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.

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!

Tour Highlights

  • 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

Trip Itinerary

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 & Sat., July 6: 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 four our last two nights on PNG. We have free time to relax and also spend the days searching for our last views or photographs of Birds of Paradise and other local birds around the lodge.

We celebrate our grand adventure over our dinners, and reflect on all the incredible natural history and bird encounters.
Accommodations at Rondon Ridge (B,L,D)

Sun., July 7: 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)

Mon., July 8: 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)

Tues., July 9: International Departures


Our magnificent journey comes to an end! Please schedule flights out today at a time convenient for you. (B)

  • Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Blue Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Lawe's Parotia, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Archibald's Bowerbird, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Belford's Meladictes, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Palm Cockatoo, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Raggiana Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys
  • Blyth's Hornbill, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Papua New Guinea Birding Tour, Papua New Guinea Bird of Paradise, Papua New Guinea Nature Tour, Papua New Guinea Wildlife Tour, Naturalist Journeys

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the tour is per person: $12,430 SGL*, from Cairns, Australia. The cost includes: Accommodation for 14 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 main 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 per person: $2600 SGL*. 

*Price is based on exchange rate from April 27, 2023. Subject to change if there is more than a 5% increase.

Travel Details

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: Please plan flights to arrive June 25, 2024 at your leisure.


Main Tour Departure Details: Please plan flight departures on July 9, 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.


Entry Requirements: See "Essential Information" section under the "Know Before You Go" tab.

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.

PLEASE NOTE:
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.

Papua New Guinea

Map for Papua New Guinea: Bucket List Birding

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

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 the emergency contact (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.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

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.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

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.

Passport: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Check that expiration date!! 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.

Visa: 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!

Health requirements for entry to any country can change. It is always advisable to double-check the country’s health requirements and recommendations 60-90 days ahead of traveling. A helpful website for planning is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for Papua New Guinea or by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

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. 

Mosquito and tick born illness: Areas throughout Papua New Guinea below 6,700 ft. elevation are indicated to have a risk of malarial transmission (per CDC). Prevention is essential no matter what level of risk and we recommend you do not take any chances. At a minimum, the CDC recommends travelers should reduce their risk of contracting mosquito and/or tick born diseases (including yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, zika, Japanese encephalitis, etc.) by protecting themselves from bites using protective clothing, insect repellant (containing DEET, Picaridin, OLE, etc.). 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. 

In addition, while consulting with your doctor about travel vaccinations, be sure to ask about taking anti-malarial medication. If you do opt for preventative medication (see choosing a drug to prevent malaria), you will need to start taking this medicine multiple days before your trip, as well as during and after your trip. Consult with your doctor what is best for you. See CDC's reports on prevention of Malaria and Yellow Fever.

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, in addition to recommending all routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccinations (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to this destination, the CDC strongly recommends that travelers ensure their polio and measles vaccinations are up-to-date as well. Please consult with your physician for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip, especially in case there are any that require followup inoculations or time to become effective before your departure. 

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.

Altitude illness: According to the CDC's website, day trips to high-elevation destinations less than 8000 ft. with an evening return to a lower elevation are much less stressful on the body, depending on the time provided for your body to adjust. However, overnights at higher altitudes may have more adverse affects on your body and you should be informed about altitude illness and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) (see https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness). The most general symptoms are headache and occasionally fatigue and dizziness. You’ll want to take it easy, particularly at first. The likelihood of these symptoms can be reduced by resting, drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, taking aspirin and optimize acclimatization by adjusting itineraries to avoid going “too high too fast." If you have worries about the altitude, ask your physician about medications (such as Diamox) that may be right for you. 

Altitudes:

  • Rondon Ridge Lodge: 7,100 ft.
  • Karawari Lodge: 985 ft.

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! If you need to bring more than the 22 lbs limit for the internal charter flight, we suggest that you bring a smaller soft-sided bag (such as a backpack or duffel bag) that you can use for your stay in Karawari. Your main bags can be stored safely at Rondon Ridge as you will be returning there as well. 

Laundry services are available for a fee at Rondon Ridge.

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!

Spending Money

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. If you plan to exchange cash in country, bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) in good condition that will give you the better rate when exchanging to 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.

Gratuities

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. 

Your guide is well connected and can help if any urgent communication need arises. However, it is highly recommended that you travel with a cell phone, if only as a precaution for the unfortunate occurrence of a medical emergency during an outing and needing swift accessibility to critical personal or medical contacts. 

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. If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free.

Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well. 

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

There is limited wifi at Rondon Ridge and none at the remote Karawari Lodge.

Electricity

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/.

Please be aware that both Rondon Ridge and Karawari Lodge turn off their generators at night. (Think flashlight, headlamp, reading light, etc. in case you may need them.)

Time

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.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com 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 Read more

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

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.

Transportation

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.

Travel Insurance

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 RescueWorld 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.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.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 flight to Read more

Please pack light!

Due to the size of the planes on the internal charter flight to Karawari, 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. We highly suggest you pack as light as possible. However, if you cannot get your bag under 22lbs limit for the internal charter flight, we suggest that you bring a smaller soft-sided bag (such as a backpack or duffel bag) that you can use for your stay in Karawari. The main bags can be stored safely at Rondon Ridge as you will be returning there as well. 

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)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars (a shower cap provides cover when raining)
  • Camera and extra batteries/charger, memory cards/film, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Adapter for three to two prong plugs and converter for 110 to 220 volts
  • Walking stick – (optional but recommended if you have one, especially for Machu Picchu).
  • Umbrella – not brightly colored
  • Small flashlight and headlamp or reading light with fresh batteries (lodge generators are turned off at night)
  • 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
  • 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 Read more

There are many titles of interest for Papua New Guinea; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Birds of New Guinea

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.

General Reading

New Guinea: Nature and Culture of the Earth’s Grandest Island

A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea

Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands

Field Guides

Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds: An Identification Guide

The Birds of Papua New Guinea; Volume 1 and Volume 2

The Birds of Paradise

Wildlife & Nature

Trees of Papua New Guinea

Bats of Papua New Guinea

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 +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Papua New Guinea

Cairns

Mt. Hagen

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

Birdlife Australia

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

Sepik River

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

Cuisine

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

ATM Locator

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.

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