GONE WITH THE WYND

SOLOMON ISLANDS EXPEDITION

13 nights – 14 days – Cost £3150 + international and local flights

(currently international flights are around £2k, internal flights should be about £300

Dates 8th  – 20th jan 2025

“A place of tropical sun, aquamarine-blue sea, white-sand palm-fringed beaches and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet in your life – the Solomon Islands are the sort of South Pacific location that many of us dream of, but often know little about.”  Mark Cocker

Join Viktor Wynd on a collecting expedition to this vast archipelago of over 900 islands East of Papua New Guinea and North of Australia, drink Kava, swim in waterfalls, trek in virgin rainforest, have expert nature guides show you crocodiles, extraordinary birds, reptiles, dolphins, leatherback turtles, go on night walks looking for frogs & other wildlife,  snorkel (or dive) in pristine coral seas, feast on lobster.

The Solomon Islands have many unique cultures and languages and we will visit traditional villages and sacred sites – including skull caves honouring the ancestors – and learn about local customs, the Islanders are famous the world over for their extraordinary art and carvings and we will buy as much as possible (based on previous experience we may need to get some extra bags!).  Accommodation will be simple,  but comfortable, local lodges -and we have been promised as much lobster as we can eat (Mr.Wynd is slightly sceptical about this as his appetite for lobster is ENORMOUS).   If you wish to stay on for a few days, or arrive early,  to relax on a beach or go diving let us know.

(please note all expenses are in Solomons Islands Dollars, we are not currency traders and will do our best to honour this price, but in the event of major currency exchange rate fluctuations we may need to modify this – up or down – the current SBD rate is 1SBD = £0.094 )

Itinerary below)

Day 1: Arrive Honiara.

Day 2: Depart for Munda (Domestic flight – 45 min to 1.5 h flight depending on plane type). Boat transfer to Rendova Island .

Day 3: Rendova Island cultural activities

Day 4: Rendova Island: natural experiences

Day 5: Morning transfer to Tetepare Island (1 hours by boat)

Day 6: Tetepare Island; nature walks.

Day 7: Transfer to Baniata village leatherback sanctuary (1-2 hour by boat depending on weather)

Day 8: Transfer to Munda. Activities around Munda.

Day 9: Full day boat tour from Munda; Skull Island, Tank Wrecks, Mangroves, etc.

Day 10: Transfer to Gizo. Activities along the way. (normally 1 hour by boat, but with activities 3-5 hours)

Day 11: Stay at small resort/lodge near Gizo. Activities in the Gizo region.

Day 12: Flight from Gizo to Honiara (option to extend in Gizo. See description of activities below)

Day 13: Explore Honiara and Surrounds (the Honiara day can also be in the beginning of the tour.

Day 14: Depart (possibility of 2-3 days extension to include a visit to Central Province – See description of activities below).

Transport:

Munda/Gizo – Daily flights from Honiara and return. Price roughly 3,600 SBD return

Local boat transport – charter; pre-arranged locally. Depending on group size may need two boats.

Activities & Attractions:

Honiara Things to Do (half day – one day):

  • National Museum – Interesting anthropological artefacts.
  • National Art Gallery and Craft Market – next to National Museum, very good selection of carvings and crafts from every province of Solomon Islands.
  • Central Market – Colorful and chaotic local market. Great for photos!
  • American WWII memorial – information of battle of Guadalcanal and very good view over town.

On the way to or from the airport:

  • The Pagoda – Underground tunnels used as HQ for the famous Cactus Airforce during the battle of Guadalcanal.
  • Bloody Ridge – iconic battlefields where the most important battle of Guadalcanal took place.

Honiara Things to Do (surrounds 1-2 days):

  • Vilu War Museum – Amazing collection of planes and other war relics 1 hour outside town. This trip is usually combined with a stop at one of the beaches along the way.
  • Guadalcanal Kastom Experience – visiting a traditional village in the hinterland of Guadalcanal. There are two to choose from, both equally interesting. This trip would take half a day and can be combined with other stuff (WWII, Hikes, etc) to make it a full day.
  • Mt Austen – a large mountain overlooking Honiara where there are several interesting things to do. It takes roughly 45 minutes to get up there:
    • Early morning birdwatching tour with local bird guide.
    • Gifu War Museum – small museum and tour of nearby battle field known as the “Gifu”.
    • Walking tour to waterfall, passing WWII sites along the way.
    • Japanese WWII memorial – similar to US memorial but more zen, and different but equally interesting view (along the road on the way back from Mt Austen).
    • The above can be combined to a 4–6-hour full day on Mt Austen.

