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Friday, July 29, 2016

FIJI: Killer Lookout Yasawas Wayasewa

Whilst we sweated our way up the hill, our guide carried a ladder.  Nothing like a native 26-year-old used to 90 degree temps
to humble us!  Yamata, Wayasewa, Yasawas, Fiji.
We were lazing about after our reef-strewn passage from Fiji Yasawas Blue Lagoon (off Nanuya LaiLai)* to Wayasewa.  We figured the next day we'd dinghy into the village of Naboro and offer our sevusevu.  After all,  we'd yet to even lower our dinghy into the water.

*playing catch-up - more on Yasawas Blue Lagoon and Blue Lagoon Resort (off Nacula) in upcoming posts.


Yasawas Wayasewa trail to Vatuvula lookout requires
a guide as the trail has many branches and crosses
village property.
"Hello! Bula!" greeted a young man, approaching our boat via his plastic kayak.  He -- Simi -- tied up using the flimsy plastic-based green wrapper used for produce and fastening egg cartons closed.  We invited Simi aboard and promptly cut him some more suitable line for securing his kayak.

Simi's English was quite good, and he contentedly chatted us up.  "Do you want to go for a hike?" he asked, showing us the view we'd see on his camera phone.  You could tell it was awesome, though a bit difficult to see clearly in the bright sun.













At Vatuvula summit, Wayasewa. Yasawas  Fiji.  Kuata is the island in the background.
Sure, we said, though we still need to offer our sevusevu.  Yeah, yeah, Simi replied, "Meet me at my village [he pointed to neighboring Yamata village] tomorrow at 2:30."  Turns out a rocky outcropping separated the two villages.

The next afternoon, we tried to park our dinghy off Yamata, but we were unable to see a clear path through the coralheads, and the tide was dropping, so it would only get worse during our hike.  We looked for Simi, hoping he'd direct us in, but Simi could not be seen.  


Guide Simi at Vatuvula summit, Wayasewa. Yasawas  Fiji. 
We veered over to Naboro, and parked.  Simi ran to meet us, asking why we didn't land off his village.  We explained, while he clearly hustled us through the neighboring village as quickly as he could.  "What about sevusevu?" we asked.  Later, after the hike, he replied.

Coming from Naboro added a little extra walking to the hike, but we quickly realized the real issue was a mix of blistering heat exacerbated by charcoal-colored basalt, loose scree and a steep trail.  Wayne waved us on ahead.  I continued on with Simi, not entirely sure what I was in for.  By that time, it was after 3 pm.  With Wayne waiting, I hustled as much as I could, between panting and pausing for breath and wiping the profuse sweat off my face to keep it out of my eyes.

I kept my eye out for logical turn-around points as I wasn't sure how long it would take to reach the Vatuvula summit Simi showed us in the photo, but it was a bit of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain."   There just didn't seem to be a logical interim turning point, and the destination -- 349 meter 1145' Vatuvula summit did keep getting tantalizingly closer....


Kuata, Yasawas from Vatuvula, Wayasewa, Fiji. 
"Do you want to go swimming when you get back, to cool off?"  Simi asked.  

"I just want to get back!" I retorted, a bit ungraciously.

Bottom line:
Vatuvula is a great hike to start off on a cool morning, before the sun gets too high, with lots of water, a picnic lunch and a mellow attitude.  Instead, while the view was terrific, it was a lose-lose in the sense that there wasn't much opportunity to enjoy the journey and Wayne was left absurdly long.  Simi is 26 years old, and used to the heat, which was probably in the 90s.  We are well past 26, used to that kind of heat on hikes, and not in our top hiking form.


Closer view of resort on Kuata and anchor-able bay from Vatuvula overlook.  Ysawas, Fiji.
Worse, as we raced the darkness upon return to get back to our boat, we realized we were back too late to offer sevusevu.  Wayne simply gave our kava, tea and peanut butter to Simi. even though like most Fijians, Simi was keen on our leaving feeling positive about the experience, the whole experience felt awkward.

If you're lucky enough to find yourself off Wayasewa, Yasaswas.... Offer your sevusevu early.  Take a hike, but when it's cool and early enough so you can savor the views along the way and maybe even take the time to capture a snap of a giant fruit bat.  

We're betting if Simi plays tour guide again, he'll do a better job of matching the hike to the conditions -- both of his hikers and the heat.  The hike I did daily up to New Zealand's Parihaka was was almost that high, but the trail was better and it was done at 7:30 am.


Still, the viewpoint was fabulous, offering tempting views into places like Kuata, which definitely looked worthy of further exploration.  Certainly, I would put Fiji as especially the Yasawas on my list of places I'd love to return to.

BTW - The hike across the way, on Waya, is purportedly even more spectacular, and more brutal and every bit was blisteringly hot.

Location Location
We are still in Fiji, currently in Vuda Point Marina (S17.40.820 E177.23.169), as we prepare to make our jump to Vanuatu in the next few days.  We left Yalobi Bay, between Waya and Wayasewa, Yasawas yesterday.  Our Wayasewa anchorage was at S17.19.521 E177.07.918.  There's lots of posts on the stuff in between coming up soon!

Much more approachable Wayasewa hike with a nice view of Yalobi Bay.  Yasawas, Fiji.
Cruising by the Numbers
December 2014 to November 2015 we sailed over 10,000 miles from Florida to New Zealand.  where spent cyclone season.   In May, we sailed 1,000+ miles to Fiji.  Next we’re off to Vanuatu, New Caledonia finishing in Australia, 4,500+ miles later.  There, around November, we’ll sell our boat, travel a bit, then go back to work …somewhere.
Dawn, Wayasewa, Yasawas, Fiji.