Papua New Guinea 2018 Expedition
The most complete itinerary to explore The Land of Unexpected: Papua New Guinea. Designed to provide you with the maximum exposure not only to the natural wonders of the island but also to the culture of the indigenous peoples.
Max Group Size: Only 16 participants!
Only One Departure: May 15, 2018
Papua New Guinea
In Papua New Guinea you take a time machine back to experience the way our ancestors lived in the Stone Age. The ancient cultures of the highlands have remained nearly unchanged for thousands of years, as they had lived in complete isolation until 1935.
While the culture of the peoples of PNG is considered to be that of the Paleolithic Era, it is fascinatingly complex, with 800 of the world’s 6,000 languages being found in culturally diverse Papua New Guinea. It is also interesting to note that agriculture has been practiced here for the last 9,000 years, and these long years have created the unique stone age cultures and societies that populate the Island today.
- Port Moresby
- Mount Hagen
- Tumbuna Sing Sing Tribal Festival
- Tari Gap
- Huli Wigmen
- Ambua Lodge
- Crocodile Men of the Sepik Headwaters
- Sepik Spirit Navigation
- Upper Karawari River & Lodge
Details in Brief:
Duration: 13 days in country
Leader: Jorge Salas
Maximum Number of Participants: 16
Departures: May 15, 2018
Is this the right expedition for you?
New Paths Expeditions has crafted a journey to Papua New Guinea like no other, designed to provide you with the maximum exposure not only to the natural wonders of the island but also to the culture of the indigenous peoples. We will visit the Huli tribe in Tari, arriving by small aircraft chartered flight. The Huli are known as the Huli Wigmen, for their elaborate decorative wigs made from the hair grown by selected tribe’s young men during their initiation period.
Wildlife and natural wonders make PNG – along with Madagascar, the Amazon, and the Congo – one of our planet’s ‘Mega-Diverse Hotspots.’ This Island not only has 10% of the world’s vertebrates, but 7% of the world’s higher (vascular) plants, including some spectacular orchid species. For those who love to discover nature first hand, Papua New Guinea’s rainforest offers you the opportunity to enjoy this unique endemic wildlife. The flying jewels of the forest, the birds of paradise, will astound you with their colorful and flamboyant plumage; 38 of the known 43 species of this bird are found in PNG.
The use of small chartered aircraft will provide an aerial panorama view of the Papua New Guinea forests and mountains. We guarantee they will be a highlight of the expedition.
Our carefully crafted expedition also includes an exploration of the Sepik River Basin aboard the comfortable Sepik Spirit, designed to resemble a native spirit house. Our river journey will give us access to primitive Crocodile Men of the Chambri tribe, who receive scars on their bodies that resemble the scales of these dangerous reptiles.
New Paths Expeditions has been exploring Papua New Guinea for over 15 years, and our expedition will provide you with an experience unlike any other. Travel back in time and witness the origins of men and some of the most incredible natural wonders on earth. Because the group will be limited to only 16 explorers, I urge you to make your reservations early, and I look forward to meeting and joining you on our PNG adventure.
Jorge Salas, a Senior Leader with over 25 years of experience leading expeditions in all continents. Jorge is a great lecturer, a passionate wildlife and travel photographer, and a favorite among our guests. He has been published by Smithsonian, WWF, Nature Conservancy and many other international media.
Itinerary in Brief
Day 1. Tuesday, May 15: Arrival in Port Moresby
Arrive today in Port Moresby. After clearing immigration and customs and exiting the arrival lounge, you will meet our representatives and check-in at the Airways Hotel, the best hotel in Papua New Guinea, located just 5 minutes from the airport.
Use the rest of the day to rest and recover from your flight. Later, join your Senior Expedition Leader for a cocktail, a complete expedition briefing and orientation followed by dinner at the hotel’s poolside restaurant.
Overnight at Airways Hotel Bacchus Room. Your room will be ready at 2 PM. If you need an earlier check-in please let us know. Extra fees may apply depending on availability. (D)
Day 2. Wednesday, May 16: Port Moresby and Mount Hagen
After breakfast, our introduction to Papua New Guinea will begin right in Port Moresby with a visit to the National Parliament Building, built in the style of a Spirit House. The National Museum will be our next stop where we will be able to see and appreciate the superb collection of artefacts collected from the country’s 800 different tribes.
