C and I thought that we might head to the national park not far from Nadi where, accordingly to the guidebook, there are a couple of interesting walks. However, C checked with one of her local friends, and received feedback to the general effect that getting to the visitor centre wasn’t quite as straight-forward as Lonely Planet suggested. So we opted to book an escorted “Village” tour for the next day which apparently headed in the same general direction.
Within hours of booking, the rain started. Over the previous couple of days, there had been a few drops of rain, but the rain that now arrived obviously marked the commencement of the wet season. It came down consistently and heavily from late afternoon until early the following morning.
By breakfast time, however, the rain had cleared and our tour group (4 in all, C and I and 2 others) set off in a mini-bus. The village we were heading for was apparently in the national park, and it soon dawned us that we would have had no hope of finding it ourselves. The turnoff from the main road was unmarked, and the road soon turned into a gravel road, and then deteriorated into little more than a track, passing a number of Y intersections (once again, all unmarked).
Then it came to a river crossing. The rain had caused the water level to rise, and the guide pondered the situation. He finally confided in us that this was the first of 3 crossings, and although he thought he might have got the vehicle through this crossing, he wasn’t sure of the state of the next two – and more rain was forecast (which duly eventuated) so, even had we crossed the crossings on this segment, our ability to cross them on the return trip was by no means assured!
I’m not sure whether this route was the same as the one we would have had to take had we ventured into the national park on our own – but given the lack of signage, the poor state of the roads and the condition of the river crossings (we would also have had to undertaken either these or other river crossings), we were left in no doubt that our decision to take a tour was the right one.
Plan “B” for the tour was to visit the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, tour a different village (more urbanised) and drive around Lautoka. The “garden” was worth seeing, including a “jungle walk”, and while the village wasn’t visually overwhelming, we were certainly provided with a great deal of interesting cultural information. The guide was very forthcoming with information so our knowledge of many aspects of Fijian life was enhanced.