Frontier Lands of Papua New Guinea

Tufi girls in traditional Bilas, Tufi fjords
from £7240 12 nights | Nov Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Nov


Embark in Cairns for this outstanding 12-night expedition cruise and discover for yourself the fascinating cultures and scenic beauty of rarely explored Papua New Guinea.


  • Be welcomed by local tribal villagers and enjoy their “sing-sings”, colourful and traditional dance performances
  • Cruise the mighty Sepik River, one of the world’s greatest river systems and experience the unique culture and hand-carvings of the local tribes
  • Go birdwatching on Tolokiwa and see some of PNG’s most unique birdlife
  • Be enthralled by the majestic fjords at Tufi and soak up the spectacular views
  • Experience the unspoilt wonders of the remote and beautiful Trobriand Islands
  • Visit local markets and meet remote island tribes, eager to show you their way of life

Throughout your voyage of discovery, experienced Expedition Leaders and expert Guest Lecturers will share with you their wealth of knowledge as you retrace the paths of early explorers including De Quiros, Bougainville and Cook, and discover areas seldom visited by modern 'white man'. Papua New Guinea is a place of rich cultural diversity and more than 1,000 cultures, each with different traditions, are now recognised. The ancient tribal culture lives on vibrantly in the hearts and minds of the villagers.

Aboard Coral Discoverer you will be one of the select few to cruise one of the world’s great rivers; the mighty Sepik. Flowing for 1,126 kilometres from the Central Highlands to the sea, the river is one of the least developed regions of PNG and is the lifeblood of the 430,000 people who depend almost entirely on products from the river and surrounding rainforests for their livelihoods. Sepik people are amongst the greatest primitive artists on earth and each village has its own distinctive style. The opportunity to spend time with these fascinating people in their traditional communities is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This is the land of the unexpected, a place of stark contrasts where fearsome frowns quickly become welcoming smiles and village children your life-long friends. Join the select few who have experienced unforgettable Papua New Guinea.

This itinerary takes place on expedition ship Coral Discoverer, carrying just 72 passengers, perfectly designed for exploring the remote regions and island villages of this rarely visited island. This vessel features plenty of open deck space and air-conditioned lounge areas for guest comfort.

