Papua New Guinea: Festival Journeys 2021

“Coral ringed beaches, smoldering volcanoes and rainforest covered mountains meet traditional villages and tropical islands in a remote and unforgettable adventure getaway.”

The striking natural beauty and myriad complex cultures in Papua New Guinea offer some riveting and truly life-affirming experiences – along with some challenging, frontier-style travel. Highland cultures, wild festivals, world-class diving, the notorious Kokoda track and a relative dearth of tourists make this one of the Pacific’s most intriguing destinations.

PNG is a megadiverse region, owning much to its diversity to its topography. The mountainous terrain has spawned diversity in two ways: isolated highlands are often home to unique fauna and flora found nowhere else, while within any one mountain range you will find different species as you go higher.

Slip beneath the surface to find an incredible underwater world and a wealth of WWII wreck dives. For a glimpse into PNG’s tribal cultures, head to the High-lands or to the remote, untrammelled island provinces and Trobriand Islands. Just don’t expect a lazy island resort holiday – PNG is a true travel experience.

In this Blog the focus is Trips around the famous cultural festivals of Papua New Guinea in 2021.

When to Go:

High Season (May – Oct)

  • Bigger crowds at big-name festivals.
  • Generally cooler, drier weather, but rainier in Milne Bay.
  • Best time to hike the Kokoda Track.

Highland Festivals:

  1. Goroka ShowDates: 11/20 September 2021

Rio’s carnival has nothing on the magnificent pageantry of a highland festival. PNG’s biggest fests, such as the Goroka Show in mid-September, are pure sensory overload, with massive feather headdresses, rustling grass skirts and evocative face and body paint adorning enormous numbers of participants – over 100 tribal groups at last count – from all across the highlands. Singsing groups perform traditional songs and dances in this pride-filled extravaganza. The thrill of coming face to face with such uplifting traditional cultures is indescribable and well worth planning a trip around.

Goroka Highlands Journey is a 10 day/9 night fly-in/out program. The tour begins with an overnight at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby, ending with the famous Goroka Show.

From Port Moresby, your journey will take you into the heartland of the Papuan highlands. The highlands tribes were completely undiscovered until well into the first half of the twentieth century, when Australian surveyors wandered into the mountains and happened upon multiple mountain tribes.The acclaimed Ambua lodge is located in the mountains overlooking the Tari valley; the home of one of these most iconic mountain tribes. The Huli’s are most famous for their men’s hair-wigs and colourfully and artistic male bilas (traditional dress). Spend three days exploring the local Huli villages.

From Tari you will fly to the steamy Karawari jungle. The tribes of this remote area express their beliefs through their artistic sculptures,drums and tribal masks. Spend your days here traveling along the jungle-fringed waters of the Karawari river to reach the villages that line its shores where you can view their beautiful tribal art and catch a glimpse a traditional village life.

Your journey will culminate with the Goroka Cultural Show weekend. For the Goroka Show weekend you will take short 20-minute flights to and from the highlands town of Mount Hagen to Goroka to witness this dazzling spectacle. Depart the following day for your journey home.

ITINERARY

Saturday September 11 2021

Upon your arrival in Port Moresby, you will be met by Tours staff. You will then be transferred to your Hotel.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza HOTEL (D)

Sunday September 12 2021

This morning you will transfer from your hotel to Jackson’s airport for your domestic Air Niugini flight to Mount Hagen, where you will continue your journey via small aircraft to the Ambua Lodge. Spend the afternoon enjoying Ambuas’ beautiful jungle trails that wind through lush rainforest, past gushing waterfalls and over traditional vine bridges.
Overnight: AMBUA LODGE (BLD)

Monday September 13 & Tuesday September 14 2021

Spend two days touring the villages and countryside of the iconic Huli tribe. Including a visit to the men’s hairwig school and the local villages to experience how this proud mountain tribe has evolved in the modern age, while still maintaining the stories, beliefs and traditions of their ancestors.

