- SAVU NA MATE LAYA FALLS (AKA BIAUSEVU WATERFALL)
- SOUTHEAST VITI LEVU
- URU’S WATERFALL
- THE REMAINDER OF THE DRIVE
SAVU NA MATE LAYA FALLS (AKA BIAUSEVU WATERFALL)
Julie and I got up at left the Hideaway Resort at 6:45am took the rental car east to start the very long circle island drive around Viti Levu. I actually wasn’t sure if we would make it around the island or not and still see the waterfalls we were shooting for. I especially wasn’t certain how slow going the Kings Road would be since I had read it was unsealed and riddled with potholes. Still, I was determined to move forward and really get to see the largest island in Fiji.
Our first destination was the Biausevu Waterfall, which was more formally known as Savu Na Mate Laya Falls. It didn’t take long as we headed east of our resort before we reached the unsealed turnoff that headed inland towards Biausevu. The turnoff was easy to miss and Julie had to stop me and make me turn into a car park of some store before we got on the unsealed road.
The road was a bit rough but very manageable. We had to get around a couple of deep ruts but it wasn’t a really big deal. What was trickier getting around was this dog that was sleeping in the middle of the road. It didn’t bother getting up when we approached and from what we could see it wasn’t dead.
At 7:30am, we reached the signposted Biausevu Waterfall. We proceeded to drive onto their grassy car park and then park the car. As Julie and I got out of the car to get ready for the hike, a lady came out to greet us. We felt bad for making her get up so early as we could tell she was still rubbing her eyes. But we knew she came out so she could collect the fee to visit the waterfall and we gladly obliged.
And with that, Julie and I were onto the hike. Both of us were walking in Chacos while carrying hiking sticks. We also wore long pants even though the humidity of the day was building. But there were mosquitoes waiting to get their blood fix whenever we stopped moving.
The walk was quite well-used and well defined. We were glad we didn’t book a tour from the hotel here as it was perfectly doable on our own. The trail crossed the creek several times, and we tried to count them up to keep us preoccupied. Unfortunately, sometimes the pebbles in the creeks got between our feet and the top of our hiking sandals and that made for some uncomfortable walking. So we would stop and use the creeks to try to wash the pebbles away, but that was when the opportunistic mozzies got their shots at us.
Anyways, the walk proceeded pretty uneventfully for a little over an hour. But finally after the last of at about 13 stream crossings, we were at the head of the valley and stood before the Biausevu Waterfall.
Julie and I spent a good deal of time photographing and just gazing at this pretty waterfall. Being the early birds we were, we had been the only ones here so it was nice to enjoy the peace and solitude.
At 8:15am, we headed back towards the car park, and we regained the car at 9am.
SOUTHEAST VITI LEVU
After the 15-minute unsealed driving to return to the main road (Queens Road), we continued east and headed towards Suva. It was still about 2 hours from where we were at so we took this time to listen some music.
The music was pretty much similar to some of the music we had heard while driving around New Zealand. We especially enjoyed hearing “Life is a Rollercoaster” by Ronan Keating as well as some of Julie’s pop favorites. But during one of the times when the DJ was talking, we were disturbed to hear her talk about how some little girl was mugged by a big burly Fijian in Suva. There were many onlookers and it was broad daylight, but no one did anything about it! The DJ continued to urge her listeners not to show you have any money or bring more than you need if you’re in the city.
Prior to this trip, Julie and I had read up on some of the political instability, racial tensions, and poverty that afflicts the inhabitants of Fiji. Even though we hadn’t noticed these things on the surface thus far (except maybe the poverty; but no one was begging), it didn’t really make us want to check out the night scene in Suva if we could get around to it. So we only filled up on some petrol before heading to the northern outskirts of town towards the Colo-i-Suva Park.
We had to take a few uphill roads before we got to the relatively quiet park. We left the car in front of the visitor center (as we were always wary of break-ins), paid the admission fee, and then walked towards the back side of the park. We didn’t have time to do the entire walk, but the goal of was to see Waisila Falls anyways.
After crossing the street and following an unsealed back road past a few residences, we found the walking path into Colo-i-Suva and took it downhill on a well-developed track. It only took a few minutes to get to a spot where we could see the waterfall through the foliage. And a few more minutes on some slippery rocks to reach the base of the waterfall.
Julie and I returned to the car park at 12pm and proceeded to head north towards the town of Nausori.
As we entered Nausori, there were heaps of people (mostly Fijian Indian) lining the streets on various errands. Most of the people on the streets looked quite poor however so Julie made sure the doors were locked in the car. It was quite a crowded place and just trying to drive through the main street in town was a chore as people were everywhere and the cars in front of me were equally paralyzed by the foot traffic.
Both of us were hungry at the time, but we pressed on and didn’t want to look for Indian food here.
