Sigatoka River Safari, Fiji

With the poor weather on Fiji’s Coral Coast looking to continue, we investigated local activities and came across something that looked fun and would not be affected by the rain.

Sigatoka River Safari, part Jet Boat river cruise and part Fijian Village experience seemed to fit the bill exactly, so after booking at our resort, we got up early on a windy and wet tropical day to await pick up from a tour bus.

Jay - Founder of Sigatoka River Safari

We were picked up right on time at 7:15am, which was surprising considering we were all now running on Fiji Time. After a short 30 minute commute we arrived at the sign in desk, which is situated within a large department store/cafe in Sigatoka town, then after a bit of shopping transported out to the river and the awaiting jet boats.

Here we were fitted into life jackets and introduced to our captain for the day, which in our case was Captain Jack.  We were loaded onto our respective boats while Jay, one of the original founders of the tour nearly ten years ago, was on hand to oversee.

Cruising up the River

Having ridden on jet boats before in Sydney and New Zealand, we had expected to be zipped and spun around until we were thoroughly soaked. There was a bit of that, but mostly the jet boat part of the safari was a leisurely tour of the river, albeit at breathtaking breakneck speeds. We didn’t even really get wet until the (optional) very end of the ride, where we were all thoroughly drenched doing 360 spins.

What we did get however, was a fun and (I’ll say tentatively) educational tour of the beautifully scenic Sigatoka river.

Travellers along the River

The highlight of the river tour for me was getting to see the local inhabitants interacting in an environment that would be difficult to see otherwise. Fijian’s have a strong bond with horses, and we saw many instances of men riding along the shore or crossing the water with their steads, sometimes with a foal in tow. There were also many instances of people working along the river, bathing and moving cattle.

Generations

We knew when we booked the Sigatoka River Safari that it included a Fijian Village visit, but I didn’t realise at the time it would be such a major part of the tour, or that I would so thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Jay has set the safari tour up so that it benefits many of the surrounding villages, rotating the visits between them. On our tour we went to Mavua Village, which was right on the river.

We were shown around for some time, and got to meet many of the locals going about their day to day business, before we all congregated in the town hall.

Here we had the honour to meet Chief Kini Seinitiri, who welcomed us to his village with a traditional ceremony which included getting to drink some kava  (below).

Kava Ceremony

Village Feast

After the welcome ceremony we were treated to lunch, which you can see in the picture above. What really impressed me with the meal was that with only a few exceptions, all the food was either grown or raised within the village. These days consumers in Sydney and other western capitals are paying big dollars for organic, natural and locally produced foods and here these guys were serving it all up for free!

We had chicken, casava, banana, spinach with coconut milk, roti and pancakes, all of which tasted extremely good.

Capt. Jack- River Boat Captain

After lunch there was dancing and then the village sung us a nice farewell song, after which we made our way back to our boats.

Going into this tour I did not have overly high expectations, but ended up surprised at how much I enjoyed all of it, and would highly recommend it to anyone as a must do if you are in the Coral Coast area, or even if you are looking for and excuse travel down that way.

I took some video which better shows off the jet boat cruise, I’ll post it when I get back to Sydney.

Special shout out to the staff at the Warwick Fiji who helped us with the booking, Angela at Sigatoka River Safari, and to our boat skipper Captain Jack, who entertained us with many educational? stories.

The Sigatoka Jet Boat Safari runs twice a day. We were picked up for our tour at 7:15 am and dropped back just after 2pm. More info is available here: sigatokariver.com.

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