Overnights: AMBUA LODGE (BLD)

Wednesday 15 September 2021

This morning, you are fly by charter aircraft to Karawari airstrip over some of the most rugged and impressive landscapes in the world. From the airstrip, you will be transferred by river boat to Karawari Lodge. Sitting on a ridge above the Karawari River, Karawari Lodge boasts a spectacular view over hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical jungle. After lunch, travel by boat to a nearby village. Visit with the villagers and learn about the way they harvest and prepare sago, the staple food of the river people.

Overnight: KARAWARI LODGE (BLD)

Thursday 16 September 2021

Wake up to the chattering of Lorikeets and Eclectus Parrots. After breakfast enjoy touring programs that provide an insight into the amazing ecology and culture of the Karawari area. A full day of excursions will enhance your understanding of traditional village culture in the Sepik region.

Overnight: KARAWARI LODGE (BLD)

Friday 17 September 2021

Fly by charter from Karawari to Mount Hagen. During the flight mountains rise up to startling heights out of the flat lands of the Sepik Basin.Mount Hagen town is in the upper Wahgi Valley – a valley with some of the oldest evidence of agriculture in the world. Perched high on Mount Kuta is Rondon Ridge, with unbelievable views of the Wahgi Valley.

Overnight: RONDON RIDGE (BLD)

Saturday 18 September 2021

Transfer from Rondon Ridgeto Kagamuga Airport for your charter flight to Goroka. Meet and transfer to the Show Grounds. Full day at the show with buffet lunch provided at the show ground. Transfer from show to Goroka Airport for your return charter flight to Mt. Hagen. Arriveto  Kagamuga airport, meet and transfer to Rondon Ridge.


Overnight: RONDON RIDGE (BLD)

Sunday 19 September 2021

Transfer from Rondon Ridge to Kagamuga Airport for your charter flight to Goroka again. Meet and transfer to the Show Grounds. Full day at the show with buffet lunch provided at the show ground. Transfer from show to Goroka Airport for your return charter flight to Mt. Hagen. Arrive Kagamuga airport, meet and transfer to Rondon Ridge.


Overnight: RONDON RIDGE (BLD)

Monday 20 September 2021

This morning you depart for Port Moresby on Air Niugini PX881.Upon arrival in Port Moresby, meet and further transfer to the ongoing international flight. (B)


BRIEF ITINERARY

Sat 11 SeptInternational flight to Port Moresby. Overnight Stanley Hotel
Sun 12 SeptCharter Flight to Ambua Lodge. Afternoon activities. Overnight Ambua Lodge.
Mon13 SeptFull Day Tour. Overnight Ambua Lodge.
Tue 14 SeptFull Day Tour. Overnight Ambua Lodge.
Wed15 SeptCharter flight to Karawari. Afternoon Tour. Overnight Karawari Lodge.
Thu 16 SeptFull Day Tour. Overnight Karawari Lodge.
Fri 17  SeptCharter Flight to Rondon Ridge. Attend Paiya Mini Show. Overnight Rondon Ridge.
Sat 18 SeptCharter flight to Goroka.  Full day at the Goroka Festival.  In the afternoon fly back to Mount Hagen.  Overnight Rondon Ridge.
Sun 19 SeptCharter flight to Goroka. Full day at the Goroka Festival.  In the afternoon fly back to Mount Hagen.  Overnight Rondon Ridge.
Mon20 SeptFly with Air Niugini to Port Moresby.  Transfer to international flight out

PRIVATE AIR CHARTER SECTORS:
Wed 15 Sept – Tari/Karawari
Fri 17 Sept – Karawari/Mount Hagen
Sat 18 Sept – Mount Hagen/Goroka/Mount Hagen
Sun 19 Sept – Mount Hagen/Goroka/Mount Hagen

DOMESTIC AIR NIUGINI COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS:

Domestic and international flights are not included. You book and ticket the domestic Air Niugini flights together with your international flights. The PNG ground handler will book the internal air charter flights, as mentioned above.

