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Papua New Guinea: A Journey of the Senses


A group destination like no other, Papua New Guinea will not disappoint any one with an adventurous spirit and a desire to experience traditional lifestyles that have not changed for thousands of years -- from the subsistence farmers of the Wahgi and Huli peoples of the highlands, to the river people of the Karawari in the lowlands to the incredibly remote Hewa people of the Lagaip Valley. Our immersion into the hearts of some of these fascinating cultures will engage all our senses and leave us wanting more. In a country filled with geological and cultural contrasts, our “Journey of the Senses” itinerary focuses on 3 diverse regions: Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands, Karawari Region in the Sepik River Basin and Tari in the Southern Highlands.

Note: to include the Mt Hagen Sing Sing, travel must take place in August.

Day 1

Hometown to Port Moresby

Day 2

Day lost crossing the International Dateline

Day 3

Arrive Port Moresby and connect to Mt. Hagen

Welcome to PNG and the bustling highland town of Mt Hagen where stone-age customs intermix with modern influences on a daily basis. On arrival, we are met and transferred up a winding road to our accommodation at fabulous Rondon Ridge overlooking the stunning Wahgi Valley. After settling in to our rooms, we have time to relax after our long journey before enjoying a delicious ‘welcome dinner’ at our hotel. (D)

Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (2 Nights)

Day 4

Mt Hagen Sing Sing

A wondrous day today as we spend our time at the famous Mt. Hagen Sing Sing. Held on the third weekend in August every year, we are free to wander the grounds and meet the dancers and the locals and just blend in to the rhythms of the show. We will be awe-struck by the stunning visual display of traditional costumes and headdresses, body adornment, music, chanting and dancing… for the whole day the grounds will be a sea of motion, sound and colour. Later in the day, we transfer back to our hotel, a welcome respite from the day, allowing time to reflect on such an incredible sensory experience. (BLD)

Day 5

Fly Mount Hagen to Karawari

This morning we transfer to the airport for our 45 minute charter flight that takes us off the highlands and down to the Sepik River Basin at Karawari, one of the Sepik’s main tributaries. From the cool, spring-like weather of the Highlands, we arrive into the hot, humid conditions of this dense tropical lowland rainforest region, one of the great, untouched rainforests on the globe.

After a short walk to the river’s edge, we board a small shuttle boat for the quick ride upriver to the stunning Karawari Lodge, our home for the night. Not only was the Lodge built to blend in to the landscape using local materials, its remote location and setting on a ridge overlooking the river and jungle-clad basin makes it one of the most unique lodges in the world. (BLD)

Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (1 night)

Day 6

Exploring the Sepik Basin

After a hearty breakfast at the lodge, we board our river boat and spend the day travelling up and down the tributaries in the area. Life in the Sepik Region revolves around the rivers and lakes of the basin; the waterways and the land on its fringes are their lifeline, and the day to day subsistence activities are molded to their ebb and flow. As we motor our way along, the power of the river will be evident in every twist and turn we take; narrow dug-out canoes gliding by full of goods to trade, women fishing or making sago, kids shreaking and splashing in the water, villages suddenly coming in to view and people smiling and waving wherever we look. In the early afternoon, we arrive at Karawari Village for our overnight stay. Although the amenities are basic, the chance to interact with the villagers will be an amazing and humbling experience. (BLD)

Accommodation: Village House (1 night)

Day 7

Exploring the Sepik Basin

We spend the morning in the village helping the locals fish and make sago. Sago is the staple food of the river people and the process to get it from a tree trunk to an edible flour is very labor intensive: from chopping the wood pulp, to soaking and squeezing out the starchy residue, to draining off the water, to forming the dough balls, to flattening and frying over an open fire. The end result is a bland, tortilla-like pancake that is then filled with fish or just eaten plain. This afternoon, we say good bye to our new friends, and journey downriver back to the Karawari Lodge for the evening. Our evening will be one of relaxation with a sundowner on the lodge veranda followed by a sumptuous dinner. (BLD)

Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (1 night)

Day 8

Fly Karawari to Hewa Village

Our charter flight this morning takes out of the Sepik lowlands and up to the edge of the highland region to the extremely remote home of the Hewa people of the Lagaip Valley. The Hewa were first studied as a cultural group by anthropologists in the 1960's. Prior to 2001, the Hewa did not even have an airstrip and the only access was by foot -- several days walk to the nearest road. (BLD)

Accommodation: Hewa Village (2 nights)

Day 9

Hewa Village Visit

A full day is spent amongst the Hewa people, learning about their culture, language and traditions. The Hewa, being on the edge of the highlands, have a culture that is an extraordinary mixture of lowlands and highlands cultures. Being extremely remote, they live very traditional lives and very few people speak Pidgin (the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea); let alone English. (BLD)

Day 10

Fly Hewa to Tari

We are off again on our charter plane to Tari, the main service centre for the Southern Highlands Province. We are now in one of PNG’s most remote, undeveloped regions where the traditional warrior cultures of the Huli and Duna Wigman have thrived for thousands of years. In fact the whole region was not “discovered” until 1935! From the airport we are met and transferred up into the mist-shrouded mountains to fabulous Ambua Lodge built with an eclectic mix of modern and traditional design –incorporating traditional building materials while maintaining a first class standard for the international visitor. The remainder of the day is free to relax in the Lodge’s lounge area, walk through the lush gardens or take a walk to a spectacular waterfall with glorious views of the Tari Valley en-route. (BLD)

Accommodation: Ambua Lodge (2 nights)

Day 11

Tari

For those early risers, we will meet our guide to search out the elusive but beautiful Birds of Paradise that are so famous in PNG. After our birdwatching adventure, we head back to the hotel for breakfast before heading off on our full day tour into a world where clan dominance, war-like mentalities, ancestral spirits, sorcery and pig wealth govern daily life. From watching a Huli warrior dance, to learning more about the secrets of the Wigman’s headdresses, it will be another day where all our senses are engaged. (BLD)

Day 12

Tari to Huli Village

This morning we are on foot and trek through sweet potato gardens, past sugar cane, and banana trees to a Huli village for our overnight stay. The rest of the day is filled with interaction with the village people and learning more about life in the highlands. (BLD)

Accommodation: Huli Village (1 night)

Day 13

Huli Village to Tari

After spending the morning in the village, we are then transferred back to Ambua Lodge for our final night in the Tari Valley. (BLD)

Accommodation: Ambua Lodge (1 night)

Day 14

Fly Tari to Port Moresby

We transfer to the airport for our flight to PNG’s largest city, Port Moresby, for our overnight. Tonight we enjoy a “farewell” dinner at our hotel. (BD)

Accommodation: Airways Hotel (1 night)

Day 15

Fly Port Moresby to Hometown

We transfer back to the airport to connect with our flights home. (B)

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