Gone With The Wynd Expedition #5 to Papua New Guinea’s New Britain, Duke of York Isles and New Ireland To Witness Three Spectacular Tribal Ceremonies, Climb An Active Volcano, Meet Megapode Egg Hunters and Snorkel on Some of the World’s Most Pristine Coral Reefs and Swim with Dolphins.
This expedition takes you to three of Papua New Guinea’s most interesting islands to witness three dramatic tribal ceremonies; the Baining Fire Dancers initiation ceremony on New Britain Island, a Tabuan dance with Duk Duk spirits on the Duke of York Isles and a Malagan mask ceremony on New Ireland.
All three ceremonies are spectacular and very different from one another, but the elaborate and sacred initiation ceremony of the young men of the Baining tribe of New Britain as Fire Dancers (see summary overleaf), and their performances jumping through fire and clouds of embers in bark-cloth Kavat masks, is sight that very few, if any, outsiders have been allowed to witness – on our visit in 2019, the village Chief invited us to come back in 2020 to help celebrate his son’s three day initiation ceremony.
This incredibly rich itinerary takes in bird watching, orchids, relaxing on pristine beaches, climbing a steaming active volcano, visiting jungle waterfalls, joining megapode egg hunters, exploring many World War II relics and countless opportunities for purchasing artefacts, carvings and traditional shell money (tambu)!
Throughout this trip, there will be many opportunities to snorkel or dive in the coral triangle on some of the worlds richest reefs in The Bismarck & Soloman Seas (we recommend that you bring your own snorkel, mask and flippers!). Diving trips at extra cost paid directly to operators.
COST: US $3,950 per person.
START POINT: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.
END POINT: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.
Email [email protected] for more information and to make bookings.
Optional pre- expedition extensions: we will start and finish this trip with accommodation at the luxurious Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort on New Britain. There are countless excellent dive and snorkelling sites for coral reefs, WW2 wrecks, night dives and even dugongs near to the resort. If you wish to relax before or after this trip (or do a Padi diving course), a convenient option is to spend a few extra days at the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort.
FIRE DANCE CEREMONY (NEW BRITAIN):The Baining tribe of New Britain is famed for their elaborate ‘Fire Dance’ ceremonies that centre on traditions involving dancers wearing bark-cloth Kavat masks jumping through flames to create clouds of embers.
We will visit the Gaulib Valley for a community mumu feast (cooked in a traditional earth oven). As darkness descends, sacred, spiritual characters are invoked and it is believed that each dancer becomes part-spirit and part-human. To the sound of bamboo drums and tribal chanting, dancers wearing enormous and spectacular Kavat bark masks and bodies adorned with leaves, jump through the flames kicking up clouds of embers. The Kavat masks represent the Spirits of the forest. The dance movements refer to male activities such as hunting, warfare, chopping trees etc. Through the ceremony, a male orchestra/choir will sing and drum rhythmically late into the night as the mask-wearing dancers approach one by one, appearing from their secret places in the forest. As the night progresses they will dance more and more wildly, breaking away from the main group to dance through the enormous fire, protected from burning by spirits of the snakes who have entered their bodies.At certain points, villagers (and indeed ourselves) may be invited to join in the dance. The dance represents a battle between the wild spirits of the forest and the inhabitants of the village, who at dawn should win the battle, chasing the Spirits (in their masks) back into the forest. During the day, the villagers may show us secret places where the Kavat masks are made. They may communewith snakes and spirits (which the dancers believe, give them