Fiji Travel Advice - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

Fiji Travel Advice

Please read each of the sections below carefully. They provide important information relevant to your Operation Wallacea expedition in Fiji, including travel recommendations prior to your expedition commencing. Of course, should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Operation Wallacea office.

School groups that have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package do not need to book their own flights or in-country travel as these will be provided by Operation Wallacea.

Updated: September 2017

Start and Finish Information

The expeditions start on a Sunday at 1600hrs in one of the Natewa villages, and finish on a Saturday at 0800hrs in Natewa Bay Marine Research Centre.

Booking International Flights

Groups and individuals will need to book international flights to arrive in Labasa on the Sunday your expedition starts and to depart from Labasa after 16:00hrs on the Saturday your expedition ends.

Packaged School Groups

Operation Wallacea will be in contact with the group leader directly and will provide you with a fully inclusive quote for your international flights, internal travel and expedition costs.

Non-Packaged School Groups (Booking Your Own International Flights)

If you are booking your own international flights departing from a country other than the US, then we recommend that you contact the following air suppliers who are all familiar with the Operation Wallacea expedition programme and will be able to provide you with a competitive quote.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 964 034
E-mail: Markb@travelnation.co.uk

STA Travel
Tel: 0161 667 0083
E-mail: amber.watson@statravel.com

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to flights@opwall.com.

Volunteers

Once you have booked your expedition with us you will be contacted by our preferred travel partner Travel Nation who will provide you with competitive quotes for your international flights.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 947 313
E-mail: opwallvolunteers@travelnation.co.uk
International Contact: +44 (0) 1273 947 313

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to flights@opwall.com.

Booking In-Country Travel

The internal transfer package between Nadi and the expedition start will be arranged by our Internal Travel team and is not included in the expedition cost, unless you have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package.

When you have confirmed the details of your international flights you will receive a quote for your internal travel package, which will include airport meet and greet, any required travel and accommodation, as well as full representation.

Fiji internal travel packages start at £50 depending on your particular requirements.

Medical and Travel Insurance

Opwall has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1 million for all participants on the expedition.  We do this through Cover-More who are a global insurance company covering in excess of a million travellers every year. Detailed medical and evacuation plans are sent to Cover-More’s medical emergency team in advance of the expeditions.  If there are any medical issues on the expeditions all plans have been agreed in advance so there are no delays in providing any medical support that might be needed.  The medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall also covers travel to and from the site.

In addition to this medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall, it is strongly recommended that you have top-up insurance (which can also be provided by Cover-More) to cover the following items:

  • If you have an existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by the expedition and require additional medical treatment in hospital other than that provided by the Opwall medical staff in the field at each site, or may even require repatriation in severe cases, then the Opwall medical and evacuation cover will not cover the costs of this additional medical treatment and evacuation. For pre-existing medical conditions then specialist insurance cover can be obtained from Cover-More.
  • Need to cancel the expedition and flights because of illness to you or a close family member, call for jury duty or other insured conditions making it impossible to reach the departure point for the trip.
  • Costs of re-booking connecting flights, boat or overland transfers to the start and from the finish points of the expedition in the event of delays caused in connecting flights or overland transfers due to delayed flights, ferries or buses because of mechanical breakdown of transport or adverse weather conditions, strikes, industrial action, riot or civil commotion, bomb scares, criminal or terrorist acts, etc.
  • Loss of personal baggage, clothing or items such as cameras or electronic items or the costs of having to buy replacement items if baggage is delayed.

For participants who depart from and return to the UK, a special policy which dovetails into the medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall can be obtained from Cover-More. If you wish to purchase a ‘Top-Up’ travel insurance policy to cover additional benefits such as cancellation and baggage please contact the Customer Service team at Cover-More Insurance Services on 01245 272408 quoting reference CMU0009.

Note for Canadian volunteers joining the expeditions all the travel insurance elements described above are included in the package provided by Victor Travel.

Visas & Travel Documents

Passport
Please be aware that your passport must have at least 6 months validity (period before expiry) at the time of your arrival into Fiji. Failure to have at least 6 months validity on your passport will ensure denial of entry into Fiji.

Visas
Citizens of most nationalities will be granted a visa-on-arrival to enter Fiji. This grants the individual access to the country for up to a period of 4 months. To find out if you are eligible for the visa-on-arrival, please visit the Fiji High Commission website: www.fijihighcom.com

Anyone wishing to stay in the country longer than 4 months more will need to apply for this in advance.

All other citizens not listed in the above link will need to apply for a visa in advance (details can be found on the website).

Cultural Advice

The Fijian people are fairly easy-going and incredibly friendly, but as with any country, Fiji has its own cultural etiquette and most guidebooks include a list of “do’s and don’ts”. These can cover any number of potential faux-pas including eating with your left hand, patting children on the head (which can be insulting), pointing at people etc. Though you should bear these things in mind, they should not overly concern you. People understand that you are not used to the local customs and will forgive little mistakes in day to day social etiquette. The most important thing is to be respectful and be able to laugh at yourself when you make a blunder. A friendly greeting of “Bula!” (pronounced bull-ah) to everyone you meet will also be warmly received as they will provide the same greeting to you. It is also important to not raise your voice and keep a soft, calm tone as this may not be received well otherwise.

After only a short period of time in Fiji, most expedition participants feel comfortable with the local customs and begin to feel at home. It is important that you don’t forget you are in a new country and that while little mistakes will be forgiven a lack of respect is not acceptable.

Dress Code: You should always dress conservatively by Western standards and, girls especially, should take care to cover up. Girls should keep their shoulders, cleavage, stomach and thighs covered at all times while men should keep their shoulders and stomach covered when in a social situation. Modest swimming costumes are perfectly acceptable on the beach or in swimming pools, but you should cover up as soon as you leave.  Also, make sure to not wear your hat or shoes inside any buildings in the village as these are considered insults to the chief.

How to drink Kava

Kava is made from the root of the yaqona bush (a relative of the pepper plant), and mixed with water to make a traditional drink. It is an essential part of Fijian culture.

Kava is non-alcoholic but does have a mild anaesthetic effect. A couple of cups make your face and lips feel numb; a larger amount will soon have you feeling relaxed and sleepy.

Before a ceremony the Fijian village chief will select a passenger ‘chief’ to represent their group. The two chiefs partake first, before the kava is offered to all members of a group using a small communal bowl. When it is someones turn for the bowl, it is fine to ask for a ‘half tide’ (a smaller serve) if they aren’t sure if they will like it. This is an especially useful tip as it is impolite not to drink kava in one go.

Here are the five steps you need to know when the bowl comes your way.

  1. When the kava is passed to you, clap once with cupped hands and say ‘Vinaka’ (thank you).
  2. Take the bowl and drink deeply until the kava is gone.
  3. Hand the bowl back to the person who gave it to you.
  4. Clap three times as a sign of your respect and appreciation.
  5. Even if you aren’t keen for a second cup, stay seated until the village chief invites you to leave.