Adam is very energetic and helpful. He is an excellent birder and having spent 6 months living in PNG, he also had a good knowledge of other wildlife, as well as the culture. I really enjoyed his company.
Our new Papua New Guinea Highlights tour has been specifically crafted to take in the region’s very best sites, from Mount Hagen and the Tari Valley to the lowlands of Varirata, and is specifically designed for those with less time to spare in the field, yet still wishing for a comprehensive overview of this exceptional land. Time is spent in areas rich with avian diversity giving ample opportunity for finding many of the area’s most sought-after species. Fabulous birds-of-paradise will feature highly, while we will also enjoy some incredible fruit doves, kingfishers, parrots, honeyeaters, bowerbirds and a couple of endemic families such as berrypeckers and longbills. This tour can also be linked with our New Britain Endemics Extension for a wonderful two week exploration.
Papuan Eagle, 15+ Bird-of-paradise species!, Zoe’s Imperial & Pheasant Pigeon, Wattled Ploughbill, Crested Satinbird, Torrent-lark, Painted Quail-thrush, three species of Owlet-nightjar, Brehm’s, Painted, Madarasz’s & Modest Tiger Parrot, Papuan Lorikeet, Lesser Melampitta, Emperor Fairywren, Crested Berrypecker & Mountain Firetail
Spectacled Dasyure, Black-tailed Giant Rat, Sugar Glider, Agile Wallaby, Plush-coated Ringtail
lowland and montane rainforest, secondary forest, Eucalyptus savanna, mangroves, grasslands, wetlands
hot and humid with tropical showers, cooler in the highlands
moderate pace with some longer hikes
Huli Wigmen, Tari Valley, traditional carvings, spectacular forest vistas and mountain scenery
Day 1: Arrival in Port Moresby and Pacific Adventist University
Today we meet in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG). This area was once home to the Motuan seagoing people, famous for their impressively long boats with strange crab-claw shaped sails. PNG occupies the eastern half of the world’s second largest island, New Guinea. Once divided between the two colonial powers of Germany to the north and Britain to the south, the entire island was ceded to Australia after the First World War, with PNG gaining independence in 1975.
The region of Port Moresby supports the richest avifauna in PNG due to its diversity of habitats. These range from lowland rainforest and eucalypt woodland to rich mangroves, open grasslands and coastal palm beaches. In the afternoon we will visit the Pacific Adventist University, which affords a pleasant introduction to some of the woodland and wetland birds of the island. The expansive grounds of the university contain gardens and patches of habitat suitable for a surprising variety of lowland species that can literally teem with birds.
We will spend this afternoon of our Papua New Guinea bird safari looking for species that include the huge Blue-winged Kookaburra with its distinctive raucous call, flocks of migrant Black-faced Cuckooshrike that can often number more than 50 at a time, as well as the attractive Rufous-banded and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters. The loud calls of New Guinea Friarbird are heard throughout the grounds, while conspicuous Black-backed Butcherbirds and the huge, skulking Pheasant Coucal patrol the scrubby edge. One of the key birds here is the subtly attractive Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and we will also look for Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Torresian Crow, the locally uncommon Bar-shouldered Dove and flocks of attractive Australasian Figbird and Yellow-faced Myna. The grounds support many ponds and we can expect to see Comb-crested Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen and good numbers of Pacific Black Duck and Wandering Whistling Duck. Other species we may encounter include Plumed and Spotted Whistling Ducks, Green Pygmy Goose, Raja Shelduck and Nankeen Night Heron. Overhead we will keep an eye out for Whistling and Brahminy Kites, noisy Rainbow Bee-eater, White-breasted Woodswallow and Pacific Swallow. Variable Goshawk hunt throughout the grounds and in the late afternoon, we will seek out a roost of impressively large Papuan Frogmouths! We will then head back to our comfortable hotel situated on the outskirts of the city.
Day 2: Varirata National Park
We will spend a full day of our Papua New Guinea bird safari at the famous Varirata National Park, situated in the foothills above the city. En route to the park entrance, we will pass by the head of the notorious Kokoda Trail, where valiant efforts by Australian and local troops halted the Japanese march during the Second World War.
The dry eucalypt forests that flank the quiet access road to Varirata provide superb birding and noisy screeches will reveal pairs of stunning Black-capped Lory and/or flocks of busy Coconut Lorikeet and Red-cheeked Parrot. Here we will find a mix of New Guinea endemics and species shared with Australia. Likely birds may include the attractive White-shouldered Fairywren, Black Sunbird, White-throated Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Varied Triller, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, Leaden Flycatcher, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo and noisy Hooded Butcherbird, while we will also work hard to try and locate the scarce White-bellied Whistler.
