With Victor Romagnoli

Papua New Guinea tribes culture Goroka

Meeting local villagers; myriad cultures Highland & Lowland scenery, flora & fauna; Beautiful, comfortable, environmentally sensitive lodges; Annual Goroka Show; Sepik River cruise


Dates & Prices

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Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Thu 14 Sep 2017Mon 25 Sep 2017 $10350 USD Wait-list Only

Optional Single Supplement: $1600 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $1600, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.

Tour Overview

This tour will be led by senior Tour Leader, Victor Romagnoli, who invites you to join him on this special trip:

"Many of my past travellers have asked me to take them to PNG, but, as a relatively small operator, AA for years found it difficult, if not impossible, to secure space in remote PNG locales where hotel / lodge space was at a premium. Happily, we have recently partnered with a reputable local PNG agency keen to welcome our groups to PNG for the first time since 2006! This is an incredible destination and one of my favourites, for its vast variety of landscapes, fascinating history, and socio-cultural (and linguistic) saturation. Because of the exclusive nature of this destination, the shortage of quality accommodation at remote locales, and the expense of getting around by charter aircraft, this is admittedly a costly trip. Nonetheless, I guarantee that this itinerary offers a comprehensive and thoroughly rewarding, comfortable (and competitively-priced) journey through one of the world's top adventure destinations. If PNG is on your life list - join us! You won't be disappointed." Victor Romagnoli

Regions visited: Oceania And South Pacific
Countries visited: Papua New Guinea

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrival in Port Moresby
Welcome to Papua New Guinea!

Port Moresby is the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The city is on the shores of the Gulf of Papua. Its population is around 300,000 and growing quickly. The indigenous people of the area are the Motu-Koitabu. Moresby, as it is commonly known, got its name from Captain John Moresby who arrived in 1873 as the first European visitor.

Due to our early flight tomorrow, and because Port Moresby is lacking redeeming qualities (and proper security), we choose to spend tonight at an airport area hotel.

Overnight in Port Moresby.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Port Moresby - Goroka
This morning we fly to Goroka.

Goroka, a small outpost station in the 1950's, has developed into an attractive town with modern facilities and relaxed atmosphere. It is a major Highlands commercial centre of 25,000 people and, with an altitude of 1600 m (5,280 feet), it has the climate of perpetual spring.

Today's activity is a highlands village experience. A scenic drive from Goroka brings us to Kemase, a rural village. Here the local people farm the land to support themselves with food, and grow cash crops such as coffee and market vegetables to raise income to buy clothing and other needs, and pay school fees for their children. On arrival at the village you will receive a traditional welcome and meet the village people. A small crowd of enthusiastic "guides" will show you around the village, including private homes, the village school, village church, and important village artifacts such as bride price ornaments and traditional money.

You will be taken to the village gardens and shown how yams and other staple vegetables are cultivated. The spiritual connection between the village people and their gardens will be explained to you: the locals believe that people's behaviour affects the growth of the garden crops.

We drive back to Goroka town, having made a gamut of new friends who we will surely bump into again at the Goroka Show tomorrow.

Overnight in Goroka.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 The Goroka Show
Each year the highland tribes of Papua New Guinea gather in Goroka to celebrate ancestral traditions that are still an integral part of daily life -- known as the 'Sing Sing,' the Pidgin English word for a sing along! The Goroka Cultural Show generally takes place in mid-September and is not put on strictly for the tourists but is a tradition passed down through the centuries from family member to member.

This thrilling song and dance competition will be a highlight of your trip. During the show you will witness a diversity of cultural groups from both the Highlands and the coastal regions of the country gathered here singing and dancing to the beats of their Kundu drums. Witness hundreds of tribespeople as they proudly display their unique dances, chanting and drumming. Bodies decorated with cassowary plumes, kina shells, aromatic leaves, brightly painted faces and
elaborate head dresses will surround you. Mingle with the local people during the day's events and take the most incredible photos ever!

Overnight in Goroka.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Goroka Continued
We have another full day in Goroka to enjoy the Goroka show.

The tourist grandstand has good views of the performance area and your pass gives you blanket permission to enter the performance area if you wish to take close-up photographs.

The Goroka Show is partly an agricultural show and partly a highlands 'singsing.' Since colonial days the people of the Eastern Highlands have come together once a year to display samples of their best crops and livestock to compete for prizes, and to show off their most colourful and energetic dance traditions. The pride of each tribe is vested in its dancing groups which vie for attention and prominence on the dance ground -- often there are several groups performing at once in different parts of the arena. Sparks fly occasionally on the field as jealousy and competition fuel conflict between tribal groups. At the end of the show, judges award prizes to the best dancing groups: cash awards have now taken the place of pigs and brides.

