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The island of Papua New Guinea has one of the richest and varied avifauna in the world. Over 700 species of birds have been identified here so far, including around 580 land and freshwater species, 40 sea birds, and 90 migrants from countries to the North and South. The passerines are diverse and include cuckoo-shrikes and trillers, shrikes, thrushes, logrunners, babblers, warblers, fairy-wrens, fantails, monarchs and robins, honeyeaters, finches, starlings, mynahs, orioles, drongos, wood swallows, butcherbirds, and bowerbirds—wow! The non-perching birds include cassowaries, birds of prey, megapods, pigeons and doves, cuckoos and coucals, owls and frogmouths, lorries and lorikeets, parrots, cockatoos, kingfishers, and hornbills.
Perhaps most famous are Papua New Guinea’s incredible Birds of Paradise, made known to the world through David Attenborough films and more recently the incredible imagery of the Birds of Paradise Project by Cornell University. Thirty-eight of the 40 + known species of Bird of Paradise are found in Papua New Guinea. As with herons and egrets in our part of the world, the millinery trade of the last century caused a significant drop in the populations of these beautiful birds and as a result, all species of Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea are now protected. Our pre-tour extension to the gorgeous Atherton Tablelands of North Queensland has chances for a dozen endemic species and makes time to seek out Southern Cassowary, one of the most prehistoric-looking birds you will ever spot!
There are options to extend your stay with a few other tours through our local operator. If this is something you may be interested in, please let us know and we can help you add on more time in paradise!
- Discover the modern, waterfront city of Cairns, Australia, at the start and end of the tour
- Marvel at the beautiful Rondon Ridge Lodge, nestled deep in Papua New Guinea’s rainforest highlands
- Cameras at the ready! 10 species of Bird of Paradise near Rondon Ridge
- Experience cultural activities at local villages; these areas are known for festivals and dancing
- Explore Papua New Guinea's lowlands at Karawari Lodge, exclusively accessible by boat
- Look for amazing Birds of Paradise, parrots, and even the enormous Northern Cassowary near Kawawari
- Opt to make the most of your trip by joining a short North Queensland pre-tour to the Atherton Tablelands and search for Southern Cassowary on this two-national-park extension.
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Tues., June 25 : Arrivals
Plan your flights to arrive no later than today to Cairns, Australia. Rest up, do a bit of birding on the waterfront, and be ready for tomorrow’s flight to PNG’s Port Moresby, then onward to Mt. Hagen. We plan dinner at leisure as some will be tired from travel—those up to it can enjoy one of Cairn’s many great restaurants this evening.
Accommodation in Cairns (Meals not included)
Wed., June 26 : Cairns to Mt. Hagen | Rondon Ridge Lodge
This morning, after breakfast, we transfer to the Cairns Airport for our flight to Mt. Hagen via Port Moresby. Our flights are arranged by our Australian partner (additional cost). Based on the 2021 schedule, the flight to Mt. Hagen should be approximately 11:45 AM with a plane change in Port Moresby.
Mt. Hagan is situated in the mountains … so beautiful scenery awaits! We are met at the Mt. Hagan Kagamuga Airport and then drive about 60 miles to our delightful accommodations in the Western Highlands Province of PNG.
Rondon Ridge is located at an elevation of 7,100 feet above sea level on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range with panoramic views of the Wahgi Valley below. There is some of the oldest evidence of agriculture on PNG in this valley. Today, the area produces fresh fruit and vegetables, and tea and coffee plantations abound.
We enjoy tastefully appointed rooms that feature double doors opening to expansive views. In our rooms are lovely furnishings and floors made from local wood. Our beds are warmed and we have cozy blankets for those fresh highland nights. All rooms have modern private bathrooms. The facility has 24-hour, eco-friendly electricity, provided by its own hydroelectric power plant that generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream.
