Papua New Guinea: Mount Hagen Festival - A Marco Polo Journey (2023)

​Experience intimate, once-in-a-lifetime access to vibrant tribal cultures that have remained unchanged for centuries, cruising an exotic river and exploring one of the most remote corners of the globe.

Journey Overview

Experience intimate, once-in-a-lifetime access to vibrant tribal cultures that have remained unchanged for centuries, cruising an exotic river and exploring one of the most remote corners of the globe on a scenic journey that culminates with the spectacular celebration of the Mount Hagen Cultural Show.

Journey Highlights

  • Enjoy two days at the world-renowned Mount Hagen Cultural Show as nearly 100 tribes gather to honour their heritage with a dazzling spectacle of song, dance, pageantry and tradition
  • Take a three-night cruise on the Karawari River, winding past unspoiled villages where everyday life revolves around the river, and marvelling at the diverse landscapes, pristine rainforests and exotic birdlife of the Sepik Region
  • Relish intimate interactions with distinctive cultures spanning the lowlands of the Sepik Region and the highlands of Tari and Mount Hagen, including the flamboyant Huli Wigmen, whose dances and songs are fashioned after the mating rituals of the bird of paradise

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Cairns, Australia

Arrive in Cairns, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Refresh from your travels and prepare for the exciting journey ahead. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner served at the hotel.

Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns | Meals: D

Day 2: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | Island Gateway

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Papua New Guinea, an island chain of undisturbed indigenous tribes and sweeping natural beauty. Arrive in Port Moresby and visit the Port Moresby Nature Park, where you are introduced to the nation’s distinctive cultures and rare wildlife. The park is home to over 350 native animals, including tree kangaroos. Transfer to your hotel nestled in a lush botanical garden.

Airways Hotel | Meals: BD

Day 3: Tari | Lush Canopy Of The Southern Highlands

This morning, board your flight to Tari, soaring over dramatic highland peaks. Upon arrival, transfer to your secluded lodge perched at 2,133 metres in Papua New Guinea’s spectacular Southern Highlands. In the afternoon, set out on a guided nature walk through the lush forest, keeping an eye out for exotic birds of paradise. A favourite destination of birders, the rainforests surrounding the lodge have starred in many wildlife documentaries. A staggering 217 species of exotic birds have been recorded here, including 13 different species of birds of paradise. Stroll among a serene oasis of orchids, rhododendrons, vine bridges, mountain streams and secluded waterfalls, logging your exotic sightings as your expert guide shares insights perfect for novices and seasoned birders alike.

Ambua Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 4: Tari | Cultures Of The Highland People

This morning, embark on the first of two days of cultural immersion among the tribes of the Tari. Learn how the highland people of Tari maintain the cultural traditions of body decoration and face painting, as well as the wearing of decorative wigs, flowers and moss.

Ambua Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 5: Tari | Ancestral Legacy Of The Huli Wigmen

Embark on another day of exploration revealing the culture of the highland people. Widely regarded as one of the most recognizable of Papua New Guinea’s indigenous peoples, the Huli Wigmen captivate with traditional dances fashioned after the mating rituals of birds of paradise. Take in the magic of the scene, absorbing an indelible impression of the vibrant tribal traditions the Huli Wigmen have so carefully preserved for generations.

Ambua Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 6: Sepik Region | Secluded Riverine Wilderness

This morning, board your charter flight to a private airstrip secluded deep within the riverine wilderness of the Sepik region. A small boat ferries you on to your lodge, where you are greeted with lunch. After settling in, embark on a river safari exploring the Karawari, a remote tributary of the mighty Sepik. This region is one of the most remote and unspoiled destinations in all of Papua New Guinea. Here, the river is central to daily life, with men paddling narrow dugout canoes full of goods for trade, women fishing or making meals and children joyfully splashing along the river bank. Watch for examples of tribal art on display; each village boasts a unique style and every villager is an artisan. Notice there are no roads or shops — the people live completely off the land and river, weaving baskets for catching fish and gathering their staple food, the sago palm. This afternoon, visit a nearby village to learn how this vital resource is harvested and prepared for consumption by local tribal members.

