Explosions of colour and lands so remote – this is a world few have the privilege to experience.
Embark on an exclusive journey by private King Air aircraft with a maximum group size of 7 guests, as you explore one of the oldest and most culturally complex regions on our planet. Fly between the remotes of the idyllic and history laden Solomon Islands and culturally rich Papua New Guinea. From tranquil landscapes, isolated villages and tribal ceremonies. To exquisite birdlife, bulky WWII relics and unexpected local encounters. From conflicts and World Wars, to traditional dancing and custom, this is a true adventure in style as you take in the beauty of the region by air, sea and land and two of the richest cultural shows in the region.
Depart the tropics of Cairns, as you fly north on your private aircraft to Honiara via Gurney, the capital of the Solomon Islands, on the island of Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal is a mountainous tropical island and was the scene of many fierce battles during the Pacific War from 1942 to 1945.
You will be met on arrival and transfer to your hotel for check in. This afternoon, enjoy a birding tour. The Solomon Islands are home to 74 endemic species, piquing the interest of the most avid twitchers. A good level of fitness is required as you trek into the jungles of Guadalcanal Mountain, one of the key locations to spot Woodford’s Rail, as well as an eponymous Boobook, Moustached and Dwarf Kingfishers, Drongo, Thrush, Honeyeater and Hooded Whistler.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel with your fellow travellers. (D)
3 nights Solomon Kitano Medana Hotel or similar
This morning you will set off with your local guide to explore the many historical WWII sites of Honiara and surrounds. Your guide will offer a memorable and moving tour to the WWII museum and other significant sites, including the American memorial at Skyline Ridge and the Japanese Solomons Peace memorial.
Many of the battle sites remain virtually untouched and you can still find artefacts strewn about from rusting jeeps, tanks and amphibious vehicles lying buried in the jungle, to foxholes and caves that were used as Japanese observation points and hiding places.
From here, you will visit a local village and step back in time. Experience life much as it was a hundred years ago. No electricity, no internet, no running water supply, no shops, few roads. The Solomon Islands is known for its finely made, intricately designed handcrafts. Beautiful traditional style carvings, baskets and jewellery, as well as modern paintings which can be purchased at many of the villages.
Continuing on, you will visit Mataniko Falls cascading over boulders and into pools, before thundering down into a hidden cave. Take a guide, explore the incredible WWII history of this area and float all the way back to the village. (B,L,D)
Today you will head over to the island of Tulagi. About a two-hour boat ride from Honiara. Tulagi offers a plethora of activities with its untouched waters, sundrenched harbour and many tropical Islands. Tulagi was the former capital city of the Solomon Islands during the British Solomon Islands protectorate, until it was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II in 1942. The capital was subsequently moved to Honiara and a new town built on Guadalcanal. Tulagi is famous for its WW2 shipwrecks, including sunken airplanes. A great place to explore under the water, as well as on land. A single dive will be possible this morning to ensure we fit within the minimum preflight surface interval before our flight to Munda tomorrow. Tulagi dive sites are famous with spectacular World War II ship and aircraft wrecks and many wall, reef and drift dives to choose from. Tulagi has one of the best dive offerings in the Solomon Islands with a number of activities, ideal for open water and advanced divers to explore. There are also World War II historical sites and colonial historical sites that you can explore to learn more about the unique history of the Solomon Islands. If you are not a diver, there is wonderful snorkelling, as well as many great walks. (B,L,D)
This morning is yours at leisure to explore the local markets or simply wander through town or chill by the pool. You will be transferred to the airport this afternoon for your flight to Gizo. On arrival, you will board a private boat and transfer to Oravae Cottage where you will have your own Robinson Crusoe style bungalow in the heart of the Pacific. Perched on the edge of an islet 20 minutes from the mainland, there’s nothing to distract you here but the gentle sound of waves. Spend your days relaxing on the wooden verandah, swimming pristine lagoons, diving or snorkelling WWII Japanese war relics, feasting on traditional island banquets or sinking an ice-cold beer and watching the sun go down as the rest of the world becomes non-existent. (B,L,D)
2 nights Oravae Cottage or similar
The day is yours at leisure to enjoy paradise. Activities on offer include scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, surfing, hiking Kolombangara Island, a Gizo Island Tour – visiting local villages and beaches, jungle walk, canoeing in Oravae’s traditional wooden canoe and exploring nearby local islands. *Please note that some activities will incur additional cost. (B,L,D)
Transfer by boat back to Gizo and transfer to the airport for your flight over the ’Gun Run’ to Buin in South Bougainville. Upon arrival into Buin, explore some of the Japanese bunkers from WWII, as well as some of the relics left behind. Visit Kangu Beach, where you will have an impressive view looking out towards the Solomon Islands.
