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Papua New Guinea: Islands

Comprehensively explore the archipelagos east of New Guinea, staying comfortably at dive resorts and on liveaboard boats. Despite visiting some remote and rarely-birded areas, the tour is borderline luxurious and includes only easy walking! We will be searching for all the possible endemics on New Ireland, Fergusson, Tench, Manus, and the rarely-visited Mussau, including the exquisite Superb Pitta, range-restricted Goldie's Bird-of-paradise and Crinkle-collared Manucode, Atoll Starling, stunning Nicobar Pigeon, and beautiful Mussau Fantail. All up, we should record more than 40 species not reliably seen on any other tours!

Next Dates

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Price: $

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Single Room Supplement: $

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7

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Huon Peninsula Extension

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7

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Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

New Britain Extension

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Single Room Supplement: $

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7

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Accommodation:

Excellent dive resorts, comfortable town hotels, and high-quality liveaboard dive boats. Please note that we cannot guarantee single rooms on the boats (twin-share being the standard, these days are not included in the single supplement fee), but will do our best to accommodate fairly.

Walking difficulty:

This tour is physically easy (much more so than our standard Papua New Guinea tour!), with short and mostly flat walks throughout. Some sections could be muddy and we may venture inside the forest on occasion to look for skulkers, but overall the pace is a very relaxed!

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Morning tour start at Port Moresby airport (POM). Flight to Alotau and afternoon birding in search of the range-restricted Silver-eared Honeyeater and attractive eastern form of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, both of which can be found in town, sometimes at our hotel! Night on Alotau.


Day 2: Boarding our comfortable liveaboard dive boat, this morning we sail towards Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago. On the way, we will make a quick stop at a small island in the Goschen Straight where Louisiade White-eye can be found at the edge of its range. Night on dive boat.


Day 3: Arriving overnight at a secluded bay, we will make our way ashore and spend all day birding lowland forest on Fergusson Island. The gorgeous Goldie’s Bird-of-Paradise and the bizarre Curl-crested Manucode will be our main targets, along with the very distinct forms of Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Papuan Pitta. If we can find a vehicle, we will try for Oya Tabu White-eye and Fergusson Pheasant Pigeon, but realistically, seeing either of these would require a logistical miracle! Night on dive boat.


Day 4: After a morning of birding, we will sail back towards Alotau. Night on dive boat.


Day 5: Disembarking and heading to the airport for a flight to Port Moresby, we will subsequently continue onwards to Kavieng on New Ireland, where we will overnight.


Days 6-7-8: Starting with three nights on land, based at a lovely coastal resort, we will probably see several special birds in the gardens behind our rooms! The elegant Paradise Drongo, New Ireland Boobook, Red-chinned Lorikeet, Song Parrot, and Bismarck Hanging Parrot are all regular here, while grassy areas nearby often hold the endemic Forbes’s, Hunstein’s and Buff-bellied Mannikins. More widespread Melanesian species which are common both here and on New Britain include Moustached Treeswift, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Stephan’s Ground Dove, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, Melanesian Kingfisher, Long-tailed Myna, and Bismarck Crow. Ascending the Lelet Plateau in 4WD vehicles, New Ireland Pitta, Bismarck White-eye and Bismark Whistler can be heard serenading us at dawn, then while walking along the road we will search in particular for both Reddish and New Ireland Myzomela, New Ireland Dwarf Kingfisher, Pied Cuckoo-Dove, Knob-billed Fruit Dove, Black, Finsch’s and Yellowish Imperial Pigeons, White-backed Woodswallow, and the undescribed but quite common “Bismarck Flyrobin”. Bismarck Fantail, Black-tailed Monarch, Velvet Flycatcher, and Red-banded Flowerpecker are all much more common here than on New Britain, and we have a real chance to see the almost entirely unknown New Britain Sparrowhawk (confusingly found on New Ireland too). New Ireland Friarbird and White-naped Lory usually favour higher altitudes than we can access, and Bismarck Kingfisher is an exceedingly rare species, but we will try our best to search for these if we see everything else in good time. If weather conditions and flight schedules permit, we might try to make the crossing to Dyaul one morning to find "Dyaul" Velvet Flycatcher, "Dyaul" Black-tailed Monarch, and the particularly distinctive "Dyaul" Golden Monarch. Nights in Kavieng.


