Papua New Guinea - An Easy Tour!
Monday 1st July – Tuesday 16th July 2013
Mention the words Papua New Guinea (PNG) to most wildlife enthusiasts and you will conjure up visions of the most flamboyant and exotic looking family of birds on Earth – the Birds-of-Paradise. Their iridescent colours combine with intricate, strange and elongated feathers, and the most amazing courtship displays and calls of any birds you’re ever likely to see. Apart from this unique and highly sought after family there is much more to make this your trip of a lifetime. Unspoilt rainforests melt into meandering rivers, coastal swamps and woodlands where over 700 species of birds are found, on the world’s richest island for endemics. This tour is different in that we have designed it so that it will suit birders of all ages who prefer an easier pace and opportunities to savour the birds and enjoy the grounds of some of Papua New Guinea’s best birding lodges. There will be fabulous boat trips and even a huge bird table that attracts birds-of-paradise. If you’ve ever wanted to see some of the most extravagant birds on Earth without having to rough it then this is the trip to go on. From the ‘Huli’ wig-men, to pristine forests, and an amazing variety of birds, join us in a country which is still relatively unknown to the outside world.
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If travelling from the UK we will take an evening flight from London to Cairn’s, Australia, where we connect with our onward flight bound for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea arriving in the morning of Day 3.
Day 3 Arrive - Port Moresby – 3rd
After our arrival we will check into our hotel, after which we will visit several close sites where we can acquaint ourselves with a variety species that may include, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Green Figbird, Spotted Whistling-Duck, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Pacific Black Ducks, Dusky Moorhen, Comb-crested Jacanas, Nankeen Night-Heron, Whistling Kite, Orange-fronted and Orange-bellied Fruit-Doves, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, the localised Black-backed Butcherbird, Grey-headed Mannikins and if we are lucky there could be Papuan Frogmouths perched up on their day-time roost. Night Port Moresby
Day 4 Varirata National Park – 4th
Today we will set off to explore the nearby Varirata National Park, PNG’s very first National Park which lies in the foothills above Port Moresby. Some 2500 acres of Eucalyptus forest, black rocks and countless waterfalls offer a fantastic introduction to the many avian delights of this unique country. Here amongst the trails that cut through moist evergreen forest and eucalyptus, we will search for several species that are difficult to find elsewhere. Amongst the most spectacular is the Raggiana’s Bird of Paradise, and we could well find these fairly common birds performing their amazing courtship display. There are good numbers of kingfishers represented here including Azure, Yellow-billed, Forest, the huge Blue-winged Kookaburra, the gorgeous Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and with luck the stunning Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher. As we search this wonderful habitat we could come across skulkers such as Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler, Painted Quail-Thrush, Northern Scrub Robin and Pheasant Pigeon, while the sounds of Crested Pitohui and Black-billed Brush-Turkeys echo throughout the forest. As we take several short trails into the forest and later bird from the open road we can expect many more species including Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise, Eastern Riflebird, Ornate, Dwarf and Superb Fruit Doves, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Papuan King Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Moustached Tree Swift, Dollarbird, Boyer’s and Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-shrikes, Spot-breasted Meliphaga, Rusty Pitohui, Dwarf, Mangrove, Golden and White-bellied Whistler, Eastern Riflebird, Mangrove Fantail, Silver-eared Honeyeater, Mangrove Robin, Mountain Red-headed and Papuan Black Myzomelas, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Frilled and Black-faced Monarch, White-throated Honeyeater and Varied Triller. We could also find Barred Owlet-nightjar in a day-time roost, or maybe the huge Greater Black Coucal. After what will undoubtedly be a fantastic first full day we will return to our hotel and reflect on today’s sightings.
Night Port Moresby.