Accommodations at Rondon Ridge (B,L,D)
Thurs., June 27 – Sun., June 30 : PNG Highlands: Four Days of Incredible Birding from Rondon Ridge Lodge
Immerse yourselves in the forests of PNG. We spend four full days birding in the lush, high-altitude forests behind Rondon Ridge. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in these rainforests, including ten species of Bird of Paradise. The surrounding area is pristine rainforest and home to numerous orchid species. The lodge has hours of walking trails providing ample opportunity to explore the unique ecology. Close to the lodge we look for Macgregor's Bowerbird, Brown Sicklebill, Stephanie's Astrapia, and the Superb Bird of Paradise among many others. Further afield is the Black Sicklebill, the Buff-tailed Sicklebill, King of Saxony Bird of Paradise, and the Short-tailed Paradigalla, to name a few.
One of our days here we plan a visit to another nearby community-run lodge, just across the border in Enga Province, so famous for its Bird of Paradise sightings. Species we can see here include Belford’s Melidectes, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Brown Sicklebill, and Brehm’s Tiger Parrot. Regent Whistler, Eastern Crested Berrypecker, and Rufous-naped Bellbird can be seen feeding in the trees, and White-winged Robin is also a regular here.
On another day we travel to a local village to look for Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (the national bird of Papua New Guinea and the species featured on the country’s flag). For those that wish, we can take advantage of cultural activities offered by local communities, with a guide; this area is known for festivals and dancing.
Accommodations at Rondon Ridge (B,L,D)
Mon., July 1 : Rondon Ridge | Mt. Hagen | PNG Lowlands at Karawari Lodge in the Eastern Sepik Region
This morning after breakfast, we return from Rondon Ridge to Mt. Hagen airport where we take a charter flight (cost included in tour) to Karawari in the Eastern Sepik Province of PNG.
Our accommodations are located in one of the most remote and unspoiled locations in Papua New Guinea. Here, people live as they have for centuries, living in stilt homes along the river and fishing. The lodge sits above the river with a commanding view.
Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, the lodge is intimate (only 10 rooms) and despite its remote location, provides modern comforts.
The transfer from Karawari’s private airstrip to our accommodations at Karawari Lodge is by boat—the only practical means of transport in this extremely isolated part of the world. Enjoy seeing villages that line the
edges of flooded waterways. For local people, dugout canoes are the primary mode of transport. There are no roads, no shops, and no phones.
The Sepik River inhabitants live completely off the land, weaving baskets for catching fish; gathering, preparing, and cooking their staple food from the Sago Palm.
From the deck of our lodge, we enjoy spectacular view over hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical lowland rainforest. This afternoon we bird in the area around the lodge and settle into our rooms. Each room has a modern private bathroom, 220V electricity, hot and cold water, comfortable mosquito-netted beds, ceiling fans, and a breezy veranda—all of which make for a welcome sanctuary after a day's exploration in the steamy, but bird-rich lowland rainforest.
Accommodations at Karawari Lodge (B,L,D)
Tues., July 2 – Thurs., July 4 : Exploring the Lowlands of the Karawari River & Lodge
The tropical lowland rainforest around the lodge is one of earth's most complex of habitats, housing an immense variety of flora and fauna, including an amazing 229 different bird species. We spend two full days birding in this area, searching for the area’s three birds of paradise: the King, the Twelve-Wire, and the Magnificent Riflebird, as well as other lowland, rainforest, and freshwater birds—particularly parrots like lorikeets, Eclectus, Palm Cockatoo, and Edwards-Fig Parrot. Northern Cassowary, as well as frog-mouths, owls, birds of prey, bowerbirds, and honeyeaters are also found in this area.
During our time here there is also an opportunity to visit some nearby villages where we are privileged to see some of the traditional dances and learn about traditional ceremonies and sacred buildings. There is also an opportunity to purchase hand-made artefacts directly from the villagers. This is a seldom offered and truly memorable experience (cultural activities offered are subject to a minimum group size of six paying clients).