BOOK THESE AIR NIUGINI FLIGHTS:
Sun 12 Sept PX864 Port Moresby/Tari
Mon 20 Sept PX881 Mount Hagen/Port Moresby


2. Mount Hagen Show – Dates: 20 August – 01 September 2021

The most famous cultural show in Papua New Guinea; the Mount Hagen Cultural Show brings together sing-sing groups from all over the country in an amazing conglomeration of colour, beauty and culture. The show is held in August every year.

This itinerary offers a unique opportunity to experience a wide variety of the tribes and the stunning natural landscape of Papua New Guinea all in the span of 13 days. You will be supported and cared for throughout your journey by your own private experienced tour escort.

This exclusive journey begins with the famously vibrant Mount Hagen Cultural Show and continues onto some of Papua New Guineas’ most iconic places. The Hagen Show brings together sing-sing groups from across Papua New Guinea; each of whom share their unique celebration display through colourful traditional dress, dance and song. The show itself is a stunning reflection of the incredible diversity of the cultural landscape of Papua New Guinea. During your next part of your journey you will experience this diversity first hand.

Following the Show, fly over the highlands and watch as the landscape transforms below to unveil the vast Lake Murray in the flat lands of the Western Province. Nestled among the trees on an island spit,Lake Murray lodge overlooks the untouched beauty of Lake Murray. Here in the remote reaches of Papua New Guinea, one truly feels that they are on the edge of the earth. Spend your time here in the local villages to experience first-hand the unique customs of the Lake Murray tribes.

From Lake Murray you will fly into the heart of the jungle where your wondrous journey continues at the enchanting Karawari Lodge in the Sepik region. The following day you will be transferred to the Sepik Spirit river boat for a three day journey deep into the remote villages of the river. Step back through time as you sail along the dark waters of the jungle-fringed river, past small tribal villages that scatter the shores. Disembark daily to experience the traditional life, customs and the ancient artistry of the fascinating Karawari and Sepik tribes.

From Karawari fly across untouched rainforests and mountains to the Tari valley. The Huli tribe that inhabits this area is the largest as well as one of the most colourful and iconic tribes of PNG. From here you will explore the local villages that will display the daily life of these mountain people and their unique and ancient traditions. Depart the following day full of rich and unforgettable memories of Papua New Guinea.

ITINERARY 

Friday 20 August 2021

Upon arrival at Jackson’s International airport in Port Moresby, you will be met by Tours’ staff and transferred to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. There your escort will introduce himself and orient you to the journey ahead.

Overnight: Crowne Plaza (D)

Saturday 21 August 2021

Transfer from the Airways Hotel back to the airport for your flight to Mount Hagen. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred directly to the Mount Hagen Show. The Mount Hagen Show is truly a unique and splendid cultural experience,unparalleled both in diversity and authenticity. The show itself is a stunning reflection of the incredible diversity of Papua New Guinea’s cultural landscape.

The Show brings together more than 80 unique and colourful sing-sing groups from across Papua New Guinea; each of whom share their unique celebration display through colorful traditional dress, dance and song. The show will begin as each tribal group enters the showground and proudly performs their unique sing-sing to the enchanted audience. The performance gradually builds until each of the tribes is simultaneously performing to a cacophony of rhythmic drumming and hundreds of voices. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience.

Later in the afternoon you are driven up a picturesque road past highlands gardens and on to Rondon Ridge Lodge. Perched high above Mount Hagen, Rondon Ridge boast a stunning vista of the Wahgi Valley below.

Overnight: RONDON RIDGE (BLD)Sunday 22 August 2021

This morning you will return to the Mount Hagen Show grounds to further experience this fascinating cultural festival. This morning’s celebrations will begin as the tribes arrive and gather to carefully adorn themselves with their complex headdresses, face and body paint and traditional clothing. You will arrive at the showgrounds with ample time to wander throughout the tribal groups where you can interact with and photograph the performers as they prepare themselves for the festivities. After which the performance will begin with each tribal group entering the showground and proudly performing their unique sing-sing.