Karawari Lodge | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Sepik Region | Cast Off For Adventure

Today, board ‘Sepik Spirit,’ your floating home for the next three nights. Settle into life aboard this three-level, 30-metre river cruiser. Onboard amenities include a lounge, dining room, bar, screened-in observation deck, air conditioning and nine comfortable cabins with en suite bathrooms. Your riverboat home is an oasis in this remote jungle, affording an exceptional vantage point on the riverine wilderness around you. After lunch on board, embark on your voyage of discovery along the Karawari River.

'Sepik Spirit' | Meals: BLD

Day 8: Sepik Region | Villages Of Black Water Lake

After breakfast aboard, disembark for a full-day excursion to the remote villages of Black Water Lake. Bask in your warm island welcome as you observe a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Learn about the local rituals, warfare, ceremonies and ancestral beliefs, visiting the various houses of the village. Browse tribal handicrafts such as masks, flutes and spirit figures in the villages’ low-pressure markets. Relax with a picnic by the forested banks of the Karawari River, watching as local men gather on their clan’s bench, children paddle canoes to school and women fish with hand lines.

'Sepik Spirit' | Meals: BLD

Day 9: Sepik Region | Tribes Of The Mumeri & Mindimbit

Disembark onto the banks of Mumeri, a remote village whose people have preserved their ancestral traditions for centuries. Take in the same warm village welcome enjoyed here by pioneering anthropologist Margaret Meade over 80 years ago. Next, cruise to the confluence of the Krosmeri and Karawari rivers, where you rendezvous with ‘Sepik Spirit’ for lunch. Continue on to visit the village of Mindimbit, taking in the spectacular carvings and elaborate coming-of-age rituals of the locals. Re-join ‘Sepik Spirit’ for your final night on board, cruising back toward Karawari.

'Sepik Spirit' | Meals: BLD

Day 10: Mount Hagen | Voices Of The Sing Sing Festival

This morning, fly by private charter to Mount Hagen. On approach, watch the mountains rise and then fall away as you descend into the verdant Wahgi Valley. Upon arrival, enjoy the first of two days at the Mount Hagen Cultural Show, a festive gathering of more than 50 coastal, lowland and highland tribal groups. Gain insider access to a privileged experience few travellers can claim as you immerse yourself in a festival of the locals, for the locals — a bold, joyful proclamation of tribal pride.

Rondon Ridge | Meals: BLD

Day 11: Mount Hagen | Spectacular Cultural Show

Enjoy another day experiencing the sing sing festival. Marvel as the participants engage in sing sings, lively ancestral songs and dances displaying their diverse and distinctive cultural heritages. Witness an unmatched spectacle of colour, music and motion as heirloom feathered headdresses, brilliantly painted faces and dyed grass skirts weave to the driving beat of traditional drums and the rousing voices of the tribesmen. Lose yourself in the sights and sounds of the rollicking festival, gaining a deeper insight into the enduring traditions that help define this unique corner of the world. This afternoon, return to Port Moresby.

Airways Hotel | Meals: BLD

Day 12: Cairns, Australia | A Parting Glimpse

Today, fly to Cairns. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner and recap your amazing experience with your fellow travellers.

Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns | Meals: BD

Day 13: Depart Cairns

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your departure.

Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Cairns/Port Moresby/Tari/Sepik Region/Mount Hagen/Port Moresby/Cairns
Minimum age is 10 years.
First group event: welcome dinner at 6:00 p.m. on Day 1.
Last group event: farewell dinner at 6:00 p.m. on Day 12.
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 8 guests.

Program Note: Travel in this remote region entails lodging in basic accommodations and active elements such as walking over steep, uneven jungle terrain.

Please note: Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination is required for this program.

Included with every Marco Polo Journey

  • English-Speaking Resident Tour Director and Local Guides
  • Hand-Selected Luxury Accommodations (Where Available)
  • Airport Meet and Greet with Private Transfers
  • Travelling Bell Boy Luggage Handling
  • Breakfast in Bed on Select Days
  • Full Breakfast Daily; Select Lunches and Dinners
  • Traveller’s Valet Laundry Service
  • Internet Access (Where Available)
  • Entrance Fees, Taxes and All Gratuities Except Resident Tour Director
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support

Customise this Journey

Talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about booking this tour as a private journey for your own small group with family or friends. Or, if you would prefer to travel privately, find out more about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey based on this itinerary.

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Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Aug 10, 2023 - Aug 22, 2023
Price AU$23,085pp Single Supplement AU$7,035 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Call for Availability Enquire

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