Accommodations at Karawari Lodge (B,L,D)
Fri., July 5 : Karawari to Mt. Hagen | Rondon Ridge
We awake on our last morning here to the chorus of Karawari’s birds. Our charter flight back from Karawari Lodge routes back to Mt. Hagen today. On our arrival at Mt. Hagen we return to the now familiar Rondon Ridge Lodge for a final evening on PNG. This afternoon we have free time to relax or take the final opportunity to search for our last views or photographs of Birds of Paradise and other local birds around the lodge.
We celebrate our grand adventure at dinner tonight, and reflect on all the incredible natural history and bird encounters.
Accommodations at Rondon Ridge (B,L,D)
Sat., July 6 : Return to Australia | Cairns
This morning we drive from Rondon Ridge to Mt. Hagen for our International flight back to Cairns, Australia. Based on previous years’ flights, we expect to depart Mt. Hagen right after breakfast for the 10:00 AM flight to Port Moresby. Our connecting flight is scheduled for mid-afternoon, arriving in Cairns by early evening (last year, around 6:30 PM). We have arranged to spend the wait time in Port Moresby at an airport hotel where we can relax by the pool and purchase lunch and snacks.
Our tour continues in Cairns tomorrow, in part as a buffer in case flights are delayed or not provided—PNG air service can be less than reliable, so we make sure we’re buffered. Last year went just fine, but our plan is to be conservative to make sure no-one misses their International flights home. We book our group flights on Air Nuigini so that if flight schedule changes occur, they can assist us with alternate plans and lodgings on the PNG end. Once in Cairns there are many restaurants to choose from along the coastal walkway; tonight is at your leisure.
Accommodations in Cairns (B)
Sun., July 7 : Cairns, Australia
Cairns is a lovely place to spend time, situated on the ocean with coastal mountains behind. We plan to offer morning birding along the coastal walkway or at the botanic gardens, or in the afternoon you can enjoy some free time for shopping and relaxing in Cairns ahead of your International flights. Meals other than breakfast are not included here, but there are many restaurant choices for us to select from. Those joining the Wet Tropics trip meet up with the rest of that group today.
Accommodations in Cairns (B)
Mon., July 8 : International Departures
Our magnificent journey comes to an end! Please schedule flights out today at a time convenient for you. (B)
North Queensland Pre-Tour Extension
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
North Queensland: Atherton Tablelands, Southern Cassowary, & Two National Parks
We spend three days exploring the lovely Atherton Tablelands, lodged near Crater Lakes National Park in high altitude rainforest. A dozen endemics, among many other bird species, can be found in and around this highly biodiverse area, which in addition to rainforest also features tropical savannah woodlands, grassland and agricultural fields, wetlands and swamps. Prehistoric-looking Southern Cassowary is also on our wish list for the extension, and we search for this large and imposing bird in Wooroonooran National Park, on our way to Cairns to fly to Auckland and kick off the main tour!
Fri., June 21: Early Arrivals
Please plan to arrive no later than today and stay at a convenient airport hotel.
Sat., June 22 – Mon., June 24 : Atherton Tablelands
Your guide meets you at Cairns Airport to take you up to the famous Atherton Tablelands, where with a few roadside stops you should pick up birds like Yellow-spotted and Graceful Honeyeaters, Australian Swiftlet, Rufous (Little) Shrike-thrush, Australasian Figbird, Rainbow Bee-eater, Metallic Starling, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Mistletoebird, and Masked Lapwing. Your destination for tonight and the next two nights is a lodge near Crater Lakes National Park. Surrounded by high altitude rainforest, your accommodation has a plethora of visitors to the gardens and fruiting trees, and birds like Victoria’s Riflebird, Spotted Catbird, Grey-headed Robin, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Superb Fruit-Dove, Pale Yellow Robin, Scarlet Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Red-browed Finch, and Olive-backed Oriole are all regular visitors.
