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Papua New Guinea: Mainland

Comprehensively explore the classic mainland route around PNG with a small group and the most experienced leaders. This tour features extra time at Varirata to search out harder species like Pheasant Pigeon and Forest Bittern, several chances for desirable highland species like Wattled Ploughbill and Blue Bird-of-paradise, and two nights in the forest up the Fly River for Flame Bowerbird, Spangled Owlet-nightjar, and New Guinea Flightless Rail. Then, visit the Huon Peninsula for Wahnes's Parotia, Emperor Bird-of-paradise, Huon Bowerbird, Huon Astrapia, Spangled Honeyeater, and more. All up, a very exciting adventure, with a good chance at all seven endemic families, plus a dazzling array of colourful parrot, dove, honeyeater, and bird-of-paradise species!

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

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Huon Peninsula Extension

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

Excellent hotels in Port Moresby, Mount Hagen, and Tari. Comfortable hotels in Kiunga and Tabubil. Very basic guesthouse with shared facilities and cold water for our two nights up the Fly River (uncomfortable, but necessary for some of the best lowland birding and spotlighting in New Guinea!). In the Huon Extension, we will be in a basic permanent tented camp in the forest with shared facilities and cold water.

Walking difficulty:

To fully participate in this tour, participants should be able to keep balance and walk comfortably at a birding pace on muddy/uneven/steep trails for several hours at a time. We also welcome any participants who feel they might not quite be at this level of fitness, but caution there will be two or three birding sessions which you might choose to skip. Please email us if you are unsure or want more details.

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 1-2: After early arrivals into Port Moresby (POM) on Day 1, we will drop our bags at the hotel and head straight out to the famous Varirata National Park, where we will be birding for the next two days. Here, we will look for flamboyant Raggiana Birds-of-paradise at their display tree – with luck, some females will drop by and send the males into a frenzy of display! Sneaky Growling Riflebirds and Crinkle-collared Manucodes move through the canopy, and we will search for beautiful Brown-headed Paradise Kingfishers, the skulking Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler and Painted Quailthrush, a huge assortment of pigeons and honeyeaters, as well as many other exciting birds like Black-billed Brushturkey, Barred Owlet-nightjar, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Wallace’s Fairywren, Goldenface, the poisonous Hooded Pitohui, Hooded Butcherbird, Chestnut-bellied Fantail, and Golden Monarch. We may see our first of New Guinea’s unique endemic families here, with both Black Berrypecker and Dwarf Longbill regularly encountered. It would not be unusual after these two days to have recorded close to 50 New Guinea endemics in this wonderful park, hopefully including some of the harder targets like Forest Bittern, Pheasant Pigeon, Crested Bellbird, and Papuan Scrub Robin! Nights in Port Moresby.


Day 3: Today, we will take a short flight to Mount Hagen and transfer to the homely Kumul Lodge, where we will stay for the next three nights. Upon arrival, we will be immediately greeted by Ribbon-tailed Astrapias on the feeding table, alongside Belford’s Melidectes, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, and Common Smoky Honeyeater. The surrounding gardens are regularly visited by the unique Crested Satinbird, noisy Blue-capped Ifrit, and beautiful Eastern Crested Berrypecker, all of these representing endemic bird families found only in New Guinea! Other species here include Forbes’s Forest Rail, Feline and Mountain Owlet-nightjars, Archbold’s Nightjar, New Guinea Woodcock, White-winged Robin, Mountain Firetail, and Rusty-naped Bellbird (closely related to the Crested Bellbird of Australia!). Night at Kumul Lodge.


