Join us for the ultimate photography adventure through Papua New Guinea with one of the county’s most celebrated photographers and capture this rich and fascinating country as few have seen it from behind the lens. Attend a Highland Sing-Sing and get up-close-and-personal with the performers dressed in their spectacular tribal costumes. Journey along the mighty Sepik River visiting ancient spirit houses where time-honoured rituals are still practiced today.
Travel with us in a small, intimate group of photography enthusiasts and enjoy the special opportunities we’ll create just for you. At the Sing-Sings, we’ll arrive at the arenas before the dancing starts so you can photograph the performers preparing for the ceremony. On the Sepik, we’ll arrange for you to meet and photograph some of the young men whose torsos have been scarred to represent the head of the much-revered salt-water crocodile.
We’ll walk you through ancient rituals rarely witnessed by visitors and show you aspects of Papua New Guinea’s culture and daily life that simply need to be seen to be believed. If your interest is in landscape or people photography, we’ll ensure you’re there to see it in its best light, and we’ll help you find that special subject or setting so you can capture that one image which is likely to sit proudly in your home to remind you of this once-in-a-lifetime photography adventure.
The group will be accompanied by international travel photographer, David Kirkland who will share his experience and the lessons he has gathered having travelled Papua New Guinea as a professional photographer for more than 20 years. David is one of the most widely published travel photographers in the world. Seventeen coffee table books have been published of his work – five of them on Papua New Guinea. David’s passion to capture the country’s traditional culture and the way he photographs people and colour, makes him the ideal companion for this photographic tour of a country he often refers to as “The Last Great Frontier.”
Throughout the tour, David will look to help you with your photography, tailoring his assistance to your experience with a camera, the subjects you’re most interested in shooting, and your enthusiasm towards capturing outstanding photographs. Whether you’re starting out with a camera or you’re a more advanced photographer, it’s likely travelling with a photographer of David’s standing, who is enthusiastic about sharing his craft, will enhance your ability with a camera and contribute to the tour becoming an even more memorable journey.
As you’re probably aware, Papua New Guinea is a country rich with tribal cultures and spectacular scenery offering abundant photographic opportunities but, as David will point out, the country is changing rapidly, moving, as he says “From the Stone Age to the Space Age in less than a lifetime”, which is why we are particularly enthusiastic to take you there to witness (and photograph) this amazing country for yourself.
David invites you to join him on this exclusive, specially tailored journey into one of the most fascinating and colourful places on earth.
Welcome to Papua New Guinea! Upon arrival into Mount Hagen, the heart of the PNG highlands, you will be met by our team and David Kirkland. This region is famed for its fertile lands and stunning mountain ranges, as well as the complex and fascinating cultural traditions of the Melpa tribe. Departing Mount Hagen airport, you will drive up a picturesque road past highlands gardens and on to your lodge. From your lodge’s location in the mountains, perched the edge of the valley, Rondon Ridge boasts panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the city below. After settling in, enjoy the remainder of the afternoon on a guided birding and nature walk in the surrounding nature trails. The Rondon Ridge area is a pristine rainforest and home to numerous orchid species and a wide variety of birds. The lodge has hours of walking trails providing ample opportunity to explore the unique ecology of this area to chat with David and tinker with your camera settings and practice some macro shots with nature. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in the rainforests around Rondon Ridge including twelve species of Bird of Paradise. (L,D)
Overnight at Rondon Ridge
This morning, fly by charter flight into the deep heart of the jungle where your wondrous journey continues at the Karawari Lodge in the Sepik region. For those interested in aerial photography, the snaking ribbons of the Sepik river and its tributaries carving their way through the impenetrable jungle is impressive from above. Sitting on a ridge above the Karawari River, the lodge boasts a spectacular view of hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical jungle. Enjoy 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 Sepik tribes.
Shortly after dinner, David will conduct a slide presentation of some of his travels through the highlands and the Sepik, alerting you to opportunities that are likely during the tour.
3 nights at Karawari Lodge
Each day in the Sepik, you will travel by motorboat downstream/upstream of the river to visit the small villages that line its shores. The villages provide a unique opportunity to visit traditional homes, witness ceremonial dances and celebrations and glimpse traditional village life. The Karawari tribes express their beliefs through their skillful and artistic expressions of sculpture and art. Enjoy this opportunity to admire at the beautifully woven baskets, carved masks, drums and sculptures. You will have an opportunity to buy art from the local villages.
Throughout the tour, David will look to assist guests with their photography, helping them to get the most from their cameras, and sharing with them his approach to photographing the subjects they are likely to see on the tour.
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. Before transferring to Rondon Ridge, you will have a tour of the beautiful Western Highlands, including a visit to the iconic Huli tribe at their local settlement in Mount Hagen. In contrast to the Sepik people whose art is manifested in ceremonial and decorative carvings, these Highland people employ as their art, body decoration, face painting and human hair decorated with feathers, flowers and moss. This famous highland tribe are admired for their vibrant and colourfully decorated hair wigs and bilas.
3 nights Rondon Ridge
Today’s photography expedition will take place in the gorgeous highlands area of Mount Hagen in the fertile Wahgi valley. The area surrounding the city of Mount Hagen consists of mountain ranges, covered with lush tropical rainforest, rugged limestone bluffs and valleys dotted with small traditional farming communities. A day of comprehensive touring will take you on a journey through the traditions and customs of the Melpa People. First contact with the Melpa was made in the mid-1930’s. The Melpa people are ‘true farmers’ that still maintain traditional farming methods that can be traced back 9,000 years. You will visit local villages where the villagers will share their fascinating tribal traditions; such as the rites of widowed women, the ceremonies surrounding marriage and funerals, the traditions of tribal warfare and the daily customs of the Melpa people. This area is also the home of the famous Pogla mudmen, famed for their unique bilas (traditional dress) and the ancient story that surrounds it.
Today is spent at the Melpa Festival. The Melpa Festival is an intimate gathering of a dozen or more different PNG tribal groups, each performing their unique sing-sing while lavishly decorated and dressed in full bilas; tribal dress. The traditional PNG bilas and sing-sing is a unique and distinctive feature of each of the more than 800 tribes of Papua New Guinea. The show takes place at a beautiful outdoor showground on the Rondon Ridge property. The stunning mountain vista framed by the distinctly vast highlands’ sky serves as the perfect backdrop for this unique demonstration of PNG tradition. The celebrations will begin as the tribes arrive and gather to carefully adorn themselves with their complex headdresses, face and body paint and traditional clothing. Guests will arrive at the showground with plenty of time to wander throughout the area where they can interact with the dancers as they prepare for the sing-sing. This is an excellent opportunity to take photographs. As the morning progresses, we will gather together and the groups will each perform their sing-sing. The performance gradually builds until each of the tribes is performing simultaneously to the sound of rhythmic drumming and singing voices. It is an unparalleled experience and one very few people have ever experienced.
This is likely to be the highlight of your trip. As David will tell you, he has attended many Sing-Sings but the Melpa Festival is his favorite because of the intimacy provided between guest and participant, and the opportunities to get close to the performers and photograph them. It’s from here you’re likely to capture that classic portrait of a colourful, costumed performer that you had in your mind’s eye when you landed in PNG.
This morning you depart for Port Moresby. Upon arrival in Port Moresby, transfer to your onward international flight (flight not included). (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 6 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of 25% per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.