By Ariela Zibiah. Photos: Zoomfiji
The Namosi Eco Retreat, nestled in a remote part of Fiji, is a get-away in all senses of the word. The sky feels bigger, the milky way appears to be at arm’s length, the air is crisp, and you are completely off grid, creating a feeling of being cocooned in a different world.
The state of “just being” is attainable here, whether you are on the lawn trying to place the different noises your ears may be hearing for the first time, or building a bilibili (river bamboo raft) with the village kids, you are present, the elements lean in and ground you.
You learn soon enough not to bother with your gadgets. All representations of your life dissolve with the passing landscape as you make your way up to the retreat: even a Kindle is out of place. You almost feel guilty of sullying the air around you with a machine.
You feel how much cooler the air is when you turn into Namosi Road to make the winding, albeit extraordinarily beautiful, two-hour-long drive up to the hills: punctuated by villages and people walking to their plantations or children swimming. Mysterious mist-covered jagged cliffs stun you, there are no words.
The awe one feels when driving up Namosi is not new, as reflections in 1865 by J.B. Thurston, who later became Fiji’s Governor and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, show. In his journal of July 27th, during the first attempt to cross Viti Levu, Thurston notes: “Came round by Vovua Peak (referred to today as Voma) and saw Namosi lying in the valley beneath us. Scenery very fine. Precipitous basalt cliffs all around … Fine points of scenery. Fertile valley along shaddock trees”.
The silence, the sense of calm and connection to land and the river, is an all-encompassing detox the brain and the body experience, every single time we make it to the Namosi Eco Retreat.
Namosi is steeped in Fiji history and culture. Today, however, we chose it for its tranquility and balming effect on our souls. Without roads or transportation as we know it today, one can only imagine the grueling cross undertaken by Thurston and his lot. It is still a punishing cross, if the world’s toughest race, captured in an Amazon original, Eco-Challenge Fiji, is anything to go by.
The terrain still makes for exhilarating if exhausting hikes, which are one of the many activities that guests can enjoy in untouched natural environment. Returning to base is much anticipated for the soothing dip in the crystal-clear and cold Luva stream that flows next to Namosi Eco Retreat, but moreso, for the Fijian food that will surprise our palate that evening.
Your bure is a hand crafted, small and simple abode of materials like bamboo and palm leaves, using traditional building methods. They are large enough to accommodate an entire family comfortably. There is a similar structure for meals, and a common area where drinking kava, music and dancing is usually held. A separate bathroom bure has showers and toilets.
The road to Namosi can be bumpy, effectively shaking off the world you’ve left behind. The majestic mountain country has a way of burrowing a smile tightly into your being, and before you know it: you are caught up in the collective spirit of joy as the Navunikabi Village community (of the Wainikoroiluva District) welcome you raucously into their world with singing and dancing.
By the time you take your place at the table for that first dinner, you know you’ve arrived in a space that will nurture your soul by simply being there. You could go bilibili river rafting or accompany the women to harvest your dinner, partake in the sunrise mountain walk or accompany the men to a pig hunt: one thing is for sure – to just be, unplugged and reconnecting with nature is something we all owe ourselves.
Ph: +679 7779098 (Suva office)
This article first appeared in Fiji Traveller, October 2022