We were very lucky to have lots of tropical fish in the river right on our doorstep. Most days we fed them coconut and just in the 10 days we were at Salt Lake Lodge the fish that fed off the pontoon got noticeably bigger. Andy also took us out to the reef when we wanted so we could go snorkelling out there which was really cool. Dre saw a big reef shark about 6ft long, and we saw many many corals and amazing fish. Unfortunately we also found out that our underwater camera that we bought just before this trip doesn’t take very good photos! We took lots of photos but most of them didn’t come out very well. The water was crystal clear but in many of the photos it looks a bit murky, and many of them were out of focus… what a shame but at least we got to see it all.
We went for a kayak to the Salt Lake, quite handy being on the tidal river as we decided to mainly use the current of the incoming tide to get to the lake and then kayak around the lake for a while, and then use the outgoing tide to get back to the lodge. Quite a fun and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.
Christmas this year was pretty low-key (as we are having xmas in NZ in January) and we got a crab from Andy the owner of the property for Christmas dinner. Check out it’s pincers! We also got some Cassava, a Fijian root vegetable sort of like potato but as we soon found out heaps more filling. So for christmas lunch we had Omlette with chilli and fijian vegetables in it, and Cassava chips, and for dinner crab curry made with Fijian spices and curry leaves. Yum yum.
Xmas lunch and Dre making us xmas drinks in our kitchen.
As funny as it might sound, a trip on the bus to Savusavu is heaps of fun. Imagine the oldest bus you can, then imagine it with no windows, just open air, and add to that totally inadequate power, creeping slowly up hills and lots of happy talking and singing locals and you are getting close to a bus ride to Savusavu. The buses stop anywhere you want them to, several times we laughed because someone would pull the bell to get off the bus and they’d get off, then they bus would labouriously start up again and drive around 20 metres and someone else would pull the bell!
The buses run on Fiji time – instead of having a time that the bus will be at your stop, the bus timetable says ‘between 9am-10am’ and that is the timeslot that you should expect it along. One of the days it turned up at 10.30am for that timeslot…we were waiting at the bus stop with some of the locals and they said this wasn’t unusual. They just laugh and talk about ‘Fiji time’. Sometimes we would just get a ride with some locals in their car, this is also very normal here as the buses are never on time.
Dre at the Mango tree bus stop.
On the bus
Most of the bus ride has views like this one.
The past few days we have spent lazing around the lodge… lots of hanging out on the pontoon, the hammock, the beach, swimming many times a day and eating freshly picked/harvested fruit and veges. It has been BLISS!
We of course had to try Fiji’s national drink, Kava. Bottom line is, it’s pretty gross and for us was a waste of time apart from feeling slightly drowzy. Apparently if you can find a kava pounder to make you fresh stuff the effects are meant to be calming and purifying for your body… but we bought some from the markets and drank so much of the yucky liquid that we never want to try it again.
Our private beach at Salt Lake Lodge.
We decided to rent out the whole of Salt Lake Lodge so that we got all of the facilities and beach to ourselves. Once we got here we were so pleased we did! It was like having a whole resort to ourselves (although smaller!) and we could leave our stuff laying around anywhere on the property and do whatever we wanted without worrying about disturbing anyone else or anyone else disturbing us. We immediately fell in love with the place, the owners Andy and Sonja have really made the place amazing with hundreds of tropical plants, a huge outdoor cooking area and seating areas, our beautiful pontoon where we ended up spending most of our time, all leading down to the small beach and tidal river which was a 5-10 minute kayak to the only lake in Fiji, Salt Lake. And a 15 minute or so ride in the other direction to the lagoon and ocean.
On our first night we got a massive crab for dinner, of course cooked in coconut, it was sooo sweet and yummy. All of the food we ate while we were here was either caught by Andrew from the reef or river or ocean, or picked from their extensive tropical organic garden.
Crab for dinner and yummy organic fruit and coconut for breakfast.
One of the things we were looking forward to about flying to Vanua Levu, Fiji’s 2nd largest island, is the one hour flight over coral reef to get there. Technically it wasn’t the smallest plane we have been in (that was the Stewart Island plane), but we only had 3 passengers both of us and a local guy, and the other couple of seats were taken up by our luggage. The journey began in typical Fijian fashion, our connecting flight to Savusavu was meant to leave Nadi at 3pm, but we soon realised we were on Fiji time when it left at 4.30…. that wasn’t classed as a delay and the airport staff knew our names and were quite happy about the whole thing. And that’s pretty much how out trip would continue, very laid back, nothing is on time, but everyone is really happy and all of the waiting is done with a big Fijian smile.