Papua New Guinea Photography Group – With Harry Skeggs

# Group Tour

Papua New Guinea Photography Group – With Harry Skeggs

17 Days from £6978 per adult.
17 Days
Group Tour
Culture and Archaeology

Vast and mysterious, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 700 languages spoken and many different, exotic cultural groups, each one separated from the other by geographical and linguistic barriers.

Led by local guides and accompanied throughout by award-winning wildlife and travel photographer Harry Skeggs, the group will visit Rabaul to witness the annual Mask Festival, a riot of local colour where tribes from outlying islands come together to meet and compete in various canoe and dance festivals culminating in the Baining Fire Dance.  We combine this with a visit to Goroka to see some of the many highland tribes found there, including the famous mud men.

Apart from the colourful cultural side, the other main attraction of Papua New Guinea is the impressive birdlife, most notably the extraordinary birds of paradise proclaimed by Sir David Attenborough as his all-time avian favourites.  Close to Port Moresby, we will visit the Varirata National Park to see the famous Raggiana Bird of Paradise displaying.  In the highlands, we stay at Kumul Lodge where you will have the chance to see another four species of birds of paradise   within the lodge grounds: crested satinbird, ribbon-tailed astrapia, Princess Stephanie’s astrapia and brown sicklebill.   In other sites visited by the group near the lodge, there will be excellent chances to spot Loria’s satinbird, King of Saxony bird of paradise, superb bird of paradise and the blue bird of paradise.

Whatever culture, scenery and wildlife you do see on this unique group journey, it will undoubtedly all be varied, exotic, colourful, bizarre and fascinating. Led by knowledgeable local guides and accompanied by Harry Skeggs, you will learn so much more about PNG than on a conventional tour.

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Price from £6978 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - Depart London

Depart London

Includes In-flight Meals.

Day 2 - Connect in Singapore

Arrive Singapore and connect with flight to Port Moresby

Includes In-flight Meals.

Day 3 - Port Moresby

Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Time to relax after your journey. Afternoon drive to the VARIRATA NATIONAL PARK for birdwatching. Depart the city and head for the Sogeri Plateaux, located approximately 600 metres above sea level. Keep your fingers crossed for a sighting of the Raggiana bird of paradise which can be seen here. Return to PORT MORESBY and transfer to the hotel.

Staying at Gateway Hotel. Includes Breakfast.

Day 4 - Goroka

Morning pick up from the hotel and transfer to the airport. Catch AIR NIUGINI flight PX160 at 0855 to GOROKA, arriving 0945. Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon visit Akameku village and enjoy a traditional sing sing.

Staying at Pacific Gardens. Includes Breakfast.

Day 5 - Goroka

Goroka is situated 1600m above sea level and boasts a spring-like climate. It is “coffee capital” of Papua New Guinea where high-grade organic Arabica beans are produced in its rich soil. It is also the home of the famous Asaro Mudman. In the times of tribal war, the Asaro were generally beaten by enemy tribes. While fleeing the enemy, they jumped into mud ponds, covering their bodies with mud. The enemy tribesmen were scared off by the sight of them and withdrew. Since then, Mudman became the guarding symbol of Asaro villages. Today you will visit Asaro Valley and enjoy an Asaro Mudman performance, and try a traditional Mumu lunch with lots of fresh organic vegetables and chicken. Afternoon sightseeing tour of the town.

Staying at Pacific Gardens. Includes Breakfast.

Day 6 - Goroka

Morning visit to Mt Gurupoka. It is a moderate one-hour walk to the top of the hill, overlooking Asaro valley. You will visit an ancestral cave and enjoy a ghost dance performance. In the afternoon visit Chimbu cultural village and enjoy a traditional sing sing.

Staying at Pacific Gardens. Includes Breakfast.

Day 7 - Kumul Lodge

Morning pick-up from the lodge and commence the drive to Mount Hagen, with a stop at a village attraction (transfer is 5-6 hours plus stop time). First drive through the rocky limestone country of Chimbu Province and then continue along the vast tea plantations of the fertile Waghi valley. Stop over at Mindima village to view the Oma Masalai dance. This is a drama-type attraction based on an ancient story of the area involving spirits (Masalai) and villagers. Mount Hagen town is in the upper Wahgi Valley which displays some of the oldest evidence of agriculture in the world. Continue the transfer (c.45 mins) to the lodge.

Staying at Kumul. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Kumul Lodge

Morning visit to Pigsties, located approximately 5km from the lodge at 2566 metres, with a local guide in search of birds of paradise and other avian species. Afternoon visit to Anji Village for a cultural experience.

Staying at Kumul. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Kumul Lodge

Morning visit to Tonga birding site with a local guide. The site is 1817m above sea level and approximately 15km from the lodge. The blue bird of paradise can be seen in this area. Afternoon visit to Kopia or Anji and Walya birding sites. NB: Choice of site to be discussed with your guide and will depend on the conditions pertaining at the time. The best available sites at the time of visit will be selected by your guide.

Staying at Kumul. Includes All Meals.

Day 10 - Kokopo

Morning pick-up from the lodge and transfer to the airport at MOUNT HAGEN. Catch AIR NIUGINI flight PX183 at 1315 to PORT MORESBY, arriving 1415. Met on arrival at the airport and assisted with connection to AIR NIUGINI flight to RABAUL, arriving 1730. Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel.

