A COMBINED SEPIK RIVER EXPEDITION
AND SCUBA DIVING AT MADANG IN 2019
8TH till 18TH JULY 2019
A one-off chance to combine a Middle Sepik River expedition and then travel East to Madang to experience some of the best diving in PNG.
Firstly, for those wanting to see as much of the river life as possible and are interested in varied styles of Sepik carvings and artefacts and then after fly the short distance to Madang and stay in the top quality Madang Resort Hotel and enjoy several days of great scuba diving on pristine coral reefs and WWII wrecks, visiting the beautiful islands offshore including Krangket Island and visiting many of the World War II land sites .
Starting from flying into Wewak, staying the first night at Wewak’s best hotel you will then be transported in an air-conditioned private vehicle to Pagwi (Middle Sepik River location). You will travel by motorised dugout canoe down the flowing river stopping off at villages along the way to PNG FA’s guesthouse at Kanganaman.
This part of the Sepik River has villages dotted along the riverbanks, each with its own distinctive style of artefacts and variations of culture. The area is steeped in rituals, ceremonies and customs that are still very much part of the villagers’ daily lives today as they have been for thousands of years.
The Middle Sepik is particularly renowned for its ancestral ‘Men’s Spirit Houses’, (Haus Tambarans), where for centuries the amazing ‘Crocodile Initiation Ceremonies’ have taken place, together with many other rituals. This scarification of the skin is made through hundreds of fine cuts to the torso and tops of the arms. When the skin has healed, the scars give an appearance of crocodile skin markings. These marks represent the initiation from boyhood into adult warrior thus bringing status and great respect.
This is PNG FA’s area of specialisation – giving people a true taste of PNG adventure! The villagers we meet are the most welcoming hosts. Our experienced trained guides will explain the customs, answer your questions and assist you with everything, including help with the purchasing of any artefacts you may be interested in purchasing.
There will plenty of opportunity for trekking through the jungle, seeing wild orchids, beautiful birds, catching fish for the evening meal, going crocodile hunting with the young men, viewing and buying carvings, and experiencing each village’s distinct idiosyncrasies. No two villages are alike.
At the end of the Sepik River part of the expedition you will be transported back to Wewak and overnighting at the “In Wewak Boutique Hotel”.
The next day, after experiencing the Sepik River, you will be able to fly onto Madang which is only a short flight. You will be met at the airport and taken to The Madang Resort Hotel which is considered one of the best hotels in the town. This hotel is situated on the waterfront where beautiful views over the nearby islands can be enjoyed. It has three pools, beautiful orchid gardens and various wildlife menageries.
Day 1 – Monday 8th July (Meal: Evening dinner)
Arrive in Wewak by air from Port Moresby. Be met at the airport by the “In Wewak Boutique Hotel” Courtesy bus – check-in to a standard room. Chris Karis of PNG FA will meet you at 6.30 pm in the reception area to brief you on your Sepik River expedition. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 – Tuesday 9th July (Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)
Breakfast at 7 – 7 30 am. Depart Wewak with your guide by private hire car or bus to Pagwi in the Middle Sepik region. Board your motorised dugout canoe heading downriver to Kanganamun, on the way, if time allows, stopping off at Korogu village (if not time, then on your way back up river) and onto Kanganamun village. Visit the largest and oldest Haus Tambaran along the river. Sleep at Kanganamun guesthouse.
Day 3 – Wednesday 10th July (Meals: All Meals)
Depart Kanganamun and visit the nearby beautiful village of Palembei with its two Haus Tambarans, both filled with an amazing selection of artefacts. There will be plenty of opportunity to inspect and purchase many varied forms of artefacts in the village and inside the Haus Tambarans at this village. Return to Kanganamun and visit the Initiated Crocodile Men in the Spirit House at night, a great experience when you can almost feel the ancestors in the shadows! It may be possible, as an alternative, to go crocodile hunting in the evening with young men from the village. Sleep 2nd night at the village guesthouse.
Day 4 – Thursday 11th July (Meals: All Meals)
Depart Kanganamun to visit Kimindibit village on the river bank & then travel to Aibom near the Chambri Lakes. This village is known for its local clay pottery, sago storage jars, and fire pots for cooking which the Aibom villagers exchange and trade with other villages for food. Travel on towards the Blackwater lakes region stay overnight in family house at Mameri village.
Day 5 – Friday 12th July (Meals; All Meals)
After breakfast leave Mameri village onboard your canoe and go up a tributary river into the Black Water Lakes to travel around this beautiful lake area and visit the village of Govermas.