Days 5 - 7 Kumil Lodge – 5th,6th,7th
Today we will take a short flight to Mount Hagen, the capital of the Papua New Guinea highlands and home to the fabulous Kumil Lodge where we will be based for the next 3 nights. Situated in a secluded area and surrounded by magnificent mountains and forests this homely lodge offers something very special. Where else in the world can you watch a bird table that attracts birds-of-paradise? Kumul Lodge is situated on a high ridge covered in pristine montane forest and the bungalows, which each have their own veranda with a view out over the surrounding valleys. Its 27 hectares of private grounds offer outstanding birding and by travelling short distances from the lodge we can also add many more sought after species. A feeding station has been set up outside the dining room and, because of the no-hunting policy adopted by this community-run project the birds have become incredibly tame. Viewed at eye level from a balcony and only a few metres away we can often get unparalleled views of Brown Sicklebill, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Brehm’s Tiger-parrot, Belford’s Melidectes, Rufous-naped Whistler, Regent Whistler, Crested Berrypecker, Smoky Honeyeater and with luck the bird table can host the stunning flame-coloured Crested Satinbird, Archbold’s Bowerbird and sometimes quietly feeding underneath is the Chestnut Forest-Rail. For photographers this is a dream, and a difficult place to tear yourself away from. The surrounding gardens and forest trails will be searched for an array of species such as White-winged and Black-throated Robins, Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren, Island Thrush, Grey-streaked Honeyeater, Red-collared Myzomela, New Guinea White-Eye, Plum-faced Lorikeet, Mountain Mouse Warbler, Papuan Scrub Wren, Painted Tiger-Parrot, Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Lesser Melampitta, Mountain Firetail and as the day draws to a close we have a chance of encountering Dusky Woodcocks as they shuffle out from their daytime hiding places to feed around the lodge. We will also look for Mountain Nightjars which can often be seen around the cabins and with luck we can spot the Mountain Owlet-Nightjar. Excursion s to slightly different habitats only short distances away will give us the chance for several new species including a display area for Lesser Bird-of-Paradise, also King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise and the spectacular Blue Bird-of-Paradise. Lawes’ Parotia can be very difficult but we will try and see this special bird while a host of other species could include Papuan Parrotfinch, Marbled Honeyeater, White-shouldered Fairy-Wren, Bronze Ground-Dove, the highly poisonous Blue-capped Ifrita, Blue-grey Robin, Spotted Jewel-Babbler, Tit Berrypecker, Garnet Robin, maybe Lesser Ground Robin, Yellow-breasted Bowerbird and with luck the strange Wattled Ploughbill or even Loria’s Satinbird.
3 Nights Kumil Lodge.
Days 8 - 10 Karawari Lodge – 8th,9th,10th
This morning after some final birding we will leave this superb place and take a flight to Karawari Lodge. Flying over endless forest we eventually see the winding river below us and grassy airstrip of one of PNG’s most remote and un-spoilt destinations. From here a short walk to the river bank will see us transferred to our wonderful lodge which sits astride a hilltop overlooking the swiftly flowing river. The dark timbers of the thatched lodge are covered with local artefacts from the village people living along PNG’s main river, the mighty Sepik, and characters from the many tribes are carved into the support beams, dining table and bar stools. An ample balcony delivers grand views over a vast expanse of tropical jungle and distant mountain ranges, while scattered huts of grass and thatch and children gambolling on the riverbank are the only signs of human presence. We will be accommodated in separate cottages, each with hot water, en-suite bathrooms, ceiling fans and veranda. Most of our birding will be done by boat although the lodge grounds and surrounding forest and scrub can attract a good variety of birds. One of the highlights of staying here will be our early morning boat trip to see the amazing Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise displaying from one of its favourite trees. Over the next two days we will travel around the river system and lakes using comfortable water-jet power boats. Most of the time we will be in silence except for the noises from the forest as we quietly drift with the currents in search of a wealth of special birds. Waterbirds abound and we will search for Great-billed Heron, Black Bittern, Little Pied Cormorant, Pacific Black Duck and Sacred Kingfisher. This is a heaven for Parrots and our search could reveal the huge Palm Cockatoo, Electus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Western Black-capped and Dusky Lory’s. Amongst the pigeons are Zoe, Rufescent and Pinon Imperial Pigeons, but pride of place would have to go to the superb looking Victoria Crowned Pigeon if we can find one! Alighting on the bank beside a small village with very friendly native people we will take a short walk to the display area of the striking King Bird-of-Paradise. The forest here also holds Variable Pitohui, Golden Myna, Black-browed Triller, Lowland Peltops and a wealth of other bird species can be seen anywhere along the river complex or from the balcony of our lodge. Huge Blyth’s Hornbills can fly past as well as Papuan Needletails, and we will keep a look out for Yellow-faced Mynas, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Sacred Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher, New Guinea Friarbird, Streak-headed Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Plain, Ornate and Tawny-breasted Honeyeaters, Mimic Meliphaga and if we are fortunate Gurney’s Eagle, Jobi Manucode, or Marbled Frogmouth.
