Summary : New Guinea is a revelation of exquisite wild beauty, exotic cultures, and incredible underwater vistas. From traditional fishing villages to the mysterious world of the Asmat, discover the beliefs and traditions of ancient cultures that have changed little over the centuries on this Papua expedition. Snorkeling and diving on this voyage is exceptional and includes the Raja Ampat archipelago whose seas, part of the fabled Coral Triangle, are considered to hold the richest variety of marine species on the planet. Naturalists will accompany you throughout this Papua tour to search for the region’s wealth of birds and wildlife during numerous nature walks and Zodiac cruises.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling
Combine this itinerary with Voyage I: Remote Islands of Papua New Guinea and save 5% off the regular cruise rate.
$999,999,999 to $0
Board your independent flight to Australia. Cross the International Date Line, losing a day.
Arrive in Brisbane this morning and connect with your flight to Port Moresby. After lunch at the hotel enjoy an afternoon at leisure. This evening attend a welcome reception and dinner, with overnight at your hotel.
Fly to Wewak this morning, and time permitting, tour Wewak, an attractive town surrounded by golden beaches fringed with palm trees. Board the Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon.
Join naturalists and historians this morning for informative lectures and watch for flying fish and sperm whales as you cruise along the coast. After lunch arrive in the capital of Jayapura, formerly known as Hollandia. Drive through lush countryside to the site where General MacArthur established his headquarters in 1944 after sweeping the Japanese from the town.
Enjoy a day at sea to relax and attend informative lectures.
As the ship approaches Mapia Atoll be on deck to search for the dolphins often sighted here. The vertical walls of this atoll rise several thousands of feet from the ocean floor and are covered with brilliant soft corals, gorgonian sea fans, and sponges that provide cover for myriad tropical fish. Divers may encounter larger species such as barracuda, tuna, humphead parrotfish, and curious jacks. Spend the afternoon at sea as you make your way to Raja Ampat.
More than 1,500 karst limestone islands make up the majestic archipelago of Raja Ampat. The marine environment here, known as the Bird’s Head Seascape, is heralded as the most biodiverse on earth and includes 75 percent of all known coral species and more than 1,220 types of reef fish. Spend the day enjoying this unsurpassed coral wonderland and the abundant marine life that is found here. Birders look for species such as the red bird of paradise, sulphur-crested cockatoo, beach kingfisher, varied honeyeater, spice imperial pigeon, and singing starling in the dense forests.
The spectacular Mommon Peninsula is covered in forest often veiled in wisps of cloud. A strong river empties into the sea as a beautiful waterfall and, if tides permit, you may land on a small nearby beach. An afternoon snorkeling and diving excursion reveal huge and colorful soft corals fed by channels teeming with fish.
Exceptionally picturesque, Triton Bay offers outstanding Zodiac cruising. Entering a small channel between Mauwara Island and mainland Papua, cruise through dazzling tropical waters and scenery of spellbinding natural beauty. Wildlife flourishes in this undisturbed habitat, including colorful bird species such as Blyth’s hornbills, black-capped lorikeets, helmeted friarbirds, egrets, and palm cockatoos. During an expedition stop, snorkelers and divers marvel at the world of soft corals and kaleidoscopic reef fish, including dinner-plate-sized angelfish, large striped sweetlips, and lionfish.
Spend a relaxing day at sea and attend informative lectures on the natural and cultural highlights ahead. This evening, the ship awaits high tide to enter the Flamingo River’s narrow channel off Agats village, to anchor for the night.
Your visit to the Asmat region is an expedition highlight. This remote riverine world—10,000 square miles in its entirety—is revealed as Zodiacs take you along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests. Watch for Torres Strait imperial pigeons and bright red lorikeets flying overhead. Suddenly, Asmat warriors—whooping and chanting in elaborate gear and war paint—paddle vigorously toward you in dozens of intricately carved canoes. You are escorted to the local village of Agats where enthusiastic welcomes await. A walk along elevated wooden boardwalks leads to the Catholic cathedral with its superb carvings, and the museum, with elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls, reminding us that ritual cannibalism was practiced by the ancestors of some villagers. You will also visit Ewer, its 1,000 hospitable residents inviting you ceremoniously to a colorful market, a men’s longhouse, and to view their homes and prolific gardens.
Lecturers recap your experience in Papua and brief you on your upcoming visit to Thursday Island.
Thursday Island lies in the strategic Torres Strait, which separates New Guinea from Australia. This island was settled in the late 19th century, and its early success rested on pearling by the men who risked their lives on deep dives. This morning, explore the small, sleepy town with its typical veranda-lined “hotel” or pub. Green Hill Fort, high on a hill, offers a splendid 360-degree view of the neighboring islands and strait.
Enjoy your final snorkel and dive excursion of the voyage at spectacular Ashmore Reef. This fully submerged reef extends across the northernmost end of the Great Barrier Reef system like a string of living pearls. Its distance from human habitation has allowed the marine life to flourish and is home to more than 700 fish species. Huge schools of both colorful reef fish and silvery pelagics populate the rich waters, with a backdrop of rainbow-hued corals.
Disembark this morning in Papua New Guinea’s capital city, Port Moresby, and visit the National Museum and Arts Center. The museum exhibits one of the finest collections of primitive art in the world, including Sepik River carvings, Malagan masks from the New Ireland Island area, and Trobriand Island fishing canoes. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Brisbane where you enjoy dinner and your final overnight.
Depart on your independent flight homeward, arriving in the USA on the same day after crossing the International Date Line.
Accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals; all group meals on land; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; welcome dinner and orientation; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; all entrance fees; taxes; landing and port fees; all gratuities; comprehensive pre-departure packet; gift certificates for recommended expedition gear; photographic journal; $50,000 of medical expense coverage and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.*
All air transportation (except where listed above); excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; baggage/trip cancellation insurance; scuba diving fees and equipment where required; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $50,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $75,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.