In the afternoon return to Mameri village for the night.
Day 6 – Saturday 13th July (Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch & evening dinner)
The next morning you will rise early to have breakfast and then canoe back upriver, stopping off briefly at a village along the way to stretch your legs etc and onto Pagwi. Here your car/bus and driver will escort you and your guide back to Wewak by late afternoon to check into the “In Wewak Boutique Hotel” for your night’s stay.
Day 7- Sunday 14th July (Meals: Breakfast, lunch in Wewak and dinner in Madang)
After breakfast, and a leisurely morning by the pool be transported, in the hotel bus, to the airport to check in for the 1.15pm Air Niugini domestic flight to Port Moresby. After arriving in Port Moresby, you immediately transfer to the Madang flight. Flying to Madang via Port Moresby is a journey time of approx. 2 hours and you land in Madang at around 4.20pm. There may though be an opportunity to fly between Wewak and Madang direct with PNG Air which will not only be cheaper but only an hour’s journey time. At the time of booking this will be checked.
Be met on arrival at the Madang airport and transferred to the Madang Resort Hotel to be checked in. After check-in you would be escorted on a brief tour of Madang market, and then retire to your rooms. Continue with dinner and overnight there.
Diving in and Around Madang
The second part of our expedition takes us to the beautiful town of Madang. We will fly direct from Wewak and will stay at the four-star Madang Resort.
Madang is considered one of the most beautiful towns and harbors In the Pacific. It’s azure waters have lush forested mountains one side, while on the other is a line of perfect tropical islands. This tropical island paradise makes the perfect contrast to our tribal river expedition
Your expert guide for this part of the tour is Rick Kirkham. Originally from the UK he has been a full-time dive professional for over 25 years, diving though-out Asia and the Pacific. Rick brings a wealth of experience and will be joining you on every one of your dives.
Madang is home to beautiful coral reefs, World War Two wrecks and high voltage drift dives. Great variety is the best way to describe the dive sites. The reefs teem with colorful species of tropical fish, while above hover schools of larger pelagic. Jacks and barracuda are present on many of the dives. On the further reefs and wall dives you can meet reef sharks , silver tip sharks and, if you are lucky, even tiger sharks and hammerheads. Wreck highlights are the U.S. Army freighter ‘Boston’ and the intact B-25 bomber ‘Miss America’. Photo opportunities abound, so bring your camera!
The depths of the dive sites vary between 12m and 35m and most can be multi-leveled. Some of the sites can get faster current which always brings out the larger fish. There are great night dives too, so you might want to add an optional night dive to the tour.
We can choose from more than dive sites. The exact dive sites will be chosen depending on the diving conditions on the day. Highlights include:
Planet Rock – 4m to 40m+
Planet rock is about a 20 minute ride from the resort, three kilometers offshore. This volcanic seamount rises from great depths of over 600 metres to within five metres of the surface. There is usually a current over the reef. Here it is best to hang out in the current and watch the fish come to you. Schools of Jacks and of barracuda swim with rainbow runners, drummer and fusiliers. In the deeper waters keep an eye open for reef sharks, dog tooth tuna and occasionally hammerhead sharks.
Magic Passage – 5m to 35m
Magic Passage is a close to the resort, a 35 metre deep channel which is just 40m wide. This is a great drift dive, with the steep channel walls lined with soft and hard corals. The strong currents bring food to the majestic gorgonian fans and basket sponges on the walls as well as the sea pens, garden eels and coral bommies on the sea bed. At the change of the tides there is often a huge schools of Jacks and Barracuda . Clouds of pyramid butterflyfish and bannerfish make for a truly magical dive.
B-25 Bomber ‘Miss America’ – 12m to 22m
Miss America lost one engine, but apart from this, is virtually intact. It is now covered in corals. You can sit in the cockpit and check out the bombs which are still wired up in the bomb bay. 50 Caliber machine gun rounds now have hard coral growing on them and there are still sets of machine guns protruding from the aircraft’s turrets. A great photo is the rear gunners position between the twin tail rudders.
During the allied campaign to seize the Japanese strongholds north of Lae during 1943, Japanese anti-aircraft guns around the Madang coastline shot down many allied aircraft. The B25 Mitchell Bomber lies Was Shot down in early August. All but one of her crew swam to safety but were captured by the Japanese, tortured and executed at the end of the same month. Major Williston M. Cox Jr. was separated from his crew mates and was shipped to a POW camp in Japan. He was the only crew member to survive and has since visited Madang.
