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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Tribewanted's Vitika Trek November 8th - 15th, Vanua Levu, Fiji

FIJI | Sunday, 16 November 2008 | Views [893]

Me with the kids at Cawaro Village School during the Vitika Trek

Me with the kids at Cawaro Village School during the Vitika Trek

On Saturday 8th November the first ever Tribewanted Vitika trek began from Labasa, Vanua Levu. Vitika roughly translates as 'cut a new path into Fiji', and this was exactly what we were going to do!
 
Five people from the island of Vorovoro (Irina, Senga, Sarah, David and Gianalfredo) made the boat journey to Labasa in the morning, from where we met our fresh-into-Fiji Finish couple (Annu and Kalle) and our guides (Ana and Fillipe) and readied for the off. 
 
After a debrief on our route and itinerary and collecting some kava and basic food for lunch on the second day, we were off to the bus station ready for our first leg of the journey...
 
The bus station is always an adventure in itself, and we made it in time to secure the last available seats on the nearly full bus. The group were split along the bus and everybody got stuck into conversations with the locals as we pulled out of the bus station... kids, parents and elders all hearing tales of travels and asking us where we were going. The response was met with some surprise and delight in every case!
 
After the near three hour bus trip, with the one pit stop on route, we arrived at our 'stop', a red dust track leading off into the bush from the main track. We bid farewell (moce!) to those friends on the bus and collected our bags ready for our first walk of substance. After an hour walk, mostly up hill ("this is the last hill...") we arrived at the darkened settlement which was our stop for the evening. As is typical of Fiji, things haddened gone entirely to plan, the perfect start to our adventure as far as I was concerned, and the best opportunity for the wonderful Fijian people to show the group just what they are all about. We went to the only house with a dim light on, not the one we'd planned to be staying at, and asked them if they would kindly provide us shelter for the night, which of course they did! Fijian people pretty much drop everything they're doing when a visitor arrives and we took over their evening and sat on the porch until the small hours drinking Kava and telling stories having presented a sevusevu on arrival. The elderly couple had no food for us other than heating some dalo leaves and casava for us, and we ate half of our planned lunch for tomorrow and drank lots and lots of hot tea. We slept on the floor of their main living space on our rolled camping mats and they gave us blankets and pillows, with the girls having the luxury of a seperate room in the house to crash in. Everyone slept soundly on night one of the trek.
 
In the morning we ate rice cooked in coconut milk and breakfast crackers, drank lots more tea and made some sandwiches to take on our jungle hike. After washing up and packing our bags we sat and performed a Tatau for the couple to say thanks for looking after us and were off on our way. The farmer came with us from the settlement to lead us through the jungle to the river and along to the coast, machete in hand and wearing his trusty rubber boots!
 
The jungle walk is one of the many highlights of this trip, and everyone enjoyed the trek down through the valleys which affords fantastic views of the green valley in places and yet plunges you deep into tall jungle with seemingly no way out in others. On reaching the river we took a well earned break and enjoyed the fresh cool water of the river for a while before heading off down river to the coast, hopping from giant rock to rock and finding spots to cross where needed to follow the lose trail. We took a short break when we reached a settlement near the coast and chatted to a couple of locals who were doing some clothing washing in the river. Another short track walk saw us hit the coast, which is simply breathtaking to see. Rugged, untouched coastline, fringed entirely with huge palms reaching out over the crystal clear azure blue water lapping over the coral sand beach... stunning. We walked the rest of our trek along this coast, dipping inland once to get around a large rocky outcrop before reaching our second stop over in the large village of Naboutini.
 
