51 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Diverse, colourful, extreme – Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the last frontiers for travellers and remains one of the least explored countries in the world. I have always wanted to visit PNG, a nation that comprises the eastern half of the colourful rainforest island-continent that lies between Australia and the equator. Much of Australia’s 20th century history is entwined with that of PNG and I know many people who have lived in PNG, working as teachers, booksellers, engineers, agricultural advisors, aid workers and administrators pre- and post-independence, all of whom have colourful tales of this culturally rich, scenic and geographically remote nation.  Just a 90 minute flight from Cairns, PNG is home to 38 species of Birds of Paradise (BoPs), unique cultures and a largely rural/subsistence economy.

 

za6IqzLA0yEDUsGGng2be6sMT6NkHYvvgJszHq6z

 

fSUbtTQ-QVDxhmKDsclgC28lsd0BP4063MZnPVHj

 

This year, I booked a scheduled Birds and Culture tour with Sicklebill Safaris rather than making my own arrangements. My goals were to see Birds of Paradise and to attend the colourful Mt Hagen ‘’singsing’’, a cultural show where clans gather to flaunt, flourish and flutter in traditional regalia, featuring music and dance from the Western Highlands province and further afield.

 

kmPstd7FGRQ1WPDcTKj8X0Qy3yLmIJrYPjIR4UdN

 

la3ZhzySoFG8MSzmZcp4nushQMWB39zKPm7ux4Jj

 

Sicklebill arranged travel with local operators and key guides by private mini-bus, scheduled flights and river boats which are common forms of transport, due to ragged jungle roads and a feudal land ownership system that is jealously and violently guarded. Rugged mountains, tropical rivers and coastal islands are home to tribal peoples whose villages of thatched huts now have satellite dishes and men who hunt with spears now sport mobile phones.  A local guide is essential for communications and access to, and safe travel through complex land ownership and village sensitivities. Visits to some Bird of Paradise leks and habitats involve mud, steep hills, jungle treks and long river trips.

 

z7wB-VDPy2c5SS4YCnbTvQyyEZ0gZUWiSFbgFE4M

 

GAjMI5F9DBrt-ROI2igVuVnJYKWEAfb8XscD0AKv

 

Highlights were:

  • ·         Paiya village ‘mini-show’ and the Mt Hagen ‘singsing’
  • ·         Boat trip up the Fly and Elevala Rivers
  • ·         Birding around Kumul Lodge
  • ·         Birds of paradise

 

My pre-trip reading revealed the following: 

  • ·         During the colonial period PNG was governed at various times by the Dutch, Germans and British. It was part of the British Empire in the late 19th century and administered by Australia from 1906-75. Independence was celebrated on 16 September 1975 at a ceremony attended by Prince Charles, who was referred to in Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) as ‘the nambawan pikinini bilong Misis Kwin’;
     
  • The nation of PNG comprises the eastern half of the world’s second largest island;
     
  • The population of around 7,000,000 people uses one or more of over 800 languages;
     
  • ·70% of the country is covered by tropical forest;
     
  • ·PNG comprises one of the world’s largest remaining rural communities with 82% of the population living outside urban centres;
     
  • ·         PNG is classified as a developing country by the International Monetary Fund, with 40% of people living a subsistence lifestyle;
     
  • Social and religious systems are a mix of traditional and modern practices;
     
  • The PNG coastline was mapped many centuries ago, yet land exploration occurred as late as the 1930s when Australian gold prospectors Mick and Dan Leahy trekked into the highlands, discovering the amazing hidden world of central PNG Stone Age tribespeople dressed in loincloths, grass skirts and plumed head-dresses who hunted with poisoned arrows;
     
  • During World War 2 over 200,000 Australian, American and Japanese soldiers died in PNG, many along the Kokoda Trail. The fuzzy-wuzzy angels (as the PNG people were known to the soldiers) who assisted soldiers from both sides of the campaign are remembered annually at Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand;
     
  • PNG may harbour undiscovered plants and animal life as fore-shadowed in Throwim’ way leg (1997) by Tim Flannery a book which records a relatively recent expedition to PNG and West Papua in search of new species; and
     
  • ·         A guide told us that 70% of land in PNG is privately owned which caused me to wonder about the average number of acres owned per capita and per family when compared to Australia.

 

Before winging my way from Cairns to Port Moresby I spent a few days around Cairns and the Atherton Tableland, which as well as being very scenic also have interesting birds and wildlife.

Edited by Treepol
Correct formatting
24 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That will be a proper journey to the uncharted territory for many of us, I believe, and as such very interesting! Not only for BoP, also to see the local culture etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PNG has always fascinated me, so I´m really looking forward to your report.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like a fascinating place - culture and wildlife!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a title and what a report to come.  Fascinating!  Looking forward to it!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really looking forward to reading this report! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd always wondered if it was possible to do wildlife trips in PNG and you just showed us it is!  looking forward to reading about another new frontier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Just before I left home there had been a terrorist scare in Sydney and the airlines were insisting on clients arriving 2 hours before a domestic flight. I turned up at Devonport airport at 12 noon, and checkout opened at 1 pm - oh, well a bonus hour of reading time. It took three flights to get to Cairns where I finally arrived at 10.30 pm  after 10.5 hours in transit and checked into the Coral Tree Inn.

