Think outside the box this December and go behind the scenes to experience true Fijian friendship. Fiji may be a small group of islands, but the impact its people has on visitors is enormous! Rustic will take you on an exclusive program to villages far off the tourist track. Escape the crowds and have a personal experience where you’ll live like the locals. After the intensity of the school year, kick back and enjoy a week of laid back Fiji time. Soak up the charm of these friendly islands, then help build a school and teach local Fijian kids! Relax beneath towering waterfalls, play some water rugby in a nearby river, lend a hand at a grass-roots farming enterprise, visit and work within a small rural kindergarten (the local children will love you!), engage with friendly villagers and learn about another way of life, explore remote trails and come away experiencing a side of Fiji that few visitors have the opportunity to witness, understand, and be a part of. Our Fijian Highlands Immersion trip is an insane blend of off-the-beaten track adventures within a safe, welcoming and fun group travel experience. Come by yourself, or bring your school mates for an adventure that will impact the rest of your life. You’ll come home raving about the friends you make, the activities you enjoy, and the places you visit.
You will be greeted by Rustic Pathways’ Fiji staff at Nadi Airport upon clearing customs and immigration. For your first night in Fiji, you will be staying at the Rustic Pathways Base in rural Momi Bay. Expect the drive from the airport to take about 45 minutes as you take in the sights of Nadi township, pass several Fijian villages, and take in views of the cane fields, distant mountains, and glimpses of local Fijian life along the way. Before lunch, there will be an orientation session, then students can take a swim in the pool, join in a game of soccer on our field, or just relax and get to know some of our local staff who will be with you for the week ahead. During the evening, your group will participate in a formal sevusevu ceremony (a traditional welcoming ceremony) and begin to learn about the amazing country you have just entered. Dressed in your new sulu (traditional Fijian sarong or skirt), sitting around the kava circle, you will begin to learn that there is more than just the world-renowned beaches that make Fiji special. The local staff will guide you through your first step of cultural understanding as you participate in this ceremony. Sharing in a kava ceremony while watching the sunset from our huge deck with new friends is the perfect end to your first day in Fiji. Overnight: Rustic Pathways Eco-Lodge Service Base, Momi Bay
After breakfast this morning, you will return to Nadi for a tour of the markets. As a part of this short excursion, you will have the opportunity to gather any last-minute supplies for your trip to the Highlands! After your time in Nadi, your group will travel by truck or four-wheel-drive vehicle into the Nausori Highland region. The journey normally takes about two to three hours with several opportunities to stop for photos and a chance to say bula to the locals you pass along the way. The road can be rough and dusty but the bumps are well worth it when you arrive at your destination. This area of Fiji has remote villages nestled in mountain valleys where locals live off the land and have strong ties to their traditional culture. The need for service in these remote parts is great, and villagers here will warmly welcome you with open arms, enormous smiles and plenty of enthusiastic laughter and genuine appreciation. Your final destination today will be the village of the Highlands. This village is like a second home for Rustic Pathways in Fiji, and we have a long relationship, deep ties and strong friendships with this community. The first thing all visitors must do when they arrive at a Fijian village is to present the traditional root of the yagona plant to the village chief in what is called a sevusevu ceremony. You will share in this tradition and have the opportunity to sit with the village chief and elders who will honour you for your kind hearts and big effort in helping them improve educational opportunities for their children. Then it will be time for a village tour, an introduction to our Base, the Village Bure, and a meet and greet with your host family. The Village Bure will be the meeting point for your group’s activities and your meals. It is a traditional Fijian home with some upgraded amenities to help you settle into village life. At night, you will sleep in pairs or small groups in the homes of local families, and you will meet your adopted momo (father) and nene (mother) today. The houses here are all very close together, and you will quickly know your way around and feel like part of this incredible village community. Overnight: Home-stay, Fiji Highlands
On your first morning in the village, you will receive an overview of the educational and building efforts underway this year. As this is your first time in the village you will also see how past students have contributed to the school building project in previous years. Rustic Pathways has been planning and developing this project for several years. The first stage of the school officially opened in early 2012, and your primary focus during your time here will again be to contribute towards improving the education of the local children. On several of the mornings, you will sit with your group to design an afternoon of activities and games for the children of the village. Structured play, English conversation, arts and crafts – these enrichment activities offer a great boost to these children and are also lots of fun! With the support of your group leaders and lots of craft materials and sports equipment, your group will plan activities and take the lead in putting on some awesome days for the local students. You will also join in the construction work of the next classroom and help continue our focus on developing the education facilities for the village. Our guides will teach you the skills you need for the particular stage of work during your visit and then you will have the opportunity to jump right in to help out. When work has finished each day, cool off with a swim in the river and join your group for dinner and activities at the Village Bure. Each evening is generally a night of fun, laughs and social gathering. Relax in the village one night and enjoy a traditional mekeperformance put on for you by the villagers in appreciation of your service. This is sure to be a very entertaining evening with a lot of laughter! Overnight: Home-stay, Fiji Highlands
This morning you will say farewell to the Highlands. You will start the farewell early as host families and students alike have a hard time saying goodbye. By now there will be little wonder why so many of our past students have returned year after year to re-visit the friends they’ve made in this village. It is important to highlight that a considerable amount of time on this program is dedicated to cultural interaction with the local people. This happens in the form of time spent within the Fijian village, as well as extensive interaction with the villagers of the region in general. This program offers an in depth look at how the Fijians live from day to day and also focuses on the cultural aspects of the Fijian way of life. Later this afternoon you will return to the hustle and bustle of town life as you arrive back into Nadi. You’ll stay at our Momi Bay Base this evening, giving you a chance to reflect on what you were able to accomplish in the Highlands and what you have taken away from your time up there. Overnight: Rustic Pathways Eco Lodge, Momi Bay
After a hearty breakfast this morning, you will enjoy a full-day island-hopping excursion to several of the islands located in the Mamanuca Island group. These islands are located just off Nadi and offer the chance to soak up some sun, swim in the tropical waters and snorkel to explore the underwater world Fiji is famous for. Overnight: Rustic Pathways Eco Lodge, Momi Bay
Spend your final day in the town of Nadi, a main tourist centre in Fiji, shopping for souvenirs and exploring. Or, if you want a chance to soak up some more sunshine and island views before you go, you will have the chance to spend some more time at the beach. After a final meal with your group, you’ll travel to the airport and bid Fiji farewell (until next year perhaps).
