Sail into a world that few have ever experienced; idyllic islands and isolated villages where unique time-honoured traditions and elaborately costumed dancers welcome us into their world.
Sail into a world few ever experience as we explore the rich history, cultures and wildlife of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu on this 17-day authentic expedition cruise. Visit idyllic islands and isolated villages where unique time-honoured traditions and elaborately costumed dancers welcome us into
their world. From the culturally rich arterial of the Sepik River we sail across the Bismarck Sea exploring remote shores and villages still living traditional lifestyles, and delve into the history, culture and wildlife of New Ireland and New Britain.
Crossing the Buka Channel at Nissan Island we see reminders of intensive World War II action, then enter a long-isolated world as we are among the first travellers to return to Bougainville in more than two decades. Sailing through the turquoise waters of the Solomon Islands, new vistas and unexpected encounters await. Discover one of the conservation jewels of the South Pacific on Tetepare Island, while villagers on culturally-rich Malaita Island still make and use traditional Malaitan shell-money as a dowry and wear it as a status symbol. Experience a kaleidoscope of cultures as we explore Vanuatu, where more than 100 indigenous languages are spoken. With over 80 habitable islands, islanders have closely guarded their own cultures and languages. Our expedition embraces some of these cultures and languages, as we explore one of the happiest places on the planet.
Throughout Melanesia there are spectacular reefs, which are home to masses of fish and coral gardens of every colour. These waters offer some of the greatest marine diversity and snorkelling in the world and everybody will have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty beneath the waves. Whether you are snorkelling or swimming, this ocean aquarium is waiting to be explored and discovered. For birders, this itinerary offers once-in-a-lifetime species on remote, hard to reach islands. The birding potential is exceptional; highlights may include the Superb Pitta and, endemic to the Solomon Islands the Roviana Rail, Solomon Sea Eagle and Vanuatu’s Vanikoro White-eye. This expedition includes the option to join a sea kayaking excursion with an expert guide. Kayakers are rewarded with tranquil, tropical settings and are a source of fascination to the locals who often paddle their canoes out to join them, and invite them back to their villages.
Arrive in Papua New Guinea’s sprawling capital Port Moresby and transfer to your hotel where our group will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening meet with your fellow travellers and the expedition team over dinner at the resort
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before our flight to Madang, the picturesque peninsula surrounded by islands and waterways. It is a thriving community renowned for its traditional artists, and the richness of its surrounding forests. Enjoy a Madang and Environs tour upon arrival which includes a visit to the Coastwatchers’ Memorial Light at Kalibobo, Madang museum and Bilbil Village before returning to Madang to explore the markets. Boarding your ship you will have time to settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship; we will also take
the opportunity to introduce you to your expedition team and our voyage plans. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we set sail for the Sepik River.
Sure to be one of the highlights of our expedition, we have allowed plenty of time to fully appreciate this remarkable river, its birds, animals and the people that call it home. The Sepik River, the longest in Papua New Guinea, flows from the highlands to the Bismarck Sea. It is a rich arterial river that has fostered great traditional artists. We plan to explore the river by Zodiac, following tributaries and channels in search of local wildlife. Enjoy a warm welcome at Kopar Village where we will experience village life and a traditional Dragon
Dance unique to this region. Bring along plenty of the local currency (kina) to purchase unique carvings directly from the artists.
Seldom visited and little known, Manus Island is considered a jewel in the crown of Papua New Guinea. Biologically isolated the Manus Province is home to a high proportion of endemic species and our stop here is likely to be a birding highlight. Once the location of a detention centre, part of Australia’s ‘Pacific Solution’, life on Manus Island
continues according to traditional customs. Comprised of 10 villages and a population of less
than 1,000, our visit to Derimbat Village includes taking part in an elaborate welcoming ceremony
before exploring their village and unique way of life with a local guide.
Traditionally known as Lavongai Island, volcanic New Hanover is a wild, rugged and untouched
paradise complete with a dense rainforest, waterfalls and exceptional beaches fringed by reefs and smaller satellite islands. Sparsley populated, the villages here enjoy a subsistant, traditional lifestyle. Exceptional snorkelling is a given here with much to
experience below the surface, while Three Island Harbour, on the north-west tip of the island, features four Japanese WWII wrecks which were sunk by Allied bombers in 1944.
Six beautiful cone-shaped volcanoes ring Rabaul’s dramatic, flooded-caldera harbour. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in the magnificent views of the harbour and volcanoes from Observatory Ridge. As we explore the island, we will see fascinating reminders of the Japanese occupation, our tour taking in the site of the enormous volcanic eruption that all but destroyed
Rabaul town, the underground bunker that was the hiding place of Pearl Harbour commander, Yamamoto, and joining the locals shopping at the bustling Kokopo markets.
A tropical atoll adrift in the azure waters of the Buka Channel, Nissan Island is bathed in rich tropical currents that abound in marine life. Seldom have
outsiders had the opportunity to discover this world promising abundant pelagic fish-life and pristine coral reefs. Ashore there are still reminders of the brief, but intensive, World War II activities during which the islands were recaptured by Kiwi, Australian and British forces from the Japanese occupiers. During our time ashore we will meet with the friendly locals from all three of the island’s Balil Villages and search the dense woods for some of
the elusive birds that occur here. Later the snorkellers will find plenty to discover in the coral reefs that surround Nissan.
