Papua New Guinea Custom Group Trip 2021

 

2021 PAPUA NEW GUINEA CUSTOM TRIP

Join Bluewater Travel's Katie Yonker on this amazing trip to dive the diverse Kimbe Bay via liveaboard followed by an optional cultural land extension to visit local tribes in the rarely visited Sepik waterways and attend the annual Rabaul mask festival! 

 

July 6 - 14, 2021

Trip Leader: Katie Yonker

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8 Nights for:

$3,990 per person 


Optional land tour: July 14 - 19

Land Tour Price: $3,947 per person

Liveaboard price does not include the required $72 per person environmental & safety fee.

Land tour price includes round trip private charter flights between Mt. Hagen and Karawari airstrip.

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. If you're traveling solo, we can pair you up with another person to room-share with. Single occupancy accommodations may be available. 

 

Why Join this trip?

  • 25% off rental photo gear from Bluewater Photo
  • Modern luxury liveaboard - the MV Oceania: great amenities and spacious cabins 
  • Unparalleled cultural experience
  • Custom itinerary including the annual Rabaul Mask Festival, and exploring the incredibly remote region of the Sepik waterways

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TRIP OVERVIEW

Start by spending 8 nights aboard PNG's newest and nicest of 3 liveaboards, the MV Oceania diving Kimbe Bay, Fathers Reef, and Rabaul. From this luxury catamaran, you'll experience incredible diversity - coral gardens, seamounts, walls, reef walls, arches, and muck sites are home to a variety of fish, crustacean and invertebrate life and many of the reefs have resident schools of barracuda, tuna and jacks.  A range of shark species are regularly sighted, including hammerheads and silvertips, particularly on the offshore reefs.  A resident pod of dolphins frequently entertains divers. The occasional sightings of orca, pilot whales, whale sharks and other marine life passing through Kimbe Bay and West New Britain waters always delight both guests and staff.

 

 

INCLUSIONS

  • 8 nights accommodations onboard MV Oceania
  • Full board meals onboard Oceania (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), tea, coffee, and water
  • Tanks, air fills, weights, and weight belt
  • Local airport transfers to/from MV Oceania
  • 1 night accommodations at Rondon Ridge , 1 night accommodations at Kokopo Beach Bungalows, and 3 nights accommodations onboard Sepik Spirit
  • Meals for land-based extension starting with lunch on July  15, ending with breakfast on July 19
  • Charter flight from Mount Hagen to Karawari on July 16 and charter flight from Karawari to Mount Hagen on July 19
  • Airport transfers in Rabaul, Mt. Hagen, and Karawari for land-based trip
  • Local tour guides and village visits
  • Rabaul Mask Festival entrance ticket
  • Luggage storage in Port Moresby during land extension

 

Exclusions

  • International airfare to/from Port Moresby
  • Air Niugini domestic airfare as follows: Port Moresby to Hoskins on July 6, Rabaul to Mt. Hagen via Port Moresby on July 15, and Mt. Hagen to Port Moresby on July 19
  • Environmental & Safety Fees ($72 per person, collected in advance)
  • Drinks/alcoholic beverages
  • Nitrox, optional ($210 per person)
  • Personal dive and/or travel insurance (Dive insurance is mandatory. Travel insurance is recommended, but optional.)
  • Hotel stays in Port Moresby before or after the trip
  • Papua New Guinea visa (currently free on arrival)
  • Travel Insurance: click here to learn more about our preferred plan


BRIEF ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Fly from Port Moresby to Hoskins. Board MV Oceania. 
  • Days 2-7: Up to 4 dives
  • Day 8: 2 morning dives
  • Day 9: Disembark MV Oceania. Check in to Kokopo Beach Bungalows and attend the opening day of the annual Rabaul Mask Festival.
  • Day 10: Check out of hotel. Fly from Rabaul to Mt. Hagen via Port Moresby. Huli Village visit.
  • Day 11: Fly by charter flight from Mt. Hagen to Karawari airstrip. Board Sepik Spirit. Cultural village visit, time permitting.
  • Day 12: Full day culture tour of Sepik region.
  • Day 13: Full day culture tour of Sepik region.
  • Day 14: Fly from Karawari airstrip to Mt. Hagen, and Mt. Hagen to Port Moresby.
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    DETAILED TRIP ITINERARY

