11 days Small Group Tours Departing August 2019 Tailor make this journey and make it yours

Price

$7724 AUD per person

Single supplement available on request

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers
  • 2 nights accommodation at Madang Resort including breakfast
  • 9 nights aboard M/Y Kalibobo Spirit
  • All meals whilst sailing
  • Experienced crew
  • Shore excursions

Exclusions

  • Internationl and domestic flights
  • Drinks unless otherwise mentioned
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips
  • Inoculations
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary

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Sepik in Depth

Be prepared for the voyage of a lifetime. An experience that will be etched in your memory. The richness and diversity of what unfolds as you meander through the Sepik River - one of the most pristine rivers in the Asia Pacific region.

Refitted to cruise the waters of PNG, this beautiful vessel – manned by experienced crew – brings the ultimate white boat experience to the waters of the South Pacific. Kalibobo Spirit ventures effortlessly where others cannot, deep into some of the most remote rivers in the world… deep into the heart of Papua New Guinea. Join us as we venture into the ‘Amazon of the South Pacific’ - the Sepik. The Sepik River is your access to an incredibly rich culture and society unaffected by the impacts of the modern world. On this voyage, you will encounter traditions, rituals, legends, songs and dances handed down through generations, as well as some of the most vibrant, beautiful and primitive art on the planet. Spend a day at the fascinating Ambunti Crocodile Festival where you will learn of the relationship of man and crocodile in the Sepik. You will be given unique access to experience the complexity, diversity and social contrasts of the Sepik people and their lifestyle.

Boasting four levels of luxury, the Kalibobo Spirit features separate indoor and outdoor dining and a comfortable lounge area with a well-stocked cocktail bar and ample covered deck space for relaxing on three decks.

The Kalibobo Spirit is the only vessel operating in the Lower and Middle Sepik under both Queensland and PNG Survey ensuring qualified crew, safety and manning levels.

Day 1 - Arrive Madang

Welcome to Papua New Guinea! On arrival into Madang, you will be met and transferred to the Madang Resort. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure.

Madang was once dubbed the ‘Prettiest town in the Pacific’ – not least from its position on a peninsula, surrounded by azure waters sprinkled with picturesque islands – and while it did suffer war-time ruination, it retains much of its natural charm.

Overnight Madang Resort – Deluxe Room or similar

Day 2 - Madang to Sepik

Enjoy breakfast at leisure. This morning is free time – for those who are divers, you may like to sneak in a morning dive as the diving in Madang, is one of the best locations in Papua New Guinea. We also suggest taking a visit to the Madang Museum. This great little museum will provide you with an incredible insight to life in the Sepik, local customs, rituals and allow you to get up close with some of the elaborate traditional attire from headdresses to kundus (drums).

At 2pm, you will meet at the dock behind the dive shop back at the resort, as we prepared to board the Kalibobo Spirit and set off on our adventure. Sailing through the azure waters of Madang, pass small islets and uninhabited islands. Wave to the locals fishing in their dug out canoes as friendly faces call to you from their thatched huts. We sail into the evening as we cruise towards the mouth of the Sepik River.

Enjoy a sundowner on one of the three decks as you unwind into island time. Cruise through the Madang Lagoon out to the Bismarck Sea. Pass through the Dampier Strait at Cape Corselle and during the evening, continue along the North Coast. As you pass the volcanic islands of Manam and Boisa, see the crater spewing hot ash and lava. (B,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 3 - Sepik River, Murik Lakes, Angoram

Early this morning we reach the mouth of the Sepik River. Welcome to the mighty Sepik – one of the great rivers of the world. Flowing for 1126km through swamplands, tropical rainforests and mountains, it’s home to a tangle of complex cultures and mysterious rituals. Bird life is prolific here and life on the waterways is fascinating. Spirit houses or locally known as haus tambarans swirl with intrigue and master carvers still create the most potent art in the Pacific on the Sepik.

Starting in the Lower Sepik, cruise towards the Murik Lakes. This is a a cluster of freshwater and salt lakes where the Sepik River meets the Bismark sea. Home to five villages, the lakes are intertidal with sandbanks, mangrove swamps and lagoons, between the salt and freshwater. Dozens of varieties of fresh and saltwater fish inhabit these waters.

What makes the Murik Lake’s region different from anywhere else in Papua New Guinea, is the tradition of siblings competing for the ‘elder brother’ or Sana position. Remarkably, women as well as men vie for chieftainships, as these titles are never inherited automatically by the first-born male.

Reach Anogram by the end of the day. A town along the Sepik known for its rubber and cocoa plantations. The original Angoram Haus Tambaran was built by local returning service men as a place to meet, carve and sell their work. Every village contributed to its construction with carvings in their traditional style.

The daily Angoram Market is a good place to see the produce available on the Sepik. In season, there are tasty kindams (crayfish) and watermelons along with the usual dried and fresh fish, and saksak (sago).

When Angoram women sit and talk, they work on a bilum (string bags), some bilas (seed and shell jewellery) or one of the small fibre figures which they sell when the odd tourist turns up. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 4 - Angoram to Tambanam

Today, continue your exploration into the deep reaches of the Lower and Middle Sepik regions. See amazing art at Tambanam Village. This village is home to incredible artefacts – carvings, ritual and spiritual paraphernalia, sacred flutes, beaded and grass bilums, necklaces and many other items.

