Papua New Guinea: Birding Attenborough’s Paradise

August 2021/2022/2023

Dates and Costs:

 

17 August – 03 September 2021

Spaces Available: 9

Price: US$13,065/ £10,628 / €11,701 per person sharing, assuming 6 – 10 participants.

Single Supplement: US$1,294 / £1,052 / €1,159

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 

17 August – 03 September 2022

Price: TBC

Single Supplement: TBC

 

17 August – 03 September 2023

Price: TBC

Single Supplement: TBC

 

Additional Costs:
Please note that prices do not include domestic flights in PNG, which are estimated at between US$1,000 and US$1,800 per person, depending on the fare availability. How and where to book these flights at a discount, and the exact flight numbers needing to be book will be provided closer to the time of the tour and we may be able to buy these flights for you in advance.

Tour Details

Duration: 19 days
Group Size: 6 – 10 (We have a higher limit for this than for most tours.)
Tour Start: Port Moresby
Tour End: Port Moresby

Price includes:

All accommodation (as described)
Meals (from lunch on day 1 until breakfast on day 19)
Drinking water – please bring a refillable water bottle
Expert tour leader
Local bird and wildlife guide/trackers fees
Birdwatching site entrance fees
All ground transport and tolls/taxes while on tour, including airport pick-up and drop-off

 

Price excludes:

Flights to/from Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby
Domestic flights (estimated between US$1,000 – US$1,800 for 2021 – see note below)
Visa fees
Departure tax
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks
Camera (still/video) permits
Personal travel insurance (ensure it specifies coverage for Papua New Guinea)
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Papua New Guinea: Birding Attenborough’s Paradise

August 2021/2022/2023

 

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is undoubtedly a birder’s paradise. Thirty-four birds-of-paradise (BoPs) live on the island of New Guinea, of which 31 can be found in PNG, and a large number of these are possible on this tour – get ready for sensory overload! The island is home to approximately 400 endemic bird species. Together with awe-inspiring scenery, endless rainforests, and fascinating highland societies that only made contact with the outside world in the 1930s, this makes PNG a definite must-see destination for any avid birder and nature enthusiast.

Papua New Guinea birding toursRaggiana Bird-of-paradise is one of our major targets on this trip (photo Matt Prophet).

 

We start our adventure in the tropical savanna near Port Moresby. This area holds species restricted to northern Australia and PNG, such as the remarkable and huge Papuan Frogmouth, the localized Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, and several gorgeous kingfishers such as Blue-winged Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, and Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher.

We will fly to the Mount Hagen Highlands, where we base ourselves at Kumul Lodge, the holy grail of PNG highland birding. At Kumul’s legendary feeding table some of PNG’s most spectacular birds await us in the form of Ribbon-tailed Astrapia (surely one of the best-looking of the island’s birds-of-paradise?), Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Archbold’s Bowerbird, Crested Satinbird, and more. The Mount Hagen area also holds a host of other bird-of-paradise gems such as Brown Sicklebill, King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, and Lesser Bird-of-paradise.

Papua New Guinea birding toursThe sublime Ribbon-tailed Astrapia – one of many gorgeous birds-of-paradise that we will enjoy on this very special tour, which one will be your favorite? (photo Matt Prophet)

 

Our next destination is the western lowlands around Kiunga, a port town on the Fly River in the Western Province of PNG. In this remote part of the country (including Kwatu Lodge) we will search for a host of breathtaking specialties, including the giant Sclater’s (formerly Southern) Crowned Pigeon, the bizarre Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, the gorgeous King Bird-of-paradise, and positively glowing Flame Bowerbird!

Papua New Guinea birding toursKing Bird-of-paradise is sure to delight and is another example of a stunning and colorful BoP (check out those snail-like streamers)!