Port Moresby’s beautiful Nature Park is a wonderful introduction to the flora and fauna of this island paradise. Not only will you meet some of the country’s wildlife such as cassowaries and tree kangaroos, but you will also be introduced to the park’s excellent and extensive orchid collection. A picnic lunch will be held in the Nature Park gardens prior to driving to the airport for our flight to Mount Hagen, the main city in the Papua New Guinea highlands.
Our immediate destination here is the Highlander Hotel, located in the center of the city. Although this is the best hotel in Mount Hagen, please expect slow and irregular services here. This should be accepted as the norm in such a remote place as the Papua New Guinea Highlands.
Overnight at the Highlander Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 3. Thursday, May 17: Birding and More
The diversity of Papua New Guinea’s wildlife is exemplified by one it the country’s greatest treasures – the fantastic birds of paradise. Thirty eight of the 43 known species of this bird are found exclusively in PNG, and today we will have our first encounters with these gems of the natural world.
An early morning drive will bring us to Kumul Lodge for breakfast. While this is a fairly basic property, it is also right in the middle of one of the best birding areas. The lodge’s gardens have bird feeders, and the dining room has balconies that act as semi-blinds so that allow you to get a close-up view of avian visitors to the feeders. The feeders are also an ideal distance for photography, and you will be able to observe and photograph brown sicklebills and ribbon-tailed astrapias, both of which are birds of paradise. With a bit of extra luck, we might even be able to see the superb bird of paradise!
After a morning of birding, we will return to Mount Hagen for a visit to a local market before returning to the hotel for lunch and some rest. During the afternoon, a visit to a nearby home will provide us with an insight into how the local people live. (You are certainly welcome to bring some school supplies for distribution to the local children.) If you have ever wondered where the delicious coffee found at Starbucks comes from, you will find out when we visit one of Papua New Guinea’s coffee plantations.
Overnight at the Highlander Hotel – Premium Room. (B, L, D)
Day 4. Friday, May 18: The Tumbuna Sing Sing
Today is one of the highlights of our expedition, and it will surely be one of the most unforgettable cultural experiences of your life. The Tumbuna Sing Sing (Show) is a celebration of the ancestors of the region’s tribes, held annually in the beautiful Paiyagona Valley, just 45 minutes from our hotel.
This gathering is attended by over 100 men and women from more than 10 tribes scattered across the highlands and mainland coastal areas. While this sing sing is relatively small in comparison to others, we will be more than compensated not only by the beautiful setting, including the stunning village location, but also by the absence of crowds of tourists; this will make it a much more meaningful, friendlier, and intimate experience for all of us.
We will be able to watch the participants prepare their bilas, or traditional dress, paint their faces and bodies, and embellish themselves with bird of paradise feathers. The group will be able to mingle with the performers and take their pictures. Once the dancing begins, we will really be able to appreciate these preparations and take part in the festivities.
In true “Tumbuna style”, a big mumu (underground oven) is fired up for lunch, and while the food is cooking the sing sing’s guests are free to explore the village and socialize with the local residents. The Tumbuna Sing Sing is a grand celebration of culture and tradition as the people celebrate ‘Pasin Bilong Tumbuna’ – the Way of the Ancestors.
At the conclusion of this amazing celebration, we will return to our hotel to enjoy dinner, share photographs, and receive a complete briefing about the next leg of our expedition.
Overnight at the Highlander Hotel – Premium Room. (B, L, D)
Day 5. Saturday, May 19: To Tari
Among the highlights of this expedition are the small aircraft flights that will allow us to observe the mountains and forests of Papua New Guinea from the air. After breakfast, we will embark on our first flight towards the Tari Highlands, the territory of the Huli Wigmen.
Depending on the weather, we will either land at Ambua Lodge or at Tari Town. The latter landing will necessitate a drive of 1 ½ hours to the lodge.
The Ambua Lodge is located at 7,000 feet in the Tari Gap region and borders on pristine mid-montane rainforest grading into the valley grasslands. Spring-like temperatures are the norm, as well as magnificent views of the Tari Valley. The forest canopy, a dense mass of interlocking tree tops spreads out like a green carpet with the occasional splash of bright color to provide an exhilarating setting for venturing along the graded nature trails. You’ll have the fun of crossing traditional vine bridges and discovering secluded waterfalls. Your guide will instruct you in the ways the Huli people utilize the abundant natural resources, as well as pointing out the variety of plants and animals in the forest.
The nature walk will also increase your chances of seeing up to 13 species of birds of paradise found in the vicinity of the lodge. Birds of paradise mostly display during the late afternoon, so you may be lucky enough to see the King-of-Saxony, Stephanie’s astrapia, ribbontail astrapia, and sicklebill birds of paradise during this time period.