You may have the opportunity to visit the haus tambaran or ‘spirit house’ – as the name implies it is the home of the spirits; of ancestors, progenitors, crocodiles and other animals. Upstairs in these houses, carvers and other artisans sit quietly next to their creations – an astonishing array of figurines half-bird, half-mammal; or half-human, part-animal. (Women require permission to enter the spirit houses). (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 5 - Tambanum to Korogo

Today, continue cruising deeper into the Middle Sepik towards Korogo Village. Korogo is a large, powerful village with a relatively new Haus Tambaran. There is a fee to take photographs and the locals will enforce this. Korogo carvers use a very fine, detailed style in the painting of their clan designs on the faces of their carvings. They are also known for their large orator’s stools.

The curvilinear red lines on the face represent cuscus tails. A headband of cuscus fur signified “homicide” in times past – that the man had killed at least once. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 6 - Ambunti Crocodile Festival

Departing Korogo this morning, travel by river boat to Ambunti for the annual Ambunti Crocodile Festival. Witness a series of fun dugout canoe races, sing-sing groups from different villages trying to outdo one another in decorative display, using the power of the dance and in sheer good-natured exuberance.

In the Sepik culture, man and crocodile share a special bond, as the crocodile symbolises strength, power and manhood. This festival features live crocodile encounters, traditional dancing, colourful costumes and visits the sacred spirit houses where men undergo intensive initiation rituals.

The Sepik River hosts some of the world’s largest saltwater and freshwater crocodile population’s and the richness of life in this area is celebrated during the WWF supported festival. This is your opportunity to witness this region of Papua New Guinea, where humanity has frozen in time.

Return to Korogo. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 7 - Kanganaman, Chambri Lakes, Kamindimbit

Cruising further today, Kanganaman is the first major stop – a smaller village which has stood firm against the invasion of Christianity. They still have their Haus Tamarans and practice their customs including the initiation and scarification on young boys that depict the crocodile as a symbol of power and strength. The villages are also famous artists and they make carvings with the heads of birds. Kanganaman’s old Haus Tambaran was one of the most elaborately carved on the Sepik. Even in ruin, it was impressive. The village is located a short walk off the river. The carvers make elegant, sinuous figures including many suspension hooks with ancestor and crocodile figures. They are usually finished with dark, soot-based paint.

Continuing into the Chambri Lakes which are a series of swamps and canals rich in fish and bird life dotted with villages. Be taken by tender through a beautiful canal to the Chambri Lakes. With many islands and back-dropped by the Hunstein Mountains in the distance, it is a magical place. You will see many birds and maybe a pukpuk (crocodile) through the wetlands. The Chambri women trade their dried fish as far as Maprik and Wewak while the men market their carvings all over Papua New Guinea. The carvers make a variety of finely carved and brightly painted small masks, hooks, decorative spears and crocodile carvings.

At the end of the day, you reach Kambimbit, after sailing past the Catholic Mission and through the Iatmul Region of the Middle Sepik. Here you will have the chance to see a display of valuable artefacts and handicraft. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 8 - Timbunke, Tambanum

Sail onward today to Timbunke, best known from its point in history in WWII. The Australians eventually pushed the Japanese back to the village of Timbunke in July 1945. After an Australian RAAF plane landed 10 kilometres from Timbunke, the Japanese suspected that the villagers had collaborated with the Australians and proceeded to massacre 100 of the villagers.

Continue to Tambanum, the largest village along the Sepik River, known for its prolific carvers. Many younger men go to work in the towns, mines and plantations. They form large camps in the coastal cities where they also carve and market their work. At dawn and at dusk, hundreds of canoes of all sizes line the long stretch of mud bank and cliff below the village. When the river is low, there are small gardens between the river and the higher ground where the houses are built. Most of the houses have large, protective gable masks woven directly into the face of the house under the eve. The Sepik has eaten away at one end of the bank, destroying a large Haus Tambaran and threatening more of the village.

Besides their masks, the Tambanums are well-known for their netted string animals representing clan totems like the pig and similar, life-size, dance tumbuans depicting clan birds like the cassowary and other spirit figures. They make large, realistic carvings of crocodiles, low tables in the shape of crocodiles and many other smaller items. They also trade pottery from the Biwat River, Koiwat and Kamangauwi Villages and the Chambri Lake Villages. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 9 - Kopar

Departing Tambanum, continue to Kopar. Kopar is a small village of no more than 200 inhabitants at the mouth of the Sepik River. The inhabitants make a living through subsistence hunting and gathering and go out in traditional canoes to look for suitable sago palms to produce their staple food. Since the Sepik meanders through swampy areas, the locals have cut narrow channels through the swamps to be able to connect more easily with their neighbours. The area surrounding Kopar will offer sights of flood plain birds, parrots and the odd kite, a large bird of prey. (B,L,D)

Overnight M/Y Kalibobo Spirit

Day 10 - Return to Madang

Sailing through the night, you will reach Madang at around 10am. On arrival, check out of your cabin and make your way back to the resort where you will check into your room. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)

Overnight Madang Lodge – Deluxe Room or similar

Day 11 - Departure

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

The above itinerary is an indication only. Activities may vary and are subject to change based on local conditions and local availability.