Be prepared to get muddy, slip on your bum, chug water and deet-up. This is Colo-i-Suva.
Colo-i-Suva is a rainforest located just 20 minutes out of the centre of Suva, and like all rainforests, nature thrives. Nothing is more inspiring than that boundless feeling you get when the trees are so tall, sounds are both so close and remote, and freedom is undisturbed.
Armed with water, sunscreen and a roti parcel, the dream team (myself and fellow volunteers) wandered into one of Suva (and Fiji’s) tourist checklist items. Colo-i-Suva is a wonderful retreat away from Suva city life, even if you do bump into a party of rugby players bathing post-game, or Fijians and tourists alike tarzan-ning off the rope swing in the Lower Pool area.
Colo-i-Suva Forest Park is home to 14 different bird species, lush wildlife and the Waisila Creek which winds down to Waimanu River, forming the water catchment for the Nausori and Nasinu areas. The Waisila creek also forms the natural swimming pools which make for clear, cool and refreshing swims.
Most trails have steps formed with the help of wooden guards, however, the most authentic-feeling trail is the Big Dakua Trail, which takes you away from the jovial sounds and splashes coming from the pool areas as you plunge into the rainforest, to eventually reconnect with the other trails.
Termed ‘Forest Park’, it does not provide much of a hard slog in regards to hiking as maximum altitude is 180m. Colo-i-Suva serves as a mix of leisure, adventure and retreat, allowing you to spend as much and as little time there as you wish.
We spent a good 2-3 hours there, which enabled us to cover every trail and swim in two of the pools. Highlights were certainly cheering on the Fijians with their acrobatic performances on the rope swing, as they flipped, dived and bombed into the Lower Pool.
What to pack: Food, water, sulu/towel, shoes with good traction (keens, trainers, hiking boots). Flipflops/sandals are fine in drier weather. Volunteers rates: $1
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Written during NGO service 2014-2016