 

Our next stop is the little-visited Star Mountains, where we search for some hard-to-find and highly sought species such as Queen Carola’s Parotia, Greater Melampitta, and Shovel-billed Kookaburra. We then fly back east to PNG’s western highlands around Tari, the capital of the Tari-Pori district. More dazzling birds await us here, like the unique Blue Bird-of-paradise, Lawes’s Parotia, Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Papuan Eagle (sometimes referred to as Papuan Harpy Eagle), and many more staggering birds. The Tari region is also home to the legendary Huli Wigmen, and our tour includes the opportunity to experience this very unique cultural attraction.

Finally, we return to Port Moresby and spend our last days of the tour birding the nearby Varirata National Park (we will also visit this park at the beginning of the tour before heading for the highlands). Varirata is home to the beautiful Raggiana Bird-of-paradise, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Hooded Pitohui, an array of spectacular fruit doves, and much more.

This tour will give you an unforgettable experience of birding in PNG, one of the most amazing destinations in the world, providing you with a lifetime of memories of the simply gorgeous birds-of-paradise, as well as a long list of other impressive unique and endemic birds.

You may also like to consider our Indonesia: West Papua – Birds-of-paradise and Endemics of the Arfaks and Waigeo birding tour. This tour visits the northwestern side of the island of New Guinea (a province of Indonesia) and looks for the endemic Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, Red Bird-of-Paradise, Arfak Astrapia, Black Sicklebill, Long-tailed Paradigalla, and many more exciting birds not possible in PNG! The West Papua tour can be taken prior to this PNG tour.

 

Itinerary (19 days/18 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Port Moresby, birding around Pacific Adventist University

After your morning arrival at Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport we will transfer to the nearby Gateway Hotel. After check-in we proceed to an afternoon of introductory Papuan birding at the grounds of Pacific Adventist University. This part of New Guinea has a feel of being in northeast Australia and we might find a wide-range of species here such as Comb-crested Jacana, Raja Shelduck, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Pied Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Eclectus Parrot, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Yellow-faced Myna, and if we are lucky, Glossy-mantled Manucode – potentially our first bird-of-paradise, of many, on this exciting tour.

Overnight: Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea birding toursBrown-headed Paradise Kingfisher is an uncommon and localized endemic of southeast Papua New Guinea and we will be looking for this species early in the tour (photo Matt Prophet).

 

Day 2. Varirata National Park

Today we will have a short drive to Varirata National Park, which provides splendid low- and mid-elevation birding. We will spend the day here and might be able to find, among many others, such exciting birds as Barred Owlet-nightjar, Pheasant Coucal, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Black Berrypecker, and hopefully PNG’s national bird, Raggiana Bird-of-paradise along with another bird-of-paradise, Growling Riflebird. This first full day of birding on the tour is certain to be extremely exciting and a good sample for what is to come during the tour.

There are so many great birds in Varirata National Park and some of the other highlights here could include Blyth’s Hornbill, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Papuan King Parrot, Yellowish-streaked Lory, Hooded Pitta, Painted Quail-thrush, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler, Goldenface, Rusty Pitohui, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Frilled Monarch, Pygmy Longbill, and Papuan Scrub Robin. We will also have one and a half days in the park at the end of the tour for more birding here (see days 18 and 19).  

Overnight: Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea birding toursBlyth’s Hornbill is a huge bird and you can hear them coming from a long distance away. The male (pictured) has a rich orange-buff head and neck. They truly are impressive birds!

 

Day 3. Flight to Mount Hagen and birding around Kumul Lodge

We transfer to the airport for a flight to Mount Hagen. On arrival we will be met and transferred to Kumul Lodge. In the afternoon we will be birding around the lodge. Kumul Lodge, situated at 8,585 feet (2, 861 meters) is one of the best-known landowner eco-tourism lodges in all of PNG and provides important income for many local people and also strives to protect the surrounding forested areas, our time here is sure to be a highlight of the whole tour.

At the lodge bird feeding table we can expect some spectacular birds such as Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Brown Sicklebill, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Archbold’s Bowerbird, Crested Satinbird, Island Thrush, Crested Berrypecker, Common Smoky Honeyeater, Belford’s Melidectes, White-winged Robin, Chestnut Forest Rail, and more. It will be hard to pull ourselves away from the feeders but there are so many high quality and localized species to look for in the area over the next couple of days.

