PNG – Highlights [29th May – 20th June 2019]
Visiting a number of PNG’s best birding spots we expect to see a number of species of spectacular Birds of Paradise plus a great supporting cast of New Guinea specialities.
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Papua New Guinea
Difficulty Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
This is a short tour designed for people who would like to get the greatest number of New Guinea specials in the shortest amount of time. With between 15-20 species of bird of paradise possible this is a great introduction to PNG birding.This tour offers a very good chance for at least one member of all seven of New Guinea’s currently accepted endemic bird families.
In Port Moresby, Kiunga and Tabubil accommodation is in comfortable western style hotels. Kumul lodge is a well appointed westernised landowner lodge made of bush materials. Kwatu Lodge up river in the Kiunga lowlands is a very basic landowner lodge made of bush materials, with pit toilets and cold water showers. However its location, situated slap in the middle of some wonderful pristine lowland forest, more than makes up for its lack of facilities. Be prepared for power failures which are common in PNG.
Participants need to be in good health and of a reasonable fitness level. New guinea is a country of steep, rainforest clad mountainsides and while we try to keep them at a minimum there will be steep muddy trails to be negotiated somewhere on the tour.
Expect rain at various locations and wile in the Highlands sites will be quite cool and even cold at night it is likely to be quite hot and humid around Port Moresby and in the Fly River lowlands.
2019 Tour Cost:
2019 Single Supplement:
Domestic Flights (Approximately):
- Meals as per itinerary
- Accommodation as per itinerary
- Guide services of tour leader
- Group tips & gratuities
- Transfers once tour has started
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Flights (Domestic & International)
- Items of a personal nature
Arrive Port Moresby
Arrive in Port Moresby A short tour of the Port Moresby area is arranged for those who arrive in time to take advantage of it.
Take the early flight to Tabubil in the foothills of the Star Mountains. Balance of day spent birding the Tabubil area. Most of our birding will be along roads with virtually no traffic with some steep trails leading off into the forest. We will look forTorrent Flycatchers in roadside streams, Salvadori’s Teal, and cross our fingers for the mythical and crepuscular Shovel-billed Kingfisher, Pesquet’s (Vulturine) Parrot, the almost unknown Obscure Berrypecker, Magnificent Riflebird, Magnificent Bird of Paradise and Carola’s Parotia (though males of both the latter are very elusive) and perhaps if we are lucky the elusive Greater Melampitta which inhabits the karst areas found in that region.
Tabubil area birding
A second day birding the Tabubil area. with a visit to the local artefacts shop where a number of very interesting artefacts can be viewed.
Drive to Kiunga
Leaving Tabubil we will set off down the narrow winding 150km road to Kiunga, travelling at times along knife edge ridges. We will bird as we go and there is a good chance of Pesquet’s (Vulturine )Parrot flying over. Arriving at Kiunga in the Fly River lowlands of Western Province we will bird the local area looking for birds such as Flame Bowerbird, Greater Bird of Paradise, Trumpet Manucode, Palm Cockatooand Obscure Honeyeater.
Kiunga area birding
Full day birding the Kiunga area. Flame Bowerbird, Greater Bird of Paradiseand Trumpet Manucode can all be found not far from the township and we will also hope for the Palm Cockatoo and Obscure Honeyeater.
Making an early start we will take a boat trip up first the Fly River and then up one of it’s tributaries, the Elevala river where we will disembark to stay a nights at Kwatu landowner lodge. Although we will be spending a long time in the boats a considerable variety of species can be seen along the river, including White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Great-billed Heron (when water levels are low), Collared Imperial-Pigeon(locally common here), Large Fig-Parrot (scarce), Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Papuan Spinetail, Shining Flycatcher, the diminutive King and the incredible Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise (with an early start), Golden and Yellow-faced mynas, and huge flights of flying-fox fruit-bats. Kwatu is a very basic lodge with pit toilets and bush showers. However the excellent birding in the vicinity of the Lodge make it a very worthwhile destination.
Full day birding the Kwatu area.
Kwatu & Kiunga area birding
After spending the early morning birding around the lodge looking for spectacular species such as Southern Crowned Pigeon we will take the boat back down the river where the balance of the afternoon will be spent birding locally.
Fly to Mt Hagen
Fly to Mt Hagen and overnight Kumul Lodge. The afternoon will be spent on the verandah of the Lodge. This overlooks the feeders where Brown Sicklebill, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia and Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot are amongst the regular visitors.
Kumul area birding (1)
Full day around Kumul. Full day around the Kumul area. All 3 of the endemic families can be found in this area and they will be a priority.