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Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: depart Cairns for Madang
Depart on your early morning private charter flight to Madang. Travel through this historic town before embarking on the Coral Discoverer and settle in as your incredible expedition voyage begins.
At 11:00 hours you will set sail from Madang. Spend the afternoon at leisure as you are welcomed on board, join the Expedition Staff in the ship’s lounge for an interesting introduction to your journey, and the many experiences you will share over the coming twelve days.
Day 2: Sepik River & Sepik Village
Awake early this morning. The ship will be at the entrance to the Sepik River at first light and will then cruise for three hours up river to the village of Bien. En route the locals will be paddling out to greet you when they see the ship approaching. Once anchored off the village of Bien, Xplorer will drop you at one end of the village and the locals will escort you to the school area where a traditional welcome and dancing will take place. Once the performances are completed the famous Sepik market will open and you will have time to enjoy the many tribal masks and carvings on offer, which the Sepik region is famous for.
Time at Bien village: 09:00 – 12:00
Day 3: Manam Volcano & Tolokiwa
Manam volcano is located 13 km off the northern coast of New Guinea near Bogia town and is one of Papua New Guinea's most active volcanoes. It has one of the longest records of historic eruptions in the South East Pacific region. The larger eruptions produce pyroclastic flows and sometimes lava flows. Both have repeatedly reached the coast and affected populated areas. The ship will be anchored close by on the leeward side of the island and here you can enjoy a BBQ and drinks as the sun sets.
In the afternoon, visit the village of Tolokiwa and participate in a choice of water activities, including snorkelling or diving or enjoy and guided tour. Tolokiwa is also well known for its bird species so this is a wonderful opportunity for bird watchers to experience some unique PNG birdlife.
Day 4: Dregerhafen & Tuam Island
Today the Coral Discoverer will arrive into the beautiful anchorage of Dregerhafen. From here you will head ashore to the local village where a welcome and “sing-sings” will be performed. The local market is famous for its wooden paddles and wooden bowls. The locals will offer guided walks around the village and there are many WWII artefacts remaining from the large American base stationed here at that time.
The ship will travel to Tuam Island in the late morning and in mid -afternoon you will be able to go ashore and to visit the Island village where the famous dance groups will entertain you within its walls. Local markets are on offer as well local guides to take you to the garden areas. Afterwards perhaps enjoy a swim or snorkel off the beach.
Time at Dregerhafen: 07:00 – 10:00
Time at Tuam: 15:30 – 18:00
Day 5: Lababia & Fly Islands
This morning enjoy a relaxing visit to the local village where, after a traditional welcome, you will be entertained with singing and dancing before the local markets are ready to open. Those who wish to do so can join local guides around the village; or you may like to walk down to the beach and board an outrigger for an exotic trip up the local river into the rainforest. It is possible to swim near the village with local children or enjoy a kayaking adventure off the beach.
During lunch the ship takes you to the Fly Islands. Enjoy snorkelling and diving off Xplorer on the Biangatu Island reef system. Alternatively, relax in the glass bottom boat, if conditions allow.
Day 6: Morobe Harbour
Today the Coral Discoverer enters Morobe Harbour in the early morning. The American forces used this as a staging post and supply base during WWII. Enjoy an early morning cruise on board Xplorer and travel by zodiac up the nearby Mou river where you can view the stunning forest area. Afterwards you will visit the friendly locals at the village where you will receive a true Oro province welcome. After the ceremonies you will be able to enjoy the local markets and meander with your guides around the village and surrounding areas. There is the opportunity on the high tide to travel through a small water way into a stunning bay where another village awaits.
Time at Morobe Harbour: 09:00 – 17:00
Day 7: Buna & Sanananda
Head ashore this morning in Xplorer to land at Buna beach, home to some of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific campaign. The locals will be ready with a welcome and refreshments. From here you will be accompanied by local guides and visit the areas where the Allied forces clashed with the Japanese. You will see both Japanese and American monuments along the way.
After lunch the ship will have moved to anchor off Sanananda Village. Xplorer will take you ashore and after the locals have welcomed us enjoy a visit to the war museum which the locals have constructed, as well as the local gardens and surrounding areas. The museum is divided into two halves with a Japanese hut and an Allied hut. This was the biggest battleground in the Oro Province and is located at the far end of the Kokoda track.
Time at Buna: 08:00 – 11:00
Time at Sandanana: 14:00 – 18:00
Please note – Swimming is not permitted today due to the presence of salt water crocodiles.
Day 8: Maclaren Harbour & Tufi Fjord
Coral Discoverer arrives into Maclaren Harbour early this morning. You will then head off on Xplorer to the end of the Fjord where the local outriggers will be waiting to transport you into the mangroves where you will be paddled up the creek under the rainforest canopy. The locals will greet you on shore and after a welcome you can enjoy watching and learning about their day to day way of life. The village elders will perform a traditional sing -sing with their magnificent feather headdresses. A local market will have sprung up and you can spend some time here meeting the villagers and seeing many of their handicrafts, including Tapa cloths which are a speciality of the region. During lunch the ship will move to Tufi Fjord. At Tufi enjoy snorkelling on the house reef, diving with the local resort team, kayaking along the steep edges of the nearby Fjords or head up to the resort and relax with a drink whilst taking in the panoramic views on offer.
Time at Maclaren Harbour: 07:30 – 12:30
Time at Tufi: 14:00 – 18:00
Day 9: Trobriands – Kuiawa & Kitava Islands
Today you will reach the small island of Kuiawa, located in the Trobriand island group. Travel ashore this morning and be greeted in true Trobriand style by the local children. Welcome speeches, dances and sing -sings are all part of the experience. You will then have a chance to wander through the village and peruse the local markets along the walkway.
During lunch the ship will move to the island of Kitava. This island is famous in the Trobriands. Visit the beach area of the village and after a welcome the local market will be on offer, famous for its yam houses. Those who wish to can walk up to the village along the gradual uphill track or be whisked across the channel to the nearby island and enjoy water activities.
Time at Kuiawa: 07:30 – 11:00
Time at Kitava: 15:30 - 18:00
Day 10: Fergusson Island – Dei-Dei Springs – Dobu Island
Coral Discoverer will anchor today in front of Dei-Dei springs village on the island of Fergusson. You will head ashore in the zodiacs and be welcomed by the locals who will then guide you in small groups to the famous hot springs which are around 40 minutes in each direction over flat terrain. The villagers are famous for making flax hand bags. Those who would prefer not to do the walk can visit the nearby school and medical centre on board Xplorer. During lunch the ship will move to Dobu Island and anchor here. Travel ashore on board Xplorer for a fantastic school visit on the island. You can visit the children in their classrooms and then enjoy a stroll with the locals and visit the outer village areas. This is one of the homes of the Kula Ring which has a crucial part to play in the area’s history. After your visit choose either to visit the nearby bubbling springs coral reef system on board Xplorer, where there is excellent snorkelling on offer, or you may choose to enjoy a swim off the beach in the clear waters.
Time at Dei-Dei: 08:00 – 12:00
Time at Dobu Island: 13:30 – 18:00
Day 11: Alotau
Today wake up to the scenery of the China Strait as you approach your last Papua New Guinea landfall – Alotau. Our experienced Guest Lecturers will interpret the traditional welcome dances prior to leading us on a tour of historic Alotau. Cruise Milne Bay and learn of the WWII military history of this region.
Day 12: At Sea
Day 13: disembark in Cairns
Today you will say farewell to the islands of Papua New Guinea and return to Cairns. Disembark Coral Discoverer at approx. 10:00 hours and transfer to your Cairns accommodation or the airport for your international flight departure.
  • This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer
  • Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