Overnight in Goroka.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Goroka - Tari: Ambua Lodge
Today we fly by charter aircraft to Tari, a thrilling flight past the twin peaks of Mount Giluwe and over the alpine grasslands of the Tari Gap. On arrival we transfer by road to Ambua Lodge located high on the slopes of the Tari Valley.

Ambua Lodge, located at 2100 m (7,000 ft) in the Tari Gap area, borders on pristine mid- montane rainforest and the beginning of the valley grasslands. This location promises the visitor spring-like temperatures and magnificent views of the Tari Valley. The forest canopy, a dense mass of interlocking tree tops of all shades of green and the occasional bright splash of colour, provides a natural setting and an exhilarating climate for venturing along the graded nature trails -- crossing traditional vine bridges, discovering secluded waterfalls. High altitude orchids, gingers, rhododendrons and many more will be highlighted by the guide. Your guide will also point out the ways in which the Huli people utilize the abundant natural resources around them and also the great variety of plants and animals found in the area.

After the nature walk you will take advantage of the birding in the Tari Gap area where one may chance to observe up to 13 species of the birds of paradise. As the birds of paradise display in the late afternoon you may be lucky enough to see the King of Saxony, Stephanie's Astrapia, Ribbontail Astrapia, and the Sicklebill Bird of Paradise.

Overnight at Ambua Lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6 Tari Area
The great Tari Basin and surrounding mountain slopes are the home of the Huli Clans, one of the largest ethnic groups in the Southern Highlands and one of the most culturally intact in all of PNG. The Huli were only discovered in 1935 and were one of the last groups to come under government control. The men take great pride in their appearance, cultivating everlasting daises and collecting bird of paradise feathers to decorate their wigs. They were particularly skilled in warfare and merciless to the opposing clans. Huge inter-connecting trenches (dug by hand with wooden paddle-like spades) were used to delineate clan boundaries, to control the movement of pigs and as secret passageways for warriors during clan fights. You will meet these proud people and learn much of their traditions and way of life which are still governed by their belief in ancestral spirits and sorcery.

Overnight at Ambua Lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7 Tari: Continued
Today we learn more about the fascinating culture, traditions, and beliefs of the Huli people.

Overnight at Ambua Lodge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 Tari - Karawari - Sepik Spirit
Today we fly via charter aircraft to Karawari.

Down the brown swirling waters of the Karawari River, past vine and orchid tangled trees, the river flows towards the Sepik River. The almost absolute silence is broken only by the shrill cry of a disturbed water bird; sago, betel nut, limbum and other palms compete with breadfruit trees and wild yams for a safe foothold.

The Karawari River joins the Krosameri River and it is near here that we will join the motor vessel, Sepik Spirit. We board and begin our voyage into the mystical world of the Sepik Region. The Sepik Region is a vast area that includes the Sepik River, its many tributaries, including the Karawari, swamps and lake systems. In this region are many rarely visited villages where the spirit world and the people's everyday life merge in a fascinating mixture of ceremonies, carvings and haus tambarans.

During the next few days the Sepik Spirit will transport us in air-conditioned comfort to villages in the middle Sepik and Blackwater Lake areas. We will visit villages where the people are prolific and famous carvers. Here you can purchase many interesting items such as masks, elaborately carved hooks, ancestral figures, hand drums, baskets, bilums and gourds. The Sepik Spirit is our comfortable base between forays in smaller jet boats to the different villages and areas. Each program is set by the manager and will depend on operating conditions at the time of operation.

Overnight Sepik Spirit.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9 Sepik Region
Inspired by the architecture of the "haus tambaran," or spirit house, the MV Sepik Spirit is a truly unique design. With its shallow draught, it allows travel to rarely visited areas of the Sepik River and its tributaries in comfort.

We have two full days exploring the many waterways of the Sepik and its tributaries, including visits to traditional Sepik villages. The Sepik River is one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of flow. Steeped in mystery, the people of the Sepik area have fascinated anthropologists like Margaret Mead since the area was first visited.

Overnight Sepik Spirit.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 Sepik Region
Our Sepik expedition cruise continues.

Overnight Sepik Spirit.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 Sepik Spirit - Mt Hagen - Rondon Ridge
Today we fly by charter aircraft to Mt Hagen, business heart of the Papua New Guinea highlands supporting a number of important industries such as tea, coffee, mining and transportation. It is a city where stone meets steel and where tradition and history is juxtaposed against modern ways.

