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Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s last frontiers, and its forests are home to an unparalleled array of bird species, including 38 of the world’s 43 birds of paradise.

The world’s second largest island is a land of extraordinary contrasts with 4,500 metre high mountains, vast expanses of rainforest, huge river systems and pristine coral atolls. It is remote (travelling from the UK involves two consecutive overnight flights) and on arrival you are plunged into a utterly different world.

The indigenous population is extremely diverse, and more than 700 languages are spoken. Age-old traditions remain at the heart of everyday life and people share their heritage with genuine openness. As well as its cultural vibrancy, Papua New Guinea has one of the world’s richest and most varied avifauna. The 708 bird species identified to date include 578 land and freshwater species, 40 seabirds and 90 migrants from countries that lie to the north and south.

Of the world’s 43 known species of bird of paradise, 38 are found in Papua New Guinea. The growth of the millinery trade significantly affected the populations of these beautiful birds and, as a result, birds of paradise are now protected species in Papua New Guinea, and it is illegal to export their plumes.

The island’s 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. Perching birds include cuckoo-shrikes and trillers, shrikes, thrushes, logrunners, babblers, warblers, fairy-wrens, fantails, monarchs and robins, whistlers and pitohuis, honeyeaters, finches, starlings, mynahs, orioles, drongos, wood swallows, butcherbirds, bowerbirds and birds of paradise.

Excellent wilderness lodges are located in some of the remotest parts of the country, providing comfortable bases from which to sample the culture and witness the various ecological niches, where experienced and knowledgeable local birding guides are available to escort birding tours.

Due to the inherent difficulty of travelling within a challenging environment, we work with an established local partner that is almost entirely self-sufficient, with its own fleet of aircraft, plus vehicles and boats at each property. This ensures a reliable, safe and efficient service throughout your stay.

Suggested Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrive Singapore & overnight

  3. Day 3: Overnight flight to Port Moresby

  4. Days 4-6 : Arrive Port Moresey, fly to Mount Hagen, Western Highlands

    On arrival at Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, connect with an afternoon domestic flght to Mount Hagen in Western Highlands Province. On arrival at Mount Hagen you will be met and transferred to your accommodation, a drive of around 30 minutes.

    Cultural tours from Rondon, with a local guide to explain the cultural complexities, take you through the traditions and customs of the Melpa people who inhabit the surrounding area.

    Accommodation: Rondon Ridge, 3-nights

  5. Days 7-10 : Charter flight to Tari, South Highlands

    Take a morning transfer back to Mount Hagen airport to catch a charter flight to Tari in the Southern Highlands. On arrival at Tari airstrip, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation.

    Accommodation: Ambua Lodge, 4-nights

  6. Days 11-13 : Charter flight to Karawari, East Sepik Province

    This morning you will be transferred back to Tari airport in time for the charter flight on to Karawari. On arrival at Karawari private airstrip you will be met and transferred to your accommodation nearby.

    Accommodation: Karawari Lodge, 3-nights

  7. Day 14: Charter flight to Mount Hagen, domestic flight to Port Moresby

    This afternoon you will be transferred back to the airstrip for a charter flight back to Mount Hagen. On arrival at Mount Hagen airport, connect with a domestic flight to Port Moresby and transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay.

    Accommodation: Airways Hotel, 1-night

  8. Day 15: Depart Port Moresby

    After a free morning to relax, this afternoon you will be transferred back to Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, to check in for the international flight to Singapore and onward overnight flight to the UK.

  9. Day 16: Arrive UK

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 16 days from £8,945 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 12 days from £7,595 pp
  • Single supplement: From £1,505
  • When to go: Jan-Dec: Daily throughout the year
  • Activities available:
    • Culture
Featured locations:

Port Moresby

Port Moresby, the capital and largest city of Papua New Guinea, stands on the shores of the Gulf of Papua. The city offers a choice of centrally located hotels for an overnight stay, or you may choose to head out to nearby Varirata National Park, one of the best places to see the Raggiana bird of paradise.

