This voyage uncovers some of the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, providing great opportunities to snorkel in rich coral seas, explore its stunning coastal and riverine landscapes, highly diverse cultures; and for birdwatchers especially, see avian species you will see nowhere else.
The voyage will first head to the Sepik River - the third largest river in the world by volume and culturally rich artery through the northern lowlands of Papua New Guinea. You will visit numerous villages where wood carvings and paintings provide doorways into rich and varied cultures along this river.
From the Sepik, you will sail north across to the remote shores of Manus and Mussau Islands. Manus is an isolated place, with the lowest density of people in all New Guinea - its people still living a very traditional lifestyle. Isolation has led to a high proportion of endemic species, which includes the Superb Pitta. Waters around the island offer some spectacular coral reefs.
Heading further east takes us to New Ireland where birders can head to the highlands, whilst those keen on coastal cultures and coral can enjoy an archipelago of islands within a barrier reef which encircles the northern tip of this narrow island. Continuing to New Britain, the focus is on the epicentre of recent volcanic activity at Rabaul. Six cone shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul's dramatic flooded-caldera harbour, whilst at Observatory Ridge we can overlook bubbling hot springs.
The voyage will then cross the Buka Channel and at Nissan Island can see reminders of the brief but intensive World War II skirmishes, during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi and British forces from Japanese occupiers. Few people make it to this remote spot, where the reefs are excellent and forests are home to more of New Guinea's unique birdlife.
Bougainville is a physically dramatic island where conflicts now resolved, have kept the culture of the place very different and special. Isolation has once again played its part in harbouring unique species and some excellent coral reefs.
From Bougainville to the Solomon island of Choiseul, where you will explore coastal mangroves in search of Dugongs and Crocodiles. You will experience more great coral reef and birdwatching opportunities at the New Georgia Islands and Santa Isabel, before ending your journey in the capital, Honiara.
For birders this itinerary offers once in a lifetime species on remote islands where few have been before. The birding potential is exceptional with many highlights including the Manus Friarbird, Mussau Monarch and the Paradise Drango. Endemic to the Solomon Islands you will be on the lookout for the Roviana Rail and Solomon Sea Eagle. Allowing birders to maximise the opportunities available to them there will be an optional specialised birding programme with customised excursions.
These waters within the Coral Triangle also offer some of the greatest marine diversity in the world; and you will have ample to snorkel and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves.
Small Ship Expedition
This voyage will be on an ice-strengthened expedition ship carrying just 50 passengers. Equally at home in the polar seas as in the South Pacific, she will carry a fleet of zodiacs to allow you to explore the remote rivers, beaches and villages of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. You will be accompanied by an experienced expedition team made up of naturalists and guides, who will provide a series of lectures throughout the trip.
Birdwatching: While there will be ample opportunity for birdwatching from the ship, Zodiacs or on landings, those with a keen interest in birds are recommended to add on the birding supplement. Accompanied by your birding guide, the group will access the highlands and other remote areas, usually early in the morning, to see the best of the region’s birdlife. Please contact us for comprehensive birding notes for this departure.
Snorkelling: The waters surrounding Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are part of the Coral Triangle, an area of over 5.7 million kilometres (2,200,000 sq miles) of ocean, sometimes referred to as the ‘Amazon of the Seas’. The Coral Triangle is recognized as the global centre of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation. It covers just 1.6% of the world's oceans, it contains 76% of all known coral species in the world and encompasses the highest diversity of coral reef fishes in the world (more than 3,000 species) with 52% of Indo-Pacific reef fish species and 37% of the world’s reef fishes found here. You can hope for almost daily snorkelling excursions to be offered throughout the trip to explore the stunning shallow reefs and marine life found here.
- Voyage as indicated in draft itinerary
- All meals, snacks, coffee and tea
- All shore excursions and zodiac activities
- Pre-voyage hotel night in Madang
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced
- Transfer to central hotel or airport on day of disembarkation
- Comprehensive pre-departure material
- All miscellaneous services taxes and port charges throughout the programme
- Specialist birding programme ($500pp - must be pre-booked)
- Discovery Fund contribution ($600pp - required for all passengers, payable
- International flights (please enquire)
- Land based accommodation (please enquire)
- Pre and post land arrangements (please enquire)
- Travel insurance
- Passports and visas
- Arrival and departure tax
- Meals ashore
- Excess baggage on flights
- Items of a personal nature (alcohol unless otherwise stated, laundry etc)
Single supplement: There is no single supplement to pay if you are willing to share your cabin with someone of the same gender. For a cabin to yourself the supplement is 1.8x the per person rate
Potential Fuel Surcharge: If the cost per Brent barrel price rises significantly then there may be an additional fuel surcharge applied to some voyages.
Activity Level: Low to Medium