Overnight: RONDON RIDGE (BLD)

Monday 23 August 2021

Transfer from Rondon Ridge for your charter flight to the remote Lake Murray Lodge. Watch as the landscape below transforms to unveil the vast Lake Murray in the flat lands of Western Province. Nestled among the trees on an island spit, Lake Murray lodge overlooks beautiful Lake Murray. Here in the remote reaches of Papua New Guinea, one truly feels that they are on the edge of the earth. The almost unbroken quiet of the lake is barely disturbed by the gentle sounds of dugout canoes seamlessly gliding through the water. Enjoy your own lake side veranda, taking in the silence of this steamy remote world.After lunch enjoy a guided walk around the island to acquaint yourself with the beautiful surroundings.

Overnight: LAKE MURRAY LODGE (BLD)

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Spend your day in the local villages where you will experience the unique customs of the local tribes. The beliefs and customs of the Lake Murray tribes are centred around the water and the rich food source that it offers. You will travel by boat to 2 or 3 different villages to gain insight into the daily lives of the tribes, their ancient customs and the ways in which their traditional ways of life are evolved with western world influences.Your experiences in the villages will include exposure to their unique tribal arts and traditional crafts, traditional face/body painting, tribal warrior dress and the complex rituals of each tribe.

Overnight: LAKE MURRAY LODGE (BLD)

Wednesday 25 August 2021

This morning fly by charter plane into the deep heart of the jungle, where your wondrous journey continues at the Karawari Lodge in the Sepik region. Sitting on a ridge above the Karawari River, the lodge boasts a spectacular view of hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical jungle. Proceed with lunch, followed by an afternoon visit to a nearby village to learn about the customary process of harvesting and preparing the sago palm. Sago is the staple food for the Karawari tribes.

Overnight: KARAWARI LODGE (BLD)

Thursday 26 August 2021
This morning transfer to the Sepik Spirit river boat. Its’ unique design was inspired by the local art and architecture of the “Haus Tambaran” or Spirit House. Enjoy lunch onboard as you begin the cruise along the swirling waters of the Karawari river, cruising past the remote villages and wild jungle that line the banks of the river. This afternoon travel into one of the local villages to catch your first glimpse into the unique tribal traditions of the river people.

Overnight: MV SEPIK SPIRIT (BLD)

Friday 27 & Saturday 2August 2021

Travel on the MV Sepik Spirit offers a unique and diverse experience of the remote Sepik region. The journey begins on the Karawari river, a tributary of the “Mighty Sepik River”, and transverses along the remote river waterways to the Krossmeri Junction and may touch on the Sepik River.

You will pass jungle covered banks dotted with traditional fishing villages as you journey down the winding river to reach the Sepik River. As you meander along the river systems you will experience remote villages, learn their customs and experience their day to day lives in modern times; which still closely reflects their traditional tribal lifestyle. 

The tribes of the Sepik area are famed for their artistic carvings which express their ancient traditional stories and beliefs. You will have plenty of opportunity to admire or purchase some of their unique artifacts while visiting the local villages.

Overnights: MV SEPIK SPIRIT (BLD)

Sunday 2August 2021

Begin the journey back up the Karawari River and prepare to leave the Sepik Spirit for your journey to Ambua Lodge in the highands of PNG. A short flight across untouched rainforest and mountains will bring you to the Tari Valley; the home of the famous Huli tribe. Once you arrive you will be transferred to the Ambua Lodge; nestled at the edge of the lush green rainforest and overlooking the serene Tari valley below. Spend the afternoon enjoying Ambua’s winding forest trails that take you through lush rainforest, past gushing waterfalls and over traditional vine bridges.

Overnights: AMBUA LODGE (BLD)

Monday 30 & Tuesday 31 August 2021

Spend two days touring the Huli villages and countryside. The Hulis are famed for their colourful bilas (traditional dress)and unique traditions. The Huli men pride themselves on their beautiful bilas with its’ elaborately constructed human hair headdress which they lavishly decorate with flowers, mosses and ornate bird feathers. Their bilas combined with their unique sing sing is intended both to impress their audience, as well as intimidate enemies. Visit the mens wig school and tour the local villages to experience how this proud mountain tribe has evolved in the modern age, while still maintaining the stories, beliefs and traditions of their ancestors.

