Volivoli Cave


Useful Information

Location: South coast of Viti Levu Island, Fidji, southwest of Sigatoka. Park at Sigatoga Sand Dunes National Park Office, trail on opposite side of road leads uphill to cave.
Open: no restrictions.
[2020]
Fee: free.
[2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave limestone of Upper Pliocene age, Thuvu Formation
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=180m, VR30m.
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Mark Stephens, Simon Hodge, Jessy Paquette (2013): Geoconservation of Volivoli cave, Fiji: a prehistoric heritage site of national significance, Geoheritage, 5 (2). pp. 123-136. ISSN 1867-2477. online
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History

1995-96 used for small-scale tourism.
1996-98 excavation of megafauna fossils.
1998 protected under the Fiji Museum Act.
1998 cave surveyed by Gavin Udy, Sepeti Matararaba, Atholl Anderson, and Trevor Worthy.
2010 implementation of conservation measures.
2011 development of an sustainable management plan by Mark Stephens, Simon Hodge, Jessy Paquette.
2011 installation of drainage pipe.
06-JUL-2013 Volivoli Cave Ecotourist Site inaugurated.

Description

The Volivoli Cave is an important archaeological site. Natural processes and human intervention caused the destruction of parts of the archaeological remains. Cane farming in the area since the mid 1970s caused an ephemeral stream from the entrance into the cave which removed sediment from the entrance area of Volivoli Cave and redistributed it throughout the cave. A conservation plan to protect the cave was carried out in close cooperation with the local landowners of Volivoli Village who carried out much of the maintenance work. They used local material to install a drainage system to divert water away from important archaeological deposits and created a walkway to allow safe access into the cave. The used of local material poses minimal impact to the cave fauna. An information board displaying accurate scientific information about the cave was placed at the entrance for the sake of cave visitors. The project also mentioned some good points for further improvements, like signs to educate cave users not to touch delicate features in the cave such as speleothem formations or archaeologic remains, highlighting paths through the cave, installation of “no go” areas, but also reforestation of the slopes using seedlings of native tree species to stabilise the soil.

Volivoli means sand in the local dialect, so this cave is actually named Sand Cave. The cave contains extinct megafaunal remains which is unique in Fiji. The were dated to ne 20,000 to 25,000 years old. The findings included a crocodilian, a tortoise, a giant iguana, (Lapitiguana), a boid snake, three species of frog (Platymantis spp.) and several birds, Probably most interesting are a previously unknown giant megapode (Megavitiornis) and a giant pigeon (Natunaornis). Three human burials and fragments of adzes, undecorated pottery and shells were found in the cave. The cave also has a man-made wall in the cave entrance which originates probably from the time when Yadua Village was located above the cave entrance at the cliff edge more than 200 years ago.

This cave has a decent size and requires some preparation to visit. It is almost level, leading slightly downwards, a result of its formation as a river cave. There are no gates but we recommend to visit only the first 70m, the rest of the cave is rather narrow and low. Nevertheless good shoes, good light (at least two per person), if possible a helmet with headlamp, and gloves are recommended. Depending on how far you go in you will get dirty, so clean clothes to change afterwards and a plastic bag for the dirty clothes are essential if you want to explore further. This cave is rather harmless, nevertheless you should follow the basic safety rules of caving.