 

After a good sleep and breakfast I’m off to collect a car and then drive to the Atherton Tablelands via the scenic Gilles Highway that climbs through the Gilles Range - 262 bends, 19 kilometres and 800 metres later I arrived at Lake Barrine in time for the 11.30 cruise. This was my second time at Lake Barrine and the cruise was once again memorable. A large group of school girls from Loreto College occupied the upper deck of the vessel and an elder of the local aboriginal tribe explained the local names of the wildlife and the creation story of Lake Barrine. This year the Pacific Black Ducks once again followed the boat, even landing up front for a free ride. The Saw-shelled turtle and Long-finned eels jostled for a handout of fish meal while Welcome Swallows flitted around the boat.

 

OFO3hzbmKhbQwnU9dSUhWPWgki4XFN_TgvFoJxLL

 

VAKKiZK2uDnfiVgjHhHQ2onpcWkJpkWWLfZ5Rzqa

 

cUBp--6RGtbbzXIHUNsLB-50sZ0ppWjlnZL7eNy-

 

New sightings this year were a Carpet Python, a Tawny Frogmouth and a Water dragon (that disappeared too quickly for a photo).

 

kY5T35ir29YRAGfjH_r3sRgWeUXjZpYtEUIf36cq

 

The 1920s style tearoom still does a very good Devonshire Tea.

 

GUcyhdJQn6F8JlHGMYcYLgxoTkXLOtqzasVCEARD

 

Rain set in as I was leaving Lake Barrine and it was too wet to walk at Lake Eacham or to check out the trees at Nerada Tea for the resident tree kangaroos. I ended up doing a drive thru' of Atherton en route to Kuranda where I eventually found Cassowary House tucked away in the rainforest. True to its name, one of the resident cassowaries put in a brief appearance, his radiant blue head contrasting sharply with the rainforest backdrop. I sat on the veranda during the afternoon relishing the nearness of the rainforest and at night all I heard was crickets and the drip, drip of rain on the tin roof.

 

bHzklxnzNo1Dq6dcThuFPb2fIIrwI-zRkcXlZ1gV

 

The local wildlife distracted us from breakfast next morning as it put on a show below the deck. An Emerald Ground Dove ran the gauntlet of a ring of bossy Brush Turkeys, while a shy Musky Rat Kangaroo foraged for scraps once the turkeys were occupied.

 

A_uuSBK2-0iFA44tv0s-J6NPjw4lQLfOORdfGIZ0

 

fflqM4jawyG5SkqjQqJACVy_BKEbnM0Zyajf7S_O

 

Phil and Sue offer to give away a turkey to every guest at checkout - those of us who know the reputation of these feathered vervets decline hastily, while others muse that it would be good to take one home.

 

The sky was again overcast, but at least there was no rain today so I decided to drive to Julatten in search of honeyeaters. A few Yellow Honeyeaters were feeding in the grevilleas and posed prettily for photos

jwbe1gLwRB_WPtrZorBdfmCI1cB5uHYSJsUsIkcn

after which I returned to the school where a Great Bowerbird has a colourful pink and white bower. He was flying around the trees but just wouldn't pose at the bower. Along Sides Road a blue and white streak shot up from the ground to a high branch and disappeared, maybe a Forest Kingfisher?

Edited by Treepol
Typo
21 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Next day dawned and it was another gray morning. Surprisingly the Riflebird is on his post, but there isn't enough sun to light up his metallic feathers so he doesn't linger to display. Later, the Black Butcherbird and the Victoria's Riflebird made an appearance at breakfast.  I decided to drive to Cairns to buy some new waterproof shoes with a really good non-slip sole for PNG. The shops in the mall were very similar to those at home - Prouds, Myer, Athletes Foot and a Food Court selling mostly unhealthy food. 

 

I returned to Cassowary House for a lazy afternoon and to finish my book. I waterproofed my new shoes, sat on the deck until a volley of barks indicated the arrival of the cassowary, Gertie. She is quite a friendly bird and likes company and admiration. She obligingly sat for a long time with her powerful feet stretched out in front of her providing many photo opportunities. Gertie is one of 3 wild cassowaries that visit Cassowary House. I was hoping and hoping that the male bird would appear with this year's young, but I missed him by 2 days, the chicks debut was recorded 8 August 2017 on Facebook.

 

n2fxe4jz-h-JfQwyJYbXvkDLPZBRZ7Lk9l0r5Dl2

 

and here is a close-up of those lethal toes

 

98XwyWlnz0lDndra_tcuPly4w9sSoAOIgjAjLu91

 

Ben Blewitt, who is to be our PNG guide called by this evening to see Sue and Phil and it was good to have a chance to say an early hello. 

