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ULTIMATE PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Birdquest's Ultimate Papua New Guinea birding tour is a classic birdwatching trip. Our Ultimate Papua New Guinea tour visits Port Moresby, Kiunga, Tabubil, Kumul (Mount Hagen) and Ambua (Tari) on the mainland and the island of New Britain, producing a fantastic array of birds including well over 20 species of birds-of-paradise and an unsurpassed number of other endemics in just three weeks in this fascinating land where the Stone Age coexists with the 21st Century.

Wednesday 30th May — Saturday 16th June 2018
(18 days)


New Britain Extension: Saturday 16th June — Wednesday 20th June (5 days)

Leaders: Dani López-Velasco and Josh Bergmark and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations except on two nights

At Kumul Lodge the birds are not hunted and species such as this Brown Sicklebill have become tame and frequent visitors to their bird table! (Nik Borrow) To see many other stunning photos from Papua New Guinea, please see the Papua New Guinea 2008 tour.

At Kumul Lodge the birds are not hunted and species such as this Brown Sicklebill have become tame and frequent visitors to their bird table! (Nik Borrow) To see many other stunning photos from Papua New Guinea, please see the Papua New Guinea 2008 tour.

From high in an ancient, gnarled and epiphyte-bedecked tree a strange, static electric crackling reveals the presence of a displaying King of Saxony Bird of Paradise sitting on a snag and waving its extraordinary head-plumes like some strange antennae. A cacophony of yelping reaches a crescendo in the foothill forest and an arching, flaming mass of shivering yellow and orange-pink resolves itself into a Raggiana Bird of Paradise. A pinprick of blood red against an emerald canopy is a King Bird of Paradise. A glint of iridescent viridian, illuminated by a shaft of sunlight that pierces the lead-grey, rumbling heavens, is followed by a rippling wave of white tail streamers as a Ribbon-tailed Astrapia takes to the air.

There is no need to say that we are on the island of New Guinea, for these extraordinary birds are amongst the most famous in the world. Indeed, their wondrous variations in form and colouration, that defy simple description, are so ‘out-of-this-world’ that when the first skins (which lacked feet) reached Europe they were thought to be faked constructs, or even heavenly species that had somehow fallen to earth!

New Guinea is the second largest island in the world and to this day remains one of the wildest, most sparsely settled regions on earth. Over 700 species of birds are found here, the world’s richest island avifauna, and nearly half of these are found nowhere else! Whilst the extraordinary birds of paradise are the finest jewels in New Guinea’s ornithological crown, there is so much else to attract the birdwatcher – huge but secretive cassowaries, strange mound-builders, a gorgeous array of doves, pigeons, parrots and kingfishers (all of which reach their greatest diversity here), sinister-looking frogmouths, skulking jewel-babblers, exquisite fairy-wrens, brightly coloured flycatchers, confusing honeyeaters and fascinating bowerbirds to mention just some of the highlights.

The island of New Guinea holds no fewer than seven endemic bird families, including the monotypic Wattled Ploughbill (family Eulacestomatidae), the monotypic Blue-capped Ifrit (family Ifritidae), the longbills and berrypeckers (family Melanocharitidae), the painted berrypeckers (family Paramythiidae), Mottled Berryhunter (formerly Mottled Whistler, family Rhagologidae), the satinbirds (family Cnemophilidae) and the melampittas (family Melampittidae), making it an absolutely key destination for anyone wanting to see all the world’s bird families.

This classic tour explores the eastern half of the island, Papua New Guinea (or ‘PNG’), where we shall travel from modern towns to regions almost untouched by the twentieth century (or even the last millennia) and still inhabited by stone-age tribes whose warriors dress in bark belts, loincloths and headdresses decorated with bird of paradise plumes.

While much of Papua New Guinea is still primitive and undeveloped, conditions for visitors are often much better than first-timers expect. The only downside is that it is an extraordinarily expensive place.

We shall start our travels at Port Moresby on the southeast coast. This excellent area possesses one of the richest avifaunas in Papua New Guinea due to its unusual diversity of habitats ranging from dry, Australian-like eucalypt savanna and grassland to lowland rainforest and hill forest. Here we will look for flamboyant Raggiana Birds of Paradise and Growling Riflebirds, as well as many other exciting birds.

Next we will travel far to the west, first to the town of Tabubil in the foothills of the Star Mountains, where Salvadori’s Teal, Pesquet’s (or Vulturine) Parrot, the handsome Queen Carola’s Parotia and Obscure Berrypecker will attract our attention. If we are fortunate, we will also find the amazing Shovel-billed Kookaburra and the strange Greater Melampitta.

From here we will move on to the frontier town of Kiunga on the great Fly River of southwestern Papua New Guinea. In this remote area many large species that have been extirpated by hunting elsewhere can still be seen, as well as some exciting western specialities. Star attractions include the huge Southern Crowned Pigeon, Little Paradise Kingfisher, Flame Bowerbird and the gorgeous Greater, Twelve-wired and King Birds of Paradise.