Overnight at Ambua Lodge. (B, L, D)
Days 6 & 7. Sunday & Monday, May 20 & 21: Tari, Land of the Huli and Birds of Paradise
The great Tari Basin, with its surrounding mountain slopes, is the home of the Huli clans, one of the largest ethnic groups in the Southern Highlands, and one of the most culturally intact in PNG. Only discovered by the outside world in 1935, the Huli were one of the last indigenous tribes to come under government control. Fierce in warfare and merciless to opposing clans, the Huli dig huge trenches with wooden paddles to delineate clan boundaries, control the movement of pigs, and as secret passageways for warriors during clan battles.
Renowned for their elaborate wigs decorated with everlasting flowers and bird of paradise feathers, the Huli will provide you with a unique and unforgettable cultural experience, and a journey back in time. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact with these proud people and experience their traditional way of life, which is still governed by their belief in ancestral spirits and sorcery.
Our two days at the lodge will be filled with early birding excursions, both at the lodge and the Tari Gap, then visits to the Huli Wigmen until it’s time for lunch, when we will return to Ambua. Afternoons can involve nature walks, birding, or more interactions with Huli men and women. And of course, you will always be able to enjoy the amazing views and gardens of Ambua Lodge.
Overnight at Ambua Lodge. (B, L, D)
Day 8. Tuesday, May 22: To the Headwaters of the Sepik River
We start Tuesday with an amazing morning flight over the highlands, then descend to the tropical rain forest of the Karawari River. Upon landing, we embark on jet boats for travel to the junction of the Karawari and Krosmary Rivers, where we plan to arrive in time for lunch on board the Sepik Spirit. This river cruiser will be our home for the next 3 days and nights. Inspired by the spirit houses of the native tribes, this is a small, intimate, and unique-looking ship, and the only one that allows for exploration of these very remote waterways.
Overnight on the Sepik Spirit. (B, L, D)
Days 9 & 10. Wednesday & Thursday, May 23 & 24: Exploring the Sepik River
We will use these two days to explore, on our jet boats, the remote villages found on the headwaters of the Sepik River. Among the people we meet will be the Crocodile People, who were formerly cannibals. These people scar themselves in a ceremonial process to honor their totem, the crocodile, and also their ancestors. We will even be invited into the most sacred of their places – their spirit houses. If you are an art lover, you will also find traditional art to add to your collection.
Needless to say, birdwatching is fantastic both on the river and in the areas surrounding the clan villages, and we will hopefully see more birds of paradise.
Overnight on the Sepik Spirit. (B, L, D)
Day 11. Friday, May 25: Karawari
After breakfast you will visit the village of Mumeri. Enjoy a jet boat ride to meet with the Sepik Spirit at the Krosmeri Junction for lunch. After lunch a tour to the Mindimbit villages. You will meet up again with the Sepik Spirit while cruising back to the Karawari area. Overnight: SEPIK SPIRIT (BLD)
After a morning jet boat back to Karawari, we will check in at the Karawari Lodge. Standing majestically on a ridge amidst a vast expanse of dense tropical lowland rainforest, you will find yourself in Arambak country, with the Karawari River 300 feet below. This is one of the most remote and unspoiled areas of Papua New Guinea, with the river providing the only way in and out.
After lunch and a chance to rest and freshen up, we will visit a Kundiman village to observe their traditional and ancient culture. The people there make excellent use of the natural resources surrounding them, including using different riverside plants to make baskets for catching fish. You may even enjoy a taste of their staple food made from the sago palm. The spectacular New Guinea sunset coloring the clouds, and the river snaking below makes excellent viewing from the lodge veranda, and you could almost believe that you have stepped into a world newly born.
A farewell dinner, along with a surprise event, is planned for this evening.
Overnight at Karawari Lodge (Basic). (B, L, D)
Day 12. Saturday, May 26: To Port Moresby via Mount Hagen
We say goodbye to the tropical lowland forest and enjoy one more chartered flight back to the highlands of Mount Hagen. Once there, we will have lunch at a local restaurant, then go to the airport to catch our commercial flight to Port Moresby. Upon arrival, we will check in at the comfortable, western-style Airways Hotel to enjoy a farewell cocktail and dinner.
Overnight at Airways Hotel – Bacchus Room. (B, L, D)
Day 13. Sunday, May 27: Fly Back Home
In the morning you will be transferred to the airport, located just 5 minutes away from the hotel, to take your international flight back home.
