850 languages, 700 bird species, hundreds of tribes: welcome to Papua New Guinea. There’s a reason why this country, one ninth the size of Australia with just as many bird types, is known as one of the most diverse places on earth. Meet paint-wearing tribes, hike through dense natural jungle and enjoy some of the best scuba diving in the world, in just ten days.
Tribes, Pigs and Feathers
The rugged mountain terrain of Papua New Guinea can be tricky to traverse without an airplane, which explains how hundreds of tribal communities have developed separate languages and cultures while all living fairly close to each other.
One of the most fascinating (and welcoming) are the Hulis, who don short skirts, traditional feather wigs and colourful facepaint daily. On this trip you’ll encounter them first, and learn about their fairs, feasts and rituals. Huli women sleep in the same building as the pigs, separate to the men’s sleeping hut, so you’ll be grateful for your safe, pig-free room at Ambua Lodge at night.
The Huli home, the Tari Valley, is dotted with magnificent waterfalls and high mountain forests, home to a whopping 13 species of birds of paradise and many orchids. You’ll spend your first three days watching birds and getting to know the tribes people with an expert guide, while you absorb the unique landscapes which make up Papua New Guinea.
Take the High (river) Road
A quick plane hop (over dramatic views of jagged limestone, no less) and a short boat ride later, you’ll arrive at Karawari Lodge high on a ridge above the Karawari River. Forget everything and look at the views: hundreds of miles of dense tropical jungle stretched to the horizon. No photo could ever do it justice (that’s a challenge).
Waking up to the chatter of Lorikeets and Eclectus parrots, the next morning you’ll head off on an ecology tour of the area. Learn how the locals sustain themselves in the jungle and follow the river which passes tribal dwellings and huge birds nests.
Think Big in Wahgi Valley
Now for some altitude, head for the impressive Mount Hagen rising dramatically from the Sepik basin. Stay at Rondon Ridge for two nights, overlooking the Wahgi Valley. Here, your guide will introduce you to the Melpa People, who regularly sacrifice pigs (noticing a theme here?) to make ghosts happy, use shells as currency and base their hierarchy on the impressive height of the tribe’s men. Look out for the ten species of bird of paradise in the area and enjoy the incredibly scenic treks on custom-designed walking trails starting at the lodge. Whatever you do, don’t forget your hiking boots: these walks through humid, untouched jungle are not to be missed.
Scuba Like Never Before
If you’re jungled-out, maybe it’s time to hit the beach. Add on Loloata Island Resort for the last two nights and laze on the beach or head under the surface for some of the world’s best scuba diving. See lionfish, firefish and pipefish (yes, really), wrecks from World War II, colourful caves, tunnels, rays, sea trees and even the odd shark. And, thankfully, there are no long goodbyes here. You’re only a 15 minute boat ride back to Port Moresby for your flight home: Perfect.
March - November
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Papua New Guinea, Tari Valley, Karawari River, Sepik basin, Wahgi Valley.