Overnight: Kumul Lodge, Mount Hagen

 

Days 4 – 5. Birding Mount Hagen

We will have two full days birding this avian wonderland, including looking for the rare and range-restricted Blue Bird-of-paradise and many other breathtakingly beautiful members of the bird-of-paradise family, such as Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Brown Sicklebill, Greater Lophorina (formerly part of the Superb Bird-of-paradise complex), Crinkle-collared Manucode, Magnificent Riflebird, and Lesser Bird-of-paradise.

Papua New Guinea birding toursMagnificent Bird-of-paradise, one of over ten species of bird-of-paradise possible in the Mount Hagen area; we are sure to enjoy our time here!

 

There are so many other amazing birds around the Mount Hagen environs and some of the other birds that we hope to see here over the course of our visit include Papuan Harrier, New Guinea Woodcock, Chestnut Forest Rail, Goldie’s Lorikeet, Papuan Lorikeet, Yellow-billed Lorikeet, Orange-billed Lorikeet, Mountain Owlet-nightjar, Lesser Melampitta, Loria’s Satinbird, Crested Satinbird, Black-breasted Boatbill, White-winged Robin, Garnet Robin, Black-headed Whistler, Regent Whistler, Rufous-naped Bellbird (formerly called Rufous-naped Whistler but moved from that family to a new family called Australo-Papuan bellbirds), Black Sittella, Ornate Melidectes, Grey-streaked Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Berrypecker, Crested Berrypecker, Tit Berrypecker, Mountain Firetail, Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, Torrent Flyrobin, and Torrent-lark. To complement the above there are also three additional species in the area that are all monotypic families, so of interest to any family listers. These three are Mottled Berryhunter, Blue-capped Ifrit, and Wattled Ploughbill, we could see all three here.

Overnight: Kumul Lodge, Mount Hagen

Papua New Guinea birding toursBlue-capped Ifrit is a really interesting bird – it is actually poisonous and has recently been elevated to monotypic family status (photo Matt Prophet).

 

Day 6. Flight to Kiunga

This morning we will transfer back to the airport for a flight from Mount Hagen to Kiunga. We will be met and transferred to Kiunga Guesthouse along the remote Fly River. In the afternoon we will enjoy some birding, if time permits, making a start on the birds listed for days 7 and 8.

Overnight: Kiunga Guesthouse, Kiunga

 

Days 7 – 8. Birding the Kiunga area

Kiunga is surrounded by vast tracts of swamp forest and spectacular lowland rainforest. Several birds-of-paradise can be found here, including Greater Bird-of-paradise, Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, Trumpet Manucode, and Glossy-mantled Manucode. Some other pretty impressive birds also occur here too and will form the focus of our attention, namely Sclater’s Crowned Pigeon, Flame Bowerbird, New Guinea Flightless Rail, Large Fig Parrot, Little Paradise Kingfisher, White-bellied Pitohui, and Yellow-eyed Starling.

Papua New Guinea birding toursFlame Bowerbird is one of those birds that stops you in your tracks (photo Wako Napasu)!

 

Yet more highlights from this area could include Forest Bittern, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Orange-breasted Fig Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Long-billed Cuckoo, Hooded Pitta, Papuan Pitta, Blue Jewel-babbler, Emperor Fairywren, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Hook-billed Kingfisher, and White-spotted Mannikin.

Overnight: Kiunga Guesthouse, Kiunga

 

Day 9. Transfer by boat to Kwatu Lodge, birding en route and at Kwatu Lodge

In the early morning we will travel by boat up the Elavala River and its tributary, the Ketu River, until we arrive at the locally owned Kwatu Lodge. We will be birding en route and we might find Black-billed Brushturkey, Great-billed Heron, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Sclater’s Crowned Pigeon, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Papuan Spine-tailed Swift, Blyth’s Hornbill, Azure Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Palm Cockatoo, Golden Monarch, Golden Myna, and Grey Crow.

