Namatakula (literally means "the place of the snake") is a fairly large village with about 600 inhabitants. The village lies on the Coral Coast on the main island of Viti Levu (see map). Namatakula is fairly prosperous village in Fijian terms. Visitors to Namatakula can expect to sleep on a proper bed in a large house with six bedrooms. Your hosts are a prominent family, Iso and Rosa Batibasaga (see image right) and your home is one of the largest homes in the village (it boasts an eating area that can seat 20 people).
Namatakula's largest buildings are two churches - a Roman Catholic and Methodist church and the community hall. The churches are very active among this devout community. The community has a large primary school (Ratu Filise) which you are welcome to visit as there is the unique opportunity for homestay guests to sit in and watch how the Fijian education system works with limited resources. It is quite an eye opener to visit a class and see how rudimentary the teaching system is - the kids oftn using small blackboards and chalk because their parents cannot afford notepads and pencils. Mobile phones and the Internet work (you will need to organise this) at Namatakula (the Warwick Hotel - 15 minutes away offers an Internet service).
The six bedroom visitor's house at Namatakula has flush toilets and showers on both floors. Water is tapped directly from the Namatakula river and is purer than the water you find bottled in stores.
There is a reliable source of electricity in Namatakula with the powerlines leading directly into the village. All houses have power.
Fijian villagers are very healthy and believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
It is important to note that Fijian villagers are offended by bikinis or scant clothing worn in the village area - be safe and wear clothing that covers the knees and shoulders. Do NOT wear hats in the village.
However, if you go to the beautiful secluded beaches nearby treat it like any other - and get a great suntan in a bikini during your Fiji holidays!
The only phones that work at Namatakula are mobile phones so if you need to contact home you will need to organise your own mobile or travel to the Warwick hotel and use a public phone there.
You will enjoy the most incredible and memorable holiday adventures whether walking along the secluded beaches, or enjoying some of the unique activities on offer. At Namatakula you will, from the moment you step into the village, be accepted into the community. You will, in true Fiji-time, be able to participate in traditional ceremonies, like Kava drinking in the "vale ni so qo" (or large community hall), dancing and singing as well as swimming in the sea, snorkeling on the Coral reef, exploring the beaches or relaxing.
Image right: The beach off Namatakula at low tide
Alternatively you can visit the nearby Warwick Hotel or Crusoes Hotels for dinner - both just a short drive away but with daily rates equating to food and accommodation at Namatakula for up to a week! See Rosa's cooking page at this link!
It is important to note that the "man is boss" in the traditional Fijian community so you will find the village women doing all the household work, cooking, etc. Tourists to the village are welcome to participate in the kitchen, washing etc... but this is entirely optional although you will enjoy chatting to the women about their experiences at Namatakula. All food, washing etc.. is done for you by the women in the village - and these costs are included in the cost of accommodation. You might also enjoy joining the men either to watch or participate in their traditional farming practices along the lands bordering the road where they cultivate taro (a potato-like vegetable), Kava and a form of giant asparagus known as Dromo-Dromo. Once again you are not expected to do anything but relax and do what you wish, but for those who want to take a step back in time this is an unforgettable experience well worth considering.
We get a lot of enquiries from school teachers from all over the world. Their common desire is to spend a few days in a Fijian classroom. Guests and qualified teachers staying at Namatakula are welcome to spend some time in the classroom.
See image right - Judith with class in 2003
The Namatakula bands would have published many music CDs if it had not been for their isolation in Fiji.
They participated in the creation of our first music CD.
Click on the image right to preview the FijiBure.com music CD they participated in.
You can order the CD on-line from this link.
If you have children this will be a holiday and experience of a lifetime as they are immediately welcomed into the fold by Fijian kids of all ages - over 150 of them! The "village green" which separates two rows of houses at Namatakula is perfect for a game of cricket, soccer, rugby or other ball games that the Fijian kids just love playing. (Bring a small rugby ball with you and your kids will be kept occupied for your entire stay! Simple things like balloons and sweets are a firm favourite.) The kids love singing - as you can hear in the short movie at this link! (Warning: 2.9 mBytes)
Children might also like to spend some time joining the Fijian children in their classrooms to see how Fijian teachers go about their work - again this is totally optional - one thing for sure there is no shortage of activities for the family!
While the local Namatakula Fijian dialect may be spoken by villagers they all speak English. (Fijian translation of common greetings can be seen at this link).
When you arrive at Namatakula there is a very simple traditional ceremony that you can participate in. When the villagers gather in their community hall they welcome guests at a Kava ceremony. An elder from the village will welcome you and the man or male spokesman for your group, at this time, is expected to make a short speech and provide a small gift to the village (such as 1kg of powdered Kava - which cost about F$30 or US$15). Once these formalities are over your hosts Rosa and Iso will keep you informed of future Kava celebrations, entertainment or other activities taking place during your stay. (A big wooden drum is often beaten to alert villagers of celebrations, church services and other community activities).
More on kava at this link
Payments will be organised directly with Rosa Batibasaga on your arrival at Namatakula. Please do not tender credit cards to the village as they do not have those sort of banking facilities - cash is king. There are plenty of ATM machines on the way to Namatakula - they can be found at Nadi, Sigatoka, Pacific Harbour and Suva. (Simon, who can collect you, will help you here).
Gifts and Village Funds:
If you are thinking of bringing gifts consider bringing practical things like books, notepads, pencils, rubbers and sharpeners that can be used in the school. If you have children consider bringing a gift of a rugby ball, tennis balls, cricket gear, balloons etc for the village... a great ice breaker and your kids will have a great time. This option is entirely up to you and is not expected.
There is also a village fund which has been set up at the request of past guests. The village fund is contributed to by guests, but it is important to know that donations are voluntary and you are NOT expected to donate to the funds. The funds are administered by the village mataqali (or elders) without any outside influence.
The two village funds are:
a building fund which is used in identified projects that help the entire community; and
micro-financing - a fund which is used to finance small enterprises that individuals or groups of villagers in each village want to set up. The money is loaned interest free and with no strings attached. The recipient is morally bound to return the money once he has started earning an income from his enterprise so that the money can be used again to help someone else in the village.
For such a small community of just 400 inhabitants the village of Namatakula currently boasts some remarkable sporting heroes, such as,
Noa Nadruku (pronounced Nandruku) - from the Canberra Raiders;
Jonetani Navonu - NSW - Tamberamba (Sydney)
Sirilo Lala - Fiji 7s
and, of course, Lote Tuqiri - Broncos (rugby league) - more recently rugby union star winger (the shark) for the Wallabies
Image Right: Lote Tuqiri dominates the entrance to the rugby field at Namatakula where Fijian rugby was born.
In fact the rugby fields at Ratu Felisi School at Namatakula is said to be the birthplace of Fijian rugby. Even today the Namatakula rugby team makes upmost of the province of Nadroga's team - and this province dominates the membership of the Fijian national rugby team despite the loss of Tuqiri to Australia and Rokocoko to New Zealand..
You will be able to talk to the villagers about these men who grew up at
Namatakula and who have their tribal homes there.
Lote Tuqiri's home
Noa Nadruku's home
My personal diary
Loti Tuqiri's secret life
Namatakula's rugby legend