Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands aboard the Spirit of Enderby

Overview

Uncover the hidden gems of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. From the culturally rich waterways of the Sepik River, sail north across the Bismarck Sea to the remote shores of Manus and Mussau Islands. Manus has the lowest density of people in all New Guinea with its people still living a very traditional lifestyle. Next delve into the history, culture, and wildlife of New Ireland and New Britain.

Cross the Buka Channel, and at Nissan Island, you can view reminders of the brief but intensive World War II activities that took place amid these islands. Then enter a long isolated world of Bougainville, as we are among the first travelers to return here  in over two decades. Sailing through the turquoise waters of the Solomon Islands, new vistas and unexpected encounters await.

For birders, this itinerary offers once-in-a-lifetime species on remote islands where few have been before. The birding potential is exceptional with many highlights including the Manus Friarbird, Mussau Monarch and the Paradise drango. You will also be on the lookout for the Roviana Rail and Solomon Sea Eagle, which are endemic to the Solomon Islands.

These waters also offer some of the greatest marine diversity in the world and you will have the opportunity to snorkel and appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. Whether you are snorkeling or kayaking this ocean aquarium is waiting to be discovered. Kayaking provides the perfect way to explore the islands of Melanesia, discover the marine life that swims below and meet the locals. The kayaks are a source of endless fascination for the local children who will often come out to join you in their dugout canoes. Travel at your own pace, with plenty of opportunities for landings, village visits, and snorkeling, all while accompanied by your experienced kayaking guide.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1
Madang, Papua New Guinea

Arrive in the port town of Madang and transfer to the Madang Resort for the first night. This evening meet with your fellow travelers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort.

Day 2
Madang

Madang is a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, world-class diving opportunities and the richness of its surrounding forests. This morning, leave Madang for the highlands close to the township. Here the tall forests contain a richly diverse wildlife. Arrive back in Madang with time to explore the colorful markets with your Guides. Optional excursions this morning for bird enthusiasts. This afternoon board the Spirit of Enderby, settle into your cabin and join the captain and your expedition team on the bridge as you set sail.

Day 3
Sepik River

Sure to be one of the highlights of your expedition, the Sepik River is the longest river in Papua New Guinea, it is a rich arterial that has fostered great traditional artists. Plan to explore the river by Zodiac following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. You can also meet with the villagers and marvel at their artistry.

Days 4 to 5
Manus Province

Seldom visited and little known, Manus Island is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Biologically isolated, the islands are home to a high proportion of endemic species including the superb pitta, which is likely to be one of the birding highlights of the expedition. The waters around Manus offer some of the most spectacular and rich reefs in the region, seldom-explored waters promising a myriad of opportunities.

Day 6
Mussa Island

Mussa Island represents one of the western-most extensions of the Lapita culture. Spend time with the local people to learn about their special culture and life on this remote outpost in the Pacific.

Day 7
Kavieng, New Ireland

Historic Kavieng has significant evidence from the large Japanese occupation. Birders will leave early for the highlands while the rest of the group will spend the morning exploring the town of Kavieng and its history. Later snorkel in the clear waters of the local reefs.

Day 8
Rabaul, New Britain

Six beautifully cone-shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul’s dramatic flooded- caldera harbour. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in magnificent views of the harbor and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge.

Day 9
Nissan Island

A tropical atoll bathed in rich tropical currents Nissan Island’s waters abound in marine life. Seldom has anybody had the opportunity to discover this world which promises abundant pelagic fish life and pristine coral reefs. Ashore there are still reminders of the brief but intensive World War II activities on this island. You can also meet with the friendly locals and search the dense woods for some of the elusive birds that live here.

Day 10
Bougainville Island

Be among the first expeditioners to re-discover the treasures of Bougainville, long isolated and in a strange way protected by the conflict which swirled around its shores. A pristine island paradise, it is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region, both above and below the waters. We plan to explore the area around Arawa, which offers great opportunities to access the island’s interior and reefs.

Day 11
Choiseul Island

Arrive in the Solomon Islands on the remote northern coast of Choiseul Island. This was once the home of the Choiseul Crested Pigeon and while it no longer walks the forest floor many other species still enliven the forest. Zodiac deep into the mangrove forest towards the Sui River Falls searching for Dugong and crocodiles.

Day 12
New Georgia Islands

The volcanic New Georgia Islands are found in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Birding enthusiasts will relish landing on Kolombangara Island, where you may see the rare roviana rail along with other endemic bird species.

Day 13
Santa Isabel Island

The Arnavon Islands are north-west of Santa Isabel, an area rich in marine biodiversity and one of the most important rookeries in the western Pacific for the endangered hawksbill turtle. The islands also support a high diversity of terrestrial fauna, with 41 species of birds, 6 species of bats, and at least 7 species of terrestrial reptiles. Sensational snorkeling can be experienced around the islands.

Day 14
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Honiara was founded as a military base during World War II and was witness to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Tour Honiara, visiting historical sites including Henderson Airfield, war memorials and the open-air war museum while the birders head to the rain-forested slopes of Mount Austen in search of some of the Solomon Islands’ most spectacular birds including the Solomon sea eagle.

Highlights

Highlights

Search for a tremendous variety of birdlife including Mussau friarbirds, paradise drangos, and Solomon sea eagles
Explore the remote and pristine shores of Manus and Mussau Islands
Active options including snorkeling and kayaking

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $6995  
Arrive: Madang, Papua New Guinea
Depart: Honiara, Solomon Islands
Lodging: 12 nights aboard 50-passenger expedition vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
Cruise collection 2020 brochure

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