Papua New Guinea birding toursCommon Paradise Kingfisher is yet another gorgeous bird we can expect to see during the tour.

 

In the afternoon, and the following morning, we will be birding around the lodge and the wider area where we might encounter some really exciting species such as Dwarf Cassowary, New Guinea Flightless Rail, Pygmy Eagle, Wallace’s Owlet-nightjar, Starry Owlet-nightjar, Marbled Frogmouth, Papuan Hawk-Owl, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Blue Jewel-babbler, Painted Quail-thrush, Papuan Babbler, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, and King Bird-of-paradise.

There are plenty of other great birds here too and we will be keeping our eyes peeled for the likes of Doria’s Goshawk, Grey-headed Goshawk, Variable Goshawk, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Ivory-billed Coucal, Blyth’s Hornbill, Hooded Pitta, Moustached Treeswift, Southern Variable Pitohui, Shining Flycatcher, Black-sided Robin, Frilled Monarch, Hooded Butcherbird, Boyer’s Cuckooshrike, Golden Cuckooshrike, White-bellied Thicket Fantail, Lowland Peltops, and Black Sunbird.

Overnight: Kwatu Lodge, Ketu River

 

Day 10. Birding around Kwatu Lodge, transfer by boat back to Kiunga

In the morning we will be birding the area around the Ekame and Kwatu lodges looking for some of the birds mentioned above. In the afternoon we will travel downriver by boat back to Kiunga. On arrival in Kiunga we will transfer to the Kiunga Guesthouse.

Overnight Kiunga Guesthouse, Kiunga

 

Day 11. Transfer to the Star Mountains

Today we will have a full-day road tour from Kiunga to Tabubil in the Star Mountains, birding en route, during which time we might see Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Grey Crow, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove, White-crowned Cuckoo, New Guinea Friarbird, Glossy Swiftlet, and Moustached Swiftlet.

Overnight: Hotel Cloudlands, Tabubil

 

Day 12. Birding the Star Mountains

For a full day we will explore the wonderful Star Mountains (Tabubil area). During this time, we might encounter a couple of new birds-of-paradise such as the ballet-dancing Queen Carola’s Parotia the giant Black Sicklebill, and unusual Short-tailed Paradigalla to go with further opportunities for Greater Lophorina, Magnificent Riflebird, Greater Bird-of-paradise, and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise.

There are lots of other targets for us here with some of the more interesting birds likely to include Salvadori’s Teal, New Guinea Bronzewing, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Dusky Lory, Striated Lorikeet, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Blue-collared Parrot, Shovel-billed Kookaburra, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Mountain Kingfisher, Papuan Boobook, Golden Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler, Wallace’s Fairywren, White-rumped Robin, Obscure Berrypecker, Piping Bellbird (formerly called Crested Pitohui and part of the whistler family but moved to a new family called Australo-Papuan bellbirds), Hooded Pitohui,  Capped White-eye, Mountain Peltops, Mountain Honeyeater, Ornate Melidectes, Yellow-browed Melidectes, Loria’s Satinbird, and Greater Melampitta.

Overnight: Hotel Cloudlands, Tabubil

 

Day 13. Flight to Port Moresby

We will transfer to a flight from Tabubil to Port Moresby. On arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel in the city.

Overnight: Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

 

Day 14. Flight to Tari, birding the Ambua Gap

This morning after breakfast we will be met and transferred to the airport for a flight from Port Moresby to Tari in Hela Province. On arrival we will be transferred to Makara Bird View Lodge. After check-in we will spend the afternoon birding around the bird-rich Ambua Gap, another of PNG’s famous birding spots (if not, historically, the most famous) and featured in many a wildlife documentary.