Over the next two days, we explore the wide variety of habitats that are within reach here on the Atherton Tablelands. With high altitude rainforest, tropical savannah woodlands, grassland and agricultural fields, wetlands and swamps to explore, we see birds like Brolga, Sarus Crane, Great-crested Grebe, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Nankeen Night-heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, White-necked Heron, Black-necked Stork, Buff-banded Rail, White-headed Pigeon, Pacific Baza, Spotted Harrier, Lesser Sooty Owl, the rainforest-inhabiting race lurida of Southern Boobook (a possible future spilt—Little Red Boobook), Tooth-billed Catbird, Fernwren, Bridled Honeyeater, Atherton Scrubwren, Fairy and Brown Gerygones, Mountain Thornbill, Chowchilla, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Black-faced, Pied, Spectacled, and White-eared Monarchs, Shining Bronze-cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Grey-headed Robin. We have a great chance to see a range of mammals including Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, Striped Possum, Sugar Glider, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Musky Rat Kangaroo, Green Ringtail Possum, Red-legged Pademelon, Agile Wallaby, and Giant White-tailed Rat.
Accommodation in Atherton Tablelands (Day 1: L,D) (Days 2&3: B,L,D)
Tues., June 25 : Atherton Tablelands to Cairns
Today we head back to Cairns through Wooroonooran National Park to look for one of Australia’s most amazing and prehistoric-looking birds, the Southern Cassowary. With good fortune, we should see at least one or two of these stately ratites on the roadside at a coastal rainforest location on our way. Other birds likely to be seen here include Lovely Fairy-wren, Macleay’s Honeyeater, White-bellied Sea-eagle, and Pheasant Coucal. We work our way back to Cairns with time to settle in at our hotel and join the rest of the group for dinner.
Accommodations in Cairns (B,L)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the journey is $9990 DBL / $11,775 SGL* per person, based on double occupancy, from Cairns, Australia. The tour cost Includes: Accommodation for 13 nights of the tour, specialist guiding and transport as outlined in the itinerary, most meals as indicated (B,L,D), activities outlined in the itinerary and National Park and private reserve entry fees. The cost also includes round-trip charter flights between Mt. Hagen/Karawari. The tour cost does NOT include: International flights to and from Cairns, Australia, International group flight to be arranged for you on Air Nuigini (Cairns-Port Moresby-Mt. Hagen flights) alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages provided from the bar and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips, etc). Cost of the North Queensland Extension is $1490 DBL / $1690 SGL.* *Price is based on exchange rate from April 27, 2023. Subject to change if there is more than a 5% increase.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Main Tour Arrival and Departure Airport: Cairns Airport (CNS)
Main Tour Arrival Details: Plrease plan flights to arrive June 25, 2024 at your leisure.
Main Tour Departure Details: Please plan flight departures on July 8, 2024 at your leisure.
Pre-Tour Extension Arrival Airport: Cairns Airport (CNS)
Pre-Tour Extension Arrival Details: Please plan to arrive June 21, 2024 at your leisure.
Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, you can book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside. You can book online and send us the confirmation number, with the goal being you won’t have to switch rooms. We’ll explore Cairns a bit on our tour, but there are still plenty of things to see! There are many beautiful beaches around Cairns for the ultimate in relaxation. If you want to learn more about marine life, the Cairns Aquarium showcases animals and habitats endemic to Tropical North Queensland. With over 16,000 animals, 9 different ecosystems, and a turtle rehabilitation center, there is plenty to explore. The aquarium is a 20-minute walk from the hotel or a quick ride in a taxi or Uber. If you want to stretch your legs after the long flight, the Cairns Esplanade path is right in front of the hotel and goes along Cairns Harbour.
Visa Requirements: Because we start our tour in Cairns, Australia, US residents must obtain an Australian electronic travel authority visa (eTA), which can be applied for online here.
