Last year, YPT decided to see more of Papua New Guinea and went to Bougainville, a province until recently stuck in the civil war. We instantly fell in love with the place, its pristine nature, raw adventure feel and its locals. Here you will meet people rebuilding their part of the world under the new hopeful motto of “United in Diversity”. Bougainville is a land filled with history as it was an important part of WWII in the Pacific but also a land with its own very unique cultures. We will learn more about these very seldom seen cultures as we will witness our very own sing-sing, or traditional dance and song festival.
This tour takes us all around the province, starting in Buka, renowned for its passage and the many WWII shipwrecks. We’ll stop and visit the parliament house as well as Japanese WWII bunkers. We will head deeper in the province, passing by a decommissioned mine, the biggest in the world when it was in operation, stopping along the way for many breathtaking views.
Expect boat rides, either on banana boats or on the iconic Austronesian out-riggers, with some island hopping on the way and visits to villages where we will be amongst the first non-locals to visit. One of these villages includes a living bridge made out of vines, which the bravest amongst us will get to cross!
One of the major highlights of this tour is to be the first group of foreigners to visit the micronation of the Twin Kingdom of Me’ekamui and Papaala. The Kingdom rules over a single village where the locals have access to their own currency and defence force. The king wears an actual crown of gold.
Knowing that Bougainville is not your everyday tourist destination, we do it the right way as our tour includes expert local guides and security everywhere we’ll go. If you thought our tour to Mount Hagen wasn’t off the beaten-track enough or have seen it already, this is the tour to get you ever deeper into Papua New Guinea!
Arrive at your convenience into Port Moresby – the capital city of Papua New Guinea which is well connected with flights from Australia, Singapore, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Transfer to Citi Boutique Hotel.
If you arrive early we recommend getting a taxi from the hotel to visit either the National Museum or the Nature Park where you can respectively learn more about the fauna of the whole country and its culture. Both venues close at 3:00pm and are optional activities and require you to pay admission on site).
The Boroko Market is directly in front of our hotel and the helpful security guards at the front gate can escort you there and back. At the market you will have the chance to meet some extremely friendly locals trading their wares.
The hotel can also organise transportation to dine at the Port Moresby Yacht Club.
Overnight at Citi Boutique Hotel.
Wednesday 24th August – Port Moresby – Buka
Breakfast at hotel
Regroup with the members of the Mt. Hagen tour and begin onwards to Bougainville as we depart on our next flight to Buka.
Once arriving at Buka Airport we’ll be greeted by our local Bougainville team and escorted to our accommodation at Masalang Village
Explore the village and visit a small business that produce traditional clay pots.
Lunch at a local restaurant
Board our bus to Kubu to visit the parliament house and access a gorgeous viewpoint allowing us to observe the whole of Buka passage, a strait filled with shipwrecks of WWII.
On our way back to Buka we will stop to explore the ruins of Japanese WWII bunkers in Hahela.
Dinner and overnight in Masalang Village
Thursday 25th August – Buka – Arawa
Breakfast at hotel
Depart by bus to a historical site located next to the police station in Buka Town. This site is known as the mass graveyard for the Bougainville Revolutionary Army during the Bougainville civil war. Our local guide will share facts of what happened during those troubled times.
Board an iconic banana boat and cross the Buka passage to Kokopau.
Jump in our 4WDs and embark on a 4 hour journey to Arawa with stops along the highway for photo opportunities and lunch
Before we arrive in Arawa we visit the decommissioned Panguna Mine – this mine used to be the largest open cut mine in the world with a total width of 2 kilometres and a depth of 430 metres. Farmers protested for the mines closure in 1989 which sparked the secessionist movement in Bougainville and the civil war. It’s common to see locals visiting the mine and panning for gold. Here you’ll explore the abandoned installations of this monstrous monument to careless exploitation.
Continue driving to the Siwai Region until we reach Panakei Lodge
Dinner, drinks and overnight at Panakei Lodge
Friday 26th August – Siwai Region
Breakfast at hotel
We begin our WWII relic hunting tour! Bougainville was a the centre of the Pacific Campaign and where the Australian and American forces were locked in a brutal fight against the Japanese. During our relic hunt, we’ll see an Australian tank, cannons, artillery and a small museum, where a local exposes the artefacts he finds regularly.
Explore a few nearby villages where the locals receive very few tourists each year and are very eager to show off their performances and local welcoming rituals.
The village prepares an absolute feast of local delicacies for us. Bougainvillians eat mostly yam, root vegetables and chicken. We might have the opportunity to try other very special delicacies.
Tour highlight – As part of the preparation of our Bougainville tour, YPT will prepare your visas to visit the micronation of the Twin Kingdom of Me’ekamui and Papaala. During the civil war of Bougainville, and after the takeover of Panguna Man, the leader of the rebellion group, Francis Ona, owned half of the island and proclaimed himself as Kim of Me’ekamui. However, on the other side of the island, another man known as King David Peii II proclaimed himself King of Papaala. Upon Francis Ona’s passing, King David Peii II then combined both kingdoms of the island into a Twin Kingdom. We plan to be the very first tourists to set foot in this fascinating micronation.
Head to the Hurai Guesthouse for dinner and drinks. Located right under a Digicel satellite tower, this guesthouse probably has the best network signal on the island.
Overnight at Hurai Guesthouse.
Saturday 27th August – Buin Region
Breakfast at hotel
Begin the drive south towards the region of Buin.
We’ll take our 4WD as far as possible but eventually we’ll need to get out and explore by foot for roughly two hours until we reach the wreck of Admiral Yamamoto. Admiral Yamamoto was the leader of the Japanese Army who planned the attack against Pearl Harbor – thus declaring war against the US. Yamamoto was flying to inspect his troops within a certain region of PNG. His flight itinerary was intercepted by the Allies and a surprise attack caused Yamamoto’s plane to crash into the remote jungle.
After successfully exploring Yamamoto’s wreck, we’ll continue our drive south towards the coast and to stop for lunch.
Explore Japanese War Relics such as bunkers and artillery cannons. From here it’s possible to see the islands belonging to the Solomon Islands. It’s common for the locals to take their boats across to enter the Solomon Islands which share a similar culture with Bougainville. Most agree that Bougainvillians feel more like Solomon Islanders than Papua New Guineans.
We return to Arawa, which used to be the capital and take a boat to cross to Pokpok Island, stopping on the road to buy some refreshments!
Check into the Uruna Resort to drop our luggage before we head out for an afternoon of island hopping.
At this moment, there is nothing more heavenly than Uruna Resort. This will be the nicest accommodation arranged during your tour. We’ll be based on a pristine island without a single other tourist in sight. The ocean is crystal clear, our surrounding is incredibly peaceful, what perfect way to relax.
Fresh seafood for dinner, and our little own party on the island!
Overnight at Uruna Beach Resort
Sunday 28th August – Pokpok Island – Arawa
Breakfast at resort
Continue island hopping where we can swim, snorkel and fish in untouched waters.
Board a banana boat and travel to a cliff over the sea called “Eberia”. “Eberia” literally translates as ‘’this way‟ in the local language and according to local folklore is rumoured to be the gateway to the Underworld. It is a truly unique and spooky sight. We’ll stop and explore the abandoned Arovo Island Resort. Its services were disrupted by the civil war.
Continue by banana boat to Pidia village, if you are familiar with the movie ”Mr. Pip”, staring Hugh Laurie, which tells the story of a girl in Pidia village going through the events of the Bougainville civil war. It happened here!
On our way back on the mainland, we’ll stop by a WWII memorial by the town of Kieta where a Japanese Zero plane and a Japanese tank are exposed.
We stop by Arawa market to meet the locals and shop for souvenirs – most of this city was destroyed from the civil war.
Visit Topiniang village where villagers will welcome us to stay and eat with them. They will show us their flower gardens as well as a living bridge made up of vines from a Ficus tree. The most intrepid of us will get to cross this bridge which goes over a mountain stream and takes us to pools and caves for us to explore.
Back in the village of Topinang, we will see women weaving a traditional fan called Biruko and relax in the afternoon by the beach.
The villagers will send us off with our own personal ‘singsing’ and a night of storytelling
Dinner and overnight at a homestay in the village.
Monday 29th August – Kieta
After an early breakfast, we transfer to Kieta Airport to catch our morning flight back to Port Moresby.
Tour concludes with airport drop-off arranged according to your flight details – YPT is also able to arrange post-tour accommodation or advice for flights.
– Visa fees for Papua New Guinea if applicable (most countries get a free visa on arrival, YPT can assist for those of countries which don’t)
– International Flights to and from Port Moresby
– Tips for local guides
– Drinks and souvenirs
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.