Cold, wet and a little nervous – this wasn’t what I expected from my Fiji holiday. Surrounded by Kiwis and Melburnians who hadn’t felt double digit temperatures in weeks, I found myself in the middle of a water fight on the Upper Navua river about to head down white water rapids.

The others in my raft were hell-bent on getting wet, oblivious to the (in my mind) freezing water temperature of the shaded Upper Navua.

Soaked I eventually gave in and joined them in the fun before suddenly they all went quiet and stared ahead. The beautiful canyon narrowed and the sound of a very fast flowing river was just ahead. We’d reached our first rapid.

Our guide Batirua, who (in my mind) had forgotten to take his ADHD medicine started screaming orders at his novice crew.

“Now go forward, back easy, hard, stop!” He screamed in one sentence.

Before we knew it, we had just survived our first rapid and it was paddle high fives all around. Our skipper was a master.

Another raft carried those American tourists we all love to loathe – you know? The loud ones that have been there, done everything? Their crew included self-proclaimed experts “Dude, I even have my own raft. This will be nothing compared to our rapids at home” and long suffering partners.

I’m not sure who was happier when they were tipped out after failing to listen to their guide, but the rest of us certainly had a good laugh.

Rafting down the Upper Navua is, believe it or not a really relaxing experience, despite the aforementioned screaming and flipping into the water.

The rapids are fun and certainly get your heart racing, but for several hours of the day-long trip, you simply float through canyons and farm land while your guide tell tales (in our case, many of them were extremely tall) and folklore about Fijian custom and culture.

I learnt more about Fijian language than from any guidebook during my Rivers Fiji trip and with no phone service, no distractions found myself completely relaxed and immersed in Fiji’s stunning inland scenery.

Rivers Fiji runs several rafting tours, some include village visits. Ours was a long day, with an early pick up from the resort, morning tea on the way to the Upper Navua, rafting, lunch at a gorgeous waterfall then home mid evening.

The team at Rivers is proudly Fijian and supports sustainable tourism. They are the protectors of the river and its surrounds, firm in their ‘take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but memories’ policy.
The river is pristine, the canyons prehistoric and when you eventually get downstream you float by traditional Fijian farms and villages.

Local kids run in to the water to say ‘bula’, mothers hang washing on the river bank and fishermen cast nets for dinner.

This day trip is not only adventurous and fun, it’s a privileged glimpse into Fijian life, made amusing and interesting by informative, albeit slightly deranged guides.

Book direct with Rivers Fiji, or your tour desk.