Get ready to travel across the diverse ecosystems of Fiji, from the highland rivers, to remote island reefs and rainforests. We examine the flora and fauna of Viti Levu and Beqa and how Fijian culture influences the environment. As a team, we develop an understanding of ecotourism, conservation, human connections to the environment and the biogeography of Fiji.
This program was designed as a 3-credit field experience optional add-on to a college-level biology course. It was planned with two biology professors that both had experience leading international experiences. They came to Broadreach in search of a partner that would create a fully customized experience. The professors led several academic discussions and the accompanying Broadreach instructor took a primary role in leading field experiences, creating local connections, group development activities, risk-management and logistical planning. The group plans to return in subsequent years for more experiential learning programs!
This course is designed to provide tangible and real-world exposure to the biology and ecosystems of Fiji. Through diverse activities, we gain a greater understanding of tropical ecology by identifying flora and fauna and learn about how different communities interact with the environment.The group will explore topics related to tropical ecology, land and water use, human environmental impacts and more as we participate in interactive lessons designed to connect us to the places we visit and the people we meet. By the end of this program, it is our hope that participants will have a deeper understanding of diverse ecosystems across the globe.
There are many challenges associated with traveling and learning in new environments, and the success of the experience depends on individual efforts and the cohesion of the group. Individuals are encouraged to become active participants in making decisions that help guide the direction of the program. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that independence and control are reduced when working as a team towards a collective group experience. When traveling in a close knit community, respect for one another, the environment and the people we meet, are important parts of being responsible team members and global citizens.
We fly across the United States and then halfway around the world. It’s a big adventure, but worth it! We cross the International Date Line and arrive two days later on the beautiful, hot and humid island of Viti Levu, Fiji. After collecting our bags we hop on a private bus and transfer to a small city of Pacific Harbour on the southern coast. We check into our small hotel and ease into Fijian life with our program orientations. Adjusting to the new environment and the time change isn’t immediate, so we take things slow and prepare for our next few days of adventure.
From the coast we travel by private bus into the highlands. We leave our main bags with our driver and travel off-the-beaten path on a hike into the Upper Navua Conservation Area. Along the way our guides teach us about the surrounding flora and fauna. Our destination is a small village where we sleep in tents for the night and listen to the sounds of the river rushing by. In the morning, we wake up, learn how we are going to navigate our raft and work together as a team to paddle the rapids of the Upper Navua River. It is a stunning journey through the green walls of the canyon! At the end of the day we arrive at a brightly colored village with small cabins. Over the next three days we learn from the locals and participate in hands-on activities like planting projects, designing animal traps or raft building to better understand and observe the unique environment of the highlands. Finally, we must say goodbye to our hosts and load into inflatable kayaks to continue downstream, and return to Pacific Harbor.
Daily themes: Orientations; Intro to Fiji; Forest Ecology; Fijian Culture; River Ecosystems; Resource use
We leave Viti Levu and travel by boat to the island of Beqa. The village welcomes us with a traditional kava ceremony and we are introduced to the island community. Living on the island gives us the opportunity to engage with locals, witness their interaction with the environment and compare similarities and differences from our previous village stay. Our small cabins are the perfect home base for getting to know the people of Beqa and our surroundings. Fiji is world-renowned for its beautiful reefs and Beqa’s reefs are no exception. We grab our snorkels and explore the crystal-clear water teeming with marine life. We also examine how mangrove ecosystems contribute to the health of the entire island. Time is transformed on the island and four days goes by in a flash.
Daily themes: Watershed ecology; Highlands vs. islands; Reef ecology; Coastal Ecosystems
Back on Viti Levu we transfer to the capital city of Suva. We stay near the Colo-I-Suva rainforest, a perfect backdrop for conversations about ecotourism and conservation. Now that we are near the largest population center of Fiji we can better understand how the majority of people interact with the land. What are urban ecosystems and what are some of the impacts that humans have on the environment? We visit the Natural History Museum, explore the fruit and vegetable markets of Suva, explore the nearby rainforest and work with university researchers on a project. As the program comes to a close, we travel to the beach and reflect on all we have learned and experienced during our adventures across Fiji. Enjoy a final morning on the beach before packing up and transferring to Nadi for an evening flight home.
Daily themes: Eco-tourism; Conservation projects; Human impacts; Reflection & Transference; Course Closing
This itinerary is flexible and subject to change based on weather, group, availability of activities or other conditions. A more detailed daily itinerary will be provided upon enrollment.