Accommodation Options

Coral Expeditions & Coral Discoverer

  • Grade: Superior
  • Type: Luxury Ship

These sister vessels offer between 46 and 72 passengers …

Prices & Dates

Frontier Lands of New Guinea, 12 nights
Prices are per person

2018 Departures
November 05

Prices from £ per person

Cabin Type Twin ShareSingle Rate
Bridge Deck Balcony £8,865  n/a
Promenade Deck A £8,053  n/a
Promenade Deck B £7,865  £11,506
Main Deck A £7,428  n/a
Main Deck B £7,240  n/a

2019 Departures
November 12

Please note that departures in 2019 will be aboard a different vesel - The Coral Adventurer. The itinerary and pricing listed here is based on the 2018 departure.

Price includes

  • One-way charter flight from Cairns - Madang
  • 12 nights’ accommodation in selected cabin/room grade
  • Captain's welcome & farewell cocktails
  • all meals, morning & afternoon tea
  • house beer and wine during lunch and dinner service
  • soft drinks, tea and barista-style coffee 24 hours a day
  • use of on-board facilities
  • services of expedition staff including lectures & briefings
  • access to islands, marine & national parks
  • guided tours on Xplorer expedition vessel & zodiacs
  • touring as described in the itinerary
  • services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
  • Port taxes & government charges imposed by government authorities

Price excludes

  • international flights, transfers and hotels pre and post voyage
  • travel insurance
  • personal items such as communications and bar charges
  • optional SCUBA diving
  • optional tips and gratuities

Travel Insurance
We highly recommend that all guests obtain travel insurance as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation of your holiday. When travelling to Papua New Guinea, your insurance policy should also include provisions for Remote Area Evacuation. Guests with existing medical conditions may be required to complete an additional form.

Useful Information


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