Huon Peninsula Extension
23-28 June 2024
Tour length: 6 days
Group size limit: 7
Joshua Bergmark and local guides
New Britain Extension
22-26 July 2026
Tour length: 5 days
Group size limit: 7
Julien Mazenauer and local guides
Day 1: Morning tour start at Port Moresby airport. Flight to Alotau, and afternoon birding in search of Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove and Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot. The restricted-range Silver-eared Honeyeater and attractive eastern form of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin are common in our hotel gardens!
Day 2: Boarding our comfortable liveaboard dive boat, this morning we sail towards Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago. On the way, we will make a quick stop at a small island in the Goschen Straight where Louisiade White-eye can be found at the edge of its range.
Day 3: Arriving overnight at a secluded bay, we will make our way ashore and spend all day birding lowland forest on Fergusson Island. The gorgeous Goldie’s Bird-of-Paradise and the bizarre Curl-crested Manucode will be our main targets, along with the very distinct forms of Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Papuan Pitta. If we can find a vehicle we will try for Oya Tabu White-eye and Fergusson Pheasant Pigeon, but realistically seeing either of these would require a logistical miracle!
Day 4: After a morning of birding we will sail back to Alotau.
Day 5: Disembarking and heading to the airport for a flight to Port Moresby, we will subsequently continue onwards to Kavieng on New Ireland, where we will overnight.
Days 6-7-8: Starting with three nights on land, based at a lovely coastal resort, we will probably see several special birds in the gardens behind our rooms! The elegant Paradise Drongo, New Ireland Boobook, Red-chinned Lorikeet, Song Parrot and Bismarck Hanging Parrot are all regular here, while grassy areas nearby often hold the endemic Forbes’s, Hunstein’s and Buff-bellied Mannikins. More widespread Melanesian species which are common both here and on New Britain include Moustached Treeswift, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Stephan’s Ground Dove, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, Melanesian Kingfisher, Long-tailed Myna and Bismarck Crow.
Ascending the Lelet Plateau in 4WD vehicles, New Ireland Pitta, Bismarck White-eye and Bismark Whistler can be heard serenading us at down, then while walking along the road we will search in particular for both Reddish and New Ireland Myzomela, New Ireland Dwarf Kingfisher, Pied Cuckoo-Dove, Knob-billed Fruit Dove, Black, Finsch’s and Yellowish Imperial Pigeons, White-naped Lory, White-backed Woodswallow, and the undescribed but quite common “Bismarck Flyrobin”. Bismarck Fantail, Black-tailed Monarch, Velvet Flycatcher, and Red-banded Flowerpecker are all much more common here than on New Britain, and we have a real chance to see the almost entirely unknown New Britain Sparrowhawk (confusingly, found on New Ireland too).
New Ireland Friarbird, usually favours higher altitudes than we can access, and Bismarck Kingfisher is an exceedingly rare species, but we will try our best to search for both of these if we see everything else in good time. If weather conditions permit, we will also try to make the crossing to Dyaul one morning to find Dyaul Flycatcher and the distinctive endemic subspecies of Golden Monarch.
Day 9-10-11: Boarding another liveaboard boat, we will begin the crossing to Tench, watching and hoping for Beck’s Petrel or Heinroth’s Shearwater on the way, both known from area.
Arriving in the morning, we will have time to circumnavigate the tiny island on foot, marvelling at the astounding density of Nicobar Pigeon and Melanesian Scrubfowl! The very range-restricted Atoll Starling is a star bird here (known only from eight tiny islands in Melanesia!), along with the islet-loving Bismarck Black Myzomela, hulking Beach Kingfisher, Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, and Island Monarch. Of course throughout our time on the island we will be constantly side-stepping Red-footed and Brown Boobies, with Black Noddies, Great Frigatebirds and White-tailed Tropicbirds above, all in a breeding frenzy!
The next day we will wake up anchored next to the remote and rarely-visited Mussau Island, where there are four endemic birds; Mussau Fantail, Mussau Monarch, Mussau Flycatcher and Mussau Triller. We should also encounter the local forms of Russet-tailed Thrush and Island Leaf Warbler, with Blue-faced Parrotfinch astoundingly common. This evening we will start our way back to Kavieng.