Kumul area birding (2)
Full day exploring the Kumul area following the same pattern as the previous day. There are some great orchid gardens around Kumul.
Transfer to Rondon Ridge
Transfer to Rondon Ridge. This very comfortable Lodge is on the other side of the Waghi Valley and at a different height band. It offers us some different birds including the possibility of Black Sicklebill.
Fly to Tari & Ambua Lodge
Take the TNT charter to Tari and transfer to Ambua Lodge. Tari is the heartland of the Huli wigmen. The Tari valley is also the site of Ambua Lodge a world class birding destination and we will be met by their representatives and drive up to the Lodge. This is one of the worlds premier birding sites with an amazing thirteen species of birds of paradise, Ambua and the Tari Gap is a mecca for birders seeking these amazing and colourful birds. Close to the lodge, birds that are commonly seen include the Buff-Banded Rail, Long-tailed Shrike, Pied Chat, Mountain Peltops, Friendly Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Blue-grey Robin and Hooded Mannikin.
Transfer to Makara Birdview Lodge
Early morning in the lodge grounds then transfer to Makara landowner lodge which is just up the road.
Tari is home to the Huli wigmen and it is possible to arrange a singsing if desired. The lodge is run by ex-Ambua guide Benson.
Tari area birding (1)
From the heathland and moss forest of the high altitude Tari gap to the lower level forests and farmlands Tari has around 13 species of Birds of Paradise and a huge variety of other birds.
Tari area birding (2)
Full day exploring the Tari area.
Port Moresby & PAU
Take the flight back to Port Moresby and an afternoon trip to the PAU. This offers us some very different birding and good birds to be seen here include Australian Darter, Wandering and Spotted (tough) whistling-ducks, Green Pygmy-Goose, Pied Heron, Rufous Night-Heron, White-browed Crake, Comb-crested Jacana, New Guinea Friarbird, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, White-breasted Woodswallow, Green Figbird, Black-backed Butcherbird, Grey-headed Munia, and Fawn-breasted Bowerbird.
Varirata National Park
Early breakfast at hotel then head up to Varirata National Park for a mornings guided birding. Most of our birding will be on foot along roads, at clearing edges, and along well-maintained forest trails (some of them steep) in search of “black-and-rufous” flocks and some spectacular but secretive specialties such as Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler, Northern Scrub-Robin, and Painted Quail-Thrush, with exceedingly remote dreams of Dwarf Cassowary. Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise will be a priority!
Entrance-road and clearing-edge possibilities include Pacific Baza, Great and Slender-billed Cuckoo-Doves, Beautiful, Orange-bellied, and Pink-spotted Fruit-Doves, Zoeand Pinon Imperial-Pigeons, Red-cheeked Parrot, Yellow-streaked and Black-capped lories, Rainbow Lorikeet, Brush Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Sacred, Forest, Azure, and Yellow-billed kingfishers, Blue-winged and Rufous-bellied Kookaburras, Green-backed Gerygone, Black and Mountain myzomelas, White-throated Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Grey Whistler, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Hooded Pitohui, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Hooded Butcherbird, Brown Oriole, Black-faced, White-bellied, Yellow-eyed, Boyer’s, and Stout-billed Cuckoo-shrikes, Cicadabird, Red-capped Flowerpecker, and Black-fronted White-eye. This is an excellent area for mixed-species flocks, which may include Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Dwarf Whistler (Goldenface), Yellow-bellied, Fairy, and Green-backed Gerygones, Spot-winged, Frilled, Black-faced, and Black-winged Monarchs, Pale-billed Scrubwren and the scarce Wallace’s Fairywren. Elusive voices can include Pheasant Pigeon and Crested Pitohui.
Varirata National Park & Lae
Morning around Varirata National Park before taking our afternoon flight to Lae.
Huon adventure (1)
Take early flight from Lae to Wasu for the start of your Huon adventure. The Huon has a number of endemic birds such as Huon Astrapia, Emperor Bird of Paradise and Huon Bowerbird and it has only recently become safe to travel there again. It has a lot of old growth forest and a range of height bands and is ripe for exploration.
Huon adventure (2)
Full day exploring the Huon. Accommodation here is in a basic tented camp up in the mountains.
Huon adventure (3)
Full day exploring the Huon.
Port Moresby & onward flights
Take the early flight back to Lae and then to Port Moresby in time to take late afternoon flights out. The tour ends on arrival in Port Moresby. Last meal will be lunch today.
It may be necessary to overnight in Port Moresby this night depending on your final destination.
Download the Itinerary
Click link to download PNG Highlights Itinerary Bulletin
Click the link below to download the PNG Highlights checklist.