  • Day 1 (July 6): You can take either flight from Port Moresby (code: POM) to Hoskins (code: HKN). Air Niugini #208 departs POM at 7:40am and lands HKN at 10:15am. Air Niugini #262 departs POM at 11:50am and lands HKN at 12:55pm. Boarding Oceania begins at 4:00pm. If you take the earlier flight, you will be allowed to relax in the Walindi main house area where there is also a restaurant. Boarding begins at 4:00pm and the boat sails at approximately 6:00pm.
  • Day 2 (July 7): Up to 4 dives. See below for more info on diving the fabulous Kimbe Bay. 
  • Day 3 (July 8): Up to 4 dives
  • Day 4 (July 9): Up to 4 dives
  • Day 5 (July 10): Up to 4 dives
  • Day 6 (July 11): Up to 4 dives
  • Day 7 (July 12): Up to 4 dives
  • Day 8 (July 13): Two morning dives, (to adhere to PADI's 18 hour dive/no fly recommendation)
  • Day 9 (July 14): We'll disembark and arrive to Kokopo Beach Bungalows. Spend as much time as you wish attending the opening day of the annual Rabaul mask festival. 
  • Day 10 (July 15): We'll depart Rabaul early in the morning. The currentt flight scheudle is changing quite frequently, so please do not book any flights until you've heard from us with more information (likely in 2021). In Port Moresby we'll be met by a Trans Niugini Tours staff member who will assist us with luggage storage of unneeded dive bags and check in for our flight to Mount Hagen. Fly from Port Moresby (POM) to Mount Hagen (HGU) on Air Niugini Flight TBD. Mount Hagen is in the upper Wahgi Valley - a valley with some of the oldest evidence of agriculture in the world. Enroute to our hotel, we'll enjoy a packaged lunch before stopping in a Huli village to witness the elaborate costumes worn for their song and dance called a sing-sing. Afterwards, we'll check in to our accommodations at Rondon Ridge, perched high on Mount Kuta with unbelievable views of the valley.
  • Day 11 (July 16): Fly by charter flight from Mount Hagen to the Karawari airstrip. During the flight mountains rise up to startling heights out of the flat lands of the Sepik Basin to Mount Hagen. Upon arrival, transfer to the Sepik Spirit. Enjoy lunch onboard the Sepik Spirit as we begin our voyage of discovery to local villages. Inspired by the local architecture of the "haus tambaran" or spirit house, the Sepik Spirit has a truly unique design.
  • Day 12 (July 17): After breakfast we'll leave the boat for a full day tour and a picnic lunch to the remote Blackwater Lakes. We will visit villages where the people are prolific carvers. Here you can purchase many interesting items such as masks, elaborately carved hooks, ancestral figures, hand drums, baskets, bilums and gourds. (Itinerary subject to change)
  • Day 13 (July 18): After breakfast we'll visit the village of Mumeri. Enjoy a jet boat ride to meet with the Sepik Spirit at the Krosmeri Junction for lunch. After lunch a tour to the Mindimbit villages, we'll meet up again with the Sepik Spirit while cruising back to the Karawari area. (Itinerary subject to change)
  • Day 14 (July 19): Enjoy an early breakfast before we transfer to the Karawari airstrip. Fly by charter from Karawari to Mount Hagen. In Mount Hagen, we'll be taken to Banz Kofi for lunch. Fly from Mount Hagen to Port Moreseby on Air Niugini 187 departing HGU at 2:55pm, arriving POM at 3:55pm. Upon arriving in POM, collect stored bags that were left with the Trans Niugini Tours office. (It's highly unlikely there will be ample time to make an international flight connection, therefore guests will most likely need to stay overnight in Port Moresby on July 19 and take an international flight out on July 20.)

 

DIVING KIMBE BAY

New Britain Island's Kimbe Bay is known for abundant, diverse marine life and exceptionally healthy reefs. National Geographic magazine apparently agrees, as does photographer David Doubilet, ranking these reefs among the world's most beautiful. Kimbe Bay highlights include Father's Reef and South Emma, known for pelagics like sharks and barracudas, and Susan’s Reef, celebrated for its colorful soft corals, sea fans and other wide-angle scenery. Other top sites include a fully intact Japanese Zero fighter plane, and picturesque Rest Orf Island, where the scenery is equally good above and below the surface. Witu Islands are also famous for schooling fish and loads of soft corals as well as unusual critters. A range of shark species are regularly sighted, including hammerheads and silvertips, particularly on the offshore reefs.  A resident pod of dolphins frequently entertains divers. Though less reliable than the reef dwellers, various marine mammals also make regular appearances in Kimbe Bay including pilot whales, orcas, and sperm whales on occasion. 