Before entering the village we stopped to teach the sevusevu etiquette to Kalle, who was going to present the sevusevu on behalf of the group to the headman of the family with which we were staying [as was demonstrated last night by Fillipe]. We all donned our Sulu's and announced ourselves at the edge of the village in traditional Fijian style... "Ho Ya" from the men... "Minavadu" from the women... and were greeted by the family and ushered into our house for the night. Kalle performed his Sevusevu with a minor slipup, telling the headman that he had "big balls"... which was taken well and met with some delighted laughter AFTER the ceremony was finished. This became THE story of the Fijian guides for the rest of the trip... great fun had from a simple slip of the tongue! Next we were invited to a neighbouring house for a spectacular lunch spread and then spent the afternoon swimming in the warm sea, exploring the village, meeting the people that live there and even sitting in the church for the sunday school where the kids sang some beautiful songs. We pounded some kava roots to take with us for the rest of our trip, everyone in the group having a go at that. After some rest we were invited back into the family home for our dinner, another great spread. We were invited to a small Kava session in the village, but everyone was pretty wiped out and we rested in our house before crashing out for another good nights sleep.
 
Our third day saw us start with a huge breakfast spread and then we had to wait for the tide to help us out with our boat for the day, so we sat and enjoyed the crazy local kids with their heaps of energy. We then took  a boat with all our bags further along the coast before hitting the beach to walk to our next village, of Tawake. Here Gianalfredo performed our Sevusevu to the grandfather of the family we were asking to stay with and then we settled into our village home for the day. The family provided us with lots of fruit to munch and then we took a walk around the beautiful village and up into the hills behind the village to see the school with its stunning backdrop of rugged mountains and untamed jungles. In the afternoon we took a short boat ride with our captain to a local settlement along the coast where we met the family there and asked if we could bath in their freshwater creek in the hills which was very refreshing! Afternoon tea was then provided back at our house and the gang sat and relaxed and played some games together to get to know each other some more. After a fresh fish, dalo and papaya curry dinner we were invited to go down the community grog session in the village where we met the real character of Tawake, Sir Issac Newton (or Sake' to his friends). The gang really enjoyed the evening with these guys and we drank grog until well into the small hours...
 
The next morning required an early and somewhat groggy eyed start to hit the tide to leave and move further north along the coast. We stopped off in Vanatauli after getting around some impassable-by-land rocks and mangrove swamps. We had a short trek with our bags along the coastline from here, stopping in a settlement to meet the now legendary Rosi, who decided to come with us to Yasawa and beyond and turned out to be a great asset to the tour in this north eastern most corner of Vanua Levu. We also stopped in a local school and the teachers gave us lots of fresh picked mangos and we sat and chatted with them and met some of the kids for a while before moving on to Yasawa along the coast. Here we proceeded into the village wearing our sulu's after announcing our prescence at the village edge and then sat on the mat for David to present our Sevusevu to the headman of the family here. We ate freshly caught trigger fish for lunch and then we all took a walk along the coast to visit the Meridian line, which along the beach was under water due to the tide, so we waded there and played in the sea on the line for a while, taking it all in, a great fun moment. Later that afternoon we ate tons of fruit and then were lined up with a big dinner of more trigger fish. The evening was spent relaxing in the house and around the village, enjoying the coastal night views and sounds before slipping off to sleep before our big trek tomorrow on day five.
 
The next morning we had the longest walk of the trek, from Yasawa village to Udu point, the eastern most point of Vanua Levu. We left our bags in the house at Yasawa and only carried essentials on the trek. We'd organised a boat collection to take us back from Udu to the village, from where we would saddle up and walk across the point of Vanua Levu to our next village stay tonight. The walk from Yasawa to Udu is spectacular and takes in beach, rock, mangrove swamp and hills until we reach the end point and are greeted with the sight of the lighthouse on the cliff top, which we climb up to see and leave our mark in. The trek took around three hours and on route we stopped and chatted with the inhabitants of several idyllic settlements and talked with some fishermen near the point and secured ourselves a big lunch with their fresh catch at a local settlement. After lunch some of the gang went on a boat trip to a local 'shop' to try and get some ice cream (failed!) while the rest enjoyed the warm pacific off of the gently sloping beach at the settlement. We took our boat trip back to Yasawa, had a few cups of tea and then headed off to walk across the point to Nabouono with our new guide Rosi leading the way. He stopped several points along the way explaining the local fauna and flora and showing us the wonderful views over the hills, quite a different landscape to anthing else we'd seen yet on this trip! 
 
