Coral Reefs, Birds of Paradise & Tribal Rainforests


This Best of Above & Below Water journey takes you to some of the world's most diverse coral reefs and the best of Papua New Guinea's rainforest habitats for birdlife and an authentic taste of this country's most colourful tribes.

Of marine life, the reefs of central New Britain are superb - full of colour with corals often covering 100% of the sea floor. At low tide, the shallowest sections of patch reefs can be completely exposed above water, forming perfect offshore coral gardens. Whether you dive or snorkel, you will be experiencing some of New Guinea's best coral reefs.

Central New Britain also has some impressive lowland forests with an abundance of enigmatic birdlife such as Eclectus parrots and Yellow eyed cockatoos and Blyth's hornbills. Of this noisy trio, it is the heavy wing flaps of a flock of hornbills which perhaps give the strongest flavour of a primeval forest environment.

For Birds of Paradise, montane forests of the Central Highlands provide the easiest viewing and greatest diversity. Whether your interest in birdlife is incidental or keen, we can tune your experience accordingly. What is inescapable in New Guinea is that birds dominate amid a scenery of mountains, volcanoes, vast plateaus covered in forest and coastlines where virgin forest often meets turquoise waters and coral reefs. Deep under the canopy, we can find orchids, endemic insects, giant buttress roots and communities as colourful as anything Nature can conjure.

These journeys, short version and long, essentially incorporate coral reefs and both lowland and lower montane rainforest. Core locations are the Central Highlands & central New Britain:

The Central Highlands

The Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea form a significant mountain range, which on the free PNG half of the island reach 4,509 metres at the peak of Mount Wilhelm; and 4,884m at the peak of Puncak Jaya on the Indonesian occupied... more

New Britain

New Britain is the largest of Papua New Guinea's many islands, about equal in size to Taiwan. The island forms the southern boundary of the Bismarck Sea, with waters whose coral reefs are some of the most diverse on our planet... more

If you can manage a longer stay, then for rainforest and birdlife diversity, higher altitude forest in the Highlands is most recommended. For pure a sense of scale of PNG's rainforest wilderness, scenic beauty, a sense of adventure and to experience lowland forest cultures, then the Sepik River provinces are almost essential.

The Sepik Provinces

The Sepik Provinces. The Sepik is one of the world's great rivers, whose origins are in Indonesian West Papua and whose water catchment is the northern slopes of New Guinea's Central Range. Tropical rainforest... more

For further coral reef diversity, or if travelling between October to May, then South Eastern PNG is worth considering in place of New Britain. Diving and snorkelling here is fantastic, with the possibility of seeing Papua New Guinea's national bird, the Raggiana Bird of Paradise, in the wild.

Milne Bay & South Eastern PNG

Milne Bay & South Eastern PNG is edged by a relatively narrow strip of lowland forest, mangroves and coral reefs which stand beneath PNG's eastern Stanley Range. This location is ideal for people in search of pristine coral reefs... more

Photographic opportunities abound on these journeys, above and below water. Contact Us for advice from a travel expert passionate about photography, the rainforests, reefs, tribal cultures and scenery of Papua New Guinea.

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Port Moresby

If you arrive on Air Niugini from Singapore, then you will be able to jump to connect with Day 2 activities the same day. Assuming that you don't ...

Arrive Port Moresby where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

In the afternoon, the option exists for us to take you to the Port Moresby Nature Park. This is an an additional charge. Here you will have a chance to see some of the highlight species of the country, as well as thousands of fruit bats which have made a home of what was once a botanical garden. Of captive species, you will be able to see all three species of cassowary, birds of paradise, tree kangaroos and wallabies.

Overnight in Port Moresby. You will be staying on a b&b basis, but there are several great food options on site.

Day 2: Port Moresby to the Central Highlands

You will be transferred from the hotel to Port Moresby airport.

Fly Port Moresby to Tari. You will be met at the airport and transfer to your lodge high on the slopes of the Tari Valley. You will enjoy magnificent views across the valley and surrounding peaks. Colourful Huli tribespeople live in the valley below.

After lunch you will be taken on a guided nature walk through montane forest in search of birds, in particular aiming to see birds of paradise.

Dinner and overnight at the lodge. All meals are included during your stay.

Day 3: Exploring the Central Highlands

Today will be dedicated to exploring the forest and its birdlife. There are 13 species of birds of paradise in the forest here, making it one of the best possible places to find them. Other birds commonly seen include the Buff-Banded Rail, Long tailed Shrike, Pied Chat, Orange-crowned Fairy-wren, Mountain Peltops, Friendly Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Blue-grey Robin and the Hooded Manikin.

Day 4: Exploring the Central Highlands

By pre-arrangement, today you can either continue your exploration of the forest and quest to see birdlife, or dedicate your time to experience the scenery and culture of this area.

Day 5: Central Highlands to Port Moresby

You will be transferred to Tari airport today and fly to Port Moresby. You will return to the same hotel here (b&b basis).