 

Next morning we are treated to a display by the resident Victoria's Riflebird.  Once again it was a gray and overcast morning, however the bird dipped, stretched and ruffled before raising its wings and showing a bright yellow gape and a blue metallic neck patch.

 

k58Od16LoSjXXKthRwMagSk7A8z23oWwh3Oiwvj8

 

M6WFI4KStG9ns8v8Z9OJL5E3LfjcsXXq6_4kd52E

 

mU4QLbSO3vZnl-kLAuZggtgQbsTxQH2RzSnl5IP7

 

6gMOK-QbeQjKXOwlVMzhAw1mWkj4Jn72ivStFWf7

 

XNJ-O0y3tBnUf2dMvkrq15XMXG676IVmBneeQrql

 

dtcMpMlrV9ECVmFoOcThJfdIiq1P4gPw1RFtBpib

 

After this brilliant start to the day we weren't surprised when Gertie the cassowary appeared at breakfast.

 

I left Cassowary House around 10 am and drove to Mareeba to visit Granite Gorge where I walked for an hour and saw the endemic Mareeba Rock Wallaby, searched unsuccessfully for Blue-headed Kingfisher and enjoyed walking alone in the bush.

 

YoGYxo_dYlb-7PdmyvnCB0VUieiiZM36PMSW91RY

 

The coloured route markers embedded in the large granite boulders lead visitors on a cracking scramble/walk. After the walk I found the resident Squatter Pigeons and a pair of Tawny Frogmouths.

 

Ri8sW50byXiJ8mmajWxDK3ZaMtQmyY7Ktff9YtXn

 

2h9Dgxytb667Ewveu69doJN-D2u-71XjMyRoWa1w

 

 

This was my last stop in the beautiful Atherton Tableland as the car was due back in Cairns and so was I, because tomorrow I fly to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

Edited by Treepol
Formatting
24 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@xelas @michael-ibk@kittykat23uk@TonyQ@Atravelynnthanks for reading along.

 

@Kitsafari safari in PNG is very different to safari in Africa or South America. We saw one mammal, a Dusky Pademelon in the wild and lots of birds. Sightings are usually distant and fleeting - I will write more on the perils of birdwatching in PNG later in the report.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Treepol

 

I'm very much looking forward to this report. Have you seen the photographer/biologist Tim Laman's National Geographic book Birds of Paradise?  It's fascinating, and was my first glimpse of the uniqueness of Papua New Guinea. As I understand it, with no natural predators around, the birds-of-paradise there have enjoyed the luxury of focusing on more leisurely pursuits -- not the least of which involves their evolutionary elaborate mating dances and  displays.  Absolutely fascinating. 

 

If you were subjected to the "perils of birdwatching" there, you are in good company. Tim Laman writes in his introduction to the book: "On my first  bird-of-paradise photography trip, I wrote this field journal entry: 'I think this is the most difficult assignment I have worked on......Tenth day since I arrived and I still haven't nailed a single bird-of-paradise species to my satisfaction.' .....What had I gotten myself into?"

 

Cant wait to hear (and see) more. 

Edited by Alexander33
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Alexander33 yes I have seen Tim Laman's amazing and inspiring book. I am pleased to learn that others have found PNG birding difficult in the utmost!

 

I checked into the Air Niugini flight at 9.15 and after a quick shop in Duty Free was ready for Port Moresby (POM). The flight left 15 minutes early at 11.30 and 90 minutes later we landed in PNG. I was delighted to be travelling internationally for such a short time in order to land in a country that is so diverse and culturally different to Australia - it sure beats 20+ hours to Johannesburg or 32+ hours to Sao Paulo. I will be looking for other exotic destinations close to home - Sabah, Thailand and Hokkaido spring to mind.

 

The climate in POM is tropical and there is a slightly damp odour around the city, although later we were to see little piles of burning garbage that produced added a strong smoky smell and contributed to the smog. Back at the airport we cleared immigration and customs without any problems, changed money and then bought a Digicell card for the mobile phone.  We are staying at the Citi Serviced Apartments for the next 3 nights.

 

4dA1w8Dh1YH1LY6ADGsJBArhOdsin66Csc38_74t

 

IlVV8V5bb_7n6-AbZFX5Qh_1kjDPmbDpK9vY9vBt

 

C57XvgOFnBNfcsZitQJddBzQo9i4gQA947N52f2q

 

There were 5 people in our Sicklebill Safaris group and it wasn't until we arrived at the POM accommodation that we all met up for the first time. Linda and Kathy, sisters from Virginia and Pennsylvania, LeslieAnn from Tucson Arizona, Ramesh from Singapore and myself.  After greetings all round and a light lunch, Daniel, the local guide arrived with a driver and gopher/security guy and we were off sightseeing. First stop was  Parliament House which has a soaring high peak at the front with indigenous art and a Bird of Paradise door carving.

