Alexis & Benedicte share their Navala Full Day experience…. Nadi et visite de Navala Village

Here is the Translation in English…

Wananavu partnership for photos and videos.
- Friday, June 3, 2016 -
This morning we have an appointment with Mike Fiji Eco Tours company. We participate in the tour he offers Navala Village, against photos and video. Mike picks us up at around 9am Tia Salmen and then picks up a Ukrainian- Russian couple in a hostel . Navala Fiji is the last village with traditional architecture . It consists of hydrocarbons , typical home that are made of straw and wood . The floors of hydrocarbons are generally made of clay and covered with coconut leaves mats.
Navala Village is 2h30 drive from Nadi .

DSC09770
Mike commented on the way we route , shows the sugar cane processing plant and stopped to buy some candy for the children of the village. We arrive at Navala Village around 11:30 .
DSC09784
This is Josephine , a resident of the village that welcomes us . It will be our guide for the day. Josephine leads us into one of the many homespun village . We are greeted by several villagers who sing us a welcome song accompanied on the ukulele . What follows is a Kava ceremony.
DSC09818
We start then explore the village , with its dozens of bures , school and church. The village was partially destroyed by the cyclone last February and many families are still living in emergency tents pending the reconstruction of their homespun . Navala Village is set in stunning scenery.
DSC09871
Back in the bure , we discover the feast that women have prepared : chicken curry , fish, vegetables, rice and pineapple . We enjoy.
It is a wonderful time , Mike proposes to go to the river. We meet some of the village men returning from fishing, freshly caught fish in hand skewer.
DSC09914
 
After a few moments of freshness to the river it is already time to resume the direction of Nadi . This day was very nice. We advise those who have little time to Fiji and want to explore the local culture. If you want to fully enjoy the experience , stay overnight in the village. Fiji Eco Tours Visit the site for more info 

- Saturday, June 4, 2016 -
This is our last day in Fiji. We spend a great evening with Tia , Salmen , Abe, a French-Canadian couple who lives in Australia and an American who is on a mission to Fiji with Doctors Without Borders. We share our travel experiences and Tia Salmen and answer all our questions on the Indo-Fijian culture. Last meal of Indian and Thai Rating and buckle our bags . If you are looking for accommodation in Nadi budget , we strongly advise you the room offer Tia and Salmen on AirBnB . Tomorrow is a big day , we leave for South America.
Moce
Alexis & Bénédicte

Fiji’s Navala Village

Posted by Alison and Don in FijiOceaniaSouth Pacific

lp2720243

14 December 2014. There’s a notion going around that the world is a small place, brought about no doubt by our increasing access to stories, photographs and videos of, well, pretty much everywhere. But it’s not small really. Well relative to a galaxy I suppose it is, but relative to the size of a human being it is a very very large place and to see even a tiny part of it, and of the communities of people who inhabit it, vast distances must be travelled.

From the west coast of Canada we crossed the Pacific, a distance of some nine and a half thousand kilometers, to Fiji, a group of tiny islands in the middle of an immense ocean. We landed in Nadi on Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island. Up in the Ba Highlands of Viti Levu, about three hours by car north-west of Nadi, past the Indo-Fijian town of Ba, over increasingly narrow and winding roads, is the remote traditional village of Navala. It is the only remaining traditional village on Viti Levu though there are others on some of the more distant of Fiji’s 333 islands. Here in this village, nestled in the mountains, and frequently isolated by a flooded river, is a community of some eight hundred souls living a simple quiet life.

We drove there with our guide on a fine sunny day in December, gradually heading inland, away from the coast, up into the highlands, past sugar cane plantations, and past a landscape that became more and more mountainous, and more and more spectacular.

 p2720508
 p2720238
 lp2720252
 


Rich emerald-green-and-blue-mountain beauty unfolding forever and filling the senses. That alone would have been enough. Then there, suddenly, spread out before us, was the village.

p2720310

The people of Navala live in traditional thatched bures and in this lush beautiful environment they lead quiet subsistence lives farming the land.

 p2720404
 hp2720381
 hp2720410
 

Upon arrival we were introduced to a young girl who was to be our guide around the village. It was just Don and myself that day on our own personal tour. We were lucky to be visiting on a Sunday since it meant everyone was at home.

We were shown around the entire village and our guide shyly answered all our questions. She told us the men of the village hunt wild pigs with spears and dogs every Saturday so there is a big pig roast once a week. She told us that over a nearby hill is the plantation where they grow cassava, taro, yams, kava, guava, mango, and papaya. She told us each family has goats, cows, bulls, and horses, though the livestock was not in the village. She showed us the school and the church, two of the very few buildings that are not thatched bures. They also have limited electricity from generators that are housed in sheds.

