we walk through the rolling hills of Navosa, one of the provinces covered by the “Full Monty”. Five days and roughly 45 kilometres of trekking through Fiji’s interior. This was the Full Monty trip we signed up for with Fiji’s only dedicated hiking company, Talanoa Treks. Matt and Marita Capper began Talanoa Treks after time spent with the Suva Rucksack Club exploring the various walks and trails that Fiji had to offer. The need for a dedicated hiking company and the enthusiasm of the hosting villages spurred avid hiker, Matt, to make the leap. Described by one of his guides, Etu, as a “hiking junkie”, Matt has left footprints across most of Viti Levu and now shares those experiences with the guests of Talanoa Treks. “Our longest walk, which is 21 kilometres, is mostly downhill so not too hard. When Matt was planning the hikes, he walked it backwards - so 80% uphill. And he enjoyed it!” said Nubutautau villager and guide, Etu. Spurred by ambition, (and probably overconfidence in our physical fitness,) we opted for five days of dramatic peaks, open vistas and sparkling rivers.
Day 1 NABALESERE WATERFALL
One of the best times to visit a Fijian community is during or after a Rugby 7s tournament. It’s a short, tough game that makes the most of Fijian speed and heft, and beloved of all Fiji. A kaleidoscope of emotion saturates the village - euphoria after a win or resigned defeat after a loss. We happened to begin our five-day hike the day after Fiji won its first Olympic gold medal ever, in rugby 7s.