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Papua New Guinea: Remote Highlights

Many people who have done the classic Papua New Guinea route want a trip to see some of the most stunning and unique species in more remote parts of the country. This tour does just that, visiting Manus Island for the incomparable Superb Pitta, Keki Lodge for Fire-maned Bowerbird and Dimorphic Jewelbabbler, and the new safari-style Huon Birding Camp for Huon Astrapia, Emperor Bird-of-paradise, Wahnes's Parotia dance courts, and Huon Bowerbird bachelor pads! Our final stop on this adventurous route will see us taking a boat across to Fergusson Island in search of the endemic Goldie's Bird-of-paradise and Curl-crested Manucode.

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

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Deposit: $

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Add a Title

Price: $

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Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels in the towns, comfortable liveaboard diveboat during the Fergusson leg, and a comfortable but basic permanent tented camp with shared facilities and cold water in the Huon. Keki Lodge on the extension is a basic but pleasant guesthouse with shared facilities and cold water.

Walking difficulty:

Lots of the birding on this tour is roadside, so for the majority of the time, only minimal physical effort is required. Some short walks and trails to access hides and overlooks will be steep and/or muddy, so good balance is essential to ensure full participation. The access road to Keki Lodge is sometimes undrivable, in which case there would be a 3km uphill walk required up the dirt road to reach the lodge (but porters would be carrying all our gear for us).

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: Our tour begins this morning in Port Moresby (POM) with a domestic flight to Madang, where we will transfer in 4WDs to the fabulous Keki Lodge in the Adelbert Mountains for a four-night stay. Very few birders visit this exciting area, but our excellent host, Moyang, is always very excited to welcome us back!


Day 2-3-4: The basic but homely wooden lodgings at Keki are set right in the middle of well-preserved hill forest, and much of the birding can be done from the deck! The star attraction here is the endemic Fire-maned Bowerbird, which often sits up high on dead sticks to advertise its presence and feeds in a fig tree above the dining hall. There is a small chance that Moyang will have found us a bower to stake out too, so we will cross our fingers! There will also be the opportunity to visit both a Lesser Bird-of-paradise lek and a hide overlooking a court of the resident male Magnificent Bird-of-paradise. With patience, there is a good chance to see both these spectacular species displaying if a female pops by!

Venturing down some of the small trails, we will be on the lookout for the exquisite Banded Yellow Robin (much like a flashy version of the Australian counterparts!), Brown-headed Jewelbabbler, Tan-capped Catbird, and Collared Brushturkey. The lodge grounds are sometimes visited by the rare Obscure Berrypecker and Forest Honeyeater, while other scarce birds in the area we might chance across include Northern Cassowary and Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Otherwise, there will be plenty of more widespread New Guinea birds to entertain us, such as Dusky and Black-capped Lories, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Grey Crow, Blyth’s Hornbill, Long-billed Honeyeater, Ochre-collared Monarch, Sepik-Ramu Shrikethrush, and the poisonous Hooded Pitohui. The leader is very keen to venture out at night here to look for some rare mammals, and anyone is welcome to join him! Nights at Keki Lodge.


Day 5: After spending the first half of the day at Keki, we will return to Madang for an overnight stay. An afternoon outing might allow us to find the range-restricted Edward’s Fig Parrot near town, but this species is always tricky to pin down.


Day 6: Today we fly back to Port Moresby, and then onwards to Lae.


Day 7: This morning, we will board our charter flight and glide over the Huon Peninsula to land at Wasu on the north coast. We will be driven up to the safari-style permanent camp in 4WDs and commence our exploration of this wonderful area.


Day 8-9-10: 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 Bird-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 and the incredible Spangled Honeyeater usually found at the highest point on the road. A Huon Melidectes might 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, Papuan and Fairy Lorikeets, Ornate Fruit Dove, Great Cuckoo Dove, Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Red-collared Myzomela, Rufous-backed, Black-throated, and Mountain Honeyeaters, Papuan Sittella, Buff-faced Scrubwren, Black-breasted Boatbill, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Brown-backed and Regent Whistlers, Black and Friendly Fantails, Canary Flyrobin, and Black-throated and Slaty Robins. Nights at Huon Birding Camp.


Day 11: Today, we fly back to Lae for an overnight stay near the airport.


Day 12: Flying back to Port Moresby, we will overnight near the airport.


Day 13: Onwards to Manus Island, eagerly anticipating one of the star birds of the region!


Day 14-15: The rarely-visited Manus Island in the Admiralty Group 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: After a final morning of birding, we’ll take an afternoon flight back to Port Moresby for overnight.


Day 17: This morning, we board a short flight onwards to Alotau, at the far south-eastern tip of the island. Afternoon birding will see us searching for Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot and Orange-fronted Fruit Dove. The range-restricted Silver-eared Honeyeater and attractive eastern form of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin are common in our hotel gardens! Night in Alotau.


Day 18: 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 19: 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 20: After a morning of birding, we will sail back to Alotau.


Day 21: Disembarking and heading to the airport for a flight to Port Moresby, the main tour will end around lunchtime at the international airport.

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