Day 6: Port Moresby to New Britain

You will be transferred from your hotel to the airport.

Fly Port Moresby to Hoskins airport in central New Britain.

You will be met upon arrival and transferred about 1 ½ hours to your coastal lodge. You will pass through some old established palm oil plantations which are considered some of the most 'sustainable' in the world, except of course that they replace what was once rainforest.

You will be staying at a lovely coastal lodge where the width of plantation narrows significantly. Beyond the lodge, a peninsula made up of volcanoes stretches out into the Bismarck Sea, creating a giant protected bay to the east over which you will look.

After checking into your room, you will be able to wander some long-established gardens where many birds can be seen, including the very colourful Eclectic parrot.

All meals are included here.

Days 7 & 8: Exploring Kimbe Bay

Today you will head out into Kimbe Bay for morning and afternoon diving or snorkelling. Your earlier focus will be the clear blue waters further out, whilst you are likely to make your last dive / snorkel at a lush green island where there is excellent fringing reef, though usually in water with lower visibility.

Day 9: Above or Below Water in Kimbe Bay

We can arrange today in a number of ways. Prices assume a morning and an afternoon of nature walks and casual birdwatching. Here's other options:

- Snorkelling, boat based, in Kimbe Bay
- Half day or full day dedicated to guided bird watching
- Half day visit to a World War II wreck of a plane 'lost' into the forest
- Conduct a full day guided hike through some excellent rainforest, all the way to the edge of an active volcanic crater. This requires a good level of fitness.

Please Contact Us to discuss options.

Day 10: New Britain to Port Moresby

You will be driven back to Hoskins airport.

Fly Hoskins to Port Moresby.

Overnight in Port Moresby.

Day 11: Depart Port Moresby

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Day 1: Arrive Port Moresby

If you arrive on Air Niugini from Singapore, then you will be able to jump to connect with Day 2 activities the same day. Assuming that you don't ...

Arrive Port Moresby where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

In the afternoon, the option exists for us to take you to the Port Moresby Nature Park. This is an an additional charge. Here you will have a chance to see some of the highlight species of the country, as well as thousands of fruit bats which have made a home of what was once a botanical garden. Of captive species, you will be able to see all three species of cassowary, birds of paradise, tree kangaroos and wallabies.

Overnight in Port Moresby. You will be staying on a b&b basis, but there are several great food options on site.

Day 2: Port Moresby to the Central Highlands

You will be transferred from the hotel to Port Moresby airport.

Fly Port Moresby to Tari. You will be met at the airport and transfer to your lodge high on the slopes of the Tari Valley. You will enjoy magnificent views across the valley and surrounding peaks. Colourful Huli tribespeople live in the valley below.

After lunch you will be taken on a guided nature walk through montane forest in search of birds, in particular aiming to see birds of paradise.

Dinner and overnight at the lodge. All meals are included during your stay.

Day 3: Exploring the Central Highlands

Today will be dedicated to exploring the forest and its birdlife. There are 13 species of birds of paradise in the forest here, making it one of the best possible places to find them. Other birds commonly seen include the Buff-Banded Rail, Long tailed Shrike, Pied Chat, Orange-crowned Fairy-wren, Mountain Peltops, Friendly Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Blue-grey Robin and the Hooded Manikin.

Day 4: Exploring the Central Highlands

By pre-arrangement, today you can either continue your exploration of the forest and quest to see birdlife, or dedicate your time to experience the scenery and culture of this area.

Day 5: Central Highlands to the Sepik Province

You will be transferred to a local air strip and then fly north west across some stunning primary forest covered mountains. As you continue north towards the sea, the mountains become foothills and then the valleys between spread wider until a vast lowland plateau emerges, with lakes, rivers, swamps and lowland rainforest stretching far beyond the horizon. If you have reasonable visibility, this is a quite breath taking journey over New Guinean wilderness.

Flying into this area feels incredible dramatic, but as you step off the plane and the engines have cooled sufficiently to switch them off, your sense of this environment changes from the vast to the very small and intense. You will hear the insects, birds and a large tributary of the Sepik River flowing just past the end of the grass air strip. A few villagers will probably be waiting to see who has arrived, under a thatch shelter which passes as the flight terminal.

From the airstrip you will walk to the river and step onboard a launch which will take you about 15 minutes upstream, past a couple of small riverside villages. Something very special here is that villages are surrounded by very small amounts of farmland. Deforestation by villagers here very minor - as you will see over the coming days, food consists mainly of fish and two very sustainable staples: sago and breadfruit. Sago is a naturally growing riverside and swamp palm. It takes years for a palm to reach maturity, so villagers will leave all of the smaller palms growing and only cut those which area ready. Breadfruit is a huge and very productive tree, that fits in well with the general canopy.

Check in to the lodge and your room and enjoy far reaching views across the Sepik River lowlands and distant foothills.

