If thereÂ’s a more remarkable place on Earth than Papua New Guinea, itÂ’s hard to imagine what it might be. This small country consists of the eastern part of the island of New Guinea and hundreds of smaller islands. It is a patchwork of rain forest, great rivers including the Sepik, and coral reefs. There are extraordinary cultures here, where people have managed to preserve many of their traditional ways. YouÂ’ll meet some of those who live here and enjoy traditional celebrations which include song and dance. Certified divers will have special opportunities to go diving in the company of the Dive Instructor on board, at additional cost. YouÂ’ll also go swimming and snorkeling on great coral reefs, and take in the views from the shipÂ’s glass-bottom boat.
Itinerary varies for select departures. See end of page for details.
Day 1: Depart
Depart for Cairns, Australia.
Day 2: En Route
Cross the International Date Line.
Day 3: Cairns, Australia
Arrive in Cairns, where you spend two nights at the fine Shangri-La Hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore on your own. This evening, gather for welcome drinks and dinner.
Day 4: Cairns
Spend the morning exploring, taking the renowned Kuranda Scenic Railway to the lively town of Kuranda, known for its markets and galleries. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 5: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
A morning private charter flight brings you to Rabaul, the capital of the island of New Britain, where the town was buried in ash by the massive eruption of Mt. Tavurvur in 1994 Â— a landmark event. You will have a guided exploration of Rabaul, with views of the ash-covered town and see the remains of a Japanese ship hidden in a cave during World War II. Then embark Oceanic Discoverer, your home for the next 10 nights, and sail past Tavurvur for a close-up look at the ash clouds and pyrotechnics.
Day 6: Garove Island (Witu Islands)
The fringing reef surrounding Garove Island offers fine swimming, snorkeling and views from your glass-bottom boat, and you will spend the morning there. As you approach Garove in the afternoon, you may be greeted by colorfully-dressed local residents in outrigger canoes. The headdresses are particularly elaborate. After landing, you will be treated to a Â“singsingÂ” by your enthusiastic hosts and will have a chance to tour the church and recently built community house.
Day 7: Crown Island
Tiny, volcanic Crown Island offers a fine walk up a trail, where you can look for giant lizards, birdlife and butterflies. The islandÂ’s beaches are important turtle nesting grounds. Spend the afternoon exploring the pristine nearby reefs, where the snorkeling and viewing from the glass-bottom boat are excellent.
Day 8: The Sepik River
The communities along the Sepik River are renowned for their traditional dress and body decoration, for maintaining many of their traditional ways, and for the art which they produce. You will sail up the serpentine course of the river, and will visit a community where you have a chance to meet local residents, learn about their lives and can take photos and purchase artwork. YouÂ’ll also look to go bird-watching along some of the channels along the river.
Day 9: Madang
The picturesque town of Madang lies on a peninsula backed by mountain ranges. YouÂ’ll visit lovely Haya Village, set in the hills, and take in a Â“singsing.Â” Afterward, those who wish can walk the steep trails of the surrounding rain forest in search of wildlife. This afternoon, explore the markets and shops of Madang on your own, and be sure to look for flying foxes in the trees!
Day 10: Tuam & Tami Islands
Tuam IslandÂ’s friendly residents make their living by conducting trade between the outer islands and the New Guinea mainland. TheyÂ’ll guide you to their village and youÂ’ll have a chance to take in Â“singsingsÂ” and see the handicrafts. Tami Island, where youÂ’ll spend the afternoon, consists of coral atolls that offer outstanding snorkeling and glass-bottom boat excursions Â— a setting that very much lives up to its location in the South Pacific. YouÂ’ll look at the reefs and colorful fish that inhabit them.
Day 11: Lababia & Kamiali
The village of Lababia is the gateway to the forests and wildlife of the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area. The adventurous can tackle the renowned, steep David Suzuki Trail in search of birds that include cockatoos, parrots, hornbills and, if youÂ’re lucky, perhaps even a bird of paradise. There will also be opportunities to swim and visit the village.
Day 12: Tufi
Remote Tufi consists of a spectacular network of fjords flanked by towering basalt cliffs. YouÂ’ll have a variety of activities here, including excellent snorkeling and viewing by glass-bottom boat, a visit to a village to learn about its culture, and an excursion by ship to a picturesque waterfall.
Day 13: Trobriand Islands
The cultures of the Trobriands have been studied extensively, most famously by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who developed methods of study used to this day. YouÂ’ll learn about the complex traditional exchange system called the Kula exchange, and, on Kitava Island, will visit a yam house; yam exchanges are key to the lives of the islanders. YouÂ’ll also visit a school and a village.
Day 14: Fergusson and Dobu Islands
The volcanic islands of Fergusson and Dobu form part of the DÂ’Entrecasteaux group, named after the French explorer who visited them in 1792. On Fergusson, you visit the impressive Dei Dei Hot Springs, where the landowner shares the mythical and spiritual tales of these hot water and mud springs. You are greeted by a flotilla of canoes as you approach the anchorage at tiny Dobu, and after you land, the local primary school children welcome with a traditional dance performance. This evening, gather for farewell cocktails and dinner aboard ship.
Day 15: Disembark / Port Moresby
In the morning, disembark Oceanic Discoverer and fly from Alotau to Papua New GuineaÂ’s capital, Port Moresby, where you stay at the fine Airways Hotel. This afternoon, you explore the town, seeing the National Museum, the outside of the Parliament building, built in the style of a spirit house, and a nearby village built on stilts.
Day 16: Port Moresby / USA
Transfer to the airport for connecting flights home, or else begin the extension to Ambua Lodge in Papua New GuineaÂ’s highlands.