Day 4-5: Visiting several sites in the vicinity of the lodge, we will be astounded by the luminous Blue Bird-of-paradise, otherworldly King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise, and immense Brown Sicklebill, three of the most exciting “BoPs” of the highlands! We should also see other good-looking birds such as Greater Lophorina, Tit Berrypecker, Ornate Melidectes, Black-breasted Boatbill, Regent Whistler, Plum-faced and Orange-billed Lorikeets, plus a large assortment of interesting small birds like Mountain Mouse-warbler, Papuan Scrubwren, and Brown-breasted Gerygone. In some drier habitat, we will look for Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, Black-headed Whistler, Mountain Honeyeater, and Papuan Grassbird, then check some cascades for the strange Torrent Flyrobin. We hope to be lucky enough to entice the skulking Lesser Melampitta or flighty Mottled Berryhunter into view, and maybe even track down a male Wattled Ploughbill making his high-pitched call - these three birds representing the remaining endemic bird families (though some will be significantly easier to see in the coming days at Rondon). Nights at Kumul Lodge.


Day 6: After a final morning at Kumul, we will drive to the luxurious Rondon Ridge for a three-night stay.


Day 7-8: The star attraction of Rondon is its unequalled variety of birds-of-paradise. We should encounter Loria’s Satinbird and the odd-looking Short-tailed Paradigalla, while higher up the road we will look for the beautiful Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, and have another chance for King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise. Lower down, we will search fruiting trees for Lawes’s Parotia, and we will have another chance for Blue Bird-of-paradise. Along the forest edge, we have more chances for Blue-capped Ifrit, Wattled Ploughbill, and Mottled Berryhunter. This is also a good area for the immense New Guinea Eagle, closely related to the Harpy Eagle of South America. Other targets include the shy Macgregor’s Bowerbird, Painted, Modest, and Madarasz’s Tiger Parrots, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Papuan Logrunner, Chestnut Forest Rail, Ashy Robin, Lesser Ground Robin, Papuan Treecreeper, Black Pitohui, Black Sittella, and Spotted Berrypecker. At night, Papuan Boobook is usually common, while Archbold’s Nightjar might be staked out for us. There is of course the usual assortment of robins, whistlers, honeyeaters, pigeons, and scrubwrens to also look for in this very diverse area!


Day 9: After one more morning of birding in Rondon, we fly to Kiunga and transfer in 4WDs up to Tabubil, where we spend the next four nights.


Day 10-11-12: Tabubil is the best spot in New Guinea to access good hill forest favoured by some mouthwatering specialties. One of the best is the retiring Shovel-billed Kookaburra, which we have managed to pin down quite well and have not missed for several years! Queen Carola’s Parotia and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise can usually be seen from an overlook north of town, where Obscure Berrypecker and White-rumped Robin sneak by in the vegetation. The handsome Torrent-lark and Salvadori’s Teal favour an area of rapids to the south, where Great Woodswallow and Mountain Peltops often sit along the powerlines. Further afield, there are always new places to explore, including the newly open road to Telefomin, and we hope to repeat previous successes where we have seen the alien Yellow-breasted Satinbird, the unique Greater Melampitta, the smart Wallace’s Fairywren, and the amazing Pesquet’s Parrot. Recent sightings of the almost unknown Sooty Shrikethrush give us hope to see this extreme rarity too. Striated Lorikeet and Yellow-eyed Starling sometimes pass overhead, and we will be on the lookout for White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Spotted Honeyeater and Orange-breasted Fig Parrot (amongst many others!).


Day 13: After the morning around Tabubil, we drive back to Kiunga, spending our afternoon at the famous “KM17”, where the Greater Bird-of-paradise scenes were filmed for David Attenborough’s “Life of Birds” documentary. The birds have since moved a few trees over, but still put on a great show whenever the females pop by! We will have our first chance to see the tiny King Bird-of-paradise here, as well as both Papuan and Hooded Pittas. We might also come across the rare Wallace’s Owlet-nightjar and bubbling Marbled Frogmouth after dark. Night at Kiunga.


