Connecting Communities Through Guiding

By Ben Semira, Trip Leader and Community Liaison Lead, Talanoa Treks

Our hiking season starts in mid-April for good reason! The March rain meant that I had an extra unplanned night in Nabalesere during their guide training thanks to a flooded river crossing. 

During our off-season, as Trip Leaders, Jake Taoi and I focus on making sure we’re ready for the hiking season ahead. In March, we co-facilitated our guide training syllabus to 42 community guides from across our four partner communities. 

This is an important part of building our community capabilities to improve the overall Fijian experience for our guests as well as equip participants with skills that can secure them other employment opportunities in the future.

17 guides from Navai, Naga and Nabutautau were taken through four days of mixed theory and practical sessions  focussing on topics such as;

  • Storytelling
  • Understanding the roles of a guide
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Risk assessment and safety management
  • Walk planning and group management
  • Challengers to guiding

Connecting guides across our partner communities meant that it was the first time for some of our participants to hike Fiji’s highest peak, Mt Tomaniivi. It was also the first time for some of the guides from Navai to walk the famous Highland Escape trail from Naga to Nabutautau and take a walk back into our history with the Nabutautau circular walk. 

In our fourth partner community of Nabalasere, 25 guides engaged in a full-day session ending with a practical session in the village, plus hosting me for an extra night!

Over the course of a week, the guide programme took us across four provinces covering 27 km by foot in 15 hours of hiking over steep mountain tracks, through cloud forests and open grasslands with some swimming at the head of the Sigatoka River, and not forgetting over 100 bowls of kava drank and lots of talanoa over the 4-night stay in the different villages. We are eagerly awaiting this year’s hiking season!