Papua New Guinea 2010 

Papua New Guinea is a truly unique destination.  Home to some of the most bizarre and colourful tribes-people left on Earth, as well as more than 30 species of the most spectacular bird family on the planet: the Birds of Paradise.  It is also one of the most ethnically diverse countries on Earth, with more than 850 indigenous languages, and at least as many traditional societies, making up a population of just under 6 million.  The population is one of the world’s most rural, with only 18 per cent of its people living in urban centres.  PNG is one of the World’s least explored nations both culturally and geographically, with new species of plants and animals discovered every year in the remote interior of the country.  The itinerary takes us from the coast to the highlands, staying in luxurious lodges set in breathtaking scenery, as well as exploring the tributaries of the Sepik River on the famous MV Sepik Spirit.  This trip takes in the best that PNG has to offer, and will be a truly unforgettable adventure.

Day 1;                        July 11th   

We arrive in Port Moresby, capital of Papua New Guinea, and transfer to our hotel.  We meet tonight for our Welcome Dinner.  Overnight Airways Hotel.

Day 2;                        July 12th

This morning we fly into the cool of the highlands, landing on Ambua airstrip in the Central Mountain Ranges, which offer some of the most rugged and impressive landscapes in the world.   Ambua Lodge perches high on the slopes of the Tari Valley, home of the Huli tribe, a colourful and proud people still living in largely the same way that their ancestors have always lived.  The afternoon is spent exploring the area surrounding Ambua Lodge, where high mountain forests with roaring waterfalls beckon the intrepid traveller.  Overnight at Ambua Lodge.

Days 3, 4 & 5;          July 13th, 14th & 15th 

We have three days to enjoy the cultural and ecological wonders of the Tari Valley.  The Tari area is home to an incredible 13 species of birds of paradise, as well as numerous orchid species.  Our days are spent visiting several Huli villages, learning how the people live and how they interact with, and use, their environment.  Huli men are incredibly vain, decorating themselves with feathers, flowers and paint.  One of the most unique visits we will make is to the “wig school”, where young men grow their own hair to be cut and shaped into elaborate styles, before it is cut off as a complete wig.  Each wig takes at least a year to grow, and some young men have several, each in a different style.  Overnights at Ambua Lodge. 

Day 5;                        July 16th

This morning we fly from Ambua to the Sepik River area.  As we leave the highlands the mountains start to give way until eventually vast tracts of dense tropical lowland rainforest cover the landscape as far as the eye can see.  We transfer from the airstrip by riverboat to the air-conditioned comfort of the MV Sepik Spirit.  Inspired by the architecture of the “haus tambaran” or spirit house, the MV Sepik Spirit has a truly unique design.  With its shallow draught, it allows travel to rarely visited areas of the Sepik River and its tributaries in comfort.  Overnight on board the MV Sepik Spirit. 

Days 6 & 7,              July 17th & 18th        

Two full days are spent exploring the many waterways of the Sepik and its tributaries including visits to traditional Sepik Villages.  The Sepik River is one of the largest rivers in the world, in terms of its flow.  Steeped in mystery, the people of the Sepik area have fascinated anthropologists like Margaret Mead since the area was first visited.  Part of the mystery and attraction of the Sepik peoples is their amazing carvings, now famous the world over.  We have the opportunity of watching the carvers at work, and purchasing some of their masterpieces.  Overnights on board the MV Sepik Spirit.

Day 8;                        July 19th       

Today we leave our floating home, and transfer to Karawari.  Karawari Lodge boasts a spectacular view over a seemingly endless tract of dense tropical jungle.  Nothing breaks the forest to the horizon in every direction.  Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, while still providing modern comforts, the lodge is our home for the next two nights.  This afternoon we will start our explorations of the cultural and wildlife highlights of the area.  Overnight at Karawari Lodge.

Day 9;                        July 20th       

We wake to the chattering of brilliantly coloured lorikeets and Eclectus parrots flying over the lodge on their way to fruiting trees deep in the forest.  After breakfast we board a comfortable riverboat to visit some of the nearby villages, and enjoy an insight into the amazing ecology and culture of the Karawari area.  A staple food for the people of this region is the sago palm.  These palms are not cultivated, but are found growing wild in the forest, and are then claimed and protected until ready for harvest.  Preparation of sago is a complicated process.  After being cut down the palm trunk is cut open, and the “meat” is taken from the centre of the trunk before being washed to remove the starch.  Overnight at Karawari Lodge. 

Day 11;                      July 21st   

Today we take a charter flight to the highland town of Mount Hagen.  Mount Hagen Town is in the upper Wahgi Valley, where evidence has been found of some of the oldest agriculture in the world, dating back 9,000 years.  Perched high on Mount Kuta is Rondon Ridge, with unbelievable views of the Wahgi Valley.  Overnight Rondon Ridge Wilderness Lodge.

Days 11 & 12;          July 22nd & 23rd       

Two full days are spent exploring the Wahgi Valley.  The highlight of our time here will be the Hagen Men’s Sing-Sing, a cultural festival organised to allow the people living in the remote villages to get together.  The Mount Hagen area is home to the Melpa tribe, a people with a strong culture who in the face of modernity still live largely traditional subsistence lifestyles.  They had no contact with the outside world until the 1930s when the Australian Leahy brothers trekked up into the Valley.  As well as witnessing the sing-sing and visiting these fascinating people, we explore the mountains surrounding the Wahgi Valley looking for stunning arrays of bird, orchid and plant life.   Overnights at Rondon Ridge Wilderness Lodge.

Day 13;                      July 24th       

This morning we fly back to Port Moresby for a city tour, before our international flights home.

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