Overnight: AMBUA LODGE (BLD)

Wednesday 01 September, 2021

This morning you will fly from Tari to Port Moresby to meet your international flight home.


BRIEF ITINERARY 

Fri 20
Aug
Arrive in Port Moresby.  Transfer to your hotel.  Overnight: Airways Hotel
Sat 21
Aug
Fly with Air Niugini to Mount Hagen. Attend Mt Hagen Show. Overnight: Rondon Ridge.
Sun 22 AugFull Day Mt Hagen Show. Overnight: Rondon Ridge.
Mon 23 AugCharter flight to Lake Murray. Afternoon Tour. Overnight Lake Murray Lodge.
Tue 24 AugFull Day Tour. Overnight Lake Murray Lodge.
Wed 25 AugCharter flight to Karawari.  Half Day Tour. Overnight Karawari Lodge.
Thu 26 AugTransfer to the MV Sepik Spirit. Half Day Tour. Overnight MV Sepik Spirit
Fri
27 Aug
Full Day Tour. Overnight MV Sepik Spirit
Sat 28 AugFull Day Tour. Overnight MV Sepik Spirit
Sun 29 AugCharter flight to Tari: Ambua Lodge.
Mon 30 SeptFull Day Tour. Overnight: Ambua Lodge.
Tue 31 AugFull Day Tour. Overnight: Ambua Lodge.
Wed 1 SeptFly Air Niugini to Port Moresby. Connect to international flight out.

PRIVATE AIR CHARTER SECTORS:
Monday 23 August 2021 – Mt Hagen to Lake Murray
Wednesday 25 August 2021 – Lake Murray to Karawari
Sunday 29 August 2021 – Karawari to Ambua

DOMESTIC COMMERCIAL AIR NIUGINI FLIGHTS:
Domestic and international flights are not included. You book and ticket the domestic Air Niugini flights together with your international flights. The ground handler will book the internal air charter flights, as mentioned above.

BOOK THESE AIR NIUGINI FLIGHTS:
Saturday 21 August 2021 – Air Niugini PX180 Port Moresby to Mt Hagen
Wednesday 01 September 2021 – Air Niugini PX865 Tari to Port Moresby


Accommodation:

AMBUA LODGE

Nestled amongst the Doma Peaks near Tari, almost 7000 feet above sea level, is Ambua Lodge. An award-winning, eco-friendly lodge boasting magnificent views of the Tari Valley below, and the perfect base for encountering the famous Wigmen, the lodge consists of forty 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, en-suite bathrooms, and electric blankets and duvets 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.

CROWNE PLAZA PORT MORESBY

The Crowne Plaza is Papua New Guinea’s only proper business-class hotel and provides all the necessary comforts for international travelers. Situated on a hilltop in the heart of the business district, the hotel has panoramic views of the Coral Sea and surrounding inland areas. There are 157 well-appointed, modern rooms and suites, including an Executive Club lounge floor. For dining, there are two restaurants – Rapala Grill, a fine-dining restaurant with a menu of Continental cuisine and grill specialties, and The Cafe, a casual spot for all-day dining. There are also two bars – The Heritage, a lounge serving fine cigars and cognacs, and the Pondo Tavern. Other amenities include a well-equipped fitness center, an outdoor pool, a full-service business center, and available wired and wireless high-speed Internet. The Crowne Plaza is a 15-minute drive from Port Moresby’s Jackson’s International Airport (POM).

RONDON RIDGE LODGE


A stylish contemporary lodge around 40 minutes from Mount Hagen, Rondon Ridge sits at over 7000ft above sea level with spectacular views over the Wahgi Valley. It is perfectly located for nature treks and for visiting the local tribal villages. The lodge has just 12 bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and powered by the lodge’s own hydroelectric power plant. In a nice touch, the beds are warmed every evening to protect guests from the cold mountain air. There is also a main lodge with bar, restaurant and lounge area.