Upon entering the park, we will spend the morning slowly walking the narrow trails that enter the moister evergreen hill forest. These well-marked trails wind through a variety of habitats with some excellent lookouts over Port Moresby and the coastline, providing a full day of new sights and sounds. The forests here are particularly rich in kingfishers; in fact, New Guinea hosts the world’s highest density of these desirable birds with 24 species known to occur! We will search for the PNG endemic Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher, one of several paradise kingfisher species found on the island and distinguished by their long trailing tails. Further kingfishers to be found today could include Yellow-billed, Azure, Forest, Variable Dwarf and Sacred, while the most attractive of all the giant kingfishers, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, is also a distinct possibility.
Columbids are very well represented here, particularly the stunning collection of Fruit Doves (Wompoo, Pink-spotted, Superb, Beautiful and Ornate, amongst others). Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon, Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove and the elusive Pheasant Pigeon are additional species we will be on the lookout for. The latter is likely to be heard but we would be very fortunate to observe this secretive ground dweller. Other species we might find on the trails include White-faced Robin, Black Cicadabird, Barred Cuckooshrike, Sooty Thicket Fantail and inquisitive Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Frilled, Black-faced and Spot-winged Monarchs, Green-backed Honeyeater, Rusty Mouse-warbler with its continuous squeaky-gate call, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, the stunning Goldenface, Grey Whistler, Rusty Pitohui and the poisonous Hooded Pitohui, Pale-billed Scrubwren, Pygmy Drongo, Growling Riflebird with its loud, guttural calls, Fairy Gerygone, Black Berrypecker and Dwarf Longbill. The last two mentioned species belong to the Berrypecker family that is endemic to New Guinea. We will also attempt to locate Barred Owlet-nightjar, a localised endemic, by checking some potential roost sites.
Besides the Pheasant Pigeon, several other secretive terrestrial birds occur in Varirata, all of them a challenge to observe! These include Black-billed Brushturkey, Crested Pitohui, Cinnamon Ground Dove, Painted Quail-thrush, the stunning Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler and Northern Scrub Robin. We will also visit a nearby area of grassland and cultivation that occasionally produces Great-billed, Chestnut-breasted and Grey-headed Mannikins.
However, the absolute highlight of our time here will be witnessing the marvellous performance by testosterone-ridden male Raggiana Bird-of-paradise. Adorned with elaborate red and orange flank plumes, they dance in anticipation of a potential mate. We will visit a display site where we may see good numbers of displaying males and receptive females. After this unforgettable experience, we will know for sure that we really are in birders’ heaven!
Day 3: Flight from Port Moresby to Tari Valley
This morning on our Papua New Guinea bird safari, we will transfer by air to the Tari Valley, widely hailed as having the richest montane avifauna in all of PNG. Only in the 1930s were tens of thousands of human inhabitants of these inaccessible highlands discovered by intrepid gold miners looking for their fortune. The Tari Valley is populated by the Huli tribe, widely known for their famous ‘wigmen’ culture. During our next few days we will spend some time learning a little about the culture and daily lifestyle of the beautifully painted Huli ‘wigmen’, adorned with headpieces made from matted hair and the feathers of parrots and birds-of-paradise. From Tari, we will journey to the world-famous Ambua Lodge, where the extensive gardens and surrounding verdant forests will make for an unforgettable birding experience.
Days 4 & 5: Tari Valley
The Tari Valley is rightfully renowned as one of the finest birding destinations in the world, and we will have time on our Papua New Guinea bird safari to explore the surrounding virgin cloud forest and valley fringes filled with brilliant possibilities. The Ambua Lodge offers breathtaking views of the valley and incredible sunsets over the Tari Valley; while accommodation is in comfortable bush-material huts. At 2,100m (6,900ft) our lodge has a refreshing mountain climate that we will certainly enjoy while exploring the surrounding forested trails and nearby secondary habitat. Our local guides have up-to-date knowledge of the displaying birds and their territories and will be of tremendous help during this portion of the tour.