Overnight: Makara Bird View Lodge, Tari

 

Day 15 – 16. Birding the Ambua Gap and the forests and farmland around Ambua

We will have two full days birding in the Ambua area (such as at Tari Gap, Tari Valley, and the delightfully “birdy” farmlands of Wata and Tibiki.) looking for new species and trying to improve our views of others from the first two weeks of this exciting and bird-filled tour. Over 220 bird species have been recorded from this area, including 13 species of birds-of-paradise, and in this regard, we will be on the lookout for Lawes’s Parotia, Short-tailed Paradigalla, Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, Greater Lophorina, Black Sicklebill, Brown Sicklebill, and Blue Bird-of-paradise.

Further potential highlight birds here could include Forbes’s Forest Rail, Papuan Lorikeet, Yellow-billed Lorikeet, Orange-billed Lorikeet, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Painted Tiger Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, Madarasz’s Tiger Parrot, Papuan King Parrot, Greater Sooty Owl, Papuan Boobook, Archbold’s Nightjar, Mountain Kingfisher, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Blue-capped Ifrit, Garnet Robin, Black-throated Robin, Lesser Ground Robin, Wattled Ploughbill, Belford’s Melidectes, Yellow-browed Melidectes, Tit Berrypecker, Crested Berrypecker, Great Woodswallow, Archbold’s Bowerbird, MacGregor’s Bowerbird, Lesser Melampitta, Loria’s Satinbird, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Sittella, Papuan Treecreeper, Papuan Grassbird, Canary Flyrobin (Papuan Flycatcher), and Papuan Logrunner.

Papua New Guinea birding toursKing of Saxony Bird-of-paradise not only has an amazing name, it also has a very distinct plumage. We will look for this species at several locations during the tour (photo Ian Merrill).

 

The Tari region is also home to the legendary Huli Wigmen, and our tour includes the opportunity to experience this unique cultural attraction and is something not to be missed and definitely will not be forgotten!

Overnight: Makara Bird View Lodge, Tari

Papua New Guinea birding toursBrehm’s Tiger Parrot can be seen in the mountains on the tour (photo Matt Prophet).

 

Day 17. Flight to Port Moresby

Today we will be birding in the Ambua area for the final time, looking for more sightings of the aforementioned species. We will later transfer to the Tari airport for our flight to Port Moresby. On arrival we will be met for our transfer to the Gateway Hotel once again.

Overnight: Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

 

Day 18. Birding Varirata National Park

Today we will return to Varirata National Park for another full day of birding. Port Moresby and Varirata National Park boast more enticing species to wrap up our trip (if we haven’t found them on day 2), like Spotted Whistling Duck, Black Berrypecker, Grey-headed Mannikin, Papuan Frogmouth, Barred Owlet-nightjar, Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, White-bellied Whistler, Hooded Pitohui, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Graceful Honeyeater, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Crinkle-collared Manucode, and Raggiana Bird-of-paradise. If time permits, we may also return briefly to the exciting grounds of Pacific Adventist University.

Overnight: Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby

 

Day 19. Varirata National Park, departure

After an early departure from out hotel we will have one final morning’s birding at Varirata National Park. After lunch you will be transferred to Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport for your international departure flight, as this once-in-a-lifetime tour comes to an end. Choosing ‘bird of the trip’ is unlikely to be a quick and easy decision here.

Overnight: Not included

Papua New Guinea birding toursA rather dainty yet gorgeous Yellow-breasted Boatbill giving some excellent views.

 

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.

Download Itinerary
Papua New Guinea birding tours

Safety and Security Note:

Papua New Guinea is a mind-boggling destination for birds, wildlife, and culture, because it is one of the world’s last great, unexplored frontiers. However, frontiers can be risky places. The Australian government’s travel advice provides a good outline of the types of risks in PNG (see here), but please check the advice of your own government.

Birding Ecotours exercises extreme care in planning and coordinating its tours, and we stay alert to and avoid areas of trouble. Birding Ecotours does require, however, that all birders on our PNG tours have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that specifically covers PNG. We consider it a less safe destination than most, and we need potential participants on our tours to this country to be aware of this and provide us with evidence of suitable insurance cover. We will provide each tour participant with a detailed tour information package prior to departure.

Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!

Janice — Kent, UK