Papua New Guinea Tours - Birds of Paradise, Butterflies and Orchid Tours
Our Through the Lens Tours focus on having the time to take good photographs; so more time in the field at fewer localities, with fewer hotels, and less time spent travelling. Chris Gardner (see his images on www.chrisgardnerphotography.com), will guide you and offer expert tuition in the field on subjects such as composition, lighting or camera use, or indeed whatever you’d like to ask them. These are tours that offer great opportunities for experienced photographers and beginners alike to work on macro photography of butterflies, insects and flowers, bird and mammal photography, and plain old magnificent scenery shots!
The world’s second largest ‘continent-island’ gives the impression of being of a completely different planet. Here are extraordinary lifeforms embrace extravagant colours, weird shapes and bizarre head gear. The cultural diversity of theHighlandtribes has to be seen to be believed, with over 800 languages and unique dress and customs that alter every few kilometres. These highland peoples were unknown to outsiders until the 1930s. Thankfully they are proud people and their cultural traditions have to some extent been kept, so for instance one can still meet a Huli tribesman in full regalia of human hair wig and birds of paradise plumes whilst walking down a country lane, or join in with the day to day life of the riverbank-dwelling Arambak as they gather Sago or catch fish.
David Attenborough and the incomparable birds of paradise have combined to ensure that most of us have at least glimpsed the incandescent marvels of theNew Guinea’s deep green forests. Thankfully it turns out that many of these birds of paradise spend so much of the year displaying that we’ll have a good chance of seeing their outlandish showmanship! One of the lodges used as a base for a significant part of the filming of Attenborough in Paradise (no doubt to the great satisfaction of the camera crew!) features strongly on our itinerary, indeed this tour has what we consider to be three of the greatest wildlife lodges in the world, namely Ambua, Karawari and Walindi.New Guineahas around seven hundred bird species, of which an incredible fifty percent are endemic. From huge Cassowaries to Pygmy-parrots smaller than Blue Tits, and from shimmering Jewel-babblers to elegant Paradise-Kingfishers, the birdlife is very definitely exotic. Orange-footed Scrubfowl build huge mounds in the middle of which their eggs are incubated, whilst MacGregor’s Bowerbird employs a carefully constructed arena to attract a mate. There’s the deliciously-named Wattled Ploughbill, the oddball Feline Owlet-Nightjar, poisonous Pitohuis, and an extravagantly varied and colourful selection of parrots and pigeons. Of the forty-odd species of Birds of Paradise, we’ll likely see around half. We’ll watch Raggiana’s Birds of Paradise gather to flaunt their elegant yellow and red plumes, the males vigorously doing press-ups to shake their flambouyant plumage! Shocking red King Birds of Paradise wave long head plumes tipped with brilliant emerald-turquoise tassels whilst the King of Saxony Bird of Paradise thrusts out its shiny green breast and slowly waves ratcheted plumes emanating from the sides of its head.
If anything New Guinea’s orchids offer more diversity, colour and truly extraordinary form, than do the birds. Some have flowers that last for up to nine months whilst others offer new blooms regularly through the year – so you never go short of orchids in PNG! We’ll see sprays of pink Spathoglottis, mossy trees covered with ivory Glossorhynchas, charming lime-green and scarlet Mediocalcar and impressive fragrant Coelogynes, however it will be two genera that will steal the show. Bulbophyllums are abundant and often tiny (‘moss orchids’) but they include some of the most amazing structures in the flower kingdom, including tiny Bulbophyllum streptosepalum, its tepals drawn into long tassles many times longer than the flowers. The most spectacular orchids are the Dendrobiums and we’ll see many species, of all colours and shapes, but few will compare with the wonder that is Dendrobium lasianthera, whose sprays of bright pink and rose blooms, each flower topped with a dark twisted ruby petals are perhaps about as good as it gets in the orchid kingdom.
