Whitewater rafting on the Upper Navau river

5:00am came really early, and there might have been some grumbling from Jean but we had a ride to catch. Today’s adventure would be white water rafting the Upper Navua river. This meant getting to Pacific Harbour by 6:45am which was about seventy-five minutes away. Would it be worth it? No way to tell, but we had heard great things about this trip.

Pulling into the meeting spot at a gas station, there was the 4X4 truck waiting for us, I rolled down the window and said hello to the guy with a clip board. A short, “How do you know you looking for me?” Well, I sure hope you are the right guy given getting up early. Turned out Toby ended up being our guide and he was quick with a joke and always giving everyone a hard time. Two thumbs up, he is a great guy with a great singing voice. Next was a ninety-minute ride up into the mountains with a break in the middle for banana bread and to stretch out legs (which we were very appreciative to get).

At the put-in we had a bit of a walk before jumping in the rafts. We had gotten pair up with a couple on their honeymoon who we had spent the entire drive chatting with and Vish, a guy from the Bay area. He had left Fiji with his family as a young boy and was there with his nephew (who still lives in Fiji). Unfortunately for him, they got split up, but Jean was very happy to have him in our raft to protect her for a lot of the waves crashing onto our boat. The river itself is absolutely gorgeous. At this water level it is a mellow river, all class II or less but fun none the less bouncing from waterfall to waterfall (supposedly there are 70 waterfalls along the route). Just after beginning we entered a narrow volcanic canyon with the walls extending over a hundred feet above our heads. Toby explained that high water raised the river to within 40 feet of the top. Insane to think of that much water rushing down.

Halfway down was a small rock outcropping where we stopped for lunch. While the guides fixed up lunch there was a small series of waterfall to check out. And attempt to NOT fall. The rock was quite slippery and I’d say over half of us took a tumble. The food ready, we started scarfing it down while a gentle but cold rain came down. Jean and I tried to hide out under some brush which worked to a certain extent but brr did we get cold fast. Thankfully we loaded up and continued on allowing us to paddle and warm up. The bottom half had more flat sections but still many waterfalls to check out. Some of the other boats even stopped to get a picture standing underneath. Um, yeah we are good. Still feeling the cold from the rain. A bit further and it reached village one (village two was the take out) and then Toby sang us the Fijian national anthem. I mentioned earlier that we were lucky to get Toby as our guide. Not just because of his singing ability but also for all the knowledge and history he share with us. Including that the rafting company has been around 26 years, with him guiding 23 of those years. Wow. Definitely in safe hands.

It felt good to get dry clothes on and head down the mountains to our car. Both the drive up and back down really gave us a new appreciation of the geography of Fiji. You get a glimpse from the coast, but driving back on 4X4 roads really gives you a respect for the isolation many villages experience and the rugged beauty of the landscape.

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