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Traditional Costume, Huli wigmen, Papua New Guinea

Highlights of Papua New Guinea



12 Days

Prices Start from

£6,500pp (ex. flights)

This holiday to Papua New Guinea offers a wonderful overview of this wild country’s main highlights, covering varied and fascinating landscapes and cultures.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Local Tribesmen, Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea 1

Highland Clans and Birdlife

Search for bird of paradise and attend a colourful tribal festival in the Highlands.

Diving, Walindi, Papua New Guinea 2

Fjords of Tufi

Dive in the fjords of Tufi, a virtually unexplored underwater world.

Asaro Mud Dance, Goroka, Papua New Guinea 3

Asaro Mudmen

Journey overland through the Asaro Valley, renowned for the ‘Mudmen’ tribe.

Kumbarumba village, Sepik River flower sellers, Papua New Guinea 4

Sepik River

Spot crocodile and local life as you navigate the jungle fringed waterways of the Sepik River.

Why we like it

This holiday offers true adventure into the heart of Papua New Guinea, staying in the best accommodation available throughout. In such a topographically torturous country, even now the road infrastructure remains modest and the best way to get around is flying. This trip uses a variety of helicopter, charter and scheduled flights and gives intrepid travellers access to exotic wildlife, cultural tradition and epic landscapes. Fly into Mount Hagen to soak up life in the rugged Highland mountains with the mystical traditions of the Melpa people and the effervescent bird of paradise. Continue into the depths of the Sepik River to visit villages where life remains unchanged for centuries and end your stay diving and snorkelling the tropical fjords of Tufi.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Port Moresby

  • Day 2

    Port Moresby - Mount Hagen

  • Day 3 - 4

    Mount Hagen

  • Day 5

    Mount Hagen - Sepik River

  • Day 6 - 7

    Sepik River

  • Day 8

    Sepik River - Mount Hagen - Goroka

  • Day 9

    Goroka - Tufi

  • Day 10 - 11


  • Day 12

    Tufi - Port Moresby

Day 1

Port Moresby

Day 2

Port Moresby - Mount Hagen

Day 3 - 4

Mount Hagen

Local Tribesmen, Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea

Search for bird of paradise and attend a colourful tribal festival in the Highlands.

Day 5

Mount Hagen - Sepik River

Day 6 - 7

Sepik River

Kumbarumba village, Sepik River flower sellers, Papua New Guinea

Spot crocodile and local life as you navigate the jungle fringed waterways of the Sepik River.

Day 8

Sepik River - Mount Hagen - Goroka

Asaro Mud Dance, Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Journey overland through the Asaro Valley, renowned for the ‘Mudmen’ tribe.

Day 9

Goroka - Tufi

Day 10 - 11


Diving, Walindi, Papua New Guinea

Dive in the fjords of Tufi, a virtually unexplored underwater world.

Day 12

Tufi - Port Moresby

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Asaro Mudman, Goroka, Papua New Guinea
Asaro mudman at the Goroka festival
Goroka Show, Goroka, Papua New Guinea
The Goroka show
Local Tribe, Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea
Local tribal men at Mt Hagen festival

The Highlands - Tribal Clans and Festivals

The highlands are home to a huge variety of tribes including the Melpa people, an industrious community, first “discovered” in the mid-1930s by gold prospectors. The Melpa are said by anthropologists, to be “predisposed to capitalism,” because of their complex traditional society in which “big men” earn status by accruing wealth and then giving it all away in ceremonial exchanges.

This region plays host to several colourful festivals each year including the Goroka Show, which sees the largest annual gathering of tribes every September. Here you will see the Melpa people with their colourful tribal dances and spectacular headdress as well as the Asaro Mudmen who cover themselves in grey mud and wear huge mud masks. These festivals make for some fabulous photography.

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Mask Carving, Sepik River, Papua New Guinea
Mask carving on the Sepik River
Children on Dug Out Canoes, Papua New Guinea
Children on the Sepik River
Haus Tambaran, Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

The Sepik River

The Sepik River flows for over 1,000 kilometres, from the rugged interior to the Bismarck Sea and is a remote area of jungle fringed waterways, rich in culture and birdlife. The traditional mode of transport is the pole dugout canoe and village life continues largely unchanged. Experience sing sings, customary welcome dances performed by local tribes and witness some of their traditional crafts including wood carved totems and drums. This region is also famous for the crocodile initiation ceremonies during which young tribal men are scarified to resemble crocodiles.

There are several ways to experience the river – stay at the remote but comfortable Karawari Lodge, travel by primitive dugout canoe and stay with locals or board the nine cabin Sepik Spirit boat for a three or four-night cruise.

