A unique chance to visit some of the worlds greatest birding locations in search of New Guinea’s spectacular birds and attend the world famous Mt Hagen show where representatives of cultural groups from all over New Guinea come together in a spectacle of costume, music and dancing.
Visiting several New Guinea habitats we expect to see a number of species of spectacular Birds of Paradise plus a great supporting cast of New Guinea specialities, many of which form the basis for the fantastic headdresses you will see at the show.
A country where much of the land consists of steep mountain sides covered wherever possible by thick rainforest and with no contiguous road system Papua New Guinea relies primarily on air transport. There will be several flights made during this tour often in small planes.
In the lowlands the weather is likely to be hot and humid but at altitude it can be surprisingly cold. Rain is likely everywhere at any time of the year.
Trails are often steep and muddy. Participants need to be in good health and have a reasonable standard of fitness.
Featured Tour Video – Mt Hagen Show
This itinerary visits a number of PNG’s birding hot spots tour in a “Greatest Hits’ type tour. In addition we introduce aspects of New Guinea’s fascinating and varied culture the highlight of which is attendance at the spectacular Mt Hagen Show.
Day 1: Arrive Port Moresby. You will be met at the airport and transfer to your hotel in time for lunch. You will meet with your guide at the hotel . After lunch you will be collected and go on a Port Moresby town tour visiting the beautifully decorated Houses of Parliament. The National Museum has strange opening hours but hopefully we will be able to visit it again this year.
Day 2: A full day exploring the Port Moresby area starting with a trip up to Varirata National Park where there are some interesting walks and some great birds including the Raggiana Bird of Paradise and a whole slew of beautiful kingfishers, parrots and pigeons. On our way back to our hotel we will visit some of the famous war memorial sites around Port Moresby.
Day 3: We will make an early start and take the morning plane over to Kiunga where you will be met and transferred to Kiunga Guest House. Here you will settle in and take lunch. The rest of the day will be spent looking around the Kiunga area. Kiunga is a river port with most of its commerce being associated with the big OK Tedi mine up in the Star Mountains. However it also has rubber plantations and is the administrative centre for Western Province. Kiunga is situated in he middle of a very extensive rainforest much of which is relatively unexplored.
Day 4: Full day exploring the Kiunga area starting with a trip out to the Flame Bowerbird site. Palm Cockatoos, Trumpet Manucode and Greater Bird of Paradise are all to be seen close to the town. Lunch will be back at the guest house and a siesta or swim in the lodge pool is possible during the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon you will go out again with your guide to look around the local area.
Day 5: An early start up the Fly river by boat to Kwatu Lodge. Dawn is a great time to travel upriver and many species of birds can be seen flying over the river and perched on snags along the way. 12 wired Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Great-billed Heron, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Collared Imperial Pigeon and some rather beautiful parrots can all be seen at times from the boat. It is still relatively cool and you can sit back and watch the trees. Every now and then there will be a house on the bank or actually built over the river and canoes and outboards pass by with people going about their daily lives. During the journey there will be a chance to get off and walk in the forest looking for the elusive Southern Crowned Pigeon and other birds. On arrival at Kwatu Lodge you will settle in and then explore the immediate area. Kwatu is a very basic landowner lodge built in the style of the local houses entirely from local materials. At night the forest is dark and, except for the sounds of native birds and animals, – very quiet.
Day 6: After breakfast you will spend some time on the trails around Kwatu before heading back down the river to Kiunga where you can relax in the guest house for the balance of the day or take a short stroll around the township.
Day 7: Today you will fly from Kiunga over to Mt Hagen. You will be met at the airport and transferred to Kumul Lodge where you will stay for the next 5 nights. You will arrive in time for lunch and will spend the afternoon relaxing on the verandahs. These overlook the feeders and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia and Brown Sicklebill are amongst the birds that come down to eat along with Smoky Honeyeater, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot and more. The feeders offer great photographic opportunities.
Day 8: Paiya village is famous for its pre-show day. Here you will have a chance to mingle with the performers and take photographs up close. You can watch them getting dressed up in their “bilas” (finery) for the show, talk to people about what is happening and generally mingle with the local people and performers.
Day 9: Today you will be escorted into Mt Hagen and spend the day at the Mt Hagen Show. Clans from all over New Guinea come and perform songs, dances and plays dressed in traditional and not so traditional costumes! Some modern day fashion statements have been incorporated into traditional bilas and it is not unusual to see an elaborate feathered headdress and body paint teamed with sunglasses. For a birdwatcher, the sight of a headdress containing the plumes of 20 + birds of paradise and the feathers of dozens of lorikeets, many of which they may not have seen, can be rather frustrating!
Day 10: After breakfast you will head out to the Pigites Birding area. where you will be looking for Birds of Paradise and more. You will return to the lodge for lunch and then take a guided afternoon walk through one of the local orchid gardens. Members of all of the New Guinea endemic bird families can be seen in the Kumul area though some are not easy and you will be looking for these as well.
Day 11: Today you will take a bus trip out around the Kumul area. The road wends through beautiful scenery with magnificent waterfalls and small villages surrounded by gardens growing primarily kaukau (sweet potato) but also taro and pitpit. This fertile area is important for agriculture but although coffee has become important around Goroka it is not an important crop locally. A picnic lunch can be enjoyed along the way.
Day 12: After breakfast you will head back to the airport and fly to Port Moresby where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. After lunch and a siesta you will take a short tour in the afternoon visiting the PAU ponds where birds such as Spotted Whistling Duck, Fawn- breasted Bowerbird and other birds also found up Cape York in N. Queensland can be seen.
Day 13: Today will be a full day starting after breakfast with a visit out to the Papuan coastal villages. The Motu people of the coast live very different lives than their highland counterparts. Famous for there stilt villages which come out right over the water at Hanubada they are a maritime people often much lighter skinned and with much straighter hair than their Highland counterparts and traditionally the women have indulged in tattooing similar to that found in parts of Micronesia. While they also have gardens with yams and coconuts, the area around Port Moresby does not have a climate suited to extensive agriculture and fish and shellfish play an important part in their diet. Motu people do not really consider themselves as farmers, trading with their neighbours and overseas contacts for staples. The Hiri (trading voyages) were undertaken by Motu men in huge canoes called Lagotai and they took the much prized Motu cooking pots made by the women to exchange for sago from the Gulf Province. You will take a packed lunch and will return in time to visit PNG Arts, an enormous artifacts warehouse, in Port Moresby. Here traditional carvings and other artefacts from all over PNG can be found. The owner of the store can be very informative about them and they are well worth a look. It is also a good source of souvenirs provided you check carefully that wood does not contain borers and that spider webs and insect larvae are removed.
Day 14: Today you will say goodbye to your guide and start your journey home. It is advisable to arrive at the airport 3 hours before your departure time which will depend on your destination.
This tour offers lots of good photographic opportunities and we are happy to run it for specialist photographers.