 

J558l75DIpjaF_W3r4pS5V4wVqAXFHhk2AsUEnnh

 

3RsmuHBc5GJZZZgiQ1QUYQxOUIzCrmQ9wWegqDOq

 

yacKUInR2KGhWfvWFuS81UCM0CD3oDXS3hyHWPpM

 

7VWSSDk-hgvKZn9CX7SC8E_U28nt2a-lqVPZvNsf

 

In the grounds we saw Torresian Pigeon, Sacred Kingfisher, White-breasted Woodswallow, Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters and Fawn-breasted Bowerbird. Directly opposite, people were growing vegetables in impromptu market gardens. 

 

Next stop was the fish market where all sorts of fish, crabs and frog kebabs were on sale. There didn't seem to be any restrictions on the species of fish that could be caught as we saw a Humphead Wrasse (that are protected in Australia) and some colourful reef fish all on sale as well as individually trussed mud crabs.

 

Vt6FTRg7M66czeZSAulbWmDW7_J3NVoSbr0cJyee

 

ef2p2fTmPwc60S9bUfLzLY3APVOJHht3rA4SsgUx

 

OqwaKxAwpyLX6zSDI3ZMIl9UuERUR_UJscSkGzAt

0Hi13Pm5DSxy4X2IP9i54qGv79LNelZ71gFYm-K1

 

RiQzkE5Hi0CUlwEs3n3QNpXRbikwGcDmBL4c6rn8

Daniel

 

BebCmRpjowyatX-cxQ7Wma5MIUvnbIdF2VtSE7m7

Local fishing fleet

 

A stilt village that is home to many of the fishermen was nearby.

B4u9tr3D0tcr54Y7yrk7NXW3ZzecT-lIPnt0irkE

 

The last stop of the day was at the top of what Daniel calls "Rich man's hill" where many politicians and diplomats live. Security services like Black Swan were very obvious in this area as well as along the main traffic thoroughfares. The hilltop affords a birds-eye view of the city laid out below which was shared with a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird.

 

V3QcdhmVjpOs_UR2LfXByfk7cMOpEHE2s22b_n9i

 

quGxL1TpkpeY7A3msjg8Gog5KYpTRn65q2gWZ5wR

 

AVW1SevTdY2E6TBJYiTpQL1ptySO0_KdeDhJOvHD

 

Daniel dropped us back at the Apartments where we chose dinner from a limited menu before turning in for an early night ready for a 4.15 am. start tomorrow.

Edited by Treepol
Formatting
21 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow!  @Treepol what a destination- and i love the idea of feeding eels! this will be a trip report that most of us will never get to experience! one of the joys of Safaritalk!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Victoria's Riflebird is most odd and fascinating in its various poses. The endemic Mareeba Rock Wallaby had to be a highlight.  It has to take the participants in that colorful cultural show forever to get ready!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great report so far.  I look forward to reading more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Towlersonsafari and @Atdahlthanks for your interest @AtravelynnI was so pleased when the Riflebird ran through his full program as I had been waiting for this sighting since our 2015 visit. The dressing for the show is a happy, social time. Lots of talk and laughter and the mirrors come out for primping and preening. I have lots of photos to come, but here is one for now.

 

xVHMJco5q6EjE28jASzNBwZizenSnFlJe2WXWe0S

 

Meanwhile we are looking for BoPs! The alarm went off at 4.15 am for a 5 am breakfast and 5.30 departure for Varirata NP. Everyone is looking forward to the visit to the lek of the Raggiana BoP and we have an extra guide along today, Lyall who works for Heritage Expeditions and Tropical Birding was doing a recce for his guests who arrive tomorrow.

 

y55vrOK5zKNgr4BzGi3tjWaoZCNYtSa2JIjNRjF_

 

At the lek, three or 4 males displayed for the occasional female that dropped by. The orange feathers shook, heads bobbed and wings outstretched in this colourful ritual.

 

8-oTcBoD-8ZJ-5ItaJ7ymOur5yjwp3JS1tbx2v4m

 

GvWyBASm5ogHWqn5jOi_qHWMMyYIrNBzcGFMb8sS

 

qACteswhI-_mdz7sZhYlYgnaI-jCpcMsXPrCt7gO

 

Next we did the lookout walk after some photos looking down over Port Moresby and the coast.

 

I3iQvxE8xsnmyXmyM1e1AzqA-ywO5tiOAAs7Cjtf

 

A pair of Blyth's Hornbill flapped by below the lookout, their noisy wing beats alerting us to their presence. Kingfishers featured very well along this trail, beginning with the brightly coloured Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher followed by Azure Kingfisher and the Variable Kingfisher which had a brilliant saffron breast, but was mostly hidden behind a leaf.

 

hZ0AOc7khoWni26oGqRibFri1lwKF2yD2n2yXgeU

 

b9HzQQJAKpQ8MXqAkUnsskA2Sqgtmfhl3c2JtaLE

 

A flock of Hooded Pitohuis fluttered in the treetops, an unusual, poisonous bird.  It carries a range of poisons in its skin, feathers and body tissues. The toxins may be derived from the diet and may deter predators and parasites (the locals do not eat this bird).  Further into the walk a fruiting tree attracted a variety of brightly coloured fruit doves of which Pink-spotted and Zoe's Imperial Pigeon showed well through the scope. A White-faced Robin peeped shyly from behind a leaf.  Towards the end of the walk, Daniel showed us the day roost of a Barred Owlet-nightjar.