Items of Note
Our tour begins in Cairns, Australia. You can arrive, rest up, and do a bit of local birding there before we fly over to Papua New Guinea as a group. In addition to one arrival and two post-tour nights in Cairns, our PNG tour features ten nights at two renowned birding destinations: Rondon Ridge, located in the PNG Highlands, and Karawari Lodge in the lowlands. How nice to have extensive time at two lodges, more time for birding and less on the logistics of getting around! These are small, intimate lodges so it is imperative that we book this tour early to hold our space. While predominantly a birding trip, we are also on the lookout for mammals and interesting flora, particularly interesting ancient Gondwanan species and orchids. At the end of the trip we enjoy two nights in Cairns, important to ensure we are back for International flights. We make the most of this added time in Cairns with birding and time to enjoy this lovely waterfront city—the botanic gardens are a delight!
Make the Most of Your Flight
An added bonus since you’re coming so far, consider joining our Australia Wet Tropics, tour for more in-depth birding in Cairns and the nearby Tablelands or Daintree region first. This part of Australia shares many ecological elements with PNG, including some Birds of Paradise.
While we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, this should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. An eVisa is required for U.S. citizens. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Papua New Guinea website for guidelines. Visitor visa applications are online:
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Papua New Guinea and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into and departing from the Cairns Airport (CNS). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
- Please use soft sided luggage/duffel bags. Large, hard sided suitcases are not permitted on charter aircraft. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival into Cairns International Airport (CNS)
Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our Papua New Guinea operator. As a backup, contact our office or owner Peg Abbott's cell (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).
The arrival airport for this tour is the Cairns International Airport (CNS). On arrival, please make your own way to your accommodation. There are taxi ranks outside both the International (T1) and Domestic (T2) terminals. See https://www.cairnsairport.com.au/travelling/parking-and-transport/transport-options for additional information.
This ocean-front city is backed by lush green mountains, an impressive place to arrive! Settle into your accommodations this afternoon and rest from travels. In the evening, you will meet your guide and fellow travelers for dinner.
Departures from Cairns International Airport (CNS)
The departure airport for this tour is the Cairns International Airport (CNS). You may plan your departure at your leisure on the final day of the tour. Please keep in mind that you have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled international flight on this return; therefore, we do not advise booking early morning flights; late-morning is fine. We will arrange taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day.
Passport & Documents
Guidelines and regulations can change. It is always advisable to double-check documentation requirements 60-90 days ahead of traveling. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/PapuaNewGuinea.html. If you are from another country, please contact the Papua New Guinea embassy website for guidelines.
You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. We advise that you carry your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.
An eVisa is required for U.S. citizens. Visitor visa applications are online:
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.
Although anti-malarial prophylaxis is not required, you should follow your doctor’s advice or see the CDC website for current recommendations.
There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. Travelers can also reduce their risk of disease by protecting themselves from mosquito bites in lower elevation areas by using protective clothing.
Vaccinations: Bring your up-to-date vaccination records with you. At the time of writing there are no required vaccinations to enter Papua New Guinea. However, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccinations (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. A helpful resource for planning is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage for Papua New Guinea or you may contact them by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.
Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.
Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s). If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.
Weather & Climate
Year-round, Papua New Guinea has a hot, humid tropical climate. The country experiences two distinctive seasons: wet (December – March) and dry (June – September). Papua New Guinea is home to one of the wettest climates of the world and annual rainfall in many areas of the country exceeds 98 inches, with the heaviest events occurring in the highlands. Temperatures are relatively steady across the country. The average monthly rainfall ranges between 9 – 13 inches and average temperature is between 78.8 – 82.4°F. Humidity is relatively high, ranging between 70 – 90%.
Annoyances & Hazards
Papua New Guinea is one of the most primitive locations that Naturalist Journeys visits.
Annoyances and hazards include crime in Port Moresby - it is not a safe city to explore on your own. All participants should be aware that Papua New Guinea is an extremely poor country without many modern conveniences. The itinerary has been designed to keep you as comfortable as possible, but you should expect rough roads, less than modern amenities, and local people who are not used to international visitors. A flexible attitude and an open mind and good attention paid to recommendations by the guides will help you navigate any challenges that come your way.
Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers; if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks. At the end of each day, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Papua New Guinea. You might bring antihistamines, antiseptic/anaesthetic creams and/or anti-bacterial washes to treat irritating bites. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Please listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.
