Exploring Fiji’s Gorge-ous Interior

On a raft floating down Fiji’s Upper Navua River gorge, under dangling 100-foot vines, time stops.

Like a tropical Grand Canyon, this gorge slices through the volcanic heart of Viti Levu—the largest island of the Fijian archipelago—and redefines island paradise.

> Good Call: The Upper Navua represents one of the most unique conservation cooperatives in the world, and one of the only protected rivers in the South Pacific. In 2000, an alliance of nine local leaders, two villages, a logging company, and a government entity placed a ban on logging, mining, and road construction within 200 meters (656 feet) of either side of the river’s lapping waters.

> Hit the Slots: Take to one of the longest navigable slot canyons in the world, at roughly 18 miles long. Sheer walls rocket 150 feet skyward as green Class 2 and 3 rapids rush through 20-foot-wide channels. Waterfalls and constant spray pour from the jungle above, keeping this oasis teeming with life.

> How to Explore: On day trips led by Rivers Fiji, laughing and singing local guides share legends of warfare and love.

> Travel Trivia: Fiji’s national drink, made from kava root, traditionally is served in “high tide” (full) or “low tide” (half) portions.

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This piece, written by writer-photographer Peter McBride, first appeared in the October 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

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