 

Es0vryyjLG4veulA6QbJh4GwhEvjvvwDmL2JR7em

 

Once we returned to the picnic area for lunch we saw another Blyth's Hornbill and a Red-cheeked Parrot. Later in the afternoon we saw a Hooded Pitohui

 

P8UMs1aTOKUAUjkNaso_hrwNaiDLeMerRR1Vh4Um

 

and very active Elegant Honeyeaters in the picnic ground.

 

U5zemmLwb-VKP-TkTQNRDxrZq72WTg5RaAOQmz90

 

Leaving the park we scored Rainbow Bee-eater and finished the day with more kingfishers - Sacred Kingfisher and Blue-winged Kookaburra.  Varirata NP is a very pleasant place to spend a day out of Port Moresby. It is 800m above sea level and comfortably cool and very green. The inviting picnic grounds are well maintained and we only saw another 2-3 cars all day. 

 

S0RNomi1ABLXZsrousFdjYHDre5VMsOEsn9pt7DS

Edited by Treepol
Formatting
20 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow when i saw your Victoria's Riflebird doing the whole dance, I was thrilled. it was David Attenborough's docus that introduced me to the birds of paradise and ever since I've been fascinated by the birds - which I thought were unattainable in the thick jungles of PNG. 

 

amazing! @Treepol you are such an intrepid adventuress. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Ha! Ha! Timely one.

 

I was discussing PNG safaris among two sisters who've lived there briefly as kids. Both of them independantly asked, "why would anyone want to go there?". I told them "If I want to go for a safari where not many people go", then they said "I guess it's ok then"...one still recommended staying closer to the Indonesian border. Then there were some jokes about canibalism, of course.

 

Then I did a search for PNG here and got no results.

 

Its too far for me for now, but in retirement when a I can stay for months in that part of the world.

In the mean time, looking forward to the remainder of your trip.

 

P.S: Why prohibit 6 pocket shorts but not all shorts? Is that for the parliament building?

Edited by Gilgamesh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enchanting dance.  Did you pick a time of the year for displaying or was that just luck?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Kitsafari David Attenborough certainly introduced many people to the BoPs. Generally, the birds are hard to see in the wild, we had many scope and/or binocular views only, however sometimes we got lucky with known leks and the BoP just appearing as if on cue. The Raggiana sighting was the closest that we achieved, the others were more distant and many were so far away that I couldn't get photos.

 

@Gilgamesh certainly you won't see many other people if you go on safari to PNG, uness you visit a singsing that is. We spent some time at Kiunga and along the Fly River which is close to the border of Indonesia's West Papua Province. I wonder why one of your friends recommended this region over others? It was in the lowlands and quite hot and humid compared with the highlands. Yes, the six pocket short sign was at Parliament House and I didn't understand it either.

 

@Atravelynn I remember a guide saying that this time of year is good to catch the BoP displays, although I can't remember if it was all species. It certainly worked for the Raggiana and Greater BoPs though.

 

This morning we set out with Samson to visit the fishing villages of Laelae Island and Huanabada, the latter of which is built on stilts. The drive to Laelae Island was about 90 minutes out of Port Moresby which gave us the chance to see something of the countryside. We saw the huge Exxon Mobil refinery which was very secure with a double security fence, including razor wire, perimeter cameras and floodlights. The facility incorporates a wharf where a large tanker was docked.

 

We witnessed an unfolding drama along the razor wire when someone spotted a Brown Falcon.

 

FGybytTObNZJyIgmHmANYFh6Fl3OJcx8nfdftsTt

 

Inside the razor wire was a young pheasant coucal that the falcon was hunting.

 

flASUpoVis_IAJ_P_4GFsth42gTE3OPF45K3m5hq

 

Foolishly, the coucal left the safety of the wire and flew across the road with the falcon in hot pursuit. The coucal dived into some long grass as the falcon struck from above. We didn't see the end of this drama, but I suspect it didn't end well for the coucal which looked bedraggled, possibly from an earlier strike.
 

The village at Laelae Island was quite large, with a 6 room school, multiple wells where women and children collected water for washing and USaid donated water tanks to ensure clean drinking water. The village is reached by crossing a bridge underneath which families washed, swam and cleaned pots and pans.

 

Viw5D0r48mWHT6Fjpvh_ZIvaCDt_QWiM06qUHGU9

 

IcoWkLsvoeGfHBefs94FXYB_xXYfoaBOzH6jWUoW

 

fJlPSzbVPTPdK525jMvwdxuLYJNQKObe_NnUsVCg

 

A tidal rivulet at the back of the village served as an anchorage for a variety of boats - traditional canoes, a home-made catamaran and a fibreglass dinghy.