Food & Drinks
All meals in PNG are supplied by the lodges, including packed lunches, except for a few incidentals largely associated with travel to and from the lodges.
Tap water is generally not potable. Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient, please bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Due to the size of the planes on the internal charter flights between lodges, the maximum baggage allowance is 10kg (22 pounds) per person check-in and 5kg (11 pounds) of carry-on per person. Large, hard sided suitcases are not permitted on charter aircraft, and it is not possible to buy extra weight if the charter is full. The dimensions of the main bag should not be more than 35cm x 81cm or 14 inches x 32 inches and will be carried in the cargo pod. The charter company headquarters in Mount Hagen is likely to weigh all the luggage (check in and carry on).
Dress is very informal. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be most comfortable in lightweight clothing.
Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life. Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down!
Laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges.
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please DO NOT pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
The official currency in Papua New Guinea is the Papua New Guinean Kina. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts in villages will necessitate using local currency.
When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.
We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted, and can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise that you use them.
Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At eco-lodges, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the lodges. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.
You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. Children also love nature books/coloring books.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
You can make International calls from most of our Hotels. The country code for the USA is 1.
International calls to the United States: Dial 00 + (1) + country code + area code + number.
There is 3G coverage in Port Moresby, but outside the capital it is patchy and unreliable. There is internet service at Rondon Ridge, but not at Karawari.
If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Options include activating international roaming, purchasing a local SIM card at the airport (newer phones may not accept SIM cards), or simply turning off cellular service and relying on Wi-Fi to make calls and access the internet. Renting an international phone may also be an option.
If you plan NOT to use your cell phone, we highly recommend that you turn off your cellular data. This will ensure that you do not incur international roaming charges. Another technique is to put your phone in airplane mode when not connected to WIFI, you can still use it for photos and the battery will last longer too.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it is an emergency.
In Papua New Guinea the power plugs and sockets are of type I. The standard voltage is 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Type I: mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China, the South Pacific and Argentina. This socket only works with plug I. More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/papua-new-guinea/.
Most of Papua New Guinea is on Papua New Guinea Time (PGT, with no daylight savings time. This is the same time zone as Cairns. Check www.timeanddate.com before leaving home for conversion.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please pack light!
Due to the size of the planes on the internal charter flights between lodges, the maximum baggage allowance is 10kg (22 pounds) per person check-in and 5kg (11 pounds) of carry-on per person. Large, hard sided suitcases are not permitted on charter aircraft and it is not possible to buy extra weight if the charter is full. The dimensions of the main bag should not be more than 35cm x 81cm or 14 inches x 32 inches and will be carried in the cargo pod. Therefore, please use soft sided luggage/duffel bags.
Please include your name and address on the inside of the bag, and on a luggage tag on the handle. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips – this makes an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
Year-round, Papua New Guinea has a hot, humid tropical climate. Papua New Guinea is home to one of the wettest climates of the world and annual rainfall in many areas of the country exceeds 98 inches, with the heaviest events occurring in the highlands. Temperatures are relatively steady across the country. There are two distinctive seasons: wet (December – March) and dry (June – September). The average monthly rainfall ranges between 9 – 13 inch and average temperature is between 78.8 – 82.4°F. Humidity is relatively high, ranging between 70 – 90%.
Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. Quick-dry fabrics are ideal. A light jacket should be sufficient in the evenings. Casual clothing is appropriate. You will want a pair of shoes or light boots with good tread, and sandals are fine onboard and for travel days.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors; though camouflage clothing is not recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
- Shorts (optional, not generally recommended)
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3
- T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts or equivalent (1 per day)
- Casual clothing for travel days and evenings
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry (Long enough to tuck your pants into)
- Comfortable walking shoes such as tennis shoes
- Lightweight hiking boots
- Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days (Crocs work well)
- Shower thongs
- Lightweight fleece jacket or sweater for early morning walks and in the highlands
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Hat with broad brim
- Bathing suit (optional)
- Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty)
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Small daypack for field gear while hiking and as carry-on bag (water-resistant recommended)
- Walking stick – (optional but recommended if you have one, especially for Machu Picchu).