(Rendova Island):

Numerous activities at Titiru; one day can be focused on Cultural activities at nearby village, another on nature experiences..

Tetepare Island:

The largest unlogged island in the Pacific with a local community ranger looking after the place. The original tribe on Tetepare mysteriously died out and no one lives permanently there anymore. The guide at the ecolodge are the best nature guides in Solomon.

Baniata:

A remote village on the south coast of Rendova Island. This is the best location to see enormous Leatherback turtles laying egg from December to January. The village itself is interesting as most inhabitant belongs to a very obscure Christian Cult which is very powerful in Western Province. Followers of the cult tend to live more traditional than other Solomon Islanders.

The Baniata visit is optional. If the weather is bad, it’s not recommended as this coastline is very exposed. Should Baniata be cancelled we will stay an extra day in either Tetepare or Munda.

Munda (In and around town):

  • Kava experience – Not the Fijian type, but made from local roots. Suitable for evenings.
  • Visit to local craft makers (carvings, weavings, etc).
  • Visit to local freshwater spring used by locals for washing and swimming (Kindu Iriri).
  • Walk to local waterfall (2 hours return). Beautiful nature walk, not too strenuous.
  • Joseph Conrad WWII Museum – A very different local WWII museum. Can add walks to nearby battlefields as well.
  • Ade Guns – a nature walk (45 min) that pass through villages and jungle where Japanese WWII remains can be seen, mainly Anti-aircraft guns covering Munda airport.
  • Bao Ruins – mysterious ruins (village or sacred site?) in the hills behind Munda. It’s a full day walk, might be a stretch.
  • Scuba Diving can be arranged separately for those who want.

Munda surrounds by boat (Roviana Lagoon, Rendova and Vona Vona Lagoon):

  • Mangrove tour, including demonstration how local people make a living in the mangroves.
  • Skull Island – Visit to Kastom shrine where skulls of headhunting chiefs are kept.
  • Crocodile river – Beautiful River trip with a good chance to spot large crocodiles.
  • Lubaria Island – Where JFK was based when his boat was sunk off Gizo.
  • Nusa Roviana – Kastom sites and headhunting relics.
  • Visit to local village in Vona Vona lagoon.
  • Snorkelling and visit to deserted Islands – Several options.
  • Fishing (on request).

Boat transfer to Gizo:

  • Rarumana Village – One of the few villages that can still built the “Tomoko” war canoe used during headhunting raids.
  • Seagrass farms.
  • Picnic on small island.

Gizo (all activities require a boat):

  • Visit to Gizo town, market and crafts market. Gizo is one of the most diverse locations in the Pacific with a mix of Melanesians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Asian and European descendants.
  • Kennedy Island – Small Island where JFK hid with his crew after PT109 was sunk.
  • Numerous options for snorkelling.
  • Scuba Diving can be arranged separately for those who want.
  • Fishing (on request).
  • Depending on where you stay some participants might choose this as a rest day as it’s the last day of the tour. Some of the island lodges are amazing places just to hang out at.

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Gizo extension:

Stay in one of the four island-based lodges/resorts. The setting and views for all of them is spectacular. Great staff as well:

  • Sanbis Resort
  • Fatboys Resort
  • Imagination Island
  • Oravae Cottage
  • Scuba diving, fishing, and surfing (pending waves) can be arranged from all of the above.
  • Resort chill; bar, massage, seafood, snorkelling, hammock snooze.

For energetic individuals there are other options to spend a few extra days around Gizo:

  • Hardcore birders can stay at a basic lodge on nearby Kolombangara Island which is dedicated to birding.
  • On the same island (Kolombangara) there is an option to do a 3-day trek to the top of a massive extinct volcano. The trek goes trough a very beautiful cloud forest.
  • 2-3 days side trip to small lodge on nearby Vella Lavella Island. Many activities available, or just relax.