In partnership with Heritage Expeditions, step foot into a world few ever experience as we explore the rich history, cultures and wildlife of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on this 21-day authentic land and cruise expedition. We are welcomed on our journey by the vibrant people of Papua New Guinea as we are whole-heartedly embraced into traditional village life albeit for our brief stay. In addition to our cultural exploration, we also uncover untouched forest, remote beaches, sea caves and reefs home to masses of fish and coral gardens of every colour.
Pricing for cruise and land:
Main Deck Single: $32,560AUD per person
Deck 4 Superior: $25,103AUD per person
Deck 5 Superior: $26,253AUD per person
Superior Single: $33,315AUD per person
Worsley Suites: $32,103AUD per person
Heritage Suites: $41,353AUD per person
Welcome to Papua New Guinea! This morning, you will arrive into Mount Hagen, a bustling commercial centre where wealth from coffee and tea plantations has brought rapid change to traditional lifestyle. If you want to visit the last frontier of Papua New Guinea, this is it. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to Kumul Lodge, one of the best-known landowner ecotourism lodges in Papua New Guinea. Made out of local materials, entirely owned and managed by the local community and employing local guides, you can be sure that your money is helping to support the local community. Your presence here helps to preserve the surrounding forest as a home for some of the most beautiful and unusual birds in the world. Your travels here are working to raise local environmental awareness and in time, hope that our ongoing efforts will lead to the area being declared a National Park. Enjoy an afternoon guided nature walk along the forest orchid for a birding observation walk. This is the only bird lodge in New Guinea where Bird-of-paradise are amongst the regulars at the lodge feeders, offering fantastic photo opportunities. Other regulars at the feeders include Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Smoky Honeyeater, Belford’s Melidectes and Island Thrush. Chestnut Forest Rail is occasionally seen beneath the feeder while Crested Berrypecker and White-winged Robin are often seen nearby. This evening, watch the bird feeding activity from the lodge grounds before dinner is served. (L,D)
Two nights Kumul Lodge – Deluxe Rooms or similar
Setting off at 8am this morning, enjoy a guided tour of the village nearby which provides a fascinating insight into a unique way of life still following very much a traditional lifestyle. Return to the lodge for lunch. This afternoon is at leisure. Take your time to walk along the many forest trails to see the stunning orchids and birdlife. (B,L,D)
Departing at 8am, drive through Mount Hagen city towards Mindima Village where you will experience the Omo Masalai Skeleton dancers. Painting their bodies in black and white to look like skeletons, their dance is a dance of death and often has a wolf involved which the skeleton ‘attack’ during their tribal dance. The way the skeletons lurk and creep as part of their performance, will make it seem like they have literally clawed their way out of the ground.
Following this impressive performance, continue onto Goroka. Goroka is the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province. Mountains encircle the town. At 1600m, Goroka enjoys a pleasant year-round climate of warm days and cool nights. More relaxed than other highlands towns, endowed with essential services, Goroka is one of PNG’s more attractive towns.
Goroka’s main cash crop is coffee and you’ll see it growing under the canopies of larger trees in the hills throughout the district. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure. (B,L,D)
2 nights Bird of Paradise Hotel – Premier Rooms or similar
This morning, you will depart at 8am to Korekoreto village. Drive out through the fertile Asaro Valley, past coffee plantations and vegetable gardens bursting with sweet potatoes, bananas, taro cassava and sugar cane.
Walk through the village as you start your path to Mt Gurupoka to see the ancient caves. Learn about the mythology associated with these caves whilst taking in incredible views of the valley below.
Return to the village where you will see the Mudmen Warriors perform their eerie war dance and see the Mokomoko warriors dance. Spend time in the village with the local people as they prepare and cook a meal in a traditional earth oven, called a ‘mumu.’ You will have the opportunity to taste their cooking and enjoy a snack with the local villagers. Return to your hotel. (B,L,D)
On the road again today, departing at 8am as you head north towards the coastal town of Madang. The drive is approx. 106km and the road conditions are fairly good. Travel along the Okuk Highway passing through scenic landscapes as you wind your way to Kainantu town. Cross Kassam Pass and descent into Markham Valley. Pass palm plantations at Ramu Gusap as the scenery changes dramatically as you venture from the hinterland to reach the coastline. Enroute, you will have plenty of photo opportunities at Yonki Hydro Dam and Kassam Pass look out. On arrival in Madang at 4.30pm, check into your hotel. (B,L,D)
Overnight Madang Resort International Hotel – Deluxe Rooms or similar
Following breakfast at your hotel, enjoy a Madang and Environs tour, which includes a visit to the Coastwatchers’ Memorial Light at Kalibobo, Madang museum and Bilbil Village before returning to Madang to explore the markets. The area itself is a picturesque peninsula surrounded by islands and waterways. It is a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, and the richness of its surrounding forests. In the afternoon, board your ship, Heritage Adventurer, where you will have time to settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship; we will also take the opportunity to introduce you to your expedition team and our voyage plans. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we set sail for the Sepik River. (B,D)
Sure to be one of the highlights of our expedition, we have allowed plenty of time to fully appreciate this remarkable river, its birds, animals and the people that call it home. The Sepik River, the longest in Papua New Guinea, flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. It is a rich arterial river that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac, following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. Enjoy a warm welcome at Kopa Village where we will experience village life and a traditional Dragon Dance unique to this region. Bring along plenty of the local currency (kina) to purchase unique carvings directly from the artists. (B,L,D)
Seldom visited and little known, Manus Island is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Biologically isolated, the Manus Province is home to a high proportion of endemic species and our stop here is likely to be a birding highlight. Once the location of a detention centre, part of Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’, life on Manus Island continues according to traditional customs. Comprised of 10 villages and a population of less than 1,000, our visit to Derimbat Village includes taking part in an elaborate welcoming ceremony before exploring the village and its unique way of life with a local guide. (B,L,D)