- Umbrella – not brightly colored
- Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
- Alarm clock, or plan to use your phone
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent (containing DEET)
- Sulphur powder or similar alternative for chiggers
- Kleenex packs
- Toiletry articles
- Binoculars (a shower cap provides cover when raining)
- Camera and extra battery, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual
- Adapter for three to two prong plugs and converter for 110 to 220 volts
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
- Notebook and pen or journal (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
- Earplugs, neck rest and eyeshade (optional)
- Wash cloth (towels are provided)
- Gallon-size zip-lock or small dry bag to keep things dry on excursions off the ship
- Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Heath insurance and vaccination records (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
- Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses)
- Copy of medical and eyeglass prescriptions, vaccination records, and any medical alerts
- Altitude sickness and motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
- Personal first aid kit, and medications for general ailments, colds and stomach ailments
- Foot powder, lotions, general “comfort” items
- Hydrocortisone cream to ease itching from insect bites
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Epi-pen if needed for allergic reactions
- Antibacterial hand soap, small vial, and cleansing wipes
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts (with plenty of wetting and cleaning solution)
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Papua New Guinea; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Papua New Guinea.
Wildlife & Nature
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Papua New Guinea
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Papua New Guinea Birding Checklist
Papua New Guinea Wildlife
Papua New Guinea’s Birds of Paradise
Rediscovering the Black-Naped Pheasant Pigeon (or Auwo) – Articles, Audubon.org
Cairns Botanic Gardens
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
“Protecting Papua New Guinea’s Spectacular Wildlife” – 2016 Winner of the Whitleyaward.org
“A People-First Approach to Conservation in Papua New Guinea” – PBS Article from Wildlife Conservation Society
Wildlife Conservation Society
Northern New Guinea Lowland Rain and Freshwater Swamp Forest
Geology & Geography
Geological History of PNG
History & Culture
Papua New Guinea History and Culture
Contemporary Arts & Culture
Culture of Papua New Guinea
The Tribes of Papua New Guinea
North Queensland Pre-Tour Extension
Queensland, Australia – Encyclopedic Overview
- Wildlife, Endemics, Checklists – Birdforum.net: https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Atherton_Tablelands
- Unique Animals: https://www.athertontablelands.com.au/unique-animals-of-the-atherton-tablelands/
Wooroonooran National Park
Crater Lakes National Park
Helpful Travel Websites
Cairns International Airport (CNS)
National Passport Information Center
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information – Papua New Guinea
Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) - Papua New Guinea
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Papua New Guinea
Travel Health Pro (UK) - Papua New Guinea
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs - Papua New Guinea
Date, Time, and Holidays - Papua New Guinea
Photo credits: Lesser Bird of Paradise, Shutterstock; Rainbow Bee-eaters, David Clode, UnSplash; Magnificent Riflebird, Shutterstock; Sepik Village, Shutterstock; Northern Cassowary, Shutterstock; Raggiana Bird of Paradise, courtesy Inala Nature Tours (INT); Spangled Kookaburra, INT; Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, NJ Stock; PNG Villagers, Bron Scot; Victoria Crowned Pigeon, Susanne Schwarz, UnSplash; Cairns Skyline, Shutterstock; Kubor Range, Shutterstock; Papuan Lorikeet, Shutterstock; Sepik River, Shutterstock; Lesser Bird of Paradise, Shutterstock; Cairns Boardwalk, Shutterstock; Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Shutterstock; Blue Bird of Paradise, Shutterstock; Lawes's Parotia, Shutterstock; Ibis, Peg Abbott; Archibald's Bowerbird, Peg Abbott; Belford’s Meladictes, Peg Abbott; Palm Cockatoos, Shutterstock; Raggiana Bird of Paradise, Shutterstock; Blyth’s Hornbill, Axel Blanchard, UnSplash.