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
Australian citizens do not need a visa for entry as a tourist into Fiji. On arrival into Fiji, immigration will issue Australian citizens with a tourist visa for entry into the county. No prior arrangements for Australian citizens are needed.
Participants will not be accompanied by a flight leader. Our program staff will greet participants when they arrive at Nadi Airport in Fiji.
Fiji is 3.5 hours by air from Brisbane, 4 hours by air from Melbourne, and 9 hours by air from Perth.
The start date listed is when you need to be in Fiji and the departure date listed is the date you will depart Fiji.
Participants need to arrive before 4pm on the arrival date and need to depart in the afternoon/evening on the departure date.
This program operates on the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu. This program will be traveling to the mountain region of Viti Levu about 2 hours from Nadi.
Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 participants.
Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for participants is potable and safe to drink. We ask participants to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.
Participants are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Participants will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If participants are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.
Fiji operates at 240 V and uses plug I, the same as in Australia and New Zealand.
The weather is an average of 30 degrees Celsius. Rain is likely as it is the start of the wet season.
The focus of the trip will be in the mountains where participants will be in homestays with local families. Participants will also spend time at a hostel where they will sleep on mattresses and have access to running water and cold showers. Each home style will vary but include a mattress, running water and flush toilet. Each homestay will have 2 participants of the same gender. Participants will also spend a night at a farm where they will stay in traditional Fijian bures/huts on a mattress on the ground. There will be little to no accessible electricity while on this portion of the trip. Participants will also stay at the Eco Lodge where they will have electricity, a hot shower, and common amenities.
Each location has its own resident chef and team of cooking staff. Participants will eat a combination of local Fijian dishes and more western-style dishes. Breakfasts typically include cereal, breads, eggs, crackers, and fruit. Lunches and dinners range from traditional Fijian lovo feasts of chicken, cassava, and dalo (root crops similar to potatoes) to barbeques, pastas, stir fries, curries, salads, and vegetables. Vegetarians can easily be catered for, and most dietary restrictions can be accommodated.
Many of our homestay families in Fiji have been hosting Rustic Pathways participants for years. Homestay families have been interviewed and trained on Rustic Pathways rules and protocols. Our local staff within the community holds homestay families to a high standard of accountability while participants are in the village.
While staying in the mountains there are bucket showers or river bathing and flush toilets. At the eco-lodge, there are western showers and toilets.
Local phone cards typically offer the best rates (about $5 for 15mins) and participants can purchase these when in Fiji. Participants are not allowed to use cell phones during scheduled program activities. Safe arrival emails will be sent out when participants settle in country. Participants will have the opportunity at least once during the week to check the Internet in town.
Laundry can be washed by hand at any time. It is best to pack without the expectation of doing laundry.
On average, our programs in Fiji are 60% female and 40% male.
Please visit HX Global or Smart Traveller for an up to date report on current situations regarding visiting Fiji. Staff will alert participants if any changes to safety occur within the country.
Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunisation and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be travelling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the following websites for country specific information around immunisations and traveller’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.
www.traveldoctor.com.au – The Travel Doctor
www.smartraveller.gov.au – Australian Government Travel Advice
www.cdc.gov – Centre of Disease Control (US)
International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership. As a member you will have access to International SOS’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travellers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program.
While in the mountains, participants are 3-4 hours away by bus. While at the eco-lodge, participants are 40 minutes away by bus. For more critical cases participants are an additional 3 hours away from the more advanced private hospital, and 4-hour flight to Western-style in New Zealand or Australia.
This program can cater to most specific diets including but not limited to vegetarian, vegan, gluten and lactose free, as well as peanut free cooking.
Mosquitos are prevalent in Fiji and participants are expected to bring bug spray.
Personal gifts, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.
AUS $100-$200 depending on the number of souvenirs, snacks and ice creams you would like.
Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organisations to identify and prioritise the needs of each community. This program will focus on various education and infrastructure initiatives.