Staying at Kokopo Beach. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 11 - Kokopo

After breakfast, pick-up from the hotel for a volcano tour, including a visit to the foot of Mt Tavurvur. The tour also visits the U- boat tunnel and the Vulcanological Observatory. Later, return to the hotel.

Staying at Kokopo Beach. Includes Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 12 - Kokopo

After breakfast, pick up from the lodge for a full day (shared) boat trip to the Duke of York Islands. Enjoy a scenic boat ride, including the possibility of dolphin watching en route. Try a local outrigger canoe and enjoy a nature walk on Mioko Island, including a visit to the remains of legendary Queen Emma’s house and pool. Time to relax and maybe swim and snorkel at beautiful Kabakon Island. Picnic lunch included. Later, return to the lodge.

Staying at Kokopo Beach. Includes All Meals.

Day 13 - Rabaul Mask Festival

Over the next two days you will experience one of Papua New Guinea’s great cultural festivals, the RABAUL MASK FESTIVAL. In the early morning visit a nearby beach on foot and witness the arrival of the Tubuan spirit by boat. This is the Kinavai ceremony, the start of Mask Festival. It is a sacred initiation ceremony performed by the Tubuan Society of the Tolai tribe, and you will see Tubuan mask dancers approaching by boat to the shore. Tubuan is a secret society kept alive by successive generations by Tolai tribesmen. They worship Tabu shell money as treasure, and the social power of a man is measured by how much Tabu he owns. It is believed that Tubuan is the female spiritual figure of the ancestor of the Tolai tribe who originated in neighbouring New Ireland, and Dukduk is Tubuan’s son. Tubuan has staring eyes with a crescent- shaped mouth, while Dukduk is faceless and taller than Tubuan.

You cannot know the secrets of the society unless you join, but you can touch on their culture during the festival. Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Spend the rest of the day visiting the Mask festival showground in Kokopo town where you will see different Mask cultures from East New Britain, West New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville and, depending on the year, some Mask tribes will have come all the way from the Sepik and Highlands regions on the mainland to perform.

Staying at Kokopo Beach. Includes Breakfast.

Day 14 - Rabaul Mask Festival

After breakfast, pick up from the hotel and visit the Mask festival venue. During the festival you can use the courtesy stall with shade, cold towels etc.
In the evening, depart the hotel to visit Kainagunan Village for the famous Baining Fire Dance. The Baining people live in the mountains outside Rabaul and are famous for their customary fire-dancing. The original residents of Rabaul were chased away by intruders from a neighbouring island – the Tolai Tribe – and they now live deep in the mountains at the base of a huge natural limestone cliff. Before a fire-dance the young men must begin secret preparations up to one month before. As the sunlight disappears, a large bonfire is lit and the fire-dancers begin. The band pumps out a hypnotic chant while the dancers run through the fire in a trance, kicking hot logs and showering red coals into the night. After you return to the hotel the ceremony will continue until the very early hours of the morning or until every burning ember is extinguished because, for the Baining people, the act of fire-dancing is a sacred custom that must be followed according to tradition: it’s not just a tourist attraction.

Staying at Kokopo Beach. Includes Breakfast.

Day 15 - Port Moresby

Morning pick up from the hotel and transfer to the airport. Catch AIR NIUGINI flight at 1230 to PORT MORESBY, arriving 1350. Met on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon at leisure.

Staying at Gateway Hotel. Includes Breakfast.

Day 16 - Fly to London

Morning visit to the Nature Park to see its botanical gardens and seek birds of paradise. Later, transfer to the airport and catch AIR NIUGINI flight PX392 at 1410 to SINGAPORE, arriving 1830. On arrival, connect with BRITISH AIRWAYS flight BA12 at 2315 to LONDON HEATHROW.

Includes Breakfast.

Day 17 - Arrive London

Arrive LONDON HEATHROW at 0550.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Travel Info

Are Flights Included?

Best visited:
June to July

Area Specialist

Claire Pote

If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

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We write to express our thanks for organising another highly successful special itinerary tour [to Papua new Guinea], despite the last minute changes to our tour schedule. We were very impressed with [your representatives]. They ran a highly professional service in all aspects. The three lodges, all with their own very special character, were well run with friendly staff, clean and with good facilities. The food at all three was excellent -including the vegetarian provision. The transfer arrangements…were excellent…The excursion opportunities at all the lodges were good.. .The three contrasting locations of the lodges…enabled us to sample three very different village cultures, and their remoteness and juxtaposition to primary rainforest. . .made for excellent wildlife viewing especially for birds.. .In all our world travels so far, we have never been able to match the very special experience that combined the comfort of these individually unique lodges.. .with the opportunities to explore some of the world’s dwindling rainforest and meet its ancient and charming peoples and witness its unique birdlife. To step outside our lodge cabin [at Tari] and observe three species of birds of paradise was just magic!

Route Map

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Kokopo Beach Lodge: -4.341693, 152.270937
Kumul Lodge: -5.866667, 144.216667
Pacific Gardens Hotel: -6.064770, 145.393450
Gateway Hotel: -9.446754, 147.213342