The star attraction is undoubtedly the unequalled variety of bird-of-paradise species that occur here. Indeed, the immediate environs of our lodge support the elaborately plumed King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, Superb Bird-of-paradise with its protruding iridescent breast-shields, outrageous Blue Bird-of-paradise, the strange Short-tailed Paradigalla, Brown, Black and if we are very lucky, Black-billed Sicklebills, Ribbon-tailed and Princess Stephanie’s Astrapias and Lawes’s Parotia! With the keen knowledge of local guides, we will attempt to see as many of these jewel-like species as possible, some of which will be performing their ritualistic displays.
Besides the fabulous birds-of-paradise, we will search some of the forest trails in the area for White-bibbed Fruit Dove, rare Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, unobtrusive Forbes’s Forest Rail, scarce Black Pitohui, Black-breasted Boatbill, Spotted Jewel-babbler, seldom-seen Ashy Robin, elusive MacGregor’s Bowerbird, Lesser Ground Robin, Papuan Logrunner and the weird and skulking Lesser Melampitta.
We will also visit the high Tari Gap. Here, montane forests give way to expanses of open grasslands dotted with tree ferns where gliding Papuan Harrier may be seen and Brown Quail call from the ranker patches. The road passes through some wonderful forests where we might find the impressive, but rare, Papuan Eagle, extremely scarce Meyer’s and Black-mantled Goshawks, Brehm’s, Painted, extremely scarce Madarasz’s and Modest Tiger Parrots, Garnet Robin, Crested and Fan-tailed Berrypeckers, Black-throated Honeyeater, zippy Red-collared Myzomela, Plum-faced Lorikeet, Mountain Firetail and shy Blue-faced Parrotfinch.
Birding along the road above and below our lodge can be very productive indeed, and here we will concentrate on finding mixed species flocks that may yield such specialities as Mountain Kingfisher, Hooded and Black-bellied Cuckooshrikes, Brown-backed, Regent and Sclater’s Whistlers, Yellow-billed and Orange-billed Lorikeets, the scarce Black and Papuan Sitellas, equally elusive Papuan Treecreeper, bizarre Wattled Ploughbill, Papuan and Buff-faced Scrubwrens, Black Monarch, Dimorphic and Black Fantails, Black-throated and Slaty Robins, the extremely rare Yellowish-streaked Honeyeater, Ashy Gerygone, delicate Orange-crowned Fairywren, Canary Flyrobin, Rufous-backed Honeyeater, Mid-mountain Berrypecker and seldom-recorded Spotted Berrypecker.
We will also venture down into the Tari Valley where we will enjoy our Huli ‘Wigmen’ experience and search for several more target species, including Papuan King Parrot, Greater Sooty Owl, Marbled Frogmouth, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Marbled Honeyeater, Capped White-eye, Brown-breasted Gerygone and Collared Sparrowhawk.
Day 6: Drive from Tari Valley to Mount Hagen
Today on our Papua New Guinea bird safari, we leave the splendid forests of Tari early today for the long drive to Mt. Hagen, where we should arrive in the late afternoon or early evening. Our cosy lodge for the next three nights is situated at 2,900m (9,600ft), inside a lush alpine forest patch! Here we will concentrate our efforts on the montane forest patches and secondary forest habitat of this fabulous area.
As we arrive, the feeders just outside the huge windows of the lodge will be hard to ignore. Remarkable Ribbon-tailed Astrapias will compete with Brown Sicklebill, Common Smoky and Grey-streaked Honeyeaters, Belford’s Melidectes, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Island Thrush, White-winged Robin and Rufous-naped Whistler for our attention! Two very special birds that occasionally attend the feeder are the usually elusive Archbold’s Bowerbird and Crested Satinbird. A constant flow of hungry birds throngs to the feeders, providing incredible photographic opportunities. Many of us will no doubt spend hours birding from here, with a cup of coffee in hand and coal stoves nearby! Birding in paradise indeed!!
Days 7 & 8: Mount Hagen area
We have two full days of our Papua New Guinea bird safari, to visit the various altitudinal habitats on offer around Mount Hagen as well as spending time at the incredible fruit feeder, brew in hand! Although the region of Mount Hagen is rather heavily cultivated, the areas of standing native habitat can produce a wide variety of remarkable endemic species. The area below the lodge offers possibilities of seeing a host of mouth-watering specials, such as dazzling Blue, Superb and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Lawes’s Parotia, Bar-tailed and Slender-billed Cuckoo-Doves, attractive Ornate Melidectes and the striking and rather elusive Torrent-lark. Other birds we will search for include the localised Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, Australian Hobby, Brown Falcon, Hooded Mannikin, Papuan White-eye, the beautiful Mountain Myzomela, Island Leaf Warbler, Long-tailed Shrike and, best of all, the localised Lesser Bird-of-paradise. (Please note, however, that accessing the Lesser BOP site largely depends on local weather and road conditions and isn’t always possible.)
