PNG - New Guinea Circle Dates & Rates
Join us aboard Oceanic Discoverer to experience the world’s most diverse and exciting regions as they emerge into the 21st Century and see how real contact with the outside world has only started to take place in the last few decades. From the fragrant Spice Islands of Indonesia and the ‘Four Kings’ of Raja Ampat, to the scenic coastline of West Papua and the Sepik River and Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, this 25-night expedition from Cairns to Darwin is sure to leave you spellbound.
Centuries ago the Spice Islands of Indonesia were the only source of the world’s most valued spices. The most treasured and valued commodities of their time in the 12th to 15th centuries, the world’s entire supply of nutmeg and mace was grown in the Spice Islands before being shipped to the grand cities of Europe, where they were highly valued amongst the elite. We will travel ashore on Banda Island where a stroll through the local markets promises all of the aromas, colour and characters of the vibrant Spice Islands.
The centrepiece of our expedition will be a 5-day exploration through the rarely-visited Raja Ampat region. The archipelago is made up of about 1500 islands in seven Marine Protected Areas, and harbours over 75% of the world’s coral species and 75% of the world’s fish species.
Our exploration of Papua New Guinea’s east coast includes a memorable two days exploring the mighty Sepik River, the opportunity to hike the David Suzuki Trail in the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area, cruise the Tufi Fjords and meet the colourfully costumed locals of the Trobriands, the ‘islands of love’.
This remarkable 25-night expedition is the most comprehensive experience ever undertaken in this fascinating region, offering the unique opportunity to experience these rarely-visited locations before they open up to mass-market tourism. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like no other.
dates & prices
There are no trips scheduled for this expedition.
26 Days: Cairns - Wewak - Darwin
Day 1: Cairns
After boarding Oceanic Discoverer at 3:00pm for a 4:00pm departure we leave Cairns on the start of our great New Guinea Circle, Raja Ampat and Spice Islands adventure. Take the opportunity to explore your new home for the next 26 days. Enjoy an evening sunset drink before sitting down to the first of many delicious dinners.
Day 2: Osprey Reef
Located 100 kilometres off the Queensland coast, visits to Osprey Reef are rare. Enjoy the opportunity to snorkel and SCUBA dive in the protected lagoon at the heart of the reef and enjoy glass bottom boat tours for spectacular views of a myriad of colourful marine life.
Day 3: At Sea
Having passed through the Great Barrier Reef we continue northeast towards the China Strait. Enjoy the facilities and get to know your travelling companions. This evening, join the Captain, his crew and new-found friends at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.
Day 4: Alotau
Enjoy waking up to the scenery of the China Strait as we approach our first Papua New Guinea landfall – Alotau. Our experienced Guest Lecturers will interpret the traditional welcome dances prior to leading us on a tour of historic Alotau.
Day 5: Dobu and Fergusson Islands
We are greeted by a flotilla of canoes as we approach the Dobu anchorage. Our Guest Lecturers will share with you the history of the Kula Ring where Dobu Island was a pivotal link between the north and south Kula trade routes. Meet the local primary school children who will welcome us with a traditional dance performance. Join our Expedition Staff on an expedition to the Dei Dei Hot Springs where the landowner shares the mythical and spiritual tales of these hot water and mud springs. There will also be opportunities for snorkelling, coral viewing, SCUBA diving and kayaking.
Day 6: Trobriands and Kitava
Historically known as the ‘Islands of Love’ the Trobriands offer a glimpse of traditional culture largely unspoilt by outside influence. Travel ashore to explore the islands on an expedition stop and learn of their unique customs.
Day 7: Tufi Fjords
Today enjoy a true highlight as we discover the scenic beauty of the rarely visited Tufi Fjords. Similar to Nordic fjords and featuring 25 individual canyons with sheer basalt cliffs, these are the only fjords in Papua New Guinea and offer a wealth of sightseeing opportunities. Soak up the spectacular views as we cruise close to the towering cliffs before boarding Xplorer to travel ashore to meet the friendly locals. Then, enjoy the opportunity to discover the region’s numerous white sandy beaches, take a leisurely swim and snorkel over spectacular fringing reefs.
Day 8: Lababia – Wildlife Management Area
Travel ashore to the picturesque village of Lababia, gateway to one of the most important conservation areas in PNG – the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area. In the company of our Expedition Staff and local guides, walk part of the David Suzuki trail through the prehistoric rainforest. With luck we may see some of the prolific birdlife resident here including hornbills, parrots, palm cockatoos and the iconic Raggiana Bird of Paradise.
Day 9: The Idyllic Islands of Tami and Tuam
Tami and Tuam, in the Siassi group of islands, offer a mix of both mainland and Bismark Archipelago cultures. Their prized trinkets and decorations include dog’s teeth, spondyllus shells and wonderful balsa wood and sago bark headdresses. We enjoy the welcome dances and village hospitality.
Day 10: Historic Madang
The historic town of Madang sits on a peninsula surrounded by a number of picturesque islands. Famed for its diving, the waters surrounding Madang offer excellent visibility and many WWII wrecks to explore. Enjoy swimming, snorkelling, diving and a harbour exploration.
