If you live in Fiji or are simply happy to do things under your own steam then you can climb Fiji’s highest mountain independently.
If joining a fully supported trip is not an option, then check out these alternatives.
Our focal point, Esira, runs a small homestay in the village of Navai, where the Tomaniivi track starts. Navai is most easily accessed by 4WD car via the road from near Tavua up to Nadarivatu, then through Nadala (approx 1hr). Here’s the route from Volivoli resort to Navai. However, it is also possible to drive cross-country from Suva to Navai (approx 3hrs).
If you stay with Esira and his family he can arrange a guide and make sure you’re well fed and have plenty of energy for the hike. Although it is possible to drive up and down in a day from Tavua or Rakiraki, staying up there also means you can start hiking early when the temperature is cooler. Coming from Tavua, Esira’s house is beside the road on the left before the bridge in the centre of the village, and opposite a “Home of Mt Tomaniivi” sign. Just after the bridge on the right is an SDA church.
Mt Tomaniivi is a relatively short and steep climb through cloud forest. The route goes up and down the same track, covering a total of approx 9km (4.5km up and 4.5km down), with an elevation gain of approximately 650m. The overall return hike should take around 5-6hrs depending on fitness and conditions. The area around Tomaniivi is a designated Important Bird Area, and cloud forest is wonderfully diverse, with several orchid species to keep an eye out for. You can view a copy of our briefing map below.
The homestay costs FJD 70pp, including dinner, breakfast and a light lunch. An extra FJD 5 gets you a deserved afternoon tea after your climb. A guide is FJD 50. If you go with a group it’s worth hiring more than one guide to help. Esira can arrange guides that have undertaken basic training with us. Some are excellent, although it is a bit of a pot luck, but all will take good care of you. In addition, there is a FJD 50pp charge for each hiker which goes to the community development fund. All payments can be made to Esira or his family. He will receipt you and make sure funds go where they should. A small bundle of waka (kava) is always worth taking (equivalent to FJD 20-30) and appreciated. Esira doesn’t drink kava, and you don’t need to present formally to him. He will simply ensure it gets appropriately passed on (although he can arrange for it to be presented to an elder while you’re there, if you’d like to share a bowl or two! Probably not during these Covid times!).
Esira can be contacted on +679 9835430. You can also try his son, Meli on +679 2028451 (Meli is also available through WhatsApp and Viber). If you’re interested in birding, it’s worth asking if Meli is available to guide.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, we recommend hiring a 4WD with driver from pehicle.com.
Please read all the trip information carefully, so you know what to expect and can be prepared.
Day-trip or overnight | Climbing Mt Tomaniivi in a day is possible from Suncoast hotels, but requires a very early start. Staying the homestay in Navai the night before you climb is a great way to see a bit of village life, and be on the track as early as you want.
Transfers | If you don’t have your own vehicle, we recommend hiring a 4WD with driver from pehicle.com.
How fit do I need to be?
Our itineraries are designed for hikers. While they cover a variety of levels of difficulty, they are enjoyed most by people with a good level of fitness who hike regularly. The visit to Nabalesere and their waterfall is within most people’s ability. The track is 1.5km each way, with some up and down, but no time pressure. The path into the Wailotua cave is approximately 400m long. All the other hikes that we organise are more strenuous. Longer days should leave you feeling satisfyingly tired after a good day’s hiking with a sense of achievement. The challenge of walking in Fiji comes from the heat, humidity, remoteness and the nature of the tracks, which are not constructed paths, are uneven, and can become muddy and slippery. If you don’t exercise regularly, we’d recommend getting out on the trail before you come to Fiji, as you’ll enjoy your trip with us all the more!
What shoes and clothes are best?
Approach or trail shoes are ideal for Fiji conditions. But trainers/runners with a good grip or other walking shoes will do. Avoid stylish trainers with no grip! Paths can be slippery and muddy – especially after rain. Almost all walks involve walking through small creeks and our longer hikes involves crossing some larger rivers. You will get your feet and up to your knees wet! Unless you’re wearing heavy boots, we recommend keeping your shoes on at all times, whether you’re crossing a river or even swimming.
Most people wear a lightweight t-shirt (quick-dry, collared t-shirts are ideal) and a pair of shorts for walking. This is perfect for visiting the waterfall. On our longer hikes, if you want to protect your shins from grass cuts, then trousers, long socks (stylish!) or exercise leggings are highly recommended. Also, for longer hikes, if you have a lightweight raincoat/pac-a-mac, it’s worth carrying it in case we get caught in a shower… it won’t keep you dry, but it’ll keep the wind out. We also strongly recommend you bring a hat to keep the sun off your head.
What about water?
Although the piped water in the villages is drunk by the locals, to reduce the chance of any problems we strongly recommend you only use only filtered, treated, or boiled water. We carry a supply of filtered water in our vehicles and we have installed Lifestraw Community filter systems at each of our partner villages for refilling bottles, and which is used for mixing kava. Lemon-leaf and lemongrass tea, using boiled water, is in plentiful supply in the villages, and with a bit of sugar added makes for a good energy drink!
In Fiji, you need to carry and be drinking a lot of water. How much will depend on the length of the walk, the heat, humidity, your own personal fitness, and how much you naturally sweat. For this day trip a 1.5-litre bottle should be sufficient.
When you’re visiting or staying in a Fijian village there are some important rules for you to remember so that you are being respectful of Fiji’s history and culture.
The most important ones are:
- Always wear a sulu (sarong/wrap around material) that covers your legs down to just above your ankles while you’re within the village boundaries
- Never wear a hat or anything on your head while you’re in the village
- Always take your shoes off before going inside (you can keep your socks on)
- Sit down as quickly as possible when you go inside and don’t stand up indoors
- If you need to move around indoors when others are sitting, it’s polite to stoop or crawl
- If you’re presented with a bowl of kava it’s polite to drink the first one… clap once, take the bowl and drink it all, and after returning the bowl clap three times
The information provided here is to support independent travellers to visit more remote places in Fiji to go hiking. You are fully responsible for your actions and need to exercise judgement based on your experience and preparedness for any hike taking into account recent and forecast weather conditions and river levels. We bear no responsibility for any action you take based upon this information.