 

sfGZfm-iLkvnVGUfUk4JIodfT81sWBKUZLKfdN28

 

Closer to Port Moresby, these boys were salvaging recyclables from roadside litter.

 

Ll55M-oqzTE4moYwM--lsxRY-bI_RPNPuMXqPON2

 

The last stop of the morning was at the Waterfront where we purchased last minute snacks in preparation for the next 6 days.  

This afternoon there is time for more sightseeing which included a visit to the Wildlife Park for some 'insurance' photos of Birds of Paradise (BoP) particularly, other birds generally and some hard to see mammals. The final stop of the day was the Bomana War Cemetery where many allied soldiers from the Second World War are buried.  The wildlife park was quite good and we achieved some sightings of Birds of Paradise (BoPs) that we may miss in the bush or that live in areas not covered by our itinerary. The park incorporates the National Orchid Garden which features traditional wood carvings and sculptures, a walk-through aviary and some tree kangaroo enclosures. We were greeted at the walk-thru aviary by a Victoria's Crowned Pigeon followed closely by Magnificent BoP.

 

urFY2IKRVSGT3v3QZtSmiNpRDS4r3uBEKyO_jCN7

 

7rTjoST_ByzigRUKmWUWKIsua4YySr1J9p4rFI6w

 

xlb7KO0VYKfaLHPx5tKHUr3ZPUpvI-j4VI2f3icf

 

The Curator of the BoP display came to replace some feed and was closely accompanied by a Cardinal Lorikeet.

 

KUPoz_RLhvSb_QI70bJs-levB0Wzj9uwe4-3mQwW

 

A Pinon's Imperial Pigeon was catching some afternoon sun when suddenly the BoPs all made for the feeders.

 

2g1Mo0VXTiP-bqUZiHT7xhgwWvwao2WqeHdvpgJS

 

These female riflebirds headed for the berries as did the Lawe's Parotia.

 

YGUgmJwWWleBS7JG6XUDHaA4eQLFuLxApd24WiRD

 

AZyKP9FzXyUQ_39MHgtIe2Gal7ota7XcOTirOxjn

 

38PsGu3QqHspSlbqP36VIU76mRjiYys_1mmiuBI_

 

A Crinkle-collared Manucode was jumping around in the trees above a Pheasant Pigeon while a Wompoo Fruit-dove looked on. The Pheasant Pigeon is a large bird that we had heard in Varirata NP and we had a brief sighting of a Yellow-legged Brush Turkey also in Varirata.

 

eJyjwWWvLAXc6x6QTjkHNpPIRT5CoDVQ0tmRCIyE

 

1fRVd9V7m3TGXyvT9FxH7F4GXnUXOdxqpqagXwau

 

xC_rV9o1rZIfgkFmXrGWllXDSCSKd0PNrKhk0_JT

 

The  Dusky Lorikeet is a colourful bird.

 

_VlInihjhPcbN6OrqaR_HAd2bMhFL7IjUj4bYfqS

 

About this time the Australian Pelican got antsy and started chasing Ramesh, snapping and clacking its bill. The Victoria Crowned Pigeons escorted us out of the walk-thru aviary on our way to see the tree-kangaroos past more artwork and a pair of Common Kingfishers.

 

y_O1UWh4m26F93CLnVWrl07KQo-IqhlbPcgEq99B

 

cMTGOpDCGmWt_LI60ZQPfHqJm8XOutHBB1_D9US2

 

7mQtS92duCh35kQwFX_4t4gB_NBQhdEgTLALQO6H

 

o44HahnK2_yzHomktDRel4DX3trutne7JwqeocV9

 

The Grizzled Tree Kangaroos were in the first area

 

WTSE7PsoaVifDz8xWeVwRYXwg5R8xN3j6x3A3kah

 

followed by the Goodfellows Tree Kangaroos who were lazing above. 

 

fHgFK6CeBK3XT7t_-hFV4z-NQ5vScsBrK054kSwY

 

Bomana War Cemetery was our last stop, and although it was officially closed when we arrived, the security guy kindly let us look around for a while. The Cemetery is the resting place for 3,778 servicemen and 1 woman from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, India and Pakistan, who died on active service during World War 2.

 

WyGhcnc5iws4Kp1Y-MR1mh0mUbpqhPDgKrrGfcb2

 

DPwq3dZjvMz_r3gbHtWYPc0ECKvupgH0e3rah6-9

 

AzVTNdKda4AUG1WcrRPOLvKyrTnKFA-wHxmt9NRs

 

R_RQidixDg84tz6uvYjFjkVYV6KBVOEBn5EAamm9

 

This quiet resting place is a haven for birds and in the late afternoon we saw Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Torresian Imperial Pigeon and Yellow-faced Myna.