Traditionally known as Lavongai Island, volcanic New Hanover is a wild, rugged and untouched paradise complete with a dense rainforest, waterfalls and exceptional beaches fringed by reefs and smaller satellite islands. Sparsely populated, the villages here enjoy a subsistent, traditional lifestyle. Exceptional snorkelling is a given here with much to experience below the surface, while Three Island Harbour, on the north-west tip of the island, features four Japanese WWII wrecks which were sunk by Allied bombers in 1944. (B,L,D)
Six beautiful cone-shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul’s dramatic, flooded caldera harbour. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in the magnificent views of the harbour and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge. As we explore the island, we will see fascinating reminders of the Japanese occupation such as the underground bunker that was the hiding place of Pearl Harbour commander, Yamamoto. Our tour also takes in the site of the enormous volcanic eruption that all but destroyed Rabaul town, as we join the locals shopping at the bustling Kokopo markets. (B,L,D)
A tropical atoll adrift in the azure waters of the Buka Channel, Nissan Island is bathed in rich tropical currents that abound in marine life. Seldom have outsiders had the opportunity to discover this world, which promises abundant pelagic fish-life and pristine coral reefs. Ashore there are still reminders of the brief, but intensive, World War II activities during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi, Australian and British forces from the Japanese occupiers. During our time ashore we will meet with the friendly locals from all three of the island’s Balil Villages and search the dense woods for some of the elusive birds that occur here. Later, the snorkellers will find plenty to discover in the coral reefs that surround Nissan. (B,L,D)
We plan to be among the first expeditioners to re-discover the treasures of Bougainville, long isolated and in a strange way protected due to the conflict which swirled around its shores. Today it is emerging once again as a newly vibrant and remarkably pristine island paradise and is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. We plan to explore the area around Arawa, including the Panguna Copper & Gold Mine site – the setting for the movie Mr Pip – with great opportunities to access the island’s interior and its reefs. Spend your last Kina under the thatched roof of the Arawa Markets amongst the hum and chatter of hundreds of locals. (B,L,D)
The volcanic New Georgia Islands are found in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands and are characterised by extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain and an abundance of rivers. Nature enthusiasts will relish landing on Kolombangara Island, where we plan to visit the Imbu Rano Lodge and Conservation Area which protects the island’s central peak and search for the rare Roviana Rail along with other endemic bird species. Snorkel the wreck of a US NAVY FAF Grumman Wildcat (carrier version) WWII plane off a tiny island where the surrounding reefs are home to some of the highest fish counts in the world. Stock up on the local currency to purchase the wood or stone carvings that the people of the Western Province are so famous for. (B,L,D)
Uninhabited for 150 years, this rugged island cloaked in rainforest and fringed with coral reefs is home to one of the Solomon Islands’ leading community driven conservation projects Tetepare Descendants’ Association. Receiving international recognition for its conservation and archaeological significance, three species of turtle, including the endangered leatherback, nest on its beaches while other species inhabiting the island and surrounding waters include dugong, the world’s largest skink, endemic Tetepare White-eye and many more. (B,L,D)
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomons’ total population and features pristine rivers and unexploited tropical forests. This morning we plan to visit the beautiful uninhabited Leli Island, an ideal snorkel site with its calm clear waters and abundant array of fish and corals. In the afternoon we plan to be among the first to visit a remote and hard-to reach village where we will experience a rapturous warrior welcome from the Kwaio mountain people, one of the most traditional communities in the Solomons. Enjoy an authentic slice of village life as we learn about their conservation efforts. (B,L,D)
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomons’ archipelago. This morning we anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour. Join the naturalists for a Zodiac exploration of the abundant mangrove forests that line the shores, and take a short walk to Makira’s south coast where the villagers live much as they have for millennia. We spend time with the locals, who share with us their traditional song and
dance. If we are lucky, the local boys might be surfing on their hand-carved palm wood boards. (B,L,D)
Nendö is the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands, which lie to the southeast of the Solomon Islands. The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira unsuccessfully attempted to establish a colony here in 1595. Biologically, these islands share more in common with Vanuatu. It is also the home of red feather money, sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater. Watch the manufacture of red feather money, and join the locals in dances which reverberate through the ages. (B,L,D)
Today we explore the archipelago of Vanikoro, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier reef which offers superb snorkelling. French explorer Jean- François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse famously disappeared here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck the reef in 1788. On the shore we visit a monument to Lapérouse, erected by fellow explorer Dumont Durville in 1827. Join the naturalists on a forest walk in search of the endemic Vanikoro White-eye and Monarch, or marvel at the delicate Vanikoro Orchid. We also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro Flying Fox, considered extinct until a recent visit by Heritage Adventurer. (B,L,D)
Today we explore Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo; location of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Indulge in a swim in the crystalline waters of Champagne Beach with its famed powdery white sand. This afternoon we will enjoy Zodiac cruises to the iconic blue holes of Santo. For those with an interest in the history of the island, there is a visit to Lugainville and Million Dollar Point. (B,L,D)
Today we will visit Ambrym, renowned as the island of volcanoes and magic throughout Vanuatu. We plan to head ashore at Ranon on the northern coast where the traditional Rom dance is still practised and custom carving is alive and well. A walk through the forest brings us to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest. The forests of Ambrym offer some excellent walks to go in search of the local birds and plants, accompanied by our naturalists. This afternoon enjoy a final snorkel excursion. (B,L,D)
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central city hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage. To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights from Port Vila before midday. (B,L,D)
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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 4 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 90 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
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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.