KARAWARI LODGE


Karawari is a striking, rustic-style wood and bamboo lodge located in the heart of the rainforested Sepik region, home to numerous indigenous tribespeople. Its 10 private cottages are built from local bush materials and designed for minimum impact on the local residents. All come with two twin-bedded rooms, an en-suite bathroom, ceiling fan, 220V electricity, hot and cold running water, mosquito nets and a shared veranda, and are comfortable and generously sized. The dining room serves simple local meals, while guests can also relax in the lounge and bar.

LAKE MURRAY LODGE:

Nestled among the trees on an island spit, Lake Murray lodge overlooks beautiful Lake Murray. Visitors will not disappointed with the clean and fresh design of Lake Murray Lodge. The Main Lodge building is beautifully designed with a wraparound veranda from which visitors will enjoy the breathtaking sunset over the tranquil lake.

Guests are accommodated in 12 individual cabin rooms built around the edge of the water. Guests will wake in the mornings to the sounds of the tropical insects and birds while taking in the wonderful view of the lake from the private veranda.

Each cabin is constructed with local timber and sago woven matting to reflect the natural location. They are furnished with king twin or double beds, ceiling fans, modern ensuite bathrooms and a private veranda.

In keeping with the eco-friendly philosophy, the entire lodge operation is powered with the latest technology in solar power. This provides 24-hour electricity with 240-volt power, a luxury in this remote location. A large garden provides fresh vegetables and fruit on site.

The kitchen staff cooks on a wood fired cookstove and outdoor grill for the daily catch and garden selections.

MV SEPIK SPIRIT

The Sepik Spirit is a 9-room river cruise boat with a unique design inspired be the local architecture of the spirit house. This “one of a kind” cruise ship is used to take guests on a voyage along the waterways of Papua New Guinea’s Sepik region. Thus, allowing for the unique opportunity to journey into remote villages that could not otherwise be reached on day trips.

To make your stay comfortable the Sepik Spirit is fully outfitted with nine-rooms with ensuite bathrooms, artistically designed dining room and air conditioner.


Food & Drink:

Apart from the wonderful seafood found on the coast, the traditional PNG diet consists largely of bland, starchy vegetables. In the highlands it will probably be kaukau (sweet potato): on the islands, its taro or yam; and in the Sepik and other swampy areas of PNG, saksak (sago) is all the rage. Rice is universally popular. Pigs are the main source of meat protein, although they are generally saved for feats. A legacy of WWII is the prevalence and popularity of canned meat and fish. Remarkably locals prefer tinned fish to fresh fish, and whole supermarket aisles are devoted to bully beef.


Charter Flights within Papua New Guinea:

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING CHARTERS: Maximum baggage allowance per person is one 10kg bag plus a maximum of 5kg in a small carry-on bag. Large, hard sided suit cases are not permitted on charter aircraft.

Aircraft Type: P-750 Xstol

Power: 750 Hp Pratt & Whitney Turbine Engine
Payload: Up to 9 Passengers or 950 Kg freight
Speed: 260 km / hr

Quiet and comfortable with a powerful, ultra-reliable engine and high lift wing, the PAC-750 purpose-built STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) masters our flying conditions with ease.

How to Book?

You can connect with Delhi based Experiential Travel Journeys Pvt. Ltd., a Boutique Travel Design Company, specialising in off the beaten path private journeys to destinations Worldwide including Papua New Guinea. They have long established connections with ground handlers, operators and accommodation providers in PNG to execute this trip in utmost comfort and safety.

– Amit Kalsi, Private Travel Designer

B-10 Green Park Main
New Delhi, Delhi 110016
India

Published by experientialtraveljourneys

A Private Travel Designer specialising in private, luxury, experiential, transformational, off-beat, off-the-grid, bespoke, tailor-made, bespoke, authentic, sustainable journeys to destinations worldwide.

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