Depending upon the balance of your interest between local village cultures, scenery, birdwatching and natural history, this afternoon and the rest of your stay can be pre-tailored to suit your interests. It is important to work out a programme in advance, because it will not be fully possible to adapt the way you want things once you arrive.

Days 6 & 7: Exploring the Sepik Province

Two full days pre-arranged according to your balance of interest between local village cultures, scenery, birdwatching and natural history. Some options available by prior arrangement include:

- General natural history walks
- Dedicated birdwatching including seeking endemics such as the Twleve Wire Bird of Paradise
- Exploring the stunning scenery of lakes and upper river reaches amongst the foothills of the Central
  Highlands
- Visiting Sepik river communities crossing several linguistic groups in just a day
- Spirit Houses

Please Contact Us to discuss.

Day 8: Sepik Province to the Cloud Forest of the Central Highlands

You will have time for a guided walk this morning. We can take you for some stunning hilltop views over the vast Sepik lowlands whilst watching out for birds, insects and orchids.

After breakfast you will be transferred back to the air strip. You can wander amongst butterflies and along the edge of the river whilst you wait.

Once the aircraft has returned, you will board and take the same dramatic journey back up to the highlands - perhaps stopping where you began, or otherwise continuing directly to Mount Hagen. This section of the flight takes you over even higher forest covered mountains including past the peak of Mount Hagen which is the second highest in Papua New Guinea at 3,778m (12,395ft).

When you land at Mount Hagen, you will be met and then driven through some of New Guinea's best coffee estates and then uphill to a lodge within cloud forest. Assuming there is time, we can arrange a specialist birding guide will take you up some into the cloud forest in search of Birds of Paradise and other species. There are 10 Birds of Paradise species in this forest, of which at higher elevations you can often find the huge Black Sicklebill, Brown Sicklebill and beautiful King of Saxony. Cloud forest at this altitude is always lovely to walk through, with lots more visible at eye level than lowland rainforest. The botany here is incredibly rich.

All meals included.

Day 9: Cloud Forest to New Britain

Early morning guided walks and birdwatching in the cloud forest.

You will be transferred from the lodge to Mt Hagen airport.

Fly Mount Hagen to Hoskins airport in central New Britain (flight change in Port Moresby).

You will be met upon arrival and transferred about 1 ½ hours to your coastal lodge. You will pass through some old established palm oil plantations which are considered some of the most 'sustainable' in the world, except of course that they replace what was once rainforest.

You will be staying at a lovely coastal lodge where the width of plantation narrows significantly. Beyond the lodge, a peninsula made up of volcanoes stretches out into the Bismarck Sea, creating a giant protected bay to the east over which you will look.

After checking into your room, you will be able to wander some long-established gardens where many birds can be seen, including the very colourful Eclectic parrot.

All meals are included here

Days 10 & 11: Exploring Kimbe Bay

Today you will head out into Kimbe Bay for morning and afternoon diving or snorkelling. Your earlier focus will be the clear blue waters further out, whilst you are likely to make your last dive / snorkel at a lush green island where there is excellent fringing reef, though usually in water with lower visibility.

Day 12: Above or Below Water in Kimbe Bay

We can arrange today in a number of ways. Prices assume a morning and an afternoon of nature walks and casual birdwatching. Here's other options:

- Snorkelling, boat based, in Kimbe Bay
- Half day or full day dedicated to guided bird watching
- Half day visit to a World War II wreck of a plane 'lost' into the forest
- Conduct a full day guided hike through some excellent rainforest, all the way to the edge of an active volcanic crater. This requires a good level of fitness.

Please Contact Us to discuss options.

Day 13: New Britain to Port Moresby

You will be driven back to Hoskins airport.

Fly Hoskins to Port Moresby.

Overnight in Port Moresby.

Day 14: Depart Port Moresby

You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Dates

01 Jan - 31 Dec 2019 - from £ 2,920
from US$ 3,510

Tailor made trip available year round
Price per person sharing (11 Days)
Ideal for snorkellers or divers

01 Jan - 31 Dec 2019 - from £ 6,215
from US$ 7,470

Tailor made trip available year round
Price per person sharing (14 Days)
Ideal for snorkellers or divers

01 Jan - 31 Dec 2020 - from £ 3,190
from US$ 3,830

Tailor made trip available year round
Price per person sharing (11 Days)
Ideal for snorkellers or divers

01 Jan - 31 Dec 2020 - from £ 6,780
from US$ 8,150

Tailor made trip available year round
Price per person sharing (14 Days)
Ideal for snorkellers or divers

Notes:
Price per person sharing (based on 2 people travelling)

Price includes:
- All accommodation
- All land & river transfers
- Breakfasts in Port Moresby
- All meals in other locations
- All guiding and activities as per itinerary
- For 14 days version: return flights Tari - Sepik Province

Not included:
- All other flights
- Items not specified
- Tips
- Drinks

Papua New Guinea Travel Guide

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