immunity to dance through the flames). We may not be allowed to photograph the sacred aspects of the ceremonies (such as visits to the “secret places” in the forest), but can photograph the fire dancers and their spectacular Kavat masks.TUBUAN CEREMONY (DUKE OF YORK ISLANDS): The Duk Duk are a secret society of initiates under the control of certain ‘big men’ (chiefs) who may use it to bolster their prestige and enforce societal norms. The masks are enormous but unlike the masks of other tribes on nearby islands, only go down just below the waist. The masks are believed to be possessed by spirits (both male and female), which may appear in the villages at random, though especially during times of feasting and celebration. The spirits are the source of much mirth, chasing sinners and often small children around. Local women and children are forbidden to look at the dancers (although foreign men and women are invited to watch the ceremony). MALAGAN CEREMONY (NEW IRELAND): Following the death of important figures in traditional New Ireland societies, a great celebration is organised to show that the clan has overcome the evil/sorcery/magic that caused the death (and to prove that the clan remains rich and powerful). As Malagan societies are matrilineal, the ceremony is organised by the deceased’s female relatives. The celebration is extremely expensive and time consuming, and can happen many years after the death (or in some cases, even before the death). The Tatanua masks are some of the most spectacular and beautiful
made anywhere in the world, and the ceremony is accompanied with music telling of the trials and tribulations of life, and the problems of sorcery. It was traditionally believed that during each Malagan ceremony, the family of the deceased can communicate with their loved ones and become linked to the spirit world. Malagan ceremonies involves other-worldly dancing and singing!Day 1 (November 20th):We meet in the town of Rabaul on New Britain (pick up from airport) and are transferred to the luxurious Kokopo Beach Bungalows Resort where we overnight and have dinner. At 7 pm we have a detailed briefing meeting to discuss the itinerary of our expedition. Note:there are multiple flights each day from Port Moresby to/from Rabaul with Air Nuigini and PNG Airlines. We will put forward a recommended flight so that expedition members may book onto the same flight to travel together from Port Moresby. We have the option of booking snorkelling and diving trips for this afternoon at the Kokopo Beach Bungalows Resort (the coral reefs are excellent, and a nearby site has a sunken Japanese WW2 zero fighter plane), or a night dive this evening (often with spectacular bioluminescence). Day 2 (November 21st):You may choose from two options for today.Option 1:we start at 5 am start to climb Mount Tavurvur, an active volcano which turned the city of Rabaul into the “Pompei of the Pacific” during a 1994 eruption. An easy, 40 minute climb takes us to the crater where we see steaming sulphur vents at sunrise (incredible views!). We descent the volcano and pass through ash fields strewn with volcanic bombs. We then visit geothermal hot springs (where locals cook megapode eggs that they collect from the ash fields -see day 11), and we visit artefact sellers and can purchase Tambu shell money (rings of cowrie shells which the Tolai people still use as currency across New Britain)! We visit the wrecks of two crashed World War 2 planes, the New Britain Club (a fascinating museum filled with WW2 relics and tribal artefacts), Admiral Yamamoto bunker and secret WW2 Japanese barge tunnels. We then visit the Kokopo Museum (with an impressive collection of natural history and cultural artefacts, as well as WW2 vehicles left behind by both sides). Option 2:for a supplement of approx 750 kina, you can undertake a day of diving with Kokopo Beach Bungalow. This day package includes dives at reefs, WW2 wreck sites and coral gardens. We reunite in the evening at Kokopo Beach Bungalows Resort for dinner. We have another opportunity to book a night dive for this evening.
