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A ‘Simply Unforgettable’ Eight Years

April 8, 2014 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

The award winning Sigatoka River Safari, Fiji is celebrating its 8th birthday, this April. After starting in 2006, the tour has truly lived up to its tag line ‘Simply Unforgettable’.

The Safari, which won the 2008 Best Fiji Experience and 2007 Best Adventure Tour at the annual AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards, is the first jet-boat safari tour if its kind and over the past 8 years it has become one of the most popular tours in Fiji.

Offering tourists a half-day, adventure into the heart and soul of Fiji, aboard custom-built safari jet boats, passengers travel along the Sigatoka River and visit authentic Fijian villages, experiencing a day in the life of the real ‘kaiviti’ (Fijian).

This popular tour was founded by Australian, Jay Whyte, who fell in love with Fiji when he was a child.unnamed (10)

“I visited Fiji for the first time in 1991, and met Fijian, Pita Matasau. Pita took myself and my family high into the Fijian interior to his village of Draiba.  It was from this experience that I decided other people should see that area of Fiji.” Said Jay Whyte, Managing Director, Sigatoka River Safari.

The next year I visited New Zealand and that’s when I thought of combining a jet boat ride up the Sigatoka River with a visit to a real Fijian village, just like I had experienced.

It didn’t happen overnight, in fact it wasn’t until 10 years later that I decided to put my plan into action.  I started by seeking permission from relevant village chiefs that I hoped the tour would visit and then in 2005 I received final approval from FTIB.”

Over the past eight years Sigatoka River Safari has seen huge growth.

Jay first worked from a small home office with a staff of four and now has two retail shops in Sigatoka Town with a staff of 40. Sigatoka River Safari started off with one boat and two drivers, while today they have four boats and seven drivers. In 2006 Sigatoka River Safari operated one daily tour and averaged about 4 passengers per day, today they operate four daily tours, including a new tour Off Road Cave Safari and average about 34 passengers each day.  The number of mini vans used for passenger transfers has increased from one to eight and the number of villages visited as part of the tour has increased from 12 to 15.

According to Mr Whyte, one of the most exciting changes to the company was the starting of a new tour, Off Road Caves Safari, in 2012.

“Off Road Caves Safari was very exciting for me and my team. The tour came about as a natural transition that complements the Sigatoka River Safari.  Off Road Caves Safari is Fiji’s original and only off road safari and takes passengers to the Naihehe Cave, Fiji’s largest Cave system, where they learn about its fascinating history.” Says Mr Whyte.

“I’m extremely proud of what I have achieved and when passengers return from the Sigatoka River Safari  and tell me how much it has really touched them, some even in tears, then I know I’m achieving what I set out to do. I love my job and often say if you love what you do you never have to work a day in your life and that’s exactly how I feel. I love living in Fiji, working with my incredible team and helping the villages we work with – I wouldn’t change a thing.

Over the next 8 years, we just want to continue to add on exciting new elements for international and local visitors alike, giving all who are interested the chance to discover the ‘Heart and Soul of Fiji” in a unique and exciting way.“ Continues Mr Whyte.

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