Head towards the controversial Panguna Mine site. Descend into the mine for a closer look. There are still certain areas which are off limits, so depending on the day, will depend on how close to the core we can get. The views of the sheer size of the mine are beyond impressive, whilst it is not uncommon to see the locals fossicking for gold.
3 nights Panakei Lodge or similar
Today is an exciting day! We set off to experience the Siwai Cultural Show. The Siwai Cultural Show began in 2021, as an initiative of the Siwai people. It is a celebration of the unique cultural, historical, and natural wonders of the Siwai District. It began as a post crisis relief to help people break through the calamity of the pandemic, and as change is pushed as Bougainville emerges from civil war, this show is an indicator of such change and people uniting, as they display their culture and traditions. The focus of culture is recognised as one of the most important assets in the country. Embrace the colours, the singing and dancing. The swishing of grass skirts, the power of the local patriotism. Such a young cultural show has so much energy and passion to fuel it – the privilege to be one of the first travellers to ever witness such a spectacle, will not go unnoticed. The chanting of voices, the stomping and thumping of bare feet on the dirt will hypnotise.
From here, you will venture down another historical path. Drive to the fringe of the jungle before continuing on foot approx. 45mins to reach the World War II crash site of a military plane carrying Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who masterminded the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour. Yamamoto’s plane was gunned down by allied forces in 1943, sending the Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’ crashing down into the thick jungle, after American code-breakers found out he was planning to visit troops stationed off Bougainville.
Yamamoto is the most exalted hero in the imperial Japanese navy’s history. He has been untainted by Japan’s defeat, and he’s been untainted by any hint of war crimes. He is still seen as a hero today in Japan.
Return to your accommodation. (B,L,D)
Return to the showground today for more traditional performances and embrace the rich culture and traditions on show. Chat to the locals from various tribes about their practices, their beliefs and their mythology. Each tribe has a different story. The atmosphere and the energy of the locals swaying and thumping to the local beat will intoxicate you.
Spend the afternoon at a local beach (bring your own snorkel). The coastline here is pristine, the water crystal clear and teaming with marine life. Go for a wander along the beach and simply soak in the serenity. The local village kids are quite curious and may come to frolic in the water with you. (B,L,D)
This morning, drive back to Buka and transfer by banana boat to Buka Island Town. Visit Hahela and Parliament House, which showcases a spectacular view across the Buka Passage, home to rusted, bulky shipwrecks from WWII. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kavieng.
On arrival, you will be met and transferred to the pier for a quick boat ride over to Nusa Island Resort. Situated on a sheltered white sandy point, which offers safe swimming and encompassing views back across the aqua blues of Kavieng Harbour. Spend your afternoon exploring the island or enjoying the pristine waters that are at your doorstep. (B,L,D)
Take the speedboat over to Nusa Lik and Nusa Lavu, where you will enjoy a fantastic guided walking tour. Explore Nusa Lavu’s rock-pools, blowhole and several WWII relics. Nusa Lik is home to the Artisan Trail where you will visit villages, interact with the local people and view their local art, jewellery and handicrafts which are created on the island. Malagan culture is the unique history and tradition of the Northern New Ireland region. Mysterious and intriguing, Malagan carvings are highly sought after by museums and art buyers from all over the world which are found here on this island and can be purchased directly from the locals. Witness these prized pieces in production. There will be time this afternoon to enjoy some down time or get back in the water. (B,L,D)
Experience something truly unique in this overnight homestay on one of the Duke of York islands. Cruise around the Duke of York Islands. You will have a chance to view dolphins, dugongs and local fishing canoes, as you navigate through this small archipelago of crystal clear waters, white beaches and lush forest. Enjoy a barbeque lunch cooked on the beach of fresh seafood caught in the waters surrounding you. This evening, spend the night in a local homestay and embrace islander hospitality on Mioko Island with traditional weaving, cooking and fishing. Witness a traditional sing-sing – a gathering of local tribes for a cultural performance and dance. Exploration of Mioko island village and community. (B,L,D)
Overnight Duke of York Island Homestay or similar
Take a boat over to Rabaul this morning after farewelling your new friends. Enjoy the panoramic views as you come into Blanche Bay. You will be met and head up to the Malmaluan lookout for a spectacular view of the town of Rabaul. View the Simpson Harbour which is part of a huge, flooded caldera, the Rabaul Caldera. Visit the Vulcanological Observatory, where instruments monitor volcanic activity across Papua New Guinea.
Reminisce at the famous New Guinea Club, the centre of Rabaul’s social scene, back when it was revered as “the Pearl of the South Pacific”. It now houses the extremely informative displays of the Rabaul Historical Society.
