Part 1, Vuadomo Waterfall...A walk through the rainforest...More photos tomorrow...


 
Typically in rainforests, we've observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima spotted this caterpillar we'd easily have missed.
With Internet limitations and the difficulty of uploading photos at times its necessary to break up the sharing of photos into "parts," as has been the case in many places we've traveled.

We'd considered sharing less photos, instead sharing just the highlights. For two reasons, we decided against that concept, preferring to break up our photos and stories into "parts" sharing those we find most appealing as we work our way through hundreds of photos we may take in a single outing. 

We giggled over this saying advertising a "10 minute" walk to the waterfall which my have been the case for young athletic types but certainly not for us old timers, walking gingerly to avoid falling!
Our first reason for sharing as many photos as we can over a "series" is the fact that our readers have requested more photos.  Secondly, its for the ongoing documentation of our travels at an online location that we hope will be available for generations to come. 

Today's waterfall photos and story will consist of two parts, today's and tomorrow's.  The trek through the rainforest to the Vuadomo Waterfall was in itself, quite an experience, stopping along the way to take many photos and to revel in the beauty of the exquisite remote jungle.

A short wooden ramp of three logs led to the stone path.  When we ventured across those three logs, I expected an wobbly hike once we were on the rocks.  Tima and Rasnesh waited for us while we loaded an extra battery into the camera.
Throughout the world we've trekked through rainforest after rainforest.  In essence, they are all similar in the vast amount of vegetation creating a canopy that at times blocks the view of the sky. This is where the similarities begin and end.

Here's a definition of a rainforest:

"rainforest

/ˈreɪnˌfɒrɪst/
noun
1.
dense forest found in tropical areas of heavy rainfall. The trees are broad-leaved and evergreen, and the vegetation tends to grow in three layers (undergrowth, intermediate trees and shrubs, and very tall trees, which form a canopy) Also called selva."

rain forest in Science 
rainforest
(rān'fôr'ĭst)  

A dense evergreen forest with an annual rainfall of at least 406 cm (160 inches).

Our Living Language   : Most of the world's rainforests lie near the equator and have tropical climates. However, cooler rainforests exist in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada. The world's largest rainforest is located in the Amazon River basin. The Amazon rainforest has been described as the "lungs of our planet" because it continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, with a significant percentage of the world's atmospheric oxygen being produced in this region. Besides helping to regulate the world's climate, rainforests host an extraordinary diversity of life. Scientists believe that as many as half of the Earth's different species of plants and animals are found only in the rainforests, which take up a mere 7 percent of the world's landmass. By some estimates, more than half of the Earth's original rainforests have already been burned or cut down for timber or grazing land, and more than 130 plant, animal, and insect species are thought to be going extinct daily as a result of the lost habitat. Currently 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from tropical rainforest ingredients, and 70 percent of the plants with anticancer properties are found only in this shrinking biome."
We often hear about rainforests in reference to the above described Amazon River basin and the fact that so much precious plant and animal life is dwindling daily having a profound effect on our planet; the loss of plant, animal and insect species all vital to our existence in a myriad of ways.

Rasnesh pointing out a passion fruit tree, early in its blooming stages.
As we've seen and visited all over the world, there are many massive smaller rainforests in many countries, many we've visited in our travels, each with its own unique forms of life and vegetation, although each possessing a similar vital aspect to our world's ecosystem.

I could spend days on this topic even in my limited knowledge, if only from personal experience over these past three years of world travel.  And still, we've yet to visit the Amazon which is well on our radar, with our next visit to a new continent earmarked as South America, once we've completed our short visit to the US in summer of 2017.   

A budding passion fruit.
Here is Savusavu, we  need only to look out the window where we can easily feel a part of the ecosystem in this densely forested area overlooking the sea.  Although our immediate surroundings may not be specifically referred to as a rainforest, living in this jungle-like area gives us a perception of doing so, especially when only across this expansive bay in front of us, we traveled by car to Vuadomo, entering a true rainforest on the trek to the waterfall on the privately owned sacred grounds of the Vuadomo people.

To call the walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall a "trek" is by no means a misnomer.  Its indeed quite a trek.  At certain points, I was reminded of the dangerous trek to the Queen's Bath, (click here for the story and photos), one we foolishly insisted on doing, only grateful for the experience long after it safely ended.

A passion fruit flower.
The walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall was steep and unrelenting with a narrow rocky base at times interrupted by steep uneven steps to navigate to a higher elevation.  After all, waterfalls are generally located at an elevation to some degree.  At one point, our ears popped.