Day 11: The Mighty Sepik River
Sure to be a highlight, this morning we enter the mouth of the mighty Sepik River – one of the world’s great river systems. Over the next two days Oceanic Discoverer will cruise approximately 100 kilometres upriver to the middle Sepik region, which is renowned for its unique artefacts. Visit the remote villages of Angoram and Bien where the local Sepik people are amongst the greatest primitive artists on earth and each village has its own distinct style. Enjoy the opportunity to purchase unique hand carvings. Anchor this evening in the river whilst overhead hundreds of flying foxes stream through the sky.
Day 12: Sepik River and Volcanic Manam Island
An early morning start offers a great opportunity for bird watching. Join the Expedition Staff to identify Spotted Blue-eyed Cockatoos, Wagtails, Great Egret, Little Egret, Great Billed Heron, the enormous Blyth’s Hornbill and others as we cruise back down river. On farewelling the Sepik we pass the active volcano on Manam Island and enjoy the sunset.
Day 13: Wewak
Early this morning we arrive in the picturesque port city of Wewak, where we farewell guests departing this morning and welcome new friends who will be joining us for the remainder of the expedition. Wewak is the capital of the West Sepik Province and was a major air base for the Japanese during World War II. Join a guided tour of the town, including Wewak Point where we will see the Japanese tunnels, bunkers and naval hospital. There will also be time to explore the city at your own pace.
Day 14: Jayapura
Overnight we cross into West Papua Waters ahead of our arrival in Jayapura. Formerly known as ‘Hollandia’ during World War II, Jayapura is today a bustling town of some 200,000 residents and a melting pot of sights and smells. Visit Lake Sentani, the location of General Douglas MacArthur’s main base during WWII and home of villagers famed for their distinctive art, traditional motifs, sago bowls, drums and bark paintings.
Day 15: Pulau Insamfursi
Travel ashore to Pulau Insamfursi, a small island in the Biak Island group ringed by a beautiful white sand beach and colourful coral reefs. Enjoy an afternoon of in-water activities including snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours, kayaking and optional SCUBA diving. The island is covered in lush rainforest and is home to many endemic mammals and brightly coloured birdlife including the small tree-climbing Geelvink Pygmy Parrot and Biak Scrubfowl. Join the Expedition Leader for a walk across the island through prehistoric rainforest.
Day 16: At Sea
Ahead of our arrival in Raja Ampat we spend a day at sea enjoying Oceanic Discoverer’s onboard facilities and views of the New Guinea northern coastline. Join the Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers in the Lounge for an informative introduction to Raja Ampat and an overview of our activities planned for the coming days which are sure to be a highlight of the voyage.
Day 17: Wayag Island and Raja Ampat
Savour a day of exploration on Wayag Island, one of the famed ‘Four Kings’ of the Raja Ampat region. Our day starts with a discovery of the lagoon’s white sand beaches and a magical maze of limestone karst ‘gumdrop’ islands. There will also be ample opportunity for a full range of in-water activities. The islands are adorned with thousands of pitcher plants and colourful orchids and we’ll spend the remainder of the day exploring. For the more energetic there may be an opportunity to climb Pindito Peak where the reward is breathtaking views over the island and its spectacular lagoon. This evening we remain at our scenic Wayag Island anchorage and enjoy sunset drinks and a tropical BBQ on the Sun Deck. With the bright stars of the Milky Way shining brightly overhead, it is sure to be a fantastic end to another magical day.
Day 18: Pulau Gam and Kaibui Bay
Awaken as we cruise the Dampier Straits, named in honour of famed explorer William Dampier. Travelling ashore to Pulau Gam, a local Papuan guide will join us on a walk through the shady forests around Sawingrai village. Our guide’s local knowledge will hopefully allow us to catch a glimpse of one of nature’s finest creations, the ethereal Red Bird of Paradise. This afternoon join a guided tour of the South Seas Pearl Farm, our local host taking us through the entire propagation and cultivation process. The farm produces pearls of the finest quality, and you may even wish to purchase an incredible souvenir produced in these very waters.
Day 19: Penemu, Groot Fam and Paradise Island
This morning we explore uninhabited Penemu Island and discover one of Raja Ampat’s best kept secrets ‘Hidden Bay’. We call in at the rarely-visited island of Fam, which is home to a large, traditional fishing village. Later, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Raja Ampat. On the aptly-named Paradise Island a profusion of plankton attracts giant manta rays and you have the opportunity to swim with these majestic creatures.
Day 20: Misool Islands of Raja Ampat
The Misool Islands are a gem-studded bracelet of islands that are a mecca for snorkellers and divers. The islands boast dramatic scenery, with towering limestone pinnacles jutting out of the water and white sand beaches adorned with palm trees. Travel ashore and explore on a nature walk with the Expedition Staff. You will also have the chance to experience the waters surrounding the island, which are home to at least three species of the pygmy seahorse, no larger than a fingernail, and the most splendid soft coral jungles, with their vibrant shades of orange, red, purple and pink.
