Day 1 - Rabaul
Welcome to Papua New Guinea! Rabaul Airport (aka Tokua Airport) and be transferred to your hotel. Rabaul’s apt nickname 'Pearl of the Pacific' was replaced with 'Pompeii of the Pacific' after the Tarvurvur volcano erupted in 1994 and devasted the town. Despite this loss, Rabaul is still an alluring destination of beauty and depth. You will meet your group and leader for a welcome meeting at 6.30 pm in the reception area of the hotel. You will also learn a bit about the history of Rabaul from the hotel owner. Enjoy a welcome drink at the bar and an optional dinner tonight.
Day 2 - Baii Village Kinavai/Rabaul
Depart the hotel at 4.30 am. This morning you will experience the Kinavai ceremony, a re-enactment of the landing of the Tolai People into Rabaul. The canoes paddle across the water at the break of dawn and you can hear the canoes and the chants long before you see them. The stillness of the morning air coupled with the chanting makes this a riveting spectacle. After the Kinavai you will return to the hotel for breakfast.
The rest of the day will be spent touring the area and includes a trip to the Rabaul Markets. Make sure you have some small denominations of PNG Kina (5–10 kina notes) so you can pick up some trinkets here and try some local fruits or snacks. You will also visit Yamamoto’s Bunker to learn more about the genius behind Japan's early WWII naval successes. Then, across the street, check out the remains of the Old Nuigini Club and gain some insight into what Rabaul was like both pre- and post-eruption, and pre-independence. Continue to the Japanese Submarine Base, then make a stop at the Volcano Observatory for a look out over Old Rabaul – a great photo opportunity. Also see the Japanese tunnels and barge tunnels at Karavia Bay. Take a walk through this maze which goes around 20 metres underground and consists of three stories, a kitchen and many escape routes.
Day 3 - Matupit Island
Located directly across the bay from the currently active Tavurvur volcano, Matupit Island boasts a population of 200–300, many of whom have resettled throughout the province following the 1994 eruptions. On arrival you will be greeted by the islanders with frangipani leis (garlands) and be taken through the village, stopping by the locals schools, church and craft market. You will have the opportunity to make purchases and participate in traditional crafts and activities. You'll get a sense of how the local inhabitants survive on a day-to-day basis by seeing how important fishing and the collection of Megapode eggs are to the local economy (another major revenue stream is the coconut). You might find your own megapode egg – or buy one from the local villagers – to take back to the hotel and have it cooked for your breakfast. Lunch today will be a traditional one, cooked right on the beach by your local friends. In the evening, return to the mainland.
Notes: The walk across the lava landscape today can be quite challenging, as the surface is uneven and slippery. Be sure to wear strong and sturdy footwear.
Day 4 - Duke of York Islands
Marvel at the force of Mother Nature from the base of an active volcano. From here you will be picked up by your vessel and transported to Duke of York Islands. You'll need good walking shoes or waterproof sandals today, as there will be some uneven surfaces. While each island around East New Britain has its own personality and story, The Duke of York Islands is where you'll experience the real PNG. Cruise around the islands and hear some of the local history while taking in the wonderful array of colours in this small archipelago. Keep an eye out for dolphins, dugong (sea cows with forked tails) and local fishing canoes. The waters around here are crystal-clear blue lagoons, the beaches are white, and the vegetation is lush – it's a real slice of paradise. Your tour today includes a barbecue lunch cooked on the beach of one of the islands. Afterwards there will be plenty of time to relax, unwind and enjoy the hospitality of the local Duke of York Islanders. You will stop on Mioko Island and learn more about traditional weaving, cooking and fishing. Enjoy a traditional sing-sing (a gathering of tribes for cultural performance) and an overnight stay in the village.
Day 5 - Duke of York Islands/Kokopo
Rise at 6am for an early morning walking tour of the village community. After breakfast, head out to witness village craft-making in action, such as basket and mat weaving. Return to Rabaul for lunch and transfer to Kokopo.
Day 6 - Kokopo
Today you will travel to see the sights around Kokopo. Your tour of the area will include a visit to the Bitapaka War Cemetery, where the first Australians who fought here during the first and second World Wars have been laid to rest. Hear about the 2nd/22nd Battalion and the interesting war history of Rabaul – namely the Battle of Rabaul, also known by the Japanese as Operation R. You will also visit the Blue Lagoon where you can see some Japanese barge tunnels. These tunnels were built by the Japanese to conceal their barges and to protect them from the bombing raids of the Allies in World War II. Finally you will check out the nearby volcano and hot springs. Here you can stand at the base of the volcano and marvel at the force of Mother Nature.
Day 7 - Kokopo
Spend the day out on the water swimming and snorkelling. Marvel at the dolphins frolicking in the turquoise seas. Stay in Kokopo again tonight.
Day 8 - Kokopo/Bainings Fire Dance
Your tour of the area today includes a trip to the Kokopo Markets and the Kokopo War Museum where we will look over some of the cultural exhibits as well the left over war relics of the two wars in Rabaul. We will then retire back to the hotel for a late lunch and a rest before this evenings performances. Tonight we head up to Kainagunan or Gaulim Village in the Bainings area (approximately 50 minutes from the hotel). Watch as the men from the Bainings clans immerse themselves in flames and escape unscathed. The Bainings are one of few cultures in PNG that doesn't use the Kundu drum; they use bamboo instead. This exhilarating ritual is not performed anywhere else in the world.
Day 9 - Kokopo
Your trip finishes this morning after breakfast.
For those wishing to stay in the area longer there are plenty of optional activities available. Keen scuba divers can take a half-day trip to explore the incredible coral reefs and underwater World War II wreckage. Deep-sea game fishing is also possible. Those looking to relax and unwind might like to indulge in an 'Island Massage', sure to reinvigorate you after your week of adventuring.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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