We plan to be among the first expeditioners to re-discover the treasures of Bougainville, long isolated and in a strange way protected due to the conflict which swirled around its shores. Today it is emerging once again as a newly vibrant and remarkably pristine island paradise, it is home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the water. We plan to explore the
area around Arawa, including the Panguna Copper & Gold Mine site – the setting for the movie
Mr Pip – with great opportunities to access the island’s interior and its reefs. Spend your last Kina
under the thatched roof of the Arawa Markets amongst the hum and chatter of hundreds of locals.
The volcanic New Georgia Islands are found in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands and are
characterised by extensive reefs and lagoons, rugged terrain and an abundance of rivers. Nature
enthusiasts will relish landing on Kolombangara Island, where we plan to visit the Imbu Rano Lodge and Conservation Area which protects the islands central peak and search for the rare Roviana Rail along with other endemic bird species. Snorkel the wreck of a US NAVY FAF Grumman Wildcat (carrier version) WWII plane off a tiny island where the surrounding reefs are home to some of the highest fish counts in the world. Stock up on the local currency to purchase the wood or stone carvings that the people of the Western Province are so famous for.
Uninhabited for 150 years, this rugged island cloaked in rainforest and fringed with the Solomon Islands’ leading community driven conservation
projects Tetepare Descendants’ Association. Receiving international recognition for its conservation and archaeological significance. Three species of turtle, including the endangered leatherback, nest on its beaches while other species inhabiting the island and surrounding waters include dugong, the world’s largest skink, endemic Tetepare
White-eye and many more.
Mountainous Malaita is home to one-third of the Solomon’s total population and features pristine
rivers and unexploited tropical forests to explore. This morning we plan to visit the beautiful uninhabited Leli Island, an ideal snorkel site with its calm clear waters and abundant array of fish and corals. In the afternoon we plan to be among the first to visit a remote and hard to reach village where we will experience a rapturous warrior welcome
from the Kwaio mountain people. One of the most traditional communities in the Solomon Islands, enjoy an authentic slice of village life as we learn about their conservation efforts.
Makira is the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon’s archipelago. This morning we anchor in the calm waters of Star Harbour. Join the naturalists
for a Zodiac exploration of the abundant mangrove forests that line the shores, and take a short walk to Makira’s south coast where the villagers live much as
they have for millennia. We spend time with the locals who share with us their traditional song and
dance. If we are lucky, the local boys might be surfing on their hand-carved palm wood boards.
Nendö is the largest of the Santa Cruz Islands, which lie to the south-east of the Solomon Islands.
The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira unsuccessfully attempted to establish a colony
in 1595. Biologically these islands share more in common with Vanuatu. It is also the home of red
feather money, sourced from the Scarlet Honeyeater. Watch the manufacture of red feather money, and join the locals in dances which reverberate through the ages.
Today we explore the archipelago of Vanikoro, with its five islands encapsulated by a dramatic barrier
reef which offers superb snorkelling. French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse
famously disappeared here after both his vessels, La Boussole and Astrolabe, struck the reef in 1788.
On the shore we visit a monument to Le Pérouse, erected by fellow explorer Dumont Durville in 1827.
Join the naturalists on a forest walk in search of the endemic Vanikoro White-eye and Monarch, or marvel at the delicate Vanikoro Orchid. We also have a good chance to see the recently rediscovered Vanikoro Flying Fox, considered extinct until a recent visit by Heritage Expeditions.
Today we explore Vanuatu’s largest Island, Santo; location of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Indulge in a swim in the crystalline waters
of Champagne Beach with its famed powdery white sand. This afternoon we will enjoy Zodiac cruises to the iconic blue holes of Santo. For those with an interest
in the history of the island, there is a visit to Lugainville and Million Dollar Point.
Today we will visit Ambrym, renowned as the island of volcanoes and magic throughout Vanuatu. We plan to head ashore at Ranon on the northern coast
where the traditional Rom dance is still practised and custom carving is alive and well. A walk through
the forest brings us to the ‘arena’ where masked dancers emerge from the forest. The forests of
Ambrym offer some excellent walks to go in search of the local birds and plants, accompanied by our
naturalists. This afternoon enjoy a final snorkel excursion.
Arrive into Port Vila early morning and disembark. Upon disembarking a transfer to your central city hotel or the airport will conclude your voyage.
To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights from Port Vila before midday.
Heritage Suite £19,000 pp*
Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table
and chairs and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Worsley Suite £13,995 pp*
Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge
suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Superior Single £13,995 pp*
Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private ensuite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Superior Triple £9,945 pp*
Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from
the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Superior Deck 5 £10,990 pp*
Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private ensuite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Superior Deck 4 £10,500 pp*
Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private ensuite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Main Deck Single £13,750 pp*
Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite
with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
Main Deck Triple £8,750 pp*
Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 are a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds and one Pullman bed which folds down from
the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage and a flat screen entertainment system.
* The prices listed include the discovery fund of GBP£400 (All prices are per person in GBP£)
- Discovery fund, pre flight Port Moresby to Madang,
- postcruise transfers,
- one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (incl. dinner/breakfast),
- all on board ship accommodation with meals, house beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- all shore excursions and activities.
- Programme of lectures by noted naturalists.
- all items of a personal nature,
- laundry, drinks, gratuities.
- International/domestic flights unless specified above,
- visas, extensions and travel insurance.
23 October – 8 November 2023