Enter a network of tunnels leading to the Japanese military command bunker of Admiral Yamamoto, that includes etched ceiling maps before you meander through Karavia Bay’s Japanese Hospital tunnels. You will then visit the tranquil memorial gardens of the Chinese cemetery, where your guide will explain aspects of the historically long association the Chinese have had with Rabaul. You climb around the large barges of the Japanese Imperial forces that are still housed in even larger tunnels hewn into the soft volcanic cliff faces on the shores of Blanche Bay. The barges were hauled to the water to unload shipping cargo, along rails by Indian slaves, now buried at Bita Paka Cemetery. (B,L,D)
2 nights Rapopo Beach Resort or similar
Following an early breakfast, be driven from your resort to Rabaul and enjoy a morning climb of the active volcano, Mt Tavurvur. The volcano is not too arduous to climb and well worth the effort. Mt. Tavurvur is the most active of the six volcanos that surround the Rabaul caldera. View steam vents and hot springs at the base of the volcano, along with the megapode egg hunters, who burrow metres into the black sand emerging with prized eggs.
Return to the hotel in Kokopo to freshen up before setting off to enjoy a scenic tour of the Gazelle Peninsula. You will observe cocoa, copra and palm oil cultivation undertaken in the rich volcanic soil, noting the area’s significant contribution to the national economy. Kokopo, known then as Herbertshohe, was from 1884 to 1910 the capital of the German New Guinea colonial empire. You will visit the historic German cemetery and the cathedral at Vunapope Catholic mission. View the beachside landing site at Kabakaul, from where Australian military forces advanced in 1914 to capture the German wireless station at Bita Paka. This battle was Australia’s first major military engagement of the First World War. Bita Paka War Cemetery is now the resting place of over one thousand Australian and Allied soldiers who met their fate during World War II, when “Fortress Rabaul” became the South Pacific headquarters and staging post for the Japanese Imperial Forces. Your tour will include a visit to the Kokopo Market, one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea.
After dinner, you will be transferred to Kainagunan or Gaulim Village (approx. 90mins) in the Bainings area. This evenings spectacular Bainings Fire Dance is performed only by men from the Bainings clans, where they immerse themselves into the flames of the fire and escape completely unharmed. This amazing ritual is not performed anywhere else in the world. One of few cultures in Papua New Guinea who do not use the Kundu drum as their rhythmic percussion instruments, the Bainings clan instead use bamboo, and the sound is just as unique as the fire dance itself. After the performance, return back to your hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning, you will fly to Mount Hagen in the highlands. Drive to Rondon Ridge where you will be taken 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. They are said by anthropologists, to be ‘predisposed to capitalism’ because of their complex traditional society in which ‘big men’ earn status by accruing wealth and then giving it all away in a ceremonial exchange called ‘Moka’. In addition, you may have the opportunity to visit the fascinating Pogla Mudmen, famed for their unique bilas and the ancient story that surrounds it. 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. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in the rainforest around Rondon Ridge, including ten species of Bird of Paradise. All nature and birding walks are accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable nature guides. (B,L,D)
Enjoy an early breakfast this morning before you depart to visit the Sing-Sing (tribal gathering groups) from different provinces in their camps. Witness how their body decorations, colourful traditional costumes and vibrant face painting is done. Your guide will offer explanations outlining the various types of costumes and their significances in differing the cultures of these tribes people.
Proceed into the showgrounds to witness hundreds of warriors, all dressed in their very finest traditional regalia, dancing and singsing, each group in their own cultural style and language with the intention of outclassing all the other groups. You will then have the truly unforgettable opportunity to walk amongst the dancers, even shake their hands and meet them, before enjoying a picnic lunch right in the middle of the action at the showground.
Later in the afternoon, you will return to the hotel. (B,L,D)
Following breakfast, transfer to the showground to enjoy another full day at the Mount Hagen Festival. Immerse yourself in the upwards of 100 tribes peacefully sharing their cultural traditions through costume, dancing and music. Disguised in anthropomorphic body paint, clad in elaborate headdresses, jewellery made of shells and boars’ tusks and skirts made from leaves and fur, the groups perform their primal dances; the tribe that garners the most applause and biggest reaction from the crowd wins.
Enjoy lunch at the showgrounds again today and return to your hotel later in the afternoon. Dinner this evening is in your hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning you will say goodbye to lush highlands and fly to Kokoda, the start of the infamous Kokoda Track for a photo stop. You will make a brief fuel stop in Port Moresby before continuing back to Cairns where your adventure ends on arrival. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**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 7 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Installment payments will be required. 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.