In the scenic highlands of Fiji, where less travelled trails weave through stunning landscapes and village communities thrive, our trip leaders stand as ambassadors of sustainable tourism.
Meet Ratu Peni, also known as Ben!
From Nabulini village in Wainibuka, Tailevu, Ben is one of our Talanoa Trek trip leaders that joined our team early this year. As a beacon for responsible travel, Ben not only leads hiking trips but embodies the goal of cultural and environmental conservation in our industry.
His passion for the outdoors goes beyond exploring with one of his favourite parts of his role being the social aspect and meeting people from all over the world.
“I’ve never left Fiji, but I’ve been around the world.”
In Ben’s experience, learning about the different people who come to experience rural Fiji while sharing his knowledge of the local culture and customs is one of the best parts. He gets to know the world through all the guests he encounters as a trip leader without ever having to leave Fiji!
Having done numerous Highland Escape trips this year, Ben has formed strong connections with the communities of Naga and Nabutautau. These lasting links with the members of these communities have created a sense of family with Talanoa Treks. These collaborations aren’t merely about leading tours; they’re about mutual respect, cultural exchange, and economic empowerment.
Taking a step away from Fiji’s tourism staples of white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and coral lagoons, we aim to take an alternative route to tourism using culture, history, sustainability and nurturing partnerships with local communities.
Ben shares that exploring the highlands of Fiji is a unique experience and is definitely bucket list material. He is a firm believer that our locals should get to know our backyard too as there is so much to see and learn from.
To minimise the environmental impact while traversing nature, we introduce guests to communities deeply invested in safeguarding their resources and heritage through their practices. Working in tourism, Ben emphasises a holistic approach, where tourism becomes a source of income for villages, advocating the preservation of natural resources and the celebration of culture, enlightening younger generations about their heritage. It’s about finding that balance between access and impact to ensure there is opportunity for the local communities without threat of losing the richness of the land and culture.
Talanoa Treks embodies the vision for a sustainable Fiji—one where tourism enriches cultural heritage, nature thrives, and communities prosper. For Ben, being a trip leader isn’t just about the trail; it’s about ‘talanoa’—sharing stories, culture, and the spirit of Fiji.