 

THE SEPIK SPIRIT BOAT AND THE SEPIK CULTURE (LAND TOUR)

The Sepik Spirit is a 9-room river cruise boat with a unique design inspired by the local architecture of the spirit house. This one-of-a-kind ship is used to take guests on a voyage along the waterways of Papua New Guinea’s Sepik region, thus, allowing for the unique opportunity to journey into remote villages that could not otherwise be reached on daytrips. Currently, the Sepik Spirit primarily journeys on the Karawari River, the storied tributary of the Sepik River, and on to the Krosmeri River which allows entry to the mysterious Blackwater Lakes. The densely forested riverbanks of the Karawari River contrast with the wide open expanse of the Blackwater Lakes. Bird life is rich throughout both regions.

These tribes live their life on the water. For them, the spirits of the crocodiles and the river gods are still highly revered. As you coast along the rivers you will be met by the welcoming calls of the villagers resting or working on the banks of the river, by the women fishing from their hollowed canoes, and the children paddling to school. The tribes that inhabit the Sepik region still maintain many of their traditional beliefs and ways of life, such as the reverence of the Spirit house and the ancient and unique sculptures and art that decorate them. Travelers can look forward to authentic experiences as they wonder these remote villages that still maintain many of their traditional ways of life.

Head hunting was a river culture practice in the Sepik area. The fact that young men could only come of age in these regions by taking a head suggests how incessant warfare must have been. The Iatmul people of the Sepik would take the heads in battle, boil away the flesh and hang the painted and decorated skulls as trophies in the men's houses. The head hunters were not necessarily cannibals, but many were. Human flesh was eaten until fairly recently and some of the older men from villages remember tasting it as children - they will tell you that it tasted a little bit like chicken. The men's house is the place where important decisions regarding the village are made, where boys are initiated and become men, and ceremonies to please the spirits are performed. Here the crocodile is worshiped as the water spirit. In excruciatingly painful ceremonies young men have their backs cut to resemble the markings of the crocodile, which is a symbol of strength and power.

Guests will disembark the boat each day, where time will be spent visiting the spirit houses, family homes and important places in the villages, and hearing about the traditional rituals, warfare, initiation ceremonies, and ancestral beliefs.

The tribes of this region express their beliefs and creativity through the creation of unique and beautiful tribal art, such as masks, flutes, drums and spirit figures. You will have the opportunity to view and purchase arts from the small village markets.

The Sepik Spirit is the best place to stay to explore all of the mystery and mystique the remote Sepik area has to offer!

To learn more, watch this 4 minute video on the Sepik region:

  

 

Land TOUR Inclusions

  • Accommodations
  • Airport transfers/tours on scheduled basis
  • Meals as specified
  • Local English speaking guides.

 

land TOUR Exclusions

  • International, domestic or air transfer flight airfares
  • Items of a personal nature

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 MV Oceania MV Oceania

 MV Oceania MV Oceania 

About the MV Oceania

MV Oceania is a 27-meter (88.5-ft) liveaboard catamaran that began operating in January 2019 out of Walindi Plantation Resort, alongside MV FeBrina in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea. She accommodates up to 16 divers in 8 comfortable en-suite cabins.

 

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ABOUT THE TRIP LEADER

Bluewater Trip Leader Katie Yonker

Katie Yonker is the Director of Operations for Bluewater Travel. Her interest in scuba diving started many years ago while on vacation in the British Virgin Islands. Though not yet certified, she was mesmerized by the marine life below the surface. As soon as she returned to Los Angeles, she swapped her mask and snorkel for a regulator and BCD (and a mountain of other dive equipment) and hasn't looked back since! 

Katie is no stranger to the Southern California waters, but prefers to travel around the world and experience new cultures, food, and marine environments. Her most memorable dive moment was swimming 20 feet from humpback whales off the coast of Moorea. At the top of the list for her next dive vacation: returning to Raja Ampat. Learn more about Katie here

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Payment Schedule

  • Deposit: $1,900
  • Payment 2: $1,400, Due Dec. 1, 2020
  • Balance: Due April 1, 2020
 

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Got Questions? Ready to Book?

Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 email us at trips@bluewaterdivetravel.com

Or stop by our office at 3961 Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 206 Culver City, CA 90230 

And let us book your dream vacation!

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Photo Gallery 

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PHOTOS

  • MV OCEANIA AND KIMBE BAY DIVING:
  • PNG Trip 2020 PNG PNGPNG PNG PNGPNG      PNG PNG PNG      
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  • RONDON RIDGE AND THE HULI WIGMEN:

     


SEPIK SPIRIT BOAT:

PNG Trip 2020  PNG PNG PNG PNG PNG PNGPNG

 

SEPIK REGION:

PNG PNG PNGPNG PNG PNGPNG PNG PNG

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Is Papua New Guinea safe?