Day 9-10-11: Boarding another liveaboard boat, we will begin with a short stop on New Hanover, where the endemic New Hanover Mannikin is fairly common. The next day, we will wake up anchored next to the remote and rarely-visited Mussau Island, where there are four endemic birds to find: Mussau Fantail, Mussau Monarch, Mussau Flycatcher, and (hopefully) the extremely poorly-known Mussau Triller. We should also encounter the local forms of Russet-tailed Thrush and Island Leaf Warbler, with Blue-faced Parrotfinch astoundingly common. Arriving the next morning at Tench, we will have time to circumnavigate the tiny island on foot, marvelling at the astounding density of Nicobar Pigeon and Melanesian Scrubfowl! The very range-restricted Atoll Starling is a star bird here (known only from eight tiny islands in Melanesia!), along with the islet-loving Bismarck Black Myzomela, hulking Beach Kingfisher, Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, and Island Monarch. Of course, throughout our time on the island, we will be constantly side-stepping Red-footed and Brown Boobies, with Black Noddies, Great Frigatebirds, and White-tailed Tropicbirds above, all in a breeding frenzy! In the afternoon we will start our way back to Kavieng, keeping an eye out for Beck’s Petrel or Heinroth’s Shearwater on the way, both known from area. All nights on dive boat.


Day 12: Disembarking early this morning, we fly to Port Moresby and then on to Manus Island in the Admiralty Group, eagerly anticipating one of the star birds of the region! Night on Manus Island.


Days 13-14-15: Our final port of call during the main tour, the rarely-visited Manus Island holds ten endemics, of which the near-legendary Superb Pitta will be our most-wanted quarry. Sporting contrasting black, red, and turquoise plumage, many regard this species as the most beautiful pitta in the world! The other endemics we will find here are Meek’s Pygmy Parrot, Manus Boobook, Manus Dwarf Kingfisher, Manus Cuckooshrike, Admiralty Cicadabird, Manus Friarbird, Manus Fantail, and Manus Monarch. Manus Masked Owl has not been seen since the 1930s, but we might try our luck anyway! Nights on Manus Island.


Day 16: Morning flight to Port Moresby (POM), where the main tour ends. Those continuing on the extension will take a connecting flight onwards to Hoskins on New Britain.



NEW BRITAIN EXTENSION


Day 1: Onward flight from Port Moresby to Hoskins on New Britain.


Day 2-3-4: Many tour participants may have visited New Britain on a previous PNG tour, but if you have not been, it is a much-needed addition to our Bismarck circuit. Staying at the fabulous Walindi Dive Resort, the most spectacular bird here is the recently rediscovered Golden Masked Owl, which is now known to be quite common in the nearby palm oil plantations where they hunt for rats and mice at night. We will not need to search for species already seen on New Ireland, so expect to have plenty of time to focus on some of the harder endemics and specialties like Pink-legged Rail, Eastern Bronze Ground-Dove, White-bibbed Ground-Dove, and Black Honeybuzzard. Easier to find will be our primary targets: Black-capped Paradise Kingfisher, White-mantled Kingfisher, New Britain Dwarf Kingfisher, Ashy Myzomela, Black-bellied Myzomela and New Britain Friarbird. Violaceous Coucal, White-necked Coucal, Mackinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove, Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot, and White-rumped Swiftlet are all easy to see here, while the noisy endemic Blue-eyed Cockatoos are one of the most conspicuous parrots. In the evening, strikingly large Great Flying Foxes can be seen flapping and gliding lazily overhead while we search for New Britain Boobook. 


On one morning, we will take a short boat trip out into Kimbe Bay, stopping by Restorff Island, where the islet specialty Sclater’s Myzomela is common, along with Mangrove Golden Whistler. Some participants may choose to spend a few hours snorkelling here; Kimbe plays host to some of the best coral reefs in the world. The rest of us may continue out to sea for a few hours in search of Heinroth’s Shearwater, which we usually see, though interested participants should know that the experience tends to be wet and bone-jarring.


Day 5: Today we return to Port Moresby (POM), where the extension ends.

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