 

Next day we were looking forward to arriving at Kiunga and arrived at the airport at 6.45 for an 8.45 departure. The airport was very busy, and there were a couple of other tour groups heading off on their own adventures. The plane flew west over the Coral Sea before turning right for Tabubil over densely forested ridges and valleys, that I could see between breaks in the thick clouds. The plane couldn't land due to low clouds and bad weather, which happens frequently. Usually, the plane flies on to land in Kiunga but not today because there is no avgas for the plane to re-fuel. The pilot advises that he has been directed to fly to the small town of Wewak on the north coast, re-fuel and return to Port Moresby. 

 

We flew over the mountainous spine of PNG and once on the northern side of the ranges the clouds lifted to reveal an endless sea of green trees. In places, the rainforest looked like a densely packed broccoli jungle, with the tree canopy reaching for light. A single rusty river snaked towards the coast and some small villages were seen through the trees and along the river. A single track road that looked like a scar through the rainforest was the first clue that we close to Wewak. The plane seemed to coast over an undulating green counterpane before landing at Wewak which was located on a sandy beach with a fringe of palm trees.

 

bsiJK32Ef-FgFc5eln05Ky8q-y7j7cMOnAssVX-y

 

v-YtsRvKWi3teCjiyM5d06bN5hhvqNamjWoWYTDH

 

8vNXHew5HdalMPqKHCtfmSInvXHa2cyF9XeHPrfk

 

Inside the terminal building policemen toting AK 47s were gathering, not sure what this was in aid of but I didn’t try to take a photo! Anyway after about 30 minutes we were in the air on the return flight to Moresby. Ben, the group leader spent a long time at Customer Services but emerged with vouchers for overnight accommodation at the comfortable Gateway Hotel. Air Niugini say the flight will leave at the same time tomorrow so we shall see.

Edited by Treepol
Typo
19 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Treepol

 

The sisters didn't know much about the tourism in that country. I think they recommended close to the Indonesian border thinking there will be more amenities there. I think they don't have high opinions on PNG being a good "tourist" destination and thought being closer to Indonesia might provide the minimal luxuries a tourist may demand....I don't think the advice was factual based but rather emotional/opinion/educated guess based, and catered more towards the average tourist who visits Paris and Rome :D

Edited by Gilgamesh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your wisdom in refraining from certain photos is equal to your skill when you did choose to click.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

@Gilgamesh I meant to write yesterday that many people say that birding in West Papua is a less expensive option than PNG. Services for birders, especially well-located accommodation are increasing which is interesting quite a few travellers. I met a guy this year who had been to see the Vogelkop Bowerbird and he was very impressed with the birdlife generally around the Vogelkop Peninsula.

 

Next morning we are at the airport at 6.30 ready to do battle with Air Niugini in order to get on the plane, and just as well we were. Ben quickly obtained 4 boarding passes, however we needed 6 and waited a further (tense) 90 minutes to receive these. The checkin staff told us the plane had 29 seats and that there were 68 people wanting seats. Imagine our surprise when we boarded a 20 seater Dash 8 to find 9 empty seats!

 

Once again we flew out over the Coral Sea with an aerial view that showed just how spread out Port Moresby is. Visibility was better this morning, or maybe the smaller plane flew lower, and I had a good view of thickly forested, green velvet valleys running down to the coast. The pilot turned right and we flew north over the thick broccoli forest, once again unable to land at Tabubil due to bad weather and headed straight to Kiunga which is very close to the border with the Indonesian province of West Papua.  Samuel our local guide was saying goodbye to his previous group (who had spent an extra night in Kiunga as they couldn't leave the previous day) and welcoming us at the same time. I was talking to an Israeli guy on the plane who arranged a lift back to Tabubil on a cement truck, as he worked for a company building chicken, corn and potato farms and processing plants in the hills behind the town.

 

Kiunga Guesthouse is a welcome oasis, with large rooms, a pool and a pleasant garden area.

 

6KXBD-2L7mOZz3pKOMgnQ7nR6fh8_G5svik08lru

 

tBqeOjw5O8vjb0gn4xJbUcbfqYu33jNbIsxcn0xx

 

zChp7-D0hF_R_z-KH-9e8ZauMN-81v7K2PM0EDyv

 

After lunch we drove out to Kilometre 14 on the BoysTown Road for some birding and hopefully a glimpse of the Flame Bowerbird.

 

-bEdXss3Xx_INSWtjIWaWubDNgd7b6-KNVjeTlpR

 

We saw colourful Golden Monarchs, Lowland Helpos, a Dwarf Coel being mobbed by Black Sunbirds, Ruddy-breasted kookaburra and a Yellow-billed Kingfisher - scope views only. Numerous pigeons, parrots and fruit-doves flew by during this time! Even female Raggiana BoPs.  A couple of tropical downpours failed to dampen the afternoon.

 

Samuel joined us for dinner and outlined the plans for the next day when we are going up the Fly and Elevala Rivers with local guide Glenn to stay for a night in a local community lodge. The river trip usually yields good views of Blyth's Hornbill, Southern Imperial Pigeon, and maybe a 12-wired BoP.