A: In a nutshell, yes! The majority of crime happens in the urban area of Port Moresby. The areas we visit (i.e. Kimbe Bay, Mount Hagen, and Sepik) are not high crime areas, and we'll be with a local guide for all the tours. Currently, there are no US State Department travel warnings for Papua New Guinea.

 

Q: What are the passport and visa requirements?

A: You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of proposed departure with at least 1 blank page. United States citizens are required to have a visa that can be obtained on arrival for free in Port Moresby, valid for stays up to 60 days. Alternatively, you can obtain an e-visa in advance for $50 here.

 

Q: What dive equipment should I bring?

A: Divers should bring all their own personal equipment including BC, regulator, mask, fins, snorkel, computer, and gauges. The vessel supplies tanks, weights, and weight belts. Equipment is available to rent for an additional charge.

 

Q: Is nitrox available?

A: Yes, nitrox is available and costs $210 for the entire trip.

 

Q: Can I pay a single supplement if I want my own room?

A: On the liveaboard there are no single accommodations and no single supplement, so you would be paying for two spaces if you want your own cabin. For the land-based extension, please contact us for single occupancy.

 

Q: How many people does the boat take?

A: The boat accommodates a maximum of 16 guests.

 

Q: What are the average water temperatures in July?

A: Water temps are in the low to mid 80s.

 

Q: What are the average air temperatures for the land-based extension?

A: The climate in PNG is tropical and pleasant. There are two distinct types of climate:

The lowland and coastal areas are hot having a temperature range of 75 - 95 F with high humidity.

The highlands regions are cooler, having a temperature range of 54 - 82 F with less humidity.

Mount Hagen is in the highlands; Sepik is in the lowlands.

 

Q: Do I need an electrical adapter?

A: Plugs on Oceania are 240 volts, international (compatible with all plug types). Elsewhere, Papua New Guinea uses plug type I, which is the same as Australia.

 

Q: Do I need to worry about malaria?

A: Papua New Guinea does carry the risk of malaria. The risk is very small in Kimbe Bay and Mount Hagen, but malaria is more common in the Sepik region. If you're joining the land tour, we strongly recommend malaria prophylaxis. Please consult your physician for a malaria medication recommendation. 

Regardless of whether you are taking an anti-malarial or not, the best preventative measures are to ensure you cover up during the early morning and late afternoon/early evening hours with loose, lightweight cotton clothing and use a mosquito repellent. Please note that if you're diving, Larium is not recommended as an anti-malarial for divers.

 

Q: Do I need any other vaccinations?

A: The CDC currently recommends travelers be up to date on standard vaccinations, and also suggests Hepatitis A and Typhoid, which are commonly recommend for any international travel. For more information, you can check the CDC website for recommended vaccines for travel to Papua New Guinea here, and/or check with your physician.

 

Q: Will I get seasick?

A: If you tend to get seasick, we recommend you take Dramamine, Bonine, or another seasickness medication. However, Oceania is a very stable boat and sea conditions in Kimbe Bay are not particularly rough.

 

Q: Is there WiFi?

A: There is no wifi on the liveaboard. There is a weak cellular data connection at Rondon Ridge, and no connection in Sepik. SIM cards can be purchased for K15.00 for usage on an unlocked phone. Data can be purchased at K42.00 per GB. SIM cards should be purchased on arrival at Port Morseby.

 

Q: What tour company are you using for land visits? What exactly will we be doing on our land tours? 

A: We are using Trans Niugini Tours for our land extension. With over 35 years experience, Trans Niugini Tours is the only inbound tour operator that not only owns and manages the wilderness lodges, but also owns their own charter aircraft. They are a very reputable company held to the highest standards of safety and reliability. Village visits can be changed very last minute due to events that may happen in the village such as deaths or weddings. Tourists are not allowed to visit when this happens. Village visits are usually planned a few days in advance, therefore it's difficult to advise which exact villages will be visited. 

 

Q: Do the boat and lodges take credit cards? How much spending money do I need?

A: MV Oceania accepts cash (USD, AUD, Euro, or PNG Kina) or credit cards (Visa/Mastercard). The wilderness lodges accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Aside from your expenses on the liveaboard, you should plan to bring about K500 - K700 (approximately $155 - $215 USD) in local currency for shopping and souvenirs. 

  

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