The island of Papua New Guinea PNG) has one the richest and most varied avifauna in the world. Over 700 species of birds have been identified here so far, including around 580 land and freshwater species, 40 sea birds and 90 migrants from countries to the North and South. The passerines include cuckoo-shrikes and trillers, shrikes, thrushes, logrunners, babblers, warblers, fairy-wrens, fantails, monarchs and robins, whistlers and pitohuis, honeyeaters, finches, starlings, mynahs, orioles, drongos, wood swallows, butcherbirds, bowerbirds and Birds of Paradise. Thirty-eight of the 43 known species of Bird of Paradise are found in Papua New Guinea. The extent of the millinery trade of the last century significantly affected the populations of these beautiful birds and as a result, all species of Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea are now protected. The non-perching birds include cassowaries, birds of prey, megapods, pigeons and doves, cuckoos and coucals, owls and frogmouths, lorries and lorikeets, parrots, cockatoos, kingfishers and hornbills.
During this tour we will stay at three renowned birding destinations; Rondon Ridge and Ambua Lodge located in the PNG Highlands, and Karawari Lodge in the lowlands. While predominantly a birding trip, we will also be on the lookout for any mammals and interesting flora (particularly Tonia’s beloved Gondwanan species) plus orchids.
Day 1. Fri 10 July 20. Arrive Port Moresby and transfer to Mt Hagen and Rondon Ridge
Day 2. Sat 11 July 20. Rondon Ridge
Day 3, Sun 12 July 20. Rondon Ridge
Day 4. Mon 13 July 20. Rondon Ridge to Mt Hagen to Tari in the Eastern Sepik region.
Day 5. Tue 14 July 20. Karawari area.
Day 6. Wed 15 July 20. Karawari area.
Day 7. Thu 16 July 20. Karawari to Tari and Ambua Lodge in the PNG Southern Highlands.
Day 8. Fri 17 July 20. Ambua and Tari Gap.
Day 9. Sat 18 July 20. Ambua and Tari Gap.
Day10. Sun 19 July 20. Ambua and Tari Gap.
Day 11. Mon 20 July 20. Ambua to Tari and Port Moresby.
Day 0. Thursday 9 July 2020.
Based on the 2019 tour, the best option is to depart from Cairns, Australia and we recommend arriving in Cairns today so that we can meet tomorrow morning at the Cairns International Airport for our departure to Port Moresby and onto our flight to Mt Hagen.
Accommodation: none (not included in tour price but we would be pleased to organise this for you if required). Meals included: none.
Day 1. Friday 10 July 2020. Cairns to Mt Hagen and Rondon Ridge.
Meet at Cairns Airport for our flight to Mt Hagen via Port Moresby (flight cost not included). Meeting time will be around 09:30 based on 2019 flights: Air Nuigini PX93 CNS-POM 11:45-13:10 and PX186 POM-HGU 15:15-16:15). On our arrival at Mount Hagen we will be transferred to our accommodation in the Western Highlands Province of PNG. Rondon Ridge is located at an elevation of 2,164 metres (7,100 feet) above sea level on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range with panoramic views of the Wahgi Valley below where there is some of the oldest evidence of agriculture.
Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (en suite rooms). Guests are accommodated in tastefully appointed rooms with warmed king beds for those fresh highlands nights, with modern en-suite bathrooms. The facility has 24-hour, eco-friendly electricity, provided by its own hydroelectric power plant that generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream. Meals included: D.
Days 2 & 3. Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 July 2020. Rondon Ridge.
We will spend two full days birding in the high-altitude forests behind Rondon Ridge. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in these rainforests, including ten species of Bird of Paradise. The surrounding area is pristine rainforest and home to numerous orchid species. The lodge has hours of walking trails providing ample opportunity to explore the unique ecology of this area. Close to the lodge we will look for Macgregor's Bowerbird, Brown Sicklebill, Stephanie's Astrapia and the Superb Bird of Paradise amongst many others. Further afield is the Black Sicklebill, the Buff-tailed Sicklebill, King of Saxony Bird of Paradise and the Short-tailed Paradigalla to name a few.
Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (en suite rooms) as for night 1.
Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 4. Monday 13 July 2020. Rondon Ridge-Mt Hagen-Karawari in the Eastern Sepik region.
Rondon Ridge-Mt Hagen-Karawari in the Eastern Sepik region. This morning after breakfast, we will transfer from Rondon Ridge to Mt. Hagen airport where we will take a charter flight to Karawari in the Eastern Sepik Province of PNG. Our accommodation is located in one of the most remote and un-spoilt destinations in Papua New Guinea. Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, the lodge provides modern comforts. The lodge's private airstrip and the Karawari River are the only way in or out. The transfer from Karawari airstrip to Karawari Lodge is by boat - the only practical means of transport in this extremely isolated part of the world where stilted villages line the edges of flooded waterways and dugout canoes are the primary mode of transport. There are no roads, no shops and no phones. The Sepik River inhabitants live completely off the land, weaving baskets for catching fish; gathering, preparing and cooking their staple food from the Sago Palm. Karawari Lodge is perched on a ridge 300 metres (985 feet) above the Karawari River with a spectacular view over hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical lowland rainforest. This afternoon we will bird in the area around the lodge before settling into our rooms at the lodge.
Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (en suite rooms). Guests are accommodated in cottages built out of local bush materials and inspired by traditional architecture. Despite its remoteness, the lodge has modern en-suite bathrooms, 220V electricity, hot & cold water, comfortable mosquito-netted beds, ceiling fans, and a breezy veranda - all make for a welcome sanctuary after a day's exploration.
Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 5 & 6. Tuesday 14 & Wednesday 15 July 2020. Karawari area.
The tropical lowland rainforest around the lodge is one of earth's most complex of habitats, housing an immense variety of flora and fauna including an amazing 229 different bird species. We will spend two full days birding in this area, searching for the area’s three birds of paradise, the King, Twelve-Wire and the Magnificent Riflebird and other lowland, rainforest and freshwater birds - particularly parrots, including lorikeets, Eclectus, Palm Cockatoos and Edwards-Fig Parrot. Northern Cassowary as well as frog-mouths, owls, birds of prey, bower birds, and honeyeaters are also found in this area.
Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 7. Thursday 16 July 2020. Karawari - Tari and Ambua Lodge.
This morning after breakfast we will transfer from Karawari Lodge to the airstrip for our charter flight to Tari. The country between the Sepik region and Tari is an amazing array of jagged limestone that seem to rise and drop at impossible angles and the flight will take us over some of the most rugged and impressive landscapes in the world. On our arrival at Tari, we will be transferred to our world-renowned birding accommodation in the Hela Province of the Southern PNG Highlands. Ambua Lodge is an award-winning, eco-friendly, inspired mixture of local architecture, spectacular views and off the beaten track modest luxury. Located amongst the Doma Peaks near Tari at 2,100 metres (7,000 feet) above sea level the lodge boasts magnificent views of the Tari Valley below. Tari is home to one of the most immediately recognizable cultures in Papua New Guinea - the "Huli Wigmen"- a proud, flamboyant tribe known for their ornate ceremonial "wigs" with dances and songs fashioned on that of the mating rituals of the Birds of Paradise. Tari is one of the few remaining areas where men and women still adhere to many of their traditional beliefs. Ambua is the Huli word for yellow clay. This clay is sacred in their culture as is the red ochre clay and sets the Huli warriors apart from all others with their unique and colourful traditional body decoration.
On our arrival, we will spend the afternoon walking through the alpine forest around the lodge in search of birds. We will settle into our accommodation late afternoon.
Accommodation: Ambua Lodge (en suite rooms). We will be accommodated in round houses set amongst landscaped gardens and built almost exclusively from natural materials. Each unit features 180-degree picture windows to soak in the view with en-suite bathrooms. Electric blankets and continental quilts are provided for the cool highland evenings. Ambua has 24-hour, eco-friendly electricity, provided by its own hydroelectric power plant that generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream. The main lodge building houses the bar, dining and lounge areas and a cozy central fireplace. Meals included: B, L, D
Days 8-10. Friday 17, Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 July 2020. Ambua and Tari Gap.
Ambua is surrounded by pristine, mid-montane jungle, a mass of interlocking tree tops, shades of green spattered with occasional splashes of color from high altitude orchids and rhododendrons. Well-kept nature trails venture out into this wilderness, crossing traditional vine bridges and tracing clear mountain streams to secluded waterfalls. We will have three full days of birding and wildlife viewing in the rainforests in this area which is a favoured destination amongst birders, and wildlife documentary makers. An incredible 217 bird species have been recorded here, including 13 different species of Bird of Paradise. Close to the lodge, birds that are 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.
Accommodation: Ambua Lodge (en suite rooms) as for night 7. Meals included: B, L, D
Day 11. Monday 20 July 2020. Ambua to Tari and Port Moresby.
This morning you will be transferred from Ambua Lodge to Tari Airport for your flight back to Cairns via Port Moresby (scheduled 2019 flights: Air Nuigini PX181 HGU-POM 10:00-11:00).
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
The tour arrangements finish here. However, we recommend that you plan to stay in Cairns both tonight and tomorrow night (21 July 2020) if the flight schedules out of PNG change. Please do not plan for any international connecting flights during this time.
Group size: 6-8 participants + Inala leader + local guide
Tour Price: To be advised (2019 price AU$12,500 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$2,100.
Additional accommodation can be arranged in Cairns before and after the tour if required (please contact us for details):
Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours as outlined in the itinerary, all meals (B, L, D) and activities outlined in the itinerary and National Park entry fees. Also includes scheduled charter flights between Mt Hagen/Karawari (day 4) and Karawari/Tari (day 7).
Exclusions: International and Air Nuigini domestic airfares (Port Moresby/Mt Hagen on day 1 and Tari/Port Moresby on day 11), alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips etc).
2019 flights: Air Nuigini PX181 HGU-POM 10:00-11:00 and PX98 POM-CNS 17:00-18:25).
Important additional notes:
PNG accommodation may be altered depending on the local situation, we shall keep you fully informed at all times of any changes.
Due to the size of the planes on the internal flights between lodges on day 5 & 7, the maximum baggage allowance is 10kg (22 pounds) per person check-in and 5kg (11 pounds) of carry-on per person. Large, hard sided suitcases are not permitted on charter aircraft and it is not possible to buy extra weight if the charter is full.
The timings of the domestic Air Nuigini flights on days 1 & 11 are subject to change without prior notice. It is therefore best to also organise international flights in and out of PNG with Air Nuigini so that any unforeseen changes are covered by the airline. Any international flights booked in and out of Port Moresby with Qantas, Virgin or another airline won’t be covered in a similar manner. As mentioned above, we can discuss options once the 2020 flight schedules are available and when we determine where everyone is flying from/to.
From the entry point of Cairns, Queensland, there is scope to organise pre- and post-tour extensions to places such as Cape York, Daintree/Atherton Tablelands. Please let us know if you are interested in any of these options.
Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
We can expect a range of climates on this trip: the lowlands may be hot and humid, and the highlands can be cold, especially at night.