The superlatives keep flowing with the butterflies! The Goliath Birdwing and its close relative Ornithoptera priamis are among the world's largest butterflies. the huge females have bright yellow and red bodies, the smaller males have wings a silken green with a hint of blue. For sheer beauty the shimmering electric blue Papilio ulysses is the finest of a dozen or so swallowtails we’ll see. There’s also rainbow-hued Jezebels, cobalt Oak-blues, the lovely white, blue and black Danis danis, several large owl-eyed Taenaris species, and an abundance of moths, many of indescribable beauty, several of exotic form, and one, the largest of all, the Hercules Moth!
If comes as almost a relief to know that the mammals are rather difficult to see, and perhaps less exotic than the other fauna and flora, nonetheless we’ll see some unusual marsupials, many huge fruit bats, and hopefully a Couscous or the elusive Tree-Kangaroo! And then there’s the coral reefs…
Everything. Birds (birds of paradise in particular), butterflies and orchids in equal magnificence. Also mammals, and for those that are interested there is superb snorkelling (and diving for an extra fee) available for the first few and last few days of the tour. We will also take time to experience the local culture, which so incredibly colourful and unique.
Rather variable. We rarely cover more than two or three miles during the main daytrip, however with optional night walks and pre-breakfast walks this can soon be exceeded! It is important to be able to cope with sometimes wet, muddy and therefore slippery trails that are sometimes steep. Some of the best bird of paradise display areas involve a mile or so through narrow, rather rough, and often muddy cloud forest paths. However we will always move slowly as there’s always much to see en route and there will be plenty of time for photography.
Included in the Price
All flights. All accommodation, transport and meals inPapua New Guinea. Services of your leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 8.
We start with four nights in the gorgeous environs of Walindi Plantation Resort in West New Britain. This superb facility has grown up as one of the world’s finest dive resorts with the species richBismarck Seajust offshore, and is now making a name for itself as a wildlife lodge too. Secluded bungalows are set amid fine ‘gardened’ rainforest with abundant colourful birds and butterflies everywhere. Next are three nights back on mainlandNew Guineaat the new Rondon Ridge, perched 7100 feet up on the hills aboveMountHagen. Superb rooms have marvellous views over the valleys below whilst above is montane forest that is only just starting to reveal its secrets! Then we visit the fantastic Karawari Lodge. Perched three hundred feet above theKarawariRiver, the lodge overlooks some of the most remote and unspoilt regions in a country full of them. The main lodge building was built in the style of a Haus Tamabaran, or Spirit House, and has a dining area which has some of the best wildlife viewing we’ve ever seen at a lodge. Very comfortable rooms are set amid grounds rich in birds and butterflies including the great birdwings. After five nights in this paradise we move to another, perhaps PNG’s most famous lodge, Ambua, set 7000 feet up in the fabulous Tari Highlands, with unbelievable views of the valleys below. Some of the most evocative images on Attenborough’s Birds of Paradise film were secured from this lodge. Each room is in a separate building constructed in traditional Huli circular-style. The private property has trails running through stunning mid-montane rainforest, orchids abound, and there’s thirteen species of bird of paradise to be seen! After five nights here we finish the tour with two nights at the excellent Airways Hotel by the airport at Port Moresby. The lodges featured on this tour are all good to excellent in standard, and all rooms have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow or Manchester via Singapore to Port Moresby. We’ve internal return flights with Air Niugini to Hoskins on West New Britain, then up to Mount Hagen and back from Tari to Port Moresby. Between Mount Hagen and Karawari and Karawari and Ambua we use a private charter aircraft – the new 9-seater PAC 750 from New Zealand. Add-ons are available from various UK airports*. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
In the lowlands, such as at Karawari and Walindi, it is warm to hot, and humid, with some rain most days, though often short-lived (but possibly intense). The highlands are much cooler, especially at night, and up on the Tari Gap it can be decidedly cold. Again rain is a variable feature however there is likely to be more of it than in the lowlands, with fog sometimes a problem.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Bird, mammal, butterfly and orchid checklists are available.