Rasnesh and Tima escorted us on the tour, steady on their feet in their familiarity with the trek. With Tima insisting on offering me a hand over the most difficult parts, I stopped periodically to wipe the sweat off my hand onto my pants. The heat and humidity was bordering unbearable.

This time of year in the South Pacific, papaya is getting ripe and ready for consumption as it turns yellow.
As we walked in single file, Tom and I spoke of the difficult long ago trek to Petra, Jordan (click here for the story and photos) in the scorching heat of 40C, 104F.  Although it was dry heat, it literally dried the moisture in our mouths, making swallowing difficult. 

However, this trek through the Vuadomo rainforest with a temperature of 32C, 90F and humidity at 100% (it rained on the drive), we were almost equally uncomfortable, sweat pouring off of our exposed skin.  Not one to sweat much, I was surprised by the droplets of sweat pouring off my face, dripping down my arms and off my hands.  Tom was the same. 

These tony chilies are often for sale in the Farmer's Market. 
At no point, did we considered turning back or complaining aloud.  Over wet rocks and slippery vegetation, we continued on, anxious to see the waterfall we'd heard so much about from the locals.  All we needed to do was get there and back without stumbling and falling.

We enjoyed the trek, stopping for photo ops that Tima and Rasnesh pointed out in their experience of many times over these rocks.  Whether it was a tree with fruit, a caterpillar as shown or a bird in flight, we stopped to observe, never feeling rushed, especially as Tima reminded us many times, of "No rush, this is Fiji.  Nice and easy."

These huge leaves which Tima referred to as elephant ears are different than the same named common household plant in the US>
Her thoughtful assistance, insight and educational comments made the journey all the more interesting and enriching.  Finally, after about 20 minutes, we heard the waterfall shortly before it was visible.  The sound of the rushing water sent a thrill through both of us.

Ah, Mother Nature, when did you create this treasure, by no means the biggest waterfall we've seen but, supremely beautiful even on the cloudy day?  Through our research we haven't been able to ascertain when this loveliness was first spotted by the human eye, nor was Tima aware of this fact.

The grass was wet here making it important to fit our feet onto the individual stone steps.
We could only assume that as long ago as the villagers first settled in Vuadomo they stumbled upon this exquisite gift from their God or higher power, lovingly nurtured by Mother Nature in her exquisite rainforest design, trees to the heavens of many varieties, many fruit bearing, birds and small creatures each in their own way contributing to the ecosystem.

We were indeed in a rainforest and although is wasn't the Amazon it was a place where we'll always recall in the list of the many rainforests we've visited in our travels, each unique in its own way.

Still at quite a distance, we gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall which is much larger than it appears in this photo.
The waterfall, although not huge, which we hadn't expect, was as beautiful as rushing water can be.  With recent non-stop rains the water easily flowed with an intensity we found mesmerizing. 

At the final destination, Tima pointed out a wooden bench suggesting we stop to rest and partake in the magnificence of the waterfall while we recovered from the long trek. The cooling spray from the waterfall was more refreshing and soothing than sitting down, as we languished for awhile, enjoying the view.

A creek flowed from the waterfall pool.
After photos, we were back on the trek to return to Rasnesh's vehicle awaiting us at the entrance to the path.  We'd brought along only one bottled water which by then was almost hot when we each took a few much needed sips.

Soon, we were back on the highway leaving the area located across the bay from our temporary home to return to Savusavu for our weekly shopping. We were hot, sweaty and satisfied for the great experience, breezing through the shopping with relative ease, ending up in the air conditioned supermarket, the only location in Fiji we've visited with AC.
Rushing waters in the creek below the waterfall.
Rasnesh had to pick up a traveler from the airport giving us more time in the market than we needed with its only three aisles.  While shopping, we met a lovely couple our age, she from Florida, USA and he from Canada, who'd been sailing their catamaran in the world's sea over the past eight years, soon to settle on the Big Island in Hawaii. Lively conversation ensued, making the wait for Rasnesh fly by.

Tomorrow, we'll be back with a new story which will include our final photos of the Vuadomo Waterfall including photos of us (at long last) and our guides.  With many more yet-to-be shared photos from this and other outings, we don't expect to run out.  Especially, when in three days, we'll be out again and in five days, we're off to celebrate our three year's long travel anniversary with many new photos of our upcoming celebration and tour of Namale Resort.

Happy day!
_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2014:

We drove to Lahaina, the most popular tourist town in Maui, surprised how few tourists we spotted on the streets.  The Hawaiian Islands are most busy during the winter season in the northern hemisphere, especially closer to the holiday season.  For more details, please click here.
 

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