3 Nights Karawari Lodge.
Days 11 - 13 Ambua Lodge – 11th,12th,13th
Today we will transfer by plane to Tari, where we will then drive to the world famous Ambua Lodge, situated in the Southern Highlands at a height of 2100 metres. We will be staying in luxurious, traditional highland-style thatched chalets set in the lodge grounds, which are surrounded by montane forest and overlook the valley below. It is this lodge and the amazing wealth of birdlife, set amongst towering trees covered with mosses, lichens and orchids, that brings birdwatchers, naturalists and serious ornithologists to the area from all over the world. From the lodge grounds to the Tari Gap we have the chance to see no less than 13 species of Bird-of-Paradise. Birding begins the minute you step outside your door, and we could soon encounter Short-tailed Paradigalla, Loria’s Satinbird, Blue Bird-of-Paradise and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia. Further up King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise can often be seen displaying, while many other spectacular species include Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Crested Satinbird, Brown Sicklebill, the rare Black Sicklebill, Lawe’s Parotia, Madarasz’s, Painted and Brehm’s Tiger-Parrots, Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, White-breasted Fruit Dove, Dusky Lory, Plum-faced, Orange-billed, Papuan and Goldie’s Lorikeets, Mountain Kingfisher, Mountain Swiftlet, Lesser Malampitta, Northern Logrunner, Island Thrush, Blue-capped Ifrita, Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren, Mountain Mouse-Warbler, Buff-faced and Papuan Scrub-Wrens, Dimorphic and Friendly Fantails, Black-breasted Boatbill, Garnet, Black-throated, White-winged and Blue-grey Robins, Regent, Rufous-naped and Sclater’s Whistlers, the skulking Lesser Ground Robin, Black Pitohui, Wattled Ploughbill, Varied and Black Sitella, Crested, Tit and Mid-mountain Berrypecker, Olive Straightbill, Red-collared Myzomela, Marbled, Yellowish Streaked, Rufous-backed and Common Smoky Honeyeaters, Belford’s, Yellow-browed, Sooty and Ornate Melidectes, Papuan and Blue-faced Parrotfinches, Mountain Firetail, Hooded Mannikin, Torrent-Lark, Black Butcherbird, and Macgregor’s and Archbold’s Bowerbirds. This area is also home to the magnificent and secretive New Guinea Harpy Eagle, and with luck we may come across this truly spectacular raptor. Several evening excursions in search of night birds and wildlife could produce Mountain Nightjar, Papuan Boobook, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth, or possibly a Mountain Owlet-Nightjar. This area is also home to the Huli ‘wigmen’ who are traditionally donned in headwear decorated with plumes from birds of paradise and parrots. It’s hard to image that these painted warriors were totally isolated from the rest of the world until their discovery just two generations ago. We should feel honoured as even today they have had very little contact with foreigners.
3 Nights Ambua Lodge
This morning we transfer to Tari airstrip where we may see Australian Pratincole, and then fly back to Port Moresby. Night Port Moresby
Days 15 Depart Port Moresby - End - 15th/16th July
Today we will depart on our international flight which will get back to the UK the following - day 16
Leaders: Will Wagstaff and local guides
Airfare: Between £900.00 & £1250.00 depending when booked - UK/UK
Group size: minimum of 5 and maximum 10.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, en-suite, all meals, ground transport throughout, 4 internal flights, boat trips, entrance fees, landowner fees, water and snacks and services of leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Our hotels and lodges are all excellent in quality. Many tours to Papua New Guinea, visit areas where the accommodation is extremely basic, some with shared rooms, no water etc. We have avoided this by running a tour to some of the very best and well known lodges, all with superb birding opportunities.
Tour Code: This is actually an easy tour, with no strenuous walks, although you should be prepared to be out early in the mornings to maximise our chances of seeing this country’s wonderful birdlife. There will be optional evening birding when necessary. Some days we see us with a picnic lunch while other days we will have lunch at the lodge. The weather can be unsettled at this time of year, so expect some cooler weather and possible cold weather with chances of rain in the highlands.
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