At 1:15pm, we had finally made it out of Nausori. And while we continued north on the Kings Road, we could tell potholes started showing up on the sealed road. But it didn’t take long before the road went completely unsealed.
Still, that didn’t deter us. And so we would continue along the fairly tame unsealed Kings Road without seeing another town in sight for a while. So far, my trip research about the Kings Road had me believing this road was 4×4 only. But I knew they were working on improving the road for both locals and tourists and it seemed like they did a pretty good job of it.
As we continued along the Kings Road, we had just passed a bridge that appeared to have a creek running below it. Could this be Uru’s Waterfall?
I went ahead and pulled over on the next available shoulder that I could find. Julie wanted to stay in the comfort of the car as it was still running so the AC stayed on. So I went out and braved the mosquitoes and the heat.
When I walked over to the bridge, it was clear there was a waterfall down there. The problem was that I wasn’t sure how to safely get down there. After a few minutes of looking around for a way down, I gave up and headed back towards the car.
Then, a young Fijian boy was heading towards me as he was going the other way. We made eye contact and gave him a polite smile. But he actually walked towards me and extended out his hand for a handshake. Naturally, I shook his hand, then he asked if I was going to the waterfall.
I said yes, but he could tell I couldn’t figure out how to get down. So he guided me past the bridge and over to a gate that was locked. No one was there to let us in so he took me back to the bridge.
At that point, he proceeded to climb down the north end of the bridge and told me to come. So I followed him down the bridge with him, then went underneath the bridge. From there, the path was a bit steep and narrow and I dared not continue standing upright.
I was amazed at how nimble the boy was and he didn’t even have shoes on!
There were other Fijian villagers at the top of the main drop of the waterfall. The boy joined them and wanted me to take their picture. Apparently, Fijians aren’t camera shy and I gladly took their pictures before continuing to go down.
Anyways, as I was carefully making my way down, he would point me towards the correct path. And eventually after a little more rock hopping, I was able to get to the shores of the plunge pool without getting wet.
Uru’s Waterfall was a modest multi-tiered cascade that tumbled beneath the bridge on the King’s Road. The boy who helped me dove into the water and swam while the other Fijians stayed on top of the falls and talked amongst themselves.
Even though they seemed to lead simple lives, they were all smiles and seemed to enjoy each other’s company.
Finally, I had to say my good-byes and head back up to the car to rejoin Julie. I told the boy, “Vinaka vakalevu!” which translated into something like “Thank you very much.” Then told them all “Moce,” which meant “Good bye” if you didn’t plan on seeing them for a while.
THE REMAINDER OF THE DRIVE
After Uru’s Waterfall, the Kings Road continued deep into more jungles and remote villages. Clearly, tourists don’t normally come here as all villages looked humble and people were walking along the road as it seemed that was their primary means of getting around.
As we got further north on the King’s Road, the weather changed from the partly cloudy and fine weather in the morning to pouring rain. The rain came down so hard that even the frantically moving windshield wiper didn’t do too much to improve the visibility. So we proceeded slowly and eventually the rain let up.
We eventually got to a point where the Kings Road started becoming paved again. Julie and I had read that there was some other waterfall around this part of the island, but there were no signs and we weren’t in the mood to get lost. We still had to get all the back to our resort on the other side of the island. It was 4pm.
By 5:30pm, we had finally returned to the township of Lautoka. It was drastically different from the ghost town we saw the day we arrived in Fiji on Boxing Day. Now, there were cars all over the place in what appeared to be a little rush hour. The rain also came down heavily again.
Julie and I were famished, but after our first experience in Nadi, we determined there wasn’t much to eat there after all.
It wasn’t until 7pm that we finally returned to our ocean view bure at the Hideaway Resort. We were tired and weary from the full day of going around Viti Levu and we needed the shower.
Julie’s arms, which started swelling on Day 1 of our trip, continued to bother her. I was getting worried that her condition might actually be more serious than anticipated.
After we got cleaned up, Julie and I weren’t about to have another disappointing dinner at the resort so we went back on the road and headed east to Villisite’s.
When we got back to the restaurant some 15 minutes of driving in the dark east of our resort, we were once again greeted by the folks who were there. They all recognized us from yesterday and once again we felt quite warm and welcome.
It was too bad they ran out of Fish in Lolo when we got there, but we at least got to spent time eating Crayfish in a tasty garlic butter sauce. We completed this with coconut-flavored rice and Indian curries.
The host at Villisite’s also took out some Vick’s Vaporub to help with Julie’s swollen arm.
These folks were so nice to us that we easily engaged in some conversation with them. We talked about what things we like back in Los Angeles as well as what life was like in Fiji. The host also showed us some kava plants in front of his place.
Anyways, it was 10pm when we left. We gave one of the helpers a ride home, which happened to be on the way.
And with that, the long Circle Island Tour of Viti Levu this day was over. More unforgettable memories and more experiences of the true spirit of Fiji were what we took from this day.
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