By Irene Butler
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A craving for adventure led me to southern Vita Levu’s Pacific Harbour, proclaimed “The Adventure Capital of Fiji”. The Uprising Beach Resort, not only has dorm accommodations that are ubiquitous to the area, but also beachfront and garden view bures (sleeps up to four) for those, like myself, who fancy a bit more luxury after an adventurous outing. A private ‘biffy’ is joined to each bure, and a spacious stone-based shower opens to the sky. There was not a chance of going hungry or thirsty with the great restaurant and two bars after a day of expending energy at such activities as snorkelling in world-renowned coral reefs, shark diving, game fishing, white water rafting, or zip-lining.
I chose ZipFiji for my adrenaline rush. Kitty fit me into a harness (his nick-name for seemingly having nine lives was hopefully not zip-line related). Mike gave me the simple instructions and soon I was “tree surfing”, gliding with wild abandon 30 metres above the emerald forest, whooshing from platform to platform, reaching speeds up to a thrilling 60 km/hour.
Back at the Uprising I gazed across the bay at Beqa Island, home of the legendary firewalkers. I was the first on the scene at the Arts Village where a group of these firewalkers would perform their over 300-year-old ceremony. The rocks had been covered with burning wood for six hours and I felt the intense heat radiating from the mound. The ceremony began with the removal of the burning wood and leveling the rocks with poles. I cringed as one by one they not only walked across, but stood upon the smouldering rocks.
Wanting to experience more of the indigenous Fijian culture, I rose early one morning for the Sigatoka River Safari. With Captain Jack Sparrow (a.k.a. Josh) at the helm we skimmed over Fiji’s longest river past cliffs of marble, verdant hillsides, and subsistence farms on our way to the remote village of Koronisagana. Chief Aipate’s house brimmed with hospitality as we sat on mats with the villagers drinking kava (the “earthy” tasting, tongue-numbing drink) in a ritualistic ceremony, followed by a Meke dance lesson with spry adults and giggling children and a lavish feast the women had prepared in their rudimentary communal kitchen. A heart-warming glimpse into village life.
Fiji adventure tour operators have so much to offer:
• Dive with the sharks – grey reef sharks, silvertips, hammerheads and white tips
• Swim with the giant mantas
• Explore underwater caves and wrecks
• Guided and unguided kayaking on rivers and along the coast
• Whitewater rafting on the Upper Navua River
• Hiking and birding in Bouma National Park
• Surfing at Tavarua and Namotu