January 29, 2015 | talktraveltome | Leave a comment When people visit Fiji they most likely think of the incredible sunsets, beautiful beaches and perfect weather. While all of that is true, one of the main things we wanted to do while in Fiji was to experience the Fijian culture first hand. So obviously the best way to do this is to hop on a speed boat and cruise down the Sigatoka River… Miami Vice style with the wind blowing in our hair (obviously being sarcastic). However, this did lead us to the Sigatoka River Safari. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking what does a speed boat safari have to do with the native Fijian culture? To be honest, at first we thought it was going to be a fun boat ride up the Sigatoka River to see breathtaking scenery, local wildlife and make a quick stop to see what a village looked like. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We did see breathtaking scenery and some local wildlife (by that we mean horses, cows and chickens), but what we weren’t expecting was to have been welcomed into a local Fijian village, sit with their Chief, partake in a Kava ceremony, dance and sing with the locals, and eat like the Fijians do. The entire experience was surreal and as the Sigatoka River Safari puts it, it was “simply unforgettable”. Some of the views while riding down the river. Yeah we know, pretty amazing right? Arriving at the Village After a 15 to 20 minute boat ride down the Sigatoka River we arrived at the Tuibarata Village. Once we stepped off the speed boat we were immediately greeted by our village guide. He gave us a tour of the village and explained what everyday life was like. Let’s just say it’s a little different to what we’re used to, and it was a real eye opener to how other parts of the world live. The town consists of roughly 200 people living in 40 homes. To get to school the kids have to walk nearly 60KM (33 miles) crossing the Sigatoka River. Oh, and did we mention that there are no bridges and that they don’t have a boat? A little different from those that had Mommy and Daddy drive them to school. Despite what might be seen as a harder way of live, the Fijian people are some of the happiest and most welcoming people we have ever met. Kava Ceremony For those of you who don’t know, Kava is the national drink of Fiji and drank during ceremonies, rituals and casually throughout the day. Although it isn’t an alcoholic drink it is known to lightly numb your mouth. There’s definitely a joke in there somewhere but we’ve had too much Kava to figure it out right now. Our group was invited into the Chief’s house with the men of the village to participate in a traditional Kava Ceremony. They start off by beating a Lali drum and chanting in their native language. None of which we completely understood but it was still really cool to watch. Next they make the Kava. This is done by mixing ground Kava root with water. It was so simple even we couldn’t have screwed it up. To drink the Kava you first have to clap once and then yell “Bula!”. Again, so simple we couldn’t screw it up. Fijian Lunch After having a few bowls of Kava we went down to the village community center where we ate lunch. As soon as we walked in they had a full spread ready for us, all of which was local foods that were grown right there in the village. For all you foodies out there, it doesn’t get any more farm-to-table than that! Dancing and Singing After we stuffed our faces the locals pulled out their guitars and we began to boogie :-). They played four native songs which we were pulled up to dance during. Nick shook his booty like never before and we even broke into a conga line. And of course to finish off the Miami Vice re-enactment we did a few 360’s in the speed boat on the way back home (this time not sarcastic). We definitely recommend the Sigatoka River Safari to anyone visiting Fiji that wants to get a real look at how the Fijians live. Plus, they give a portion of the proceeds back to the villages, so you can feel better about going back to you luxurious resort ;-). Thank you Tourism Fiji and Sigatoka River Safari for inviting us to participate in such a unique experience. Thank you for joining us Samantha! (from Sigatoka River Safari) As always, our opinions are our own as we Talk Travel.