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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fiji Day 3: White Water Rafting Through Fiji's Grand Canyon

Growing up in a city like Singapore, it's not surprising that nature is not something that I got to experience much as a kid. One of my greatest gratifications from travelling is being able to experience how awe-inspiring nature can be!

I remember picturing scenes in my head while reading about nature in my childhood. A lake, in my imagination, looked like a rather large pond, and a river, something like a big water canal. HAHA! How was I to know that a river could look so different from my childish imaginations?

This is why I highly recommend Rivers Fiji's white water rafting trail in Fiji, it is easily the most scenic white water rafting experience I've had to date. Being able to take in the majestic sights of the Upper Navua River was one of the key highlights of our white water rafting! That being said, I would advise all participants to be in good physical shape, because it was also an extremely tiring and gruelling session!

This is my second time doing white water rafting and boy, was it exhausting! Our route down the Upper Navua River covered a total of 24km in five hours, and took the better part of a day.

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We set off early on a rather cold and dreary morning: Our Rivers Fiji van picked us up from our hotel and it was a long and bumpy ride up through the mountains as we drove deep into the forests to get to the Upper Navua River, also nicknamed Fiji's "Grand Canyon" for its magnificent gorges and waterfalls.

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Here's Team Fiji before we got thoroughly soaked and wet, I think I almost forgot what it felt like to be dry and warm during the time we spent on the river, LOL.

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Really excited for the activity ahead!

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We got suited up in life jackets, helmets and oars! Looking dorky, but safety is of highest priority!

As for what to wear under your life jacket, I suggest wearing something light-weight that doesn't get water-logged: I had on denim shorts and a cotton top, while others had on swimsuits/bikinis. If you're afraid of the cold (especially if it's a overcast day with drizzling and rain), a wetsuit/rash guard would be optimal!

Waterproof sandals would be your best bet, because you're sure to get wet from head-to-toe during the course of white water rafting! I remember looking at some other guests all decked out in sportswear and hiking shoes, feeling rather anxious that we were too inappropriately attired and not suited up properly for the activity ahead. But we all survived nonetheless, dressed like what we were wearing (above)!

Last but not least, don't forget your essential sun protection!! You'd be out in the elements for 5-6 hours, so slather on the sunblock and don't forget to re-apply during rest stops.

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Before the white water rafting commenced, we had to take a 15-20 mins long hike to our starting point. Just the hike/climb itself left me winded already and the real activity had yet to commence??! I was getting slightly worried at this point but all of us pressed on!

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When we finally reached the river side, our guides instructed us through a short briefing, before it was time to set off for real!

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BULA!!!

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Off we went, merrily rowing down the waters!

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The view was SO BEAUTIFUL! Just look at our happy and excited faces.

It was a very scenic route and the river passed through a deep chasm in which you could see cliffs towering over on both sides.

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It was absolutely breath-taking, as we navigated through deep chasms of rocks with no sight of cosmopolitan civilisation in sight. We spent many moments just silently rowing through the river and quietly taking in the majestic view.

The weather turned chilly and drizzly and 24km really felt like forever... We just kept rowing and rowing and rowing! I remember feeling really miserably cold at some point of time and wishing for the rain to stop, which it thankfully did!

As a distraction from the endless rowing, we ended up belting out songs at the top of our lungs to keep ourselves (and other fellow boatsmen) entertained with various top hits ranging from Carpenters to Taylor Swift to Teresa Teng lollll!

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Our river guide Abraham was completely hilarious and even joined us in the singing while he expertly guided us through the waters and rapids. All the Fijians we encountered during this trip were very friendly and had a crazy sense of humor that cracked us up!

We had a super funny cultural exchange and taught one another some very useful phrases and words in Fijian dialect and Hokkien HAHAHA.

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Along the Upper Navua River, waterfalls are numerous and plentiful, each one more spectacular than the last! I wish I were able to capture more photos, but my camera was kept in our waterproof dry bag most of the time to keep it dry and safe from the water.

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Selfie!

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It's really hard to look good when you're wet, cold, and clad in a bright yellow helmet and unsexy life jacket hahahaha.

We rowed and rowed for what felt like eternity but in actual fact was only about 12km before we took a break for lunch on a little sheltered cliff along the river! Our lunch was prepared by the guides and was really simple. Bread, diced up chicken and tuna plus some raw veggies, but it tasted like the best thing on earth at that point of time!

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Lunch time!!! We were wet, hungry, and cold.

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So. Much. Yum.

Even though we were so shagged out already, we had to take the opportunity for a photo op because well, it's part of the job, yknow?

So we jumped into the freezingggg cold water and swam across to the opposite river bank while our manager Mabel snapped shots for us from the other side. I swear it's really dedication to our craft. We had to remove our life jackets and helmets and it was sooo freezing cold! I was literally shivering in the water.

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My money shot! While my life jacket drifted off somewhere to the right of the frame and I had to swim over to retrieve it afterwards. Hahaha.

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Our craaayyyy guides made us all go into the waterfall for pictures despite how absolutely icy cold it was! My teeth were practically chattering with cold but it was a extremely out-of-this-world experience for us city kids who don't get to grow up surrounded by nature.

It was a fantastic experience, and I would 10/10 recommend trying this out! Difficulty-wise, the rapids we experienced weren't scary at all, with nothing above a Class II white water rapid, due to the low tide season! 

The toughest part for me was enduring the constant rowing throughout all 5 hours/24km, but thankfully, our guide Abraham took over and did most of the work for us in during the last stretch because we were all so tired that we even knocked out for a bit while on our raft. We were in good hands and felt completely safe, so there was nothing to worry about :)

Shouting out a "WANNANAVU!" - which means AWESOME, in Fijian!

If you think that Fiji only has got beaches and seas to offer, you need to experience white water rafting along the Upper Navua River, it is truly a sight and experience like no other! 

Apart from white water rafting, I believe Rivers Fiji also offers other adventures ranging from sea kayaking one-day activities to an interesting 8-day-long itinerary for the challenge-seekers! Find out more on Rivers Fiji's website right here ;)

On a side note, we had a photographer from the Rivers Fiji team who took photos of us throughout the entire day with his waterproof camera! All the photos cost $25 (SGD I think) for high-resolution via Dropbox. Not too extravagant, especially when it's hard to be whipping out your own camera during this activity. The photos were just barely passable though, there were many blurred/badly-composed shots because well, bobbing around on water is really not optimal for photo-taking. Hahaha. A few of the photos above were from our "official" photographer, but most were from my own camera (if not waterproof, use it at own risk. Lol) Alternatively, use a GoPro or get one of those waterproof plastic pouches for your phone!

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After our tiring adventure, we were more than glad to return to The Pearl South Pacific Resort Fiji, where we had a luxurious two nights' stay!

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I really loved the chic interiors of the resort, with splashes of warm colors and woody accents for a welcoming vibe!

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Situated right next to the harbour, The Pearl South Pacific Resort Fiji is a lovely and quiet respite.

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Also makes for great photos, I love the view of the harbour!

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My comfortable and spacious room was luxuriously delightful to return to after a long day out!

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My private balcony overlooking the waters!

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There's a great selection of food with 6 fully licensed restaurants and bars at The Pearl South Pacific Resort Fiji! With plenty of local seafood to savour and an ever-changing menu, their internationally acclaimed chefs love to cater to patrons’ personal tastes whilst introducing the region’s sumptuous produce.

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Chowing down on awesome seafood with my bestie Evonne! :D

Wrapping up Day 3 of Fiji: More adventures await your reading pleasure, with island hopping, zip lining, cooking class and more!

[ The Fiji Travelogues ]


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