M.V. Henry Leith – 20m
This is a spectacular night dive. The 20m long freighter lies at a depth of 20 metres and is covered in carpets of soft corals, sea fans and hydroids. The hold also contains the remains of a rusting dodge truck and some large cod. Endless species of feather stars cover the hatches and railings, feeding from the passing plankton.
U.S Army freighter ‘Boston’ – 22 to 45m
Further north is the FS 172 ‘Boston’, a coast guard manned U.S. Army freighter from WW2. . She survived the war but in 1946 the Boston hit rocks after making a navigation error and now lays at n average depth of about 28m. The wreck is 54 metres long and is almost intact.
The wreck is exposed to strong current so the usual entry is an up current drift down to the wreck. Many large pelagics inhabiting the holds and superstructure of the ship, including sweet lips, jacks, grouper and barracuda. The holds are filled with of goods which were being repatriated after the war. Their contents now spill over into the holds and decks. The stern is a great place to explore with the large rudder and schools of fish .
Barracuda Point 5m to 40m
The point of the reef gradually drops off from a steep slope near the island to a vertical wall as you move offshore. The current flowing over the point attracts schools of the fish including barracuda, jacks, snapper and fusiliers. Lapu Lapu and sweetlips are common. Large sharks are regular visitors such as Grey Reef sharks and Silvertip. Although the main attraction is the fish-life, the corals are well formed, with a mixture of hard and soft corals and gorgonians. This dive site is dependent on good weather, as it is exposed to both waves and current
The Sek passage is another beautiful dive. Here the reef slopes are covered in hard corals and there is a massive school of resident bannerfish. As you drift along the passage look out for spotted sweetlips and large schools of jacks and barracuda. Don’t forget to look up as clouds of fusiliers and drummer fill the shallow water.
Excellent visibility, stunning tropical coral, tremendously varied fish life and countless WWII wrecks make the diving and snorkeling around Madang world famous.
Some of the outer reefs like Pig Island & Barracuda Point are great diving locations where you will come across barracuda, trevally and sweetlips as well as photogenic barrel sponges and a wonderful colorful array of soft and hard coral.
PNG offers truly world class diving with its incredibly heathy reefs and the absence of crowds of divers that you come across in Thailand and the Philippines. There is a mind-boggling array of WWII wrecks to explore.
Days 8. 9 & 10 – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 15th 16th & 17th July
Three dives per day at various location to suit the tides and weather conditions.
A night dive will be available for those wishing to participate in too.
The dives will be a mix of reef diving and wreck diving.
All meals will be provided with breakfast and dinner at the hotel and a packed lunch on board the dive boat.
Days 11 – Thursday 18th July
After breakfast a chance to relax by the pool or wander around the shops in Madang and then check-in for the 1.20pm flight to Port Moresby for onward international destinations.
For those Clients wishing to leave Madang early there is a 7am flight to Port Moresby.
PROGRAM ENDS HERE
Based on 6 persons = US$4,030/person all-inclusive except domestic flights.
Based on 4 persons = US$4,950/person all-inclusive except domestic flights
Based on 2 persons = US$5,600/person all-inclusive except domestic flights
For a solo traveler wanting a single room at both hotel locations there will be a US$1,250 extra cost.
We offer 5% discounted rates for PNG residents and volunteers working in PNG.
Change of Plan
PNG Frontier Adventures puts great emphasis on experience and interaction with the village people. To fulfil this experience, you will stay in remote villages on the Sepik River and be exposed to the same travel limitations and hazards as the villagers themselves.
PNG Frontier Adventures will do everything possible to organise your expedition itinerary as requested, however, due to the remote nature of the destination and possible sudden changes in the tropical weather conditions and lack of reliable communications, when on the Sepik River part of the expedition, changes of plans are sometimes necessary.
We make plans to cover most problems should they arise, which is very seldom, but the visitor must be aware of the small possibility of plans not working out as per schedule and accept this warning.
Please be assured we will do everything in our powers to rearrange the expedition accordingly and find suitable solutions for you. However, PNG Frontier Adventures cannot be held responsible for sudden changes of plan when there is no alternative.
Please be aware that any additional costs incurred in rearranging a disrupted itinerary will be your responsibility and/or your travel insurers.