From the southwestern lowlands and foothills we will fly up to Mount Hagen in the central highlands, seeming to travel back in time as we do so, in search of our first montane species, including such great birds as New Guinea Woodcock, Mountain Owlet-Nightjar, Lesser Bird of Paradise, Crested Satinbird, Mottled Berryhunter (now treated as a monotypic bird family) and Lesser Melampitta (one of only two members of its family)

For our grand finale we will continue to Tari in the southern highlands. Here we will explore the magnificent cloud forests of Mount Kerewa and the fringes of the Tari Valley, home of the famous Huli tribe or ‘wigmen’, in search of the area’s remarkable selection of birds of paradise and many other montane specialities. Highlights here will include the superbly elegant Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, the strange King of Saxony Bird of Paradise, the striking Blue Bird of Paradise and Loria’s Satinbird.

Here also we will be on the lookout for the representatives of no fewer than three monotypic bird families; Wattled Ploughbill, Blue-capped Ifrit and Mottled Berryhunter, as well as a variety of berrypeckers and painted berrypeckers.

During the optional extension there will be the opportunity to visit the large island of New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago, a centre of avian endemism in its own right which will provide us with a superb selection of little-known species including such spectacular birds as Blue-eyed Cockatoo and Black-headed Paradise Kingfisher.

Birdquest has operated tours to Papua New Guinea since 1986.

Birding in Papua New Guinea: New Guinea has a rich, fantastic and world-renowned avifauna, but many birds here are shy and, although one does see some bird of paradise display, visitors should not expect to see the quantity and intensity of display that takes film-makers many months or even years to gather.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges used are mostly of good standard (two are medium grade). At the Elevala River we will spend two nights in a very basic lodge with two beds in each partitioned area in the building and shared outdoor bathroom facilities. Road transport is by small coach or minibus. Roads are often in moderate to poor condition and are few and far between.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, occasionally moderate.

Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cool in upland areas. Overcast weather is quite regular and there is very likely to be some rain, perhaps heavy and prolonged at times. It will be rather humid in the lowlands.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Papua New Guinea Tour Prices: Prices in Papua New Guinea are very high by any standards, but there are reasons for this. In the first place accommodations in PNG are mostly very expensive, as is transport for tourism purposes. PNG is a country with only a thin ‘meniscus’ of development that sits on an otherwise very undeveloped part of the world. The very limited but often very comfortable layer of infrastructure that tourism uses (there are some superb lodges here) is also used by oil and gas development staff, miners, lumber extractors and many other expatriates, with the result that prices are exceedingly high. Furthermore, there are only a very limited number of local agents that specialize in eco-tourism, so they can effectively dictate price levels. This combination makes for remarkably high prices.

Tour Price: £8590, €10140, $11250 Port Moresby/Port Moresby. Single Room Supplement: £1005, €1186, $1317. Deposit: £1050, €1260, $1370.

New Britain Extension: £1890, €2230, $2480. Single Room Supplement: £200, €236, $262. Deposit: £250, €300, $330.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Port Moresby-Kiunga, Kiunga-Mount Hagen, Mount Hagen-Tari (or road transfer if no flight available), Tari-Port Moresby, Port Moresby-Hoskins-Port Moresby.

The main tour single room supplement excludes the two nights at the Elevala River.

Please note that the prices quoted include the internal flights providing you book your international flights into and out of Port Moresby with Air Niugini and through our office. Higher rates for internal flights will apply if you travel into and out of Port Moresby with another carrier, or you book your flights in and out with Air Niugini separately from the internal flights.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The strikingly patterned Mountain Peltops is often easy to see and always a popular addition to the list (Nik Borrow)

The strikingly patterned Mountain Peltops is often easy to see and always a popular addition to the list (Nik Borrow)

The Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher is an unobtrusive gem to be found in the dark forests of Varirata NP (Nik Borrow)

The Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher is an unobtrusive gem to be found in the dark forests of Varirata NP (Nik Borrow)

The Hook-billed Kingfisher is common but most active only for a short time at dawn and dusk thus making it difficult to see as it prefers not to leave thick cover (Nik Borrow)

The Hook-billed Kingfisher is common but most active only for a short time at dawn and dusk thus making it difficult to see as it prefers not to leave thick cover (Nik Borrow)

The incredible male King of Saxony Bird of Paradise sits on exposed perches waving its bizarre ‘antennae’ and uttering strange crackling noises (Nik Borrow)

The incredible male King of Saxony Bird of Paradise sits on exposed perches waving its bizarre ‘antennae’ and uttering strange crackling noises (Nik Borrow)

The adult male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia has proportionately the longest tail streamers of any bird in the world (Nik Borrow)

The adult male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia has proportionately the longest tail streamers of any bird in the world (Nik Borrow)

Tame and delightful White-winged Robins are a feature of the ‘garden’ at Kumul Lodge (Nik Borrow)

Tame and delightful White-winged Robins are a feature of the ‘garden’ at Kumul Lodge (Nik Borrow)

Local knowledge comes in useful if there is a roost hole of the Greater Sooty Owl to be found (Nik Borrow)

Local knowledge comes in useful if there is a roost hole of the Greater Sooty Owl to be found (Nik Borrow)

An obliging pair of Mountain Owlet-nightjars usually frequents the forest around the chalets at Kumul Lodge (Nik Borrow)

An obliging pair of Mountain Owlet-nightjars usually frequents the forest around the chalets at Kumul Lodge (Nik Borrow)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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