Day 14-15-16: Our two-night/three-day boat trip up the mighty Fly River is always the most exciting section of this tour, with the next two nights at a basic guesthouse in the forest before we return to our Kiunga hotel late on Day 16 for much-needed showers! Due to an excellent ecotourism program, the forest lining the Elevala River tributary where we will be based is protected and full of birds. Huge trees dangle their vegetation into the water and footprints on muddy banks often betray the presence of unseen Southern Cassowaries. There is a huge number of species to look for here, but among the most spectacular are Sclater’s Crowned Pigeon (usually found eyeing us cautiously from a conspicuous perch in the early morning), Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise (typically calling loudly from his conspicuous display pole visible from our guesthouse balcony!), and the glowing Flame Bowerbird (with luck, our local guides will have found a bower for us to stake out). Other mega birds include New Guinea Flightless Rail, Spangled Owlet-nightjar, Papuan Hawk-Owl, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Little Paradise Kingfisher, Blue Jewel-babbler, and Campbell’s Fairywren. More common species include Lowland Peltops, Large Fig Parrot, Golden Myna, White-bellied Pitohui, Papuan Babbler, Long-billed Cuckoo, many more parrots and pigeons, plus the occasional Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Pesquet’s Parrot, or Obscure Honeyeater.


Day 17: Our last morning at Kiunga will focus on the accessible roadside forests closer to town in search of some new species. We will likely be spending time at a forested overlook on Boystown Road, where Emperor Fairywren is often seen, or scanning some fields for the endemic White-spotted Mannikin. Towards the middle of the day, we fly back to Port Moresby. If we did not do it already at the start of the tour, there may be time for some open-country birding in the evening, looking for Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove, Grey-headed Mannikin, Black-backed Butcherbird, and Papuan Frogmouth. Night in Port Moresby.


Day 18: Morning flight to Lae, and depending on the weather, we may be able to board our plane to the Huon this afternoon. Otherwise, we will overnight in Lae and fly out the following day.



HUON PENINSULA EXTENSION (INCLUDED IN MAIN TOUR IN 2026)


Day 1/19: Gliding over the Huon Peninsula to land at Wasu on the north coast, we will be driven up to the permanent camp in 4WDs and commence our exploration of this wonderful area.


Day 2-3-4/20-21-22: The Huon Peninsula is most famous for three endemic birds-of-paradise, all of which we expect to see during our stay! At lower elevations, Emperor Birds-of-paradise lek in the crowns of tall forest trees, betraying their presence with an irregular cacophony of sound. On the mid-slopes, we will visit a display court of the transformative Wahnes’s Parotia and hopefully witness the incredible ballerina display of this stunning species. Higher up, the incredibly long-tailed Huon Astrapia can often be found by waiting at fruiting trees for the male to make his rounds. There are three other endemic birds on the Huon Peninsula, with the recently split Huon Bowerbird hopefully pinned down at a bower for us, while the incredible Spangled Honeyeater is usually found at the highest point on the road. Maybe a Huon Melidectes will appear to give us the clean-sweep, but this species prefers inaccessible higher altitudes and only ventures down on occasion. 


Plenty of other birds are found in this forest, which is probably the best accessible site in New Guinea to see the unique Pesquet’s Parrot and the monotypic Mottled Berryhunter, both of which are easy to miss elsewhere on the island. Other species include Mountain Peltops, Mountain Kingfisher, White-bellied Thicket Fantail, Forbes’s Forest Rail, Tit Berrypecker, Black-mantled Goshawk, Blue-capped Ifrit, Greater Lophorina, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Fairy Lorikeet, Ornate Fruit Dove, Great Cuckoo Dove, Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Red-collared Myzomela, Rufous-backed, Black-throated and Mountain Honeyeaters, Buff-faced Scrubwren, Black-breasted Boatbill, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Brown-backed Whistler, Black and Friendly Fantails, Canary Flyrobin, Black-throated Robin, and Slaty Robin.


Day 5/23: Today we fly back to Lae for an overnight stay near the airport.


Day 6/24: After breakfast, we will fly back to Port Moresby (POM), where this exciting tour ends this afternoon.