What we discovered for ourselves is that the people of Navala Village are charming and open and very friendly.

 p2720359
 p2720355
 

Most of the kids wanted to be photographed and pushed and shoved to be included.

 p2720373
 p2720375
 p2720378
 

What better place to play, or bathe, on a hot day.

p2720435

We were taken to meet the chief. He sat in his house, leaning against the centre pole. I wonder if he’s as fierce as he looks in this picture. There were several men with him.

p2720392

We were invited to join in tasting kava, a ritual drink of the Polynesian islands. Kava is the pulverized root of a plant related to pepper, mixed with water. It makes your tongue numb and your mind mellow. The coconut-shell cup is passed around in an hierarchical order, and each person claps once before and once after drinking. Everyone drinks. Everyone gets mellow.

The men in the chief’s house preparing the kava:

 p2720420

After tasting the kava we continued our tour of the village. This is a cooking area outside one of the bures.

p2720429

There are almost two hundred bures in the village. They are built of bamboo, directly on the grass-covered earth. The roof thatch is made from reeds, the walls are woven bamboo and the floors are covered in woven pandanus mats.

 hp2720347
 hp2720415
 

Finally it was time for lunch. One of the families had opened their home for us and we were welcomed in. First we were invited to join in another kava ceremony, and once again the cup was passed around accompanied by the ritual clapping.

p2720465

Then we were invited to eat from a sumptuous spread. We felt a bit awkward eating alone in front of everyone, but clearly that was what was expected. After we’d finished it was the kids’ turn to tuck in.

 p2720476
 p2720483
 

Navala village has been in existence since 1949. In 1950 the community decided to reject modern housing options and to continue the traditional ways, teaching the young the art of bure construction. Although there are small numbers of visitors every day, and the income from tourists for maintenance of, and improvements to the village is most welcome, their way of life is chosen and authentic. The remoteness of the village helps keep it that way. We were very glad we went. The drive was through the spectacular scenery of Viti Levu’s hinterland,

p2720246

and our time in this gentle village gave us a glimpse into a more peaceful and grounded way of life. Using what the land provides, for shelter, food and water, the people of Navala live in harmony, close to each other, and close to the earth.

In this very large world, hidden away in the highlands of a tiny island in an enormous ocean, lives a small group of people, farming the land and husbanding their animals, and welcoming anyone who cares to visit them.

Growth Of Eco Tours And Accommodation In Fiji

Fiji is blessed with the normal tropical island features of sun, sand and sea. It has two main seasons of Summer/Spring and Autumn/Winter. The Summer/Spring season is the hot and humid season with a lot of rain, especially on the Suva – Central, Southern division. The Western division during this time is usually dry with occasional rain making the Western division an ideal area for the tourism market.

The Autumn/Winter season is the cool to cold season with less rainfall recorded during the season. During the cold season, the local population usually wears jackets, coats and jerseys as temperatures can vary quite widely between 14 °C and 23 °C.

Endowed with wonderful tropical features, Fiji has fully exploited this in the tourism market. Over the years Fiji has been growing its inventory of resorts, motels, apartments, rental companies, credit card, ATMs and all facilities expected of a modern tourist destination. Some of their resorts have featured in top travel magazines and received best practice awards.

Hidden in all this modern display of tourism experiences are a growing but quality niche of eco-friendly tourism. There are a few companies that are focused towards this market with eco-friendly resorts and eco based tours and accommodation. Fiji Eco Tours Company Limited was formed by a husband and wife team of Michael and Susan Crocker from Nadi to cater to the growing number of tourist looking for tours and accommodation outside the normal “Western Type” tourism experience in Fiji.

They started this website, worked with a few established inbound tour companies, provided brochures and information to local resorts and hotels and the eco tour business was born.

waterfall dip

Enjoying a swim around a waterfall

Fiji Eco Tours now provides half day tours, full day tours and accommodation in 3 authentic Fijian Villages. An example of their half day tours is the Orchid or Waterfall Therapeutic Half Day Tour. It normally starts with a pickup from the resort or airport, a visit to the famous “Orchid Garden of the Sleeping Giant”, a dip into a natural mud pool, an optional Fijian massage and a delicious meal before being dropped off at the resort or airport.

A full day tour would be quite similar but would normally include a traditional welcome ceremony, a swim under a waterfall, a visit to the local market and other activities before being dropped off.

The accommodations at the villages are comfortable and safe. Abaca Village accommodation is in homestays and a dormitory. Another village, the fully Fijian traditional Navala Village provides a lodge and a dormitory for accommodation. And lastly, the Nalesutale Village has a dormitory with comfortable 10 single beds.

Fiji Eco Tours offers these tours to groups as well and can cater for any size group. It is recommended that all bookings be made early as possible to secure places.