EYOS specializes in creating exceptional expedition experiences tailored to the individual. Come with us on a previous expedition we ran to Papua New Guinea, as seen through the camera lens of Per Lidvall, and imagine how remarkable your expedition could be.
We had arrived in Papua New Guinea and what a welcome! If there was any doubt we were anywhere that was familiar, it quickly evaporated. Our first landing was at Witu Island, where we were only the second yacht ever to visit. Such excitement: The welcoming committee was so keen they sent the band out in boat to serenade us in.
We were escorted up to the village's performance area by people so thrilled to have us there that they danced us all the way. The 'pre-dance Dance!'
One of these dancers is not like the other! Our friend Bob gets caught out in the "commuter traffic."
Lacking the access to the diversity of feathers enjoyed by tribes on the mainland, the islanders use hand-painted colors to bring their head-dress to life.
In tropical climate everything is perishable and is sold on the same day it is harvested, so Papua New Guineas have a vibrant and highly active trading society.
Who needs toys? Everywhere we went the kids took delight in swimming; all day, every day. And when our guide Mike joined them jumping off the wharf they went ballistic. We had a magical afternoon; it was like being a kid again.
I love this photo of a couple of kids in New Ireland. The blonde hair is found only in New Britain, New Ireland and the Solomons; when you see kids with hair this color you know you are near to paradise!
The Baining Fire Dance is one of the most bizarre anthropological spectacles on Earth. In