The main island in Fiji has beautiful deep forest areas at the center of the island. A few kilometers of walk through one such Fijian rainforest area will lead you to Upper Navua river. White water rafting in upper Navua river is one of the top things to do in Fiji. There are many local tour operators who offer guided tours of white water rafting tours in upper Navua river as this activity happens to be one of the most sought after activities in Fiji. The activity could definitely be construed as expensive by some but it is worth every penny spent. Additionally, with the right tour guide, you will hear some interesting stories about the life of local villagers.
Things to know before you sign up for white water rafting in upper Navua river
The most commonly asked question is if this activity is dangerous. Well, as much as there is limited danger in any such sporting activity, this one is definitely not dangerous by any means. To begin with, the speed of waterflow is mild to moderate that it is classified as rapids II or rapids III at best. So, the risk of life-threatening injuries is very low. The ride lasts about 8 hours and the entire guided tour is likely to last about 12 hours or more. Out of these 12 hours, you are likely to spend 2 to 3 hours on the bus from your hotel to the tour starting location. White water rafting in upper Navua river lasts for about 6 to 7 hours with a half hour break in between for lunch. The tour operators typically provide a morning snack, a good lunch (typically sandwiches and orange juice so that you don’t feel stuffed up) and an evening snack.
Is the ride physically strenuous? No. Is it appropriate for older people? Yes. The rafting experience is not physically strenuous by any means unless you have problems being seated in a boat for six hours. It is appropriate for any adult who can hike uphill for 20 minutes. The hike through the tropical rain forest could be slightly strenuous if you are not in good physical condition. Our group had people who are older than 50 years and they had a great time. You do not have to worry about sunburns or dehydration from excessive heat as the river is well-covered by tropical wilderness on either side that you will hardly see any sunlight. Ensure that you carry an additional set of clothes as you will get wet during the ride.
This is one of those rides for which carrying a point-and-click digital camera or DSLR camera would not be a wise choice unless you can house them in water-proof cases. Even with water-proof camera cases, the preferred option would be to avoid DSLR due to its bulky size. You are better off carrying a GoPro type of camera and attach it to your helmet or your arm as it is well made for such rugged rides.
On a final note, this is not meant to be a thrill ride by any means. You should not sign up for white water rafting in upper Navua river if you are looking for a thrilling and adventurous activity. However, considering the splendid views along the way, the ride could definitely be considered one of the best white water rafting experiences in the world in terms of scenic views. Hence, this ride happens to be one of the popular places to go in Fiji. The ride provides a serene experience where you get to raft in a calm river flowing through the wilderness and soak in (no pun intended) the beautiful scenic views on either side of the river while listening to amazing stories about the tribal population.
Traveling to Upper Navua River
Depending on your hotel location, your tour operator would pick you up likely between 6:30 am and 7:30 am local time. The bus (or van) would take a detour near Sigatoka town and take you into lush forest area through muddy roads. Try to avoid the back of the bus or van as these roads translate to somewhat of a bumpy ride. You would be given a morning snack midway through the ride. The tour bus would then travel through the rainforest to arrive at a place downstream of Nabukuleva village where you would be provided with helmets, life jackets and paddles. You would also have a 15-minute orientation session on the safety instructions to be followed during rafting.
The experience of white water rafting in upper Navua river
A short hike for 15 to 20 minutes uphill through the rain forest will lead you to the location where the ride begins. Your tour guide will take you through the river with a lot of canyons and waterfalls on either side. As per the tour guide, during lull period, you get to see about 70 waterfalls along the way. During peak season, you get to see about 150 waterfalls. The Gorge’s walls and the rain forest either side add to the beauty of the river. Be on the lookout for a wide variety of colorful birds - herons, parrots, fruit bats and more. You will also come across villages on the banks of the river. Children from these villages often do a free jump into the river and swim in the water.
As you go through the river, when you reach areas where the flow is considered rapid I or rapid II, your tour guide will give you the option to jump out of the boat and swim along. Do not miss this experience. As you swim along, you will be able to see deep down through the clear water. This is also a great time to use your GoPro to get amazing videos. Your tour guide will also take your boat through the falls or park near the falls and you will be given the option to spend time standing underneath the falls to enjoy the raw force of falling water.
End of the guided tour
At the end of the ride, you will arrive at Wainadiro village where you get to change into dry clothes, grab a snack and board the bus back to tour operator’s office. From here, you would board another bus back to your hotel around 4:30 pm to 5 pm and the bus ride is likely to last for an hour depending on your hotel location.
I would like to give a special shout out to our tour guide Peter. He was an amazing tour guide who made sure that our group had an unforgettable experience. He had a great sense of humor and kept it light-hearted throughout the trip. Also, as a group when we felt a bit tired and were not well coordinated in using the paddle, he steered the boat all by himself. He was constantly on the lookout for colorful birds and animals, and would point them out to us so that we could get pictures. Thank you Peter for an amazing rafting experience.