A cultural spectacle that awakens all the senses.
Travel deep into Papua New Guinea to experience local cultures, natural splendour and island life on a nine-day adventure culminating in the spectacular Firedance Festival. Watch as local villagers invite you into their communities and perform a traditional dance around the fire – a culturally rich and awesome sight to see. Along with this festival, discover the wild beauty of the Duke of York Islands, learn of the fascinating military history of East New Britain, encounter resident spinner dolphins, and let local island life delight your senses. For those interested in a South Pacific adventure that is definitely one-of-a-kind, let Papua New Guinea’s islands capture your imagination.
Why you’ll love this trip
- As a small group, be welcomed into a local village and watch as traditional Baining dancers circle a growing fire and perform dancing rituals – a insight into one of Papua New Guinea’s indigenous cultures.
- Spend time before and after the performance learning more about these traditional customs, sharing meals, stories and laughs with local community members.
- Jump into island life of the Duke of York Islands, marvelling at an active volcano, tucking into a beachside barbecue and experiencing a traditional sing-sing with the villagers.
- Discover how the World Wars played out in the Pacific, by visiting the War Museum in Rabaul and heading underground for a tour of the Japanese tunnels in Kokopo.
Welcome to Rabaul and Papua New Guinea – a land of dense jungle, bright coral reefs and wartime secrets. There aren’t any activities planned for today until an important welcome meeting at 6.30 pm where you’ll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. For those arriving today, you’ll be met at Tokua (Rabaul) Airport for an included transfer to your accommodation. If you do happen to arrive early, good for you! Why not get out and about and soak up the chilled-out vibe of New Britain. Wherever you are, you’ll be sure to see the dominating Tarvurvur Volcano looming in the distance.
Set off on a historical tour of Rabaul town with your group. There’ll be some walking on uneven surfaces, so pack some good walking shoes. For lunch, you’ll visit a village called Baai Village, where you’ll be treated to a mini cultural show performed by six of the region’s tribes. Today’s tour will include stops at military sites including Yamamoto’s bunker, the Japanese submarine base and the Japanese tunnels, as well as the Rabaul markets and the New Guinea Club, where you’ll gain some insight into life in Rabaul before PNG’s independence and the 1994 devastating volcanic eruption.
Spend the full day experiencing what everyday life is like in a typical Rabaul village today. Learn how to make agir (a traditional coconut stew) from scratch for lunch, explore the peaceful village making new friends and enjoy a passionate performance from the local church choir. Return to your hotel for the evening.
Day 4: Duke of York Islands
The neighbouring islands all have their own personality, customs and cultures, and today you’ll cruise around a few to explore and experience the ‘real’ Papua New Guinea. Your destination today is Duke of York Island, but on the way, be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife too, as dolphins and even dugongs are known to play in these crystal-clear waters of the Pacific. A local village will host you while you visit Duke of York and there’ll be opportunities to learn about traditional weaving, cooking and fishing. Head on a tour of the island with your group leader, and then have plenty of time to relax into island time. All that you’ve got to worry about this afternoon is sitting back and enjoying the warm hospitality and magical singing voices of the Duke of York islanders at your overnight homestay.
Day 5: Duke of York Islands
Rise and shine early for a memorable expedition out to swim with East New Britain’s resident spinner dolphins. Spend around an hour watching the dolphins’ acrobatic displays then head back for breakfast and enjoy another full day of village life.
Island life is at its most peaceful in the morning, so take an opportunity wake up early and explore the sights and sounds at dawn. You could also go for a stroll through the village and chat further with the villagers who are so kindly hosting the group. Return to Kokopo for more historic sights including the Bitapaka War Cemetery – where soldiers from World War I and II have been laid to rest, as well as the island’s markets and the Blue Lagoon.
Day 7: Firedance Festival
This morning, head into the highlands of the Gazelle Peninsula. It’s here that the Firedance Festival takes place, and tonight you’ll enjoy the first of your homestays. You’ll be welcomed to Vunga village with a traditional Melanesian welcome ceremony – a common practice to show the village residents that your group is welcomed. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional mumu lunch – where root vegetables are wrapped in leaves and cooked under hot stone. Settle into the local feel of the village, and then later in the evening, this is where all the festivities start. The traditional fire dancing ceremonies are a cultural spectacle for locals and visitors alike, and your expert local guides will be able to explain to you the historical importance of the dance, as well as the costumes and elements of the performance. As it goes on into the night, villagers add bundles of firewood to the bonfire and the fire-dancers will perform until their feet put out the last flames. Enjoy a barbecue dinner as you cherish this cultural moment.
Day 8: Firedance Festival
This morning, make your way to the village food hut where a fresh continental breakfast with organic fruits and brewed coffee awaits. Afterwards, the festivities continue with a number of masked performances, as well as a closing party during which the village will farewell their guests. After saying goodbye, you’ll make your way back to the group’s hotel and settle in for lunch. The afternoon is free for you to relax and share photos with your group of last night’s performances.
With no activities planned for today, you are free to depart at any time after breakfast, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policies. Please note that a transfer to Tokua (Rabaul) Airport is included.
INT – TESD
Images Courtesy of Intrepid Group