Day 21: Pulau Gorong
Just off the western tip of Ceram lies the pristine island of Pulau Gorong, where we will spend the day exploring the enchanting saltwater lagoon, which is also home to a myriad of native birdlife. A range of in-water activities will be available including guided snorkelling, SCUBA diving and glass bottom-boat tours.
Day 22: Banda and the Spice Islands
In the middle of the Banda Sea lies an enchanted fragment of history, the centre of the Spice Island trade. Originally the world’s sole source of nutmeg and mace, these nine tiny islands have attracted traders since at least 2000 years ago. In the 16th century, European explorers discovered entire continents in their quest for these islands. On our approach to Banda Island the outline of Gunung Api volcano, with its thin plume of smoke drifting from the summit, will be clearly visible. Immerse yourself in the colours and aromas of the Spice Islands. Stroll through the wide, tree-lined streets, past the remnants of mansions constructed during Dutch colonialism. Visit the fascinating museum, the former VOC Governor’s Mansion, the old church and Fort Belgica. Our exploration of Banda Neira concludes with a visit to the town’s nutmeg gardens, shaded by wild almond trees.
Day 23: Banda Sea Volcanoes
The Banda Sea is home to many active volcanoes and today we enjoy a true expedition as we investigate two of the most imposing calderas in the region. At Pulau Serua, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, we cruise around the island and admire views of the permanent plume of volcanic gases escaping from the crater and at least two lava streams formed during earlier eruptions, the last of which occurred in 1921. Later, we visit Pulau Nila, where the most recent eruption in 1968 caused the locals of Rumadai village to flee. Nila rises some 781 metres above sea level and if conditions permit we plan to travel ashore for a close up inspection of the caldera.
Day 24: Tanimbar Islands
Awaken as we approach the Tanimbar Islands. The islands are surrounded by pristine white sand beaches fringed with palm trees. Travel ashore to the small village of Sangliat Dol and climb an antique stone staircase to view the well preserved stone boat which is used by the locals in ancestor worship ceremonies. Later, in Saumlaki, the main town in the Tanimbar Islands, we have the opportunity to explore and witness master carvers producing magnificent queen ebony wood carvings which are considered to be the finest in the entire Indonesian archipelago. View the community’s traditional ritual ceremony and learn how headhunting was practiced here until well into the 20th century.
Day 25: At Sea
Spend the day at leisure enjoying the onboard facilities as we cross the Timor Sea. Join our Expedition Staff is the ship’s lounge for a recap of the many enriching experiences on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. This evening, enjoy our final night onboard and join your fellow travellers, the Captain and his crew at the Captain’s Farewell Drinks as we sail toward Darwin, gateway to Australia’s ‘Top End’.
Day 26: Arrive Darwin
08:00am: Our unforgettable New Guinea Circle, Raja Ampat and Spice Islands expedition concludes in Darwin this morning.
How to Prepare
How to Prepare for a Papua New Guinea Expedition
To ensure you have an enjoyable and safe expedition we have developed some important pre-departure information to help you prepare for your voyage. We strongly recommend you download the documents below and read carefully. Our reservation staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Before you depart for your expedition we will send you a detailed pack including your itinerary, travel documents and any other essential information relevant to your voyage.
Is your passport valid?
Your passport will be required to have validity that will extend to six months after the date of your return.
Your visa arrangements are your responsibility. Please contact our reservations staff for assistance, or if you are unsure if you require a visa.
All passengers are required to provide travel insurance details including policy number and emergency contact number to Aurora Expeditions prior to departure. We strongly recommend insurance coverage that includes emergency medical evacuation from the vessel.
Emergency contact details
So that you can be contacted in the case of an emergency, remember to provide your family or friends with a copy of your travel documents as well as Aurora Expeditions’ and your Ship’s contact numbers.
Remember to pack any valuables or essential items such as medication in your hand luggage to avoid issues in the case of lost baggage.
How to Book
If you are interested in an Aurora Expeditions voyage, please contact our sales team to check availability.
Either email an expert here or call our experienced consultants direct on + 61 2 9252 1033 or 1800 637 688 (Freecall within Australia).
Complete a booking form
Once availability is confirmed, please download, print and complete the booking form. Please return it to us, along with your deposit to secure your berth. Please ensure you read the Terms and Conditions of contract before sending us your signed booking form.
Terms & Conditions
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Preparation for your voyage
On receipt of the booking form, we will contact you to confirm your booking and our reservations staff will send you a comprehensive pre-departure kit. This kit will contain all necessary pre-departure information including visa information, insurance information, a medical and personal details form, comprehensive gear list and information tailored to your voyage.
Aurora Expeditions - Your Personal Travel Agent
Aurora Expeditions is a licensed travel agent. Our experienced reservations consultants all have specialised expertise on the destinations we travel to. Each voyage has a dedicated travel expert solely working on developing dynamic itineraries for our passengers. Contact our reservations team and allow us to create a personal itinerary to compliment your voyage, including airfares, accommodation, travel insurance and pre and post voyage travel options.
We look forward to assisting you with your journey of a lifetime.