How fit do I need to be? Is the walking hard?
Yes, some of the walking is hard. Our itineraries are designed for hikers. While they cover a variety of levels of difficulty, they are enjoyed most by people with a good level of fitness who hike regularly. The visit to Nabalesere and their waterfall is within most people’s ability. The track is 1.5km each way, with some up and down, but no time pressure. All the other walks are more strenuous. Our longer itineraries should leave you feeling satisfyingly tired after a good day’s hiking and a sense of achievement. The challenge of walking in Fiji comes from the heat, humidity, remoteness and the nature of the tracks, which are not constructed paths, are uneven, and can become muddy and slippery.
How much water do I need to carry?
A lot! The amount of water you need for a day’s walk in Fiji will depend on the heat, humidity, your own personal fitness, and how much you naturally sweat. We’ll brief you on how much you’ll need for each day of walking, but you will need up to 3 litres carrying capacity in your day pack for any of our full day walks, and should have another bottle to hydrate from immediately before or after a walk which you can leave in the vehicles. In case of urgent need there are opportunities to replenish water bottles on some of the walks from side streams, using our filter or purifying tablets. We recommend a 3-litre capacity water reservoir/bladder, so you can sip away during hikes, or lightweight refillable bottles. On hot days we’d also recommend that you use electrolytes to help with hydration.
Is the water supply safe?
There will be water at each night stop piped from local sources. Generally the supply is safe and is drunk by people living there. However, to reduce the chance of a problem we strongly recommend you only use filtered, treated, or boiled water. We carry a supply of filtered water in our vehicles and we have installed Lifestraw Community filter systems at each overnight for refilling bottles. Lemon-leaf and lemongrass tea, using boiled water, is in plentiful supply in the villages, and with a bit of sugar added makes for a good energy drink!
What facilities should I expect at our overnight stays?
The villages you will visit all have a community hall which is made available for our use. Some villages also have traditional bures available for guests. In villages, sleeping is on mattresses laid on top of soft traditional mats, sleeping spaces in bures or community halls are shared by guests on the trip. There are flush toilets and cold water showers. Lodges are similar, but are kitted out with beds and tables and chairs, and there are limited options for private rooms.
What about meals?
Most villages we visit are fairly self-sufficient and meals generally consist of local produce from the surrounding fields. The ladies each provide a couple of dishes, and you’ll be able to choose from various bowls. Most dishes are vegetarian, but sometimes include fish. In villages, meals are eaten in the traditional way, sitting on the floor with food placed on a long mat or piece of material. Don’t be surprised by being told ‘kana vakalevu’, ‘eat more’. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.
What shoes are best to wear?
Approach or trail shoes are good all-rounders for Fiji conditions, especially those that let water in and out, have a good grip and protect the toes. But trainers/ runners with a good grip or other walking shoes will do. Avoid stylish trainers with no grip! Paths can be slippery and muddy – especially after rain. Proper walking boots are usually ok for any climbs, such as Mt Tomanivi, but on the cross-highland hike we cross small creeks and some larger rivers, which can reach knee-high and you will get your shoes wet. Fully waterproof shoes once inundated can take a long time to dry and you can find your feet sit in water inside them. It can go against instinct if you’re used to walking in colder climates, but the best tactic is just to walk on through the water and get your feet and shoes wet. Changing in or out of shoes, or crossing in flip-flops or bare feet are not really options. We recommend keeping your shoes on at all times, whether you’re crossing a river or even swimming.
What clothing is best for walking in Fiji?
Lightweight, quick-dry t-shirts or shirts and a pair of knee-length shorts are what most people choose to wear, but we recommend wearing a pair of walking trousers to protect your shins from the undergrowth. Long socks or exercise leggings are alternatives. The advantage of quick-dry clothing is that you can happily jump in a river to cool off, and then let your clothes dry as you carry on walking! A lightweight raincoat/ pac-a-mac is good to bring in case we get caught in a shower. It might not keep you dry, but it’ll keep the wind out. And bring a hat to keep the sun off your head.
A sulu (a wrap-around piece of material, or sarong) is also an essential bit of kit for when you’re in villages and should be carried in your day pack. A sulu can also double as a head covering for shade, a towel, an extra layer, or even a pillow. We will provide you with a sulu for the trip if you don’t have one.
Are there any dangerous animals or plants?
No. We’re lucky in Fiji that we don’t need to worry about poisonous snakes or spiders, or dangerous fish or crocodiles. There is a plant called the salato, which can leave you itching for weeks if you touch it, but it is very rare in the areas we walk in. The most annoying thing you are likely to encounter is the mosquito. Fiji is not malarial, and while there are occasional outbreaks of dengue fever, these are less common in rural areas, and the mosquito is less prevalent in the hills. Our advice… bring repellent and use it!
What if I have a problem during the walk?
A key part of the experience we offer is to get people off the beaten track and into Fiji’s remote interior. It’s therefore important for you to tell us prior to the trip if you have a pre-existing medical condition or take medication, and to let a guide know immediately if you have a problem during the trip. The guides walking with you have been 1st aid trained by St. John Ambulance and carry a basic 1st aid kit. Medication and supplies in the first aid kit are for your use, but it is your responsibility to know what stuff is and the correct dosage. At the beginning and end of each day there is road access and each trip has a dedicated support vehicle. In serious cases during walks, we can arrange for a horse to meet us on the trail, or in extreme cases we can call for helicopter evacuation. Please check that your travel insurance will cover you for an emergency evacuation.
Why do I need to sign a waiver?
Our waiver is industry standard and is there to ensure that participants (or their guardians) are fully aware of the risks involved. These risks are nowhere near as extreme as diving, skydiving or bungee-jumping for example, but there are inherent risks in doing any activity outdoors, and unfortunately the waiver needs to emphasise the negatives. Safety is a pre-eminent concern for us, and we constantly seek to minimise the risks. However, there’s always the chance that someone will, for example, slip on the path and injure themselves. The waiver gives Talanoa Treks basic legal protection should such an accident occur. Importantly, the waiver does not mean that a participant cannot seek legal redress if they believe we have been negligent, and we have public liability insurance specifically for such an eventuality – although obviously we work hard never to be in such a position!
Can I take photographs?
Yes. All the communities that we work with are happy for you to take photos. However, you should always politely ask before taking photos of people or during a sevusevu (the traditional welcome ceremony). We also ask that when you take photos you do so in a sensitive way, and with particular thought to any photos taken of children. People always like to see the image you’ve taken on the back of your camera, and if you promise to send a photo please follow through!
What about all my electronics?
The lodges have mains power, but many of the villages do not have a dependable source. Please make sure you’re gear is fully charged at the start of the trip, turn phones to flight mode to save power (or take the opportunity to switch them off and forget about them for a few days!), and if you’re worried you’ll run out of juice, pack a portable power pack. If you’re plugging into the mains, please use a surge protector. Please be aware that there is limited connectivity while we’re away, and no wifi hotspots. If you do charge up in a village a small contribution is appreciated. If you’re carrying electronics on walks, ensure you have somewhere waterproof to store them for crossing rivers and in case we get caught in a tropical downpour! We have a limited supply of dry bags, please ask if you’d like to borrow one.
Do I need to worry about village etiquette?
Part of the pleasure of our trips is experiencing authentic Fijian villages, which still hold custom strong, and this means we will ask you to observe village etiquette. However, you don’t need to worry about it. We’ll brief you fully. The key things to remember are to wear your sulu, not to wear anything on the top of your head, take your shoes off before going inside, and don’t stand up indoors if others are seated.