The heavily mossed trails around our lodge produce some exciting birding and here we will seek out the secretive Chestnut Forest Rail, Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Friendly and Dimorphic Fantails, stunning Regent Whistler, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Wattled Ploughbill, Mountain Mouse-warbler and Large Scrub-wren. What’s more, the Papuan Lorikeet is one of the world’s most beautiful parrots and both the stunning black form and more gaudy red form occur around the lodge.
Flocks of the attractive, monotypic Blue-capped Ifrit feed like nuthatches along branches and are now known to be even more poisonous than the Hooded Pitohui! Crested Berrypeckers forage around the lodge grounds, while other lodge specialities include Crested Satinbird, New Guinea Woodcock (a resident in the bogs around the lodge), Archbold’s Nightjar and Mountain Owlet-nightjar, which sometimes perches on tree ferns outside the cabins at night. Even the rare Feline Owlet-nightjar occurs around the lodge and we will work hard to try and locate this very difficult species. Several strange and little-known mammals can also be found in the evenings and early morning, with the most obvious being a Papuan Giant Rat that visits the feeder after dark for scraps that are left behind by its diurnal occupants, along with chances for Mountain Cuscus.
In a nearby patch of ridge forest, we will search for lower elevation species that could include Black-breasted Boatbill, Fan-tailed Berrypecker, Loria’s Satinbird, Tit Berrypecker and the stunning Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, while Male Brown Sicklebills utter their incredibly loud machine-gun staccato call from a regular post. However, the star here is the King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, and we hope to see the odd male swinging through the vines waving their weird head-plumes around and uttering their strange buzzing calls.
Day 9: Mount Hagen to Port Moresby, and the Brown River
This morning on our Papua New Guinea bird safari, we have another hour or so at the incredible fruit feeders before heading to Mount Hagen for our mid-morning flight to Port Moresby. After lunch, we shall head out to the Brown River area for the remainder of the afternoon. The roadside vegetation along the Brown River consistently proves productive. Walking along the riverine habitat and dense secondary growth, we will search for such beauties as Coroneted and Dwarf Fruit Doves, Yellowish-streaked Lory, the radiant Golden Myna, Dusky Myzomela, Common Paradise Kingfisher, exquisite Emperor Fairywren and if we are lucky, the rare Streak-headed Mannikin, amongst many others. An area of nearby grassland may yield Great-billed, Grey-headed or Chestnut-breasted Mannikins, as well as Papuan Harrier. Stands of Eucalyptus woodland might produce White-throated Gerygone, Bar-shouldered Dove, Grey Shrikethrush, Black-backed Butcherbird, Forest Kingfisher, White-winged Triller and Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot. We may also have time to visit one of the secluded lakes in the area that hold Green Pygmy Goose and Spotted Whistling Duck; while the few flowering shrubs are excellent locations for both Silver-eared and Brown-backed Honeyeaters. In the late afternoon, we will return to our hotel in Port Moresby for a celebratory farewell dinner.
Day 10: Port Moresby area and departures
Depending on flight times, we might have time for some early morning birding around Port Moresby. Thereafter, we will transfer Port Moresby International Airport for our international departures.
What our clients say about tours to Papua New Guinea
- SL, PNG II 2015
Glen is always a pleasure to travel with and his professional yet friendly manner was appreciated by the whole group. He knows his birds extremely well and works hard to get everyone in the group onto the birds. He has a great memory for names and always remembers and greets by name, local guides, drivers, hotel staff, etc that he has met on previous trips. The trip went very smoothly, due to his excellent handling of logistics.SL, PNG II 2015
The birds were magnificent, and when you combine this with the awesome guide combo of Adam Walleyn and the ‘Big G’ (Gareth Robbins), it made for a once in a lifetime trip. Thanks again Rockjumper for delivering a first-class birding experience.DH & RD, Papua New Guinea
Adam Walleyn acted as a very experienced and skilful leader. He had an intimate knowledge of the birds and great skills in finding and showing them. His communication was extremely clear, to the point and flavoured with a good sense of humour. In the few difficult situations that arose due to flights, civil unrest, etc, he showed extremely good skills in handling these with a perfect balance between group decisions and executive decisions. A role model for a tour leader.BA, Papua New Guinea