Days 3, 4 and 5 (November 22nd, 23rd and 24th):After breakfast, we drive into the spectacular Baining Mountains to the Gaulib Valley for the fire dancers’ ceremony. Over these three days, we will witness fire dancers congregate to perform elaborate rituals. The ceremony will involve visits to secret places where the Kavat masks are made, communes with snakes and spirits which the dancers believe allow them to dance through the fire (immune to flames and embers) and daytime singing and dancing in unique day masks. During the evenings, we watch spectacular dances as newly initiated and experienced men jump through the fires in dramatic masks to the sound of bamboo drums and tribal singing. The tribe will prepare a mumu feast (with pork, taro and fern leaves). We can witness the cooking process (heating stones in a fire, building an earth oven, and cooking food in banana leaves), and have the option of joining the tribe in pig shopping. During down time over days 3, 4 and 5, we can go for walks through the surrounding jungle-clad hills, go bird watching, look for orchids, undertake village visits nearby, swim in a river nearby and interact with the local community!During the afternoon of day 5, we return to Rabaul, and en-route have a BBQ lunch and (optional) snorkel and swim on shallow (and very beautiful) coral reefs close to a Japanese WW2 submarine base (with tunnels and fortifications which we can explore). Dinner and overnight at Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort.Accommodation during our stay in the fire dancers’ village is a simple guest house in the village with mattresses. Note: for anyone who does not wish to sleep in simple conditions in the village during days 3-5, we can organise (at cost price) rooms and transfers to/from Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort each evening and morning.Day 6 (November 25th):We undertake a morning dolphin safari trip from the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort to see schools of spinner dolphins up close and personal (included as part of this trip’s itinerary). We then transfer into a “banana boat” and motor to the base of Mount Tavurvur where we observe locals digging in lunar landscape of holes made by megapode birds. The egg hunters show us the secrets of their trade and we can buy some eggs to cook and taste tonight.We continue to the beautiful Duke of York Islands and check into a basic lodge on Kabakon Island that stands metres away from azure waters and a small coral sand beach. During the afternoon, we observe a fish mumu feast cooked in an earth oven (although very differently to the pork mumu we observed in the Baining Mountains). Towards sunset, we then witness a traditional Tubuan Ceremony (unique to the Duke of York Islands) with dancing Duk Duks (spirits of the forest) and dramatic rhythmic music. Day 7 (November 26th):We have a leisurely start to today (allowing snorkelling in the waters close to our lodge). Anyone interested can join locals on outrigger canoes heading
out to go fishing. Around 10 am, we transfer by banana boat to New Ireland. We sleep and dine at a basic but comfortable lodge.Days 8, 9, 10 and 11 (November 27th, 28th, 30th and 31st):Over these four days, we travel between villages along New Ireland’s coast to experience life in Tolai villages, meet artefact traders and carvers, explore pristine beaches and snorkel when possible, New Ireland is extremely traditional, and we glimpse a side of Papua New Guinea little changed by modernity and still dependant largely on fishing for survival. We have the option to join locals on outrigger canoes to go fishing, and our local friends will take us to a pool to hand-feed sacred, tame eels! Theclimax of our visit to New Ireland is attending a Malagan Ceremony in which we observe dramatic death rites masks, spectacular dancing and chanting, traditional music and singing. We take part in a feast to try a wide range of local foods. Each night, wesleep and dine in basic but comfortable accommodation in villages along New Ireland’s coast. Where possible, we can organise beachside BBQs with fresh fish caught by locals, allowing us to dine on coral sand beaches around bonfires under the stars, listening to the crash of waves along the shore. Day 12 (December 1st):We enjoy a final breakfast together, then transfer to Kavieng airport for departing flights back home!
The Last Tuesday Society is Delighted to Offer a Small Group The UniqueOpportunity to Accompany Viktor Wynd On a ExpeditionTo Find New Wonders For His Museum.Following three successful Gone With The Wynd expeditions to Papua New Guinea over 2018 and 2019, we have built an excellent team of expert local guides to organise bespoke trips to the most interesting parts of PNG that few outsiders get the chance to visit.
What Mr. Wynd will find for his museum during this trip he does not know. But since his childhood visits to the old Museum of Mankind on Burlington Gardens he has been fascinated, not to say obsessed by the Malagan Death Rite and longs to bring back a mask, or two. Participants of this expedition should understand that Papua New Guinea is the land of the unexpected and it is challenging to plan events one day in advance let alone months in advance so the itinerary may be subject to changes. Things that are promised may not appear –however historically this has worked in our favour when things that were never mentioned or even dreamed of appear as if by, or indeed very probably by magic. As with all our previous expeditions to Papua New Guinea, we will have an incredible adventure!Email [email protected] more information and to make bookings.This expedition will be organised and run by Redfern Adventures (www.redfernadventures.com).