Edited by Treepol
Typo
11 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

We made an early start which turned out to be in vain because the boat driver couldn't be found. Eventually a stand-in guy named Morrie arrived and we were away shortly after dawn.  The Fly River is the second longest river in PNG and is the largest river in the world without a dam in its catchment. It was discovered by Europeans in 1845 when Francis Blackwood, in command of HMS Fly, surveyed the region hence the name of the river. 

 

wMnCtmRbaTh1QPVYPqGbmsDXEWHe5cGso7sW_vWm

 

ydUT8F9MlQslTbKNvbWcWG-DBfyRxotVBeY4i_yM

 

Villages that can only be reached by boat are located by wisps of smoke or secluded landings that lead to houses deep in the forest.

 

14zhmt6l08I-qimyKM83PYyYiUOcNgkCRGJuuQer

 

Very soon we see local people in dugout canoes of various sizes, mostly paddled but a few had outboard motors.

 

ujrYVa-2CIrFpzciL1LmqANOUlz7_8LRShSWl-AX

 

KTB-p1nfgf7MmoQCZTFxwv_yvoYw-4MjcnOdR64r

 

Canoes are the lifeblood of the Fly River, carrying people, food and fuel and serving as fishing boats. Many are paddled by hand, but a few have outboard motors especially the larger people-movers.

 

edVGyd9A1YAu8KQ2HE6BKaRDF9ABFK85x_hKGlaC

 

A White-bellied Fish Eagle surveyed the river from above.

 

PU9qvd2H0b13gY_zYWFwOIWqn5zxVIFuHskoOkCn

 

Soon we are passing villages and isolated huts, even some old shipping containers which are widely used in PNG as homes, freezers, shops and airline terminals. Many roadside shops are run out of painted-up containers that provide sturdy shelter from the rain and mud and that lock-up securely.

 

oTnOOfthAte_sMOEIBTB-RyAZmMEjWetutLY_ld8

 

GDg1ZUuV76aRWB0dxiMasD1yzRglYiBSG_fuCamX

 

AoRysx2SwOzlFi6tnSGRUAu__hS7GpiOtbvS2fn6

 

However, I digress, lets get back to the Fly and Elevala Rivers.

 

sYiUQw15HEyRa-sor5yL772U_ENxRTzb3wpBS7Wn

 

We stopped at a village which is the home of our local guide Glen, where his father, the guy in the white shorts is the village headman. The BBC have 2 cameramen camped in the jungle behind the village where they are filming Flame Bowerbirds and 12 Wired Birds of Paradise.

 


RUoZ2hqsuc5k11rQOw4KZSjIAzudQ5vBoJ2ADvaN

 

kUyfN_yTZRf97Y4B0wxLLmC3o95wolH7K1GOAszp

 

Upriver, this Salvadori's Water Monitor scuttled away from the boat.

 

TFDZxcv-LR8laGLjQcLd2iBE810mv7qzhV1iur3z

 

Suddenly, there are loud wing beats as Blyth's Hornbills fly over the river. They sometimes land in the trees where they are easy to see due to their size and distinctive plumage. Mostly the birds fly high overhead in search of the next fruiting tree.

 

PQjVVyBvT7-ZuieIzykDVNVFHnD1mpjS0AeURKrm

 

Around a bend in the river we see a small landing stage and learn that we have arrived at our upriver accommodation. Kwatu Lodge is a basic landowner lodge built in a bird rich area. There are 6 rooms with 2 bunks in each, separate kitchen, outside long drops and showers, a common eating area and views of the river.

 

84jz4r5mJ2JshqSzfhhCSxkmLGszVy8daz_MxcB6

 

Da1AzUKIfhgkAUohofoIkndY7vOUQOPyOMIM7SrU

 

XRnxdIvwt9GVM1tH5m2N7QyTCMrpAvY-_0ohsemw

 

View from the dining area.

 

hT-5uacLOiZPdzJlL5l995ApfMII4m1WTI741tL3

 

This Papuan Friarbird was feeding right next to the common area.

 

KPEvAw3GQ31MVMab3uhrAHczejNQ4KavbrornYHI

 

This afternoon we went out in the boat with a specific goal of seeing Southern Crowned Pigeon.

 

ht9Tj013gVebVjkz2oWnMRovxYWwcYo77t0vR4a1

 

ZcUOgHtRzgqpy-mqa8Z-a4QY2joJs-s62drseq1l

 

a colourful dragonfly rode along for a while. 

 

QC6ZhYTfcPFkEXNNHTL9wBpcUQlt3BLX13WIc93l

 

We were about to give up at dusk when Glen's persistence paid off and we found a Southern Crowned Pigeon perched well back in a leafy tree. This was a great way to end the day so we returned to Kwatu for a dinner of rice, noodles, fried onion and baked beans, prepared by Veronica who is the cook lady for visiting groups. Heavy rain teems onto the iron roof during the night, reminding us that we are in a tropical jungle.

Edited by Treepol
Typo
16 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love Goodfellows tree kangaroos. Off to look them up!  Much new here though and I look forward to the leisure time to read it properly - still just arrived although I skipped ahead a bit and those tree kangaroos caught my eye.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.