We strongly recommend that all visitors obtain their own travel insurance to cover forced cancellation of the tour due to unexpected circumstances, e.g., bad weather conditions causing stoppage of flights, loss of baggage or personal items, medical emergency, and forced changes to your itinerary due to reasons beyond our control or planning.
Food & Water while on the River.
Food, while on the Sepik River, will be very basic and simple due to the lack of any refrigeration & power supply along the river. Daily meals will consist of rice with either tinned fish or meat and/or fresh fish and chicken together with fruits. We also pack eggs for the first part of the expedition. There is not any bread or bakery outside of Wewak town. We carry plenty of good quality bottled water with us. It is important to understand the basic reality of this remote region and the limitations’ it makes on our provisions.
We also wish you to understand that whilst on the Sepik River part of this expedition, due to the remoteness and lack of development at the location, that the village guesthouses and home stays are of a very simple, basic village standard and in no way comparable to guesthouses in many other countries. For example, the toilets are pit toilets, the same as the villagers use, beds will be mattresses on the floor covered with mosquito nets, washing areas may consist of a bucket and scoop or a dip in the Sepik River.
Wewak Town Hotel Accommodation
PNG Frontier Adventures books all our visitors into the “In Wewak Boutique Hotel” – for the first and last night in Wewak.
This covers 2 nights total accommodation with meals and 2 airport transfers ONLY – these costs are included in all our costings / invoice. Clients have to buy their own alcohol that is NOT included in the cost.
Any additional hotel nights and subsequent food and beverages at the hotel to be paid by the guest to the hotel directly. This hotel accepts most credit cards.
Lately, mobile telephone communication towers are gradually being constructed along the Sepik River giving some intermittent coverage mainly in the Middle Sepik River locations.
PNG Frontier Adventures advises visitors that transportation on our adventures will include dug-out timber motorised canoes and car hire from local rental firms. These forms of transport may not be carrying safety equipment such as life jackets, flares or emergency radios as the law in PNG does not require this standard as yet.
PNG Frontier Adventures informs the visitor that medical services are very limited here and rescue services even more limited. With that in mind we ask our visitors to visit your doctor before travelling to PNG and to ensure you start taking prophylactic medication against malaria before visiting PNG to be on the safe side. Please also check on your travel insurance and medical insurance.
Booking Information, Terms and Conditions
Upon receiving an enquiry, we design and plan your personal itinerary via email and provide a quotation for your perusal.
Once you are happy with the arrangements and wish to proceed with a booking, we ask for a deposit of 50% to be paid 8 weeks prior to the commencement date. As soon as we have the deposit your booking reservation is confirmed. Deposits are non-refundable if the Client cancels.
We ask for the final balance of payment 4 weeks before the expedition commences. Cancellation within 2 weeks of the commencement of the expedition incurs a penalty of 100% of monies paid to date.
The reason for this pre-paid booking system is due to the limitations of banking facilities, credit card facilities and currency exchange facilities within Wewak, coupled with the need to purchase fuel and food prior to your intended arrival. In many cases we need to have purchased the fuel beforehand and have it on the river ready, ahead of your expedition. We organise everything needed for your adventure; all you need to bring is your own personal effects and any spending money for the purchasing of artefacts or for extra food and drinks when up the river.
Please note a full breakdown of the tour costing cannot be provided. In Wewak we book you in and pay the accommodation costs for two nights in a standard air-conditioned room at the “In Wewak Boutique Hotel” that is the 1st night when you arrive into Wewak and the last night before you fly off to Madang. PNG FA also pay for all food and soft drinks in the Madang Resort Hotel. Guests pay the hotel direct for any extra meals and alcohol consumed.
PNG Frontier Adventures does not accept liability for and indemnifies itself from any claims for loss, damages, personal injury or sickness from/to the client/visitor and medical insurance. PNG Frontier Adventures reserves the right to cancel wholly or part or revise the itinerary plans due to current tribal situations, bad weather conditions or detrimental acts of nature at the time of, or just prior to the commencement of, the expedition.
PNG Frontier Adventures offer these terms and conditions in accordance with the Law of Papua New Guinea.
Payment of the required deposit to PNG Frontier Adventures assumes automatic acceptance of the terms and conditions mentioned above.
POST: P.O.Box 51, Wewak, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
LANDLINE:+ 675 456 1584
MOBILE: + 675 738 31 130 + 675 736 64 075
Acknowledgements: Some photos provided by courtesy of Georgie McKie, Ron Skinner, Pete Sanders & Mike Holtby, Denver Photography