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Fjords, Tufi, Papua New Guinea
Tufi fjords from the air
Dugout Boat, Tufi, Papua New Guinea
Dugout canoe in Tufi
Outrigger, New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea

Diving and the Coast of PNG

The coast of Tufi’s peninsula, or Cape Nelson as it was named by the British, is a place where sea and mountains meet. A paradise accessed only by boat or air. Gnarled green fingers stretch out into the sea creating fjords or technically rias, created from unglaciated river valleys. These inlets give the region a very particular fingerprint of turquoise coral bays, surrounded by steep ridges covered in rainforest and kunai grasslands.

Whilst the impressive fjords of Tufi are spectacular it is the underwater world that is truly magical and the diving and snorkelling here is wonderful. Alternative coastal options include New Britain Island, a land of volcanoes, world class diving and WW11 history.

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King bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius) in Papua New Guinea
King bird of paradise
Manus Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx dispar) female in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea
Manus dwarf kingfisher
Victoria Crowned Pigeon, Papua New Guinea
Victoria crowned pigeon

Bird of Paradise

over 700 bird species can be found across Papua New Guinea which includes 38 out of the worlds 48 species of bird of paradise. All are endangered and as such protected. During this holiday you will stay at several lovely properties perfectly located to spot birds. Rondon Ridge, perched high on Mount Kuta in the Highlands and Karawari Lodge, a remote and beautiful spot on the Sepik, only accessible by river or a small airstrip. Take early morning walks or river excursions with expert guides in search of some of the many lowland, waterbird, raptor and of course bird of paradise.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Rondon Ridge £££££

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Rondon Ridge is located at an altitude of 2,100 metres, overlooking vast areas of the Western Highlands. Set amidst native gardens and tropical montane rainforest the lodge offers 24 comfortable rooms with warmed king beds for the cooler highland temperatures and panoramic views of the surrounding scenery.

View Property

Karawari Lodge £££££

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Wilderness

Perched 300 metres above the Karawari River amidst dense lowland rainforest, this remote lodge occupies a privileged location in an isolated part of the world. Inaccessible by road, this rustic, thatched property was inspired by indigenous architecture. Ten simple but comfortable thatched cottages have ceiling fans and a shared veranda. Communal areas can be found in the spirit house inspired main lodge. All around, the treetops abound with birdlife, including colourful parrots and energetic sunbirds.

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Tufi Dive Resort £££££

  • Papua New Guinea

Tufi Dive Resort is perched on the slopes of Mount Trafalgar, overlooking the stunning fjords and mountains of Tufi and Cape Nelson. Stay in one of the 28 traditionally decorated bungalows, most with a verandah overlooking the Coral Sea or Tufi fjord. Alternatively, stay with a local family, eating with the villagers, exploring with local fisherman, experiencing a traditional way of life. Additional facilities at the resort include a small swimming pool and restaurant.

View Property

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Deborah was simply fantastic in terms of helping out, putting together a first rate itinerary, finding solutions and giving advice. Thank you.

Papua New Guinea

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £6,500 Per person

When to travel

Papua New Guinea in January

January is the start of the rainy season, and the warmest month meaning it is a great time for diving around Tufi and Milne Bay.

Papua New Guinea in February

The peak of the rainy season and the wettest month. Not a good time to visit.

Papua New Guinea in March

The rainy season continues, especially in the Highlands, as humidity and high temperatures prevail.

Papua New Guinea in April

The rain subsides and becomes sporadic, but the heat and humidity remain. The seas flatten and visibility improves for snorkelling, especially around Milne Bay and Tufi.

Papua New Guinea in May

The start of the dry season, bringing cooler temperatures. Great time for diving and snorkelling around Milne Bay and Tufi.

Papua New Guinea in June

Peak season starts as visitor numbers increase. The country generally continues to dry out and cool slightly, with excellent snorkelling and diving conditions.

Papua New Guinea in July

This is the driest and most popular month to visit. Accommodation may cost a little more than usual, with festivals happening. It is the best time to hike in the highlands.

Papua New Guinea in August

The coolest month, with night frosts above 2,000 metres. A great time for hiking, and snorkelling is still possible in most regions.

Papua New Guinea in September

A quieter time starts after the European and Australasian school holidays. Easier to find accommodation, and it starts to be a good time for snorkelling around Milne Bay again.

Papua New Guinea in October

The end of the dry season, as temperatures and rainfall increase gradually. Good snorkelling conditions right across the country.

Papua New Guinea in November

The start of the wet season, with rainfall common, especially in the Highlands. Visitor numbers remain low.

Papua New Guinea in December

The wet season is picking up pace, with the Highlands getting rain showers most days and roads becoming impassable. The coastal weather off Milne Bay is better so it is best to stick to the coast.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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