Upon arrival we continue by road to Rondon Ridge, located at 2164 m (7,100 ft) above sea level on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range. Our lodge boasts panoramic views of the Wahgi Valley below and provides luxury in a remote and rural setting.

This afternoon we enjoy a half-day birding and nature tour. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in the rainforests around Rondon Ridge including ten species of Bird of Paradise. The surrounding area is pristine rainforest and home to numerous orchid species. Our nature and birding walk is accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable nature guide.

Overnight at Rondon Ridge.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Rondon Ridge - Mt Hagen - Port Moresby - Depart
Today we fly back to Port Moresby and connect with onward international flights homeward.

LAND ONLY passengers should book their onward journey no earlier than 3:00 pm.

Departure from Port Moresby.


Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Airways Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Port Moresby
Country: Papua New Guinea

The hotel is nestled in its own botanical gardens, offering world-class accommodation set in an oasis of understated luxury in
... of the Pacific’s most striking and inspiring settings.
Read More.

Rondon Ridge

Location: Mount Hagen
Country: Papua New Guinea

Guests are accommodated in twelve tastefully appointed rooms with warmed king beds for those fresh highlands nights, with modern en-suite
... Rondon Ridge has 24-hour, eco-friendly electricity, provided by its own hydroelectric power plant that generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream.

Read More.

Pacific Gardens Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Goroka
Country: Papua New Guinea

Pacific Gardens Hotel Goroka is located in the beautiful Pacific Gardens Estate and the leading luxury hotel accommodation in Goroka,
... A gated, secure, park like setting on over 20 acres of land with walking trails, barbecue area, playground and a meandering mountain stream giving Pacific Gardens Hotel a quiet peaceful atmosphere.
Read More.

Ambua Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Ambua Lodge
Country: Papua New Guinea

Ambua Lodge, located at 7,000 feet in the Tari Gap area borders on pristine mid montane rainforest at the beginning
... the valley grasslands. This location promises the visitor eternal spring weather and magnificent views of the Tari Valley. Guests are accommodated in thirty individual units set in a sea of flowers, each unit featuring 180-degree picture windows, en-suite bathroom, and electric blankets and continental quilts for the cool highland evenings. Ambua generates twenty-four hour clean electricity from its own mini hydroelectric power plant.

Read More.

MV Sepik Spirit

Location: Sepik River
Country: Papua New Guinea

The MV Sepik Spirit is a shallow draft vessel purpose-built for navigating shallow inland waterways. The entire vessel is air-conditioned
... up to 18 guests are accommodated in 9 spacious berths, each with en-suite bathroom, large windows and river views. Onboard facilities include a comfortable lounge, well stocked bar, dining area and a covered, insect-proofed upper observatory deck.

Read More.

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


Most meals (at hotels and lodges). Tour Leader services, all transport, twin share accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers.


Tour Leader gratuity, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, visa fees, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, weather, what to bring, recommended reading and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

Papua New Guinea lies just south of the equator. The climate is generally warm with a 'wet' and 'dry' season, the timings of which vary from one part of the country to another. The wettest months for most regions are Nov-March. Temperatures around the coastal areas are reasonably stable and vary between 25 and 30 C (78-85 F) with high humidity. The Highlands are cooler and temperatures can fall dramatically at night.

This tour coincides with the world renown Goroka Show.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Ground transport via nus or mini bus is provided locally. Internal flights via scheduled carriers and charters on light aircraft with limited capacity for luggage (maximum 10 kg).

This is not a "strenuous" tour per se, but it is ambitious with a lot of moving around and leisurely activities involving walking (ie wildlife/ bird viewing / village visits) at a leisurely pace. Heat at lower elevations may cause fatigue.


Well-located, air-conditioned hotels / lodges with en suite toilet and bath throughout (maybe shower only, no tub). Single rooms are EXTREMELY limited in number (no singles on the cruise) and are likely smaller than doubles. Porter service is usually available at hotels though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports.

Please note that the number of singles is extremely limited. Single may also be required to share on the cruise; if this occurs we will prorate the single fee. Please also note that if you have selected our share program and we fail to pair you, the mandatory single supplement is 100% of the regular single supplement fee.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, drivers, local guides in several locales.

Group Size

15-17 (plus Tour Leader)



TOUR STARTPort Moresby

TOUR ENDPort Moresby