AIRWAYS HOTEL (Port Moresby)
This is the best hotel in all of Papua New Guinea. Located just 5 minutes from the airport, it not only has modern facilities, but also lovely surrounding vistas. We have blocked rooms in the Bacchus Wing on the ground floor, and these are comfortable rooms with air conditioning, safety deposit box, and modern bathrooms with all the needed amenities. The restaurants and bars on the hotel’s upper floor provide great views and the best food in the country. The Airways includes a gym, and shops where fine and tribal art objects, as well as souvenirs, are available. WiFi is available in the guest rooms and lobby, but it can be slow or fail altogether temporarily.
HIGHLANDER HOTEL (Mount Hagen)
The Highlander Hotel is the finest in Mount Hagen, and provides us with the easiest access to the Tumbuna Sing Sing. Like most accommodations in PNG, the services here can be somewhat unreliable, and you will find the hotel basic, but clean. You will enjoy your stay here as long as you keep an open mind and exhibit patience. The Premier Rooms offer air-conditioning, safety deposit box, hot running water, and cable television. Internet is available in the lobby, but service can be patchy. The food is acceptable and a nice bar and pool are available on the premises.
AMBUA LODGE (Tari Gap)
Located at 7,000 feet in the middle of the cloud forest, Ambua Lodge not only offers beautiful common areas and fantastic food, but is rightfully considered to be the best accommodation in the Tari area. The lodge staff is composed mainly of local people and is known for providing warm and friendly service. The rooms are simple, but come with electricity, electric blankets, and hot running water. There could be temporary power outages, but these do not interfere with the enjoyment of the stay, and generally service is restored quickly. The lodge gardens are simply beautiful and the grounds and nearby nature walks provide excellent birding opportunities.
SEPIK SPIRIT (Sepik River)
The Sepik Spirit is the best, and only, ship that navigates the headwaters of the Sepik River. This is a comfortable ship designed to look like a tribal spirit house, and features artistic, handcrafted woodwork make by the local tribes. Air conditioning is available in all the guest rooms and the common areas. Rooms have comfortable beds, large windows, and ensuite bathrooms with hot running water. The food aboard ship is good and the lounge cozy and relaxing. The Sepik Spirit is equipped with jet boats for exploration (please be aware that jet boat engines are loud and vibrate, so if you have sensitive ears, please include ear plugs in your luggage).
KARAWARI LODGE (Karawari)
Perched high on the banks of the remote Karawari River, and built to resemble a spirit house, the Karawari Lodge includes an impressive collection of tribal art as well as providing beautiful vistas, especially the unforgettable, color saturated sunsets. The lodge rooms are basic, with fans and mosquito nets. Electricity is spotty, and although it is a beautiful property, because of the rusticity of the rooms, we are staying here only one night. However, your stay will be unforgettable in a good way.
Note: All prices are in US$, per person, and based on double occupancy.
*New Paths Club member prices includes direct wire payment benefit plus additional discounts. If Club Members use a credit card, a 5% surcharge will apply.
Included in the Land Cost:
- 24/7 services of a Senior Leader (Jorge Salas) during the expedition.
- Services of an English-speaking Local Head Naturalist.
- Services of local guides.
- All ground transportation (including airport transfers) if arriving on day one, and leaving on the last day (If you arrive before day 1, or leave after the expedition ended, extra charges for airport transfers may apply).
- Accommodations as noted.
- All sightseeing, entrance fees, and visits as noted.
- Meals as noted.
- Bottled water at included meals, transfers and tours.
- Services of transfer assistants, drivers, and local staff.
- Gratuities for luggage porters, transfer assistants and restaurant staff.
- International flights.
- Excess baggage charges.
- Gratuity for Local Guides; Drivers and Expedition Leader.
- Personal expenses and incidentals, such as, but not limited to, phone calls, e-mail, and laundry.
- Trip cancellation, travel delay, and baggage loss insurance.
Deposits and final payments:
- A deposit of US $1,500.00 per participant is required at the time of booking.
- The remaining balance will be charged 120 days before the expedition begins.
Download the Complete Expedition Details
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Jack N. Douglas-CO
“Our three expeditions with you were spectacular! We’ve just never had such wonderful travel experiences as with New Paths. We will get around praising you!”
Harriet T. Saugerties-NY
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Charlene P. La Jolla-CA
“Well planned, good local guides, top expedition leader. The trip far exceeded all expeditions.”
Frederic K. Orange-CA