  • Where: Central Province
  • Excellent for: City stopover

Tari Valley

Also home to the flamboyant Huli people, the Tari Valley is a utopia of pristine, mid-montane jungle, a birdwatcher's paradise! An eiderdown of interlocking tree tops, with splashes of colour from high altitude orchids. Nature trails take you across traditional vine bridges, tracing clear mountain streams to secluded waterfalls.

  • Where: Central Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: crested bird of paradise, short-tailed paradigalia, ribbon-tailed astrapia, Lawe’s parotia, King of Saxony bird of paradise
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Highlands & Sepik River

At 1,126 kilometres, the Sepik River is Papua New Guinea's equivalent to the Amazon and it is the people of the Sepik that makes this region an exciting and fascinating place to visit. Life revolves around the river, and locals are unique in their belief in the spirit world with its mythical stories and rituals.

  • Where: Central Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: dwarf cassowary, Gurney’s eagle, twelve-wired bird of paradise, king bird of paradise, white-eared catbird
  • Excellent for: River safaris

Tonda Wildlife Management Area

Located in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, the Tonda Wildlife Management Area is a wetland of international importance and the largest protected area in the country. It has a diversity of birdlife, with 250 species of resident and migratory birds, including most of the world’s population of little curlew.

  • Where: Western Province
  • Ideal for viewing: little curlew, bronze quoll, chestnut dunnart, false water rat, spectacled hare-wallaby
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Mount Hagen

The Mount Hagen area is the home of the Melpa people, a people with a strong culture, who still live largely traditional subsistence lifestyles. From the lowland rainforest to alpine grasslands, it is a land of colour and vibrancy and one of the best places to see Papua New Guinea’s birds of paradise.

  • Where: Western Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: King of Saxony bird of paradise, Macgregor’s bowerbird, Stephanie’s astrapia, Loria’s bird of paradise, Huon tree kangaroo
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Western Highlands

This province covers a surface area of 4,300 square kilometres. Home to the world’s largest population of birds of paradise, the rainforest habitat houses an abundance of wildlife of all sorts. It is traversed by a number of well-maintained trails, making it one of the most pleasant locations for hiking in the highlands.

  • Where: Western Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: ribbon-tailed astrapia, brown sicklebill, crested satinbird, crested berrypecker, blue bird of paradise
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, Birdwatching

Southern Highlands

This spectacular region is characterised by lush, high valleys sandwiched between towering limestone peaks and several roaring rivers. Due to its isolation, the province is home to New Guinea’s most fascinating tribal culture, and you can also find a fascinating range of birds, including several species of birds of paradise.

  • Where: Southern Highlands
  • Ideal for viewing: great woodswallow, short-tailed paradigalia, blue bird of paradise, black sicklebill, Papuan king parrot
  • Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, Birdwatching
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Airways Hotel

Airways Hotel is Papua New Guinea's leading accommodation and one of the most unique airport hotels in the world. Nestled into the mountainside, each room opens onto a balcony with mountain or garden view, and facilities include a stunning pool, restaurants (poolside and fine dining), spa and tennis court.

Ambua Lodge

Ambua is an award-winning, eco-friendly lodge set in a spectacular mountain landscape, with magnificent views of the Tari Valley. The lodge is a world-renowned birding destination, with over 200 species having been identified in the area, and knowledgeable local birding guides cater for all levels of interest.

Karawari Lodge

Karawari Lodge stands on a lone ridge above the Karawari River, overlooking an endless expanse of dense tropical lowland rainforest in one of Papua New Guinea's most remote and unspoilt areas. Accommodation is in ten cottages, inspired by traditional architecture and constructed using local materials.

Rondon Ridge Lodge

Located a short drive from Mount Hagen, this hotel offers magnificent mountain views, and all 12 rooms have 180 degree views. The surrounding area is home to ten species of birds of paradise and numerous orchids, and walking trails from the lodge make it easy to get out and see the area’s unique ecology.