When we reached Nabouono, we sat with the chief of the village and Irina presented the groups sevusevu. They were delighted to have us their village and they insisted that we used two seperate houses in the village to accomodate us comfortably! After the ceremony was done we went to freshen up, and under Rosi's guidance the whole group went down to the bay to wash in the sea and we enjoyed a special sunset, moon rise and fun and games in the sea together. As the moon rose, literally hundreds of fruit bats flew over head from the mainland towards the moon, a spectacular sight! After our sea bath we went to the gardens of the village and had a freshwater bucket wash en masse before drying and settling down to dinner with our hosts in the center of the village community space. Tonight we had a special Kava session with the headmen from the village, which really hit the spot, and one of the ladies performed a meke for us as several of her family sang. It was a nice moment of impromptu entertainment. 
 
In the morning, Api the boat captain from Vorovoro, woke us for breakfast and we were soon set for the next leg of our trip under his stewardship. We left on his boat, with his friend, and our next village host, Jobe on board. Before arriving at Cawaro, we stopped outside the reef where Api and Jobe took it in turns to do some diving and spear fishing to catch dinner and some offering for the local village chief. Jobe caught a barracuda for us and also showed us a young sea turtle which he'd spotted. On arriving at Cawaro village Sarah presented our sevusevu to the chief of the village and then after some rest at Jobe's and some lunch, we took a walk up to the local school to meet some of the kids and teachers. Some of the group presented some story books and pencils that they'd brought along to the head teacher, and we chatted with her for a while about school here in the village. Unfortunately we missed out on lesson time, but lots of the kids stay here in boarding and so we spent an hour playing volleyball and chatting with them before they had their dinner. On the walk back to the village we came across a large brackish estuary where some of the school kids who live locally were playing and swimming, so some of the gang jumped in and joined the fun for a while before heading back to the village and getting ready for dinner. After eating we sat and drank kava with some random men from the village before crashing out for another well earned sleep!
 
Day seven and we had an early breakfast, loaded the boat with our bags and then headed off on foot to the next village along called Lagi. The walk was really nice with some different terrain and stops to eat fresh coconuts and chat at local settlements. Lagi Bay village itself is very picturesque and has great views of the coast off to the south. Api met us in the bay and we took the boat out to sea and on to our next stop on Gevo island. The sevusevu had to wait until late as the headman was away attending a funeral, so Senga performed that in the dark next to our camp that evening! In the afternoon we took in the island, build an outdoor sleeping cover, ate and rested. The evening was spent chatting and relaxing under the stars after a spectacular moon rise which some of the group managed to capture on their cameras.
 
Early next morning we were up for the high tide to make our journey to Vorovoro easier. We had tea and biscuits and then put the boat back into the water and loaded up for our final leg. Everyone was pretty tired after a long week and another early start and we arrived back on Vorovoro in time for breakfast with the tribe which was nice, and everyone was excited to be back and share their stories of the trip. Kalle and Annu were not going to be staying on Vorovoro after the trek, so they enjoyed a few hours on the island and met the tribe before we headed off on the boat to Labasa to wave them goodbye at the bus station as they carried on their adventures...
 
Vitika #1 was a success. The Fijian lifestyle and environment will always throw up some new challenges along the way, and overall the group enjoyed the trip with its various walks, differing landscapes & terrains, villages, settlements, camps, beaches, foods, and most of all the people they met along the way. 
 
Here's to the next one and long may they continue!
 
Vinaka 
Paul.
(Powuuuula!)
 
My Pics from the trek are here on Facebook... Album 1, album 2, album 3 & album 4!!!!

Tags: adventure, adventures, beach, fiji, jungle adventures, trek, trekking, vanua levu, vorovoro, walking

 

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Me with the kids at Cawaro Village School during the Vitika Trek

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