Day 12: Disembarking early this morning, we fly to Port Moresby and then on to Manus Island, eagerly anticipating one of the star birds of the region!
Days 13-14-15: Our final port of call during the main tour will be the rarely-visited Manus Island in the Admiralty Group, which holds ten endemics, of which the near-legendary Superb Pitta will be our most-wanted quarry. Sporting contrasting black, red and turquoise plumage, many regard this species as the most beautiful pitta in the world! The others endemics we will find here are Meek’s Pygmy Parrot, Manus Boobook, Manus Dwarf Kingfisher, Manus Cuckooshrike, Admiralty Cicadabird, Manus Friarbird, Manus Fantail and Manus Monarch. Manus Masked Owl has not been seen since the 1930’s, but we might try our luck anyway!
Day 16: Morning flight to Port Moresby where the main tour ends. Those continuing on the extension will take a connecting flight onwards to Lae.
HUON PENINSULA EXTENSION
Day 1: After landing in Lae we will board our charter flight and glide over the Huon Peninsula to land at Wasu on the north coast. We will be driven up to the safari-style permanent camp in 4WDs and commence our exploration of this wonderful area. Please note that depending on flight schedules, we may need to overnight in Lae and take an early charter flight the next day.
Day 2-3-4: The Huon Peninsula is most famous for three endemic birds-of-paradise species, all of which we expect to see during our stay! At lower elevations, Emperor Bird-of-paradise lek in the crowns of tall forest trees, betraying their precence with an irregular cacaphony of sound. On the mid-slopes, we will visit a display court of the transformative Wahnes’s Parotia and hopefully witness the incredible ballerina display of this stunning species. Higher up, the incredibly long-tailed Huon Astrapia can often be found by waiting at fruiting trees for the male to make his rounds.
There are three other endemic birds on the Huon Peninsula, with the recently-split Huon Bowerbird hopefully pinned down at a bower for us, while the incredible Spangled Honeyeater is usually found at the highest point on the road. Maybe a Huon Melidectes will appear to give us the clean-sweep, but this species prefers inacessible higher altitudes and only ventures down on occasion.
Plenty of other birds are found in this forest, which is probably the best accessible site in New Guinea to see the unique Pesquet’s Parrot, and the monotypic Mottled Berryhunter, both of which are easy to miss elsewhere on the island. Other species include Mountain Peltops, Mountain Kingfisher, White-bellied Thicket Fantail, Forbes’s Forest Rail, Tit Berrypecker, Black-mantled Goshawk, Blue-capped Ifrit, Greater Lophorina, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Papuan Lorikeet, Fairy Lorikeet, Ornate Fruit Dove, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Red-collared Myzomela, Rufous-backed, Black-throated and Mountain Honeyeaters, Papuan Sittella, Buff-faced Scrubwren, Black-breasted Boatbill, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Brown-backed and Regent Whistlers, Black and Friendly Fantails, Canary Flyrobin, Black-throated and Slaty Robins.
Day 5: Today we fly back to Lae for an overnight stay near the airport.
Day 6: After breakfast we will fly back to Port Moresby, where this exciting tour ends this afternoon.
Cost: $ 9,900
Deposit: $ 1,500
Single room supplement: $ 600
Cost: $ 3,200
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 320
Accommodation: Excellent dive resorts, comfortable town hotels, and high-quality liveaboard dive boats. Please note that we cannot guarantee single rooms on the boats (twin-share being the standard, these days are not included in the single supplement fee), but will do our best to accommodate fairly. On the Huon Extension, we will be in a basic but comfortable safari-style permanent tented camp in the forest with shared facilities and cold water. Due to the remote nature of the camp here, please be aware that the drives up and down will be on bumpy roads in uncomfortable vehicles.
Walking difficulty: This tour is physically easy (much more so than our standard Papua New Guinea tour!), with short and mostly flat walks throughout. Some sections could be muddy and we may venture inside the forest on occasion to look for skulkers, but overall the pace is a very relaxed!
Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.
Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.