Crooked Compass is paving the way for tourism in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and is inviting a small group of adventurous Australians to be the first foreign travellers to attend a local festival.
With no official tourism or tours in Bougainville, Crooked Compass’ five-night South Bougainville – Siwai Cultural Show tour from August 11-16, 2022, offers a lucky few adventurers the rare privilege of being the first foreigners to experience a Siwai Cultural Show and explore the previously off-limits archipelago located between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is on track to become the world’s newest country after an overwhelming number of locals voted in favour of independence, making this beautiful part of the world one of the last true frontiers. We are so lucky to have this amazing destination, with one of the richest and most vibrant cultures in the world, on our doorstep,” Ms Pagotto said.
An initiative of the Siwai people, the Siwai Cultural Show is a celebration of the unique cultural, historical and natural wonders of the southern district. The show was established last year as a way for locals to get through the pandemic and as an indicator of change and unity for a region that until recently was embroiled in a civil war and is seeking independence from Papua New Guinea.
A newly formed tourism association hopes the vibrant display of Bougainville culture and traditions will become a draw card for tourism and help set the region apart from its neighbours.
“The South Bougainville Siwai region embraces tourism as a catalyst to stimulate and create socio economic development and opportunities to encourage and promote local cultural, heritage and environment conservation in a sustainable manner to benefit local communities. The Siwai Cultural Show welcomes the first international tourists and we hope to see more in the years to come as it becomes a must-see event in the national calendar,” said Siwai Tourism Association Chairman Peter Suina.
As the first tour operator to bring international travellers to the show, Crooked Compass guests will have the chance to get up close and personal with local tribes and may also be permitted a visit to the Twin Kingdoms of Me’ekamui and Papaala, including a rare audience with Noah Missingku, reigning as King David Peii II, who is a self-proclaimed ruler that wears a 5kg gold crown on his head and few have seen as he never leaves his island.
In addition to the Siwai Cultural Show, the new Crooked Compass tour will take travellers to one of the world’s richest deposits of gold and copper which was at the centre of a bloody civil war – the Panguna mine – on a jungle trek to a significant WWII crash site, to local beaches for the chance to snorkel in crystal clear water teaming with marine life and to tropical Buka Island which is littered with war relics. Travellers will also have the chance to eat local cuisine with locals and witness a traditional sing-sing and Bougainville bamboo drumming.
Crooked Compass Founder Lisa Pagotto said she was excited to be pioneering tourism in Bougainville and hoped the new tour would become a regular addition to Crooked Compass’ portfolio of adventure tours, which aim to leave no footprint, protect the authenticity of local culture, and open up exotic parts of the world to challenge and enrich travellers.
“Bougainville is an untouched land where history isn’t just told, it can also be seen and touched like a living museum. From the scenes of turbulent WWII and a lengthy civil war surrounding the Panguna Mine, to the fight for independence, Bougainville has been the backdrop for many violent clashes which have left behind tanks, crumbled bunkers, artillery, shipwrecks and even the crashed military plane carrying Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind behind the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour and the most exalted hero in the Japanese navy’s history. Add in truly untouched islands offering the chance for raw adventures, and immersion in a unique culture which hasn’t been exposed to tourism, and this isolated micronation offers the ultimate adventure for history buffs, nature lovers and cultural purists alike.”
Crooked Compass’ five-night South Bougainville – Siwai Cultural Show tour departs August 11, 2022, and is priced from $5341* per person twin share, excluding flights. The maiden tour is only open to a small handful of people and has been heavily discounted as it will be the first trip to a region which is only just opening up to tourism. All transport and meals are included and accommodation includes local hotels and lodges. To make this experience yours, 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.