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 world-war II shipwrecks it contains. We’ll stop and visit the parliament house as well as Japanese 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! 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 ever deeper into Papua New Guinea!
*Flights to Bougainville are highly irregular, airports do get close on a whim and flights rescheduled. Bougainville has two airports, Buka and Kieta, so it might be that we have to switch our flights from one to the other. This itinerary might thus see some changes and scrambling around but we are sure we can deliver the same exciting experience!*
Tuesday 24th August – Port Moresby
Arrival in Port Moresby with a shuttle service organised to take you 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 (both close around 3 PM) (Optional activities, extra cost) where you can respectively learn more about the fauna of the whole country or its culture!
The Boroko Market is right in front of our hotel and the lovely security guards at the gate of our hotel can go with you for a walk around it, where you will meet extremely friendly locals trading their wares.
Citi Boutique Hotel can organise transportation to go to the Port Moresby Yacht Club.
Wednesday 25th August – Buka
Early transfer by shuttle from Citi Boutique Hotel back to the airport.
Meet the rest of the group as well as your tour leader on air-side as they are coming back from Mount Hagen.
We take our morning flight to Bougainville.
Arrival at Buka airport where we will be met and greeted by our local Bougainville team and escorted to our accommodation at Masalang Village
After resting and settling down for a while, we will tour around the village and visit a traditional clay pot making place.
Lunch at a local restaurant
In the afternoon, we will take a bus ride to Kubu where we will see 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 we will stop to visit ruins of Japanese WWII bunkers in Hahela.
Dinner and overnight in Masalang village
Thursday 26th August – Buka/Arawa
After breakfast, we will ride our 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 take this time to explain to us what has happened during those troubled times.
We hop on an iconic banana boat and cross the Buka passage.
On the other side, called Kokopau, we will take a 4 hour 4WD ride to Arawa with stops along the highway for photo opportunities and visit a roadside market
Just before we arrive in Arawa we will go through the decommissioned Panguna Mine. It used to be the biggest open cut mine in the world with a width of 2 kilometres and a depth of 430 metres. In fact, it was the farmers protests for its closure in 1989 which sparked the secessionist movement in Bougainville and the Civil War. Locals still come here to pan, hoping to find gold. We will visit the abandoned installations of this monstrous monument to careless exploitation.
Then, we continue driving to the Siwai region until we reach Panakei Lodge, where we have dinner.
Overnight in Panakei Lodge
Friday 27th August – Siwai Region
We wake up in Panakei for breakfast and head out for a village tour.
In the morning, we’ll go WWII relic hunting! Bougainville was a the centre of the Pacific Campaign and here the Australian and American forces were locked in a brutal fight. 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.
Then, we head to one of the nearby villages where the locals have organised a singsing for us. If you’ve been to Papua New Guinea, you’ll find that the style here is very different and quite lively!
We visit another village for another great performance, this time of a bigger size. The locals here get very few tourists so they are very eager to perform, which is very different from the jaded cultural performances you’ll find elsewhere in the world.
The village has arranged for us a feast of local food. Bougainvillian eat mostly yam, other root vegetables and chicken. We might have the opportunity to try other very special delicacies.
TRIP HIGHLIGHT – Having arranged our visas well in advance, we visit the micronation of the Twin Kingdom of Me’ekamui and Papaala. During the Civil War, after the takeover of the Panguna man, leader of the rebellion Francis Ona owned half of the island and proclaimed himself king of Me’ekamui. Another man, now known as King David Peii II, proclaimed the kingdom of Papaala, upon’s Francis Ona’s passing, David Peii II combined Me’ekamui and Papaala into one Twin Kingdom. Now, the Kingdom rules over a village. The kingdom has its own currency and defense force and the king wears an actual crown of gold. We will be the first tourist group to ever set foot there!
Head to the Hurai Guesthouse for dinner. Located right under a Digicel satelite tower, this guesthouse probably has the best network signal on the island.
Overnight at Hurai Guesthouse.
Saturday 28th of August – Buin Region
After breakfast this morning, we will drive down south to the region of Buin.
We drive as far as we can go before we get off and start our trek to nothing less than the plane wreck of Admiral Yamamoto. Admiral Yamamoto was the leader of the Japanese Army who design the attack against Pearl Harbor, effectively declaring war against the USA during WWII. One day, as he was on a tour to review the troop, his itinerary got intercepted and an ambush was design to attack him. Admiral Yamamoto’s plane crashed in the jungle here and we’ll get to see it. The trek takes about 2 hours each way but is on easy flat terrain. Bugs are not an issue either. Things will get very muddy though! We’ll see multiple kinds of scenery and are sure to meet some very curious locals.
Successful in our outing to Yamamoto’s wreck, we drive south to the coastal area.
Here, we will see some more japanese war relics, such as a bunker and cannons. From the beach, it is possible to see the first islands of the Solomon Islands. Locals take boat and cross into the nearby islands of the Solomon, which share a lot of their culture with Bougainville. Some would say that Bougainvillians feel more like Solomon Islands than Papua New Guineans.
We drive back towards Arawa, which used to be the capital and take a boat to cross to Pokpok Island, stopping on the road to buy some drinks!
Check in at Uruna Resort to drop our baggages before we head out for an afternoon of Island Hopping.
After a day of trekking, there is literally nothing more heavenly than Uruna Resort. The nicest accommodation on our tour, we’ll be on a pristine island between us and not a single other tourist around. Water are crystal clear and everything is so peaceful. Anywhere else in the world, this place would be a tourist hotspot!
Dinner of fresh fish prepared just for us.
Our own little island party!
Overnight at Uruna Beach Resort
Sunday 29th of August – Pokpok Island/Arawa
After breakfast, we’ll go Island Hopping, we can swim, snorkel and fish in untouched waters where snorkelling is so good it feels like scuba diving! We are in one of the least visited part of the world!
Afterwards we‟ll get on 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. Then, we’ll stop and check the abandoned Arovo Island Resort. Its services were disrupted by the Civil War.
We go by boat by 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 zero plane and a Japanese tank are exposed.
We stop by Arawa market to meet the locals and shop for some souvenirs. Arawa was the capital of Bougainville before the Civil War but most of it was destroyed during the war.
We head to Topiniang village where we will finish our trip with a bang. Here villagers will welcome us to stay with them. Amongst other things, they will show us their flowers gardens as well as a live 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 waiting only for us to explore them.
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
We have dinner and sleep in a homestay in the village.
Monday 30th of August – Kieta
After an early breakfast, we transfer to Kieta Airport to catch our morning flight back to Port Moresby.
End of tour, numerous international connections are available to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and others.
– 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.