Visit Naihehe Cave Fiji
Naihehe Cave is Fiji’s largest subterranean cave system and used by the last known cannibal tribes in Fiji, in the mid-19th Century. It is situated deep within the “Salad Bowl” or farming region of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. In the past to reach the cave, you had to float along the Sigatoka River on “bilibili” bamboo rafts to a trail on which you hike 15 minutes or so to the cave’s entrance, – all in view of a stunning panorama of Viti Levu’s.
Naihehe means ‘The place to get lost’, which proved to be prophetic for the villagers in 1743, when 100 of the Sautabu people hid in the cave for 79 days, while marauding cannibal tribes scoured the valley for any unsuspecting farmers. Legend has it that no one can go inside the cave without seeking their permission and blessings from the Bete (priest) or true to the meaning of Naihehe, one will get lost if they venture into the cave by themselves. The Tribe never worried about their food source. If they were hiding up in the cave for a long time, they had freshwater prawns and fish. At the top of the Naihehe Cave, accessible by their secret entrance were yams, fruits and other root crops.
The cave itself is 170m long and the entrance being under a low rock overhang and requires some knee-high wading through a gentle creek. With only flashlights and lanterns to light up the cave, you will be left in awe as you realize that you are about to explore one of Fiji’s greatest treasures. Further in, you crouch down in a low passage. Beyond is a vast, cathedral-like chamber with strangely evocative silica blanket formations and mounds of calcite that resemble the shape of a women’s reclining body and a man’s weathered face. There is another low passage that is also known as the “pregnancy gap”, legend has it that if a woman was to hide her pregnancy, she would not be able to pass through the passageway.
Naihehe Cave was once a fortress for a cannibal tribe and still contains a cannibal oven, a ritual platform, the sacred priest chamber and other reminders of its cannibal history. Notable for their massive size and unusual natural characteristics, the caves also feature escape routes high up on the cave ceiling.
The Christian influences found in the Naihehe Cave stem from early colonial times when missionaries arrived in Fiji, bringing with them the Christian religion. At the time, there were just 12 chiefs in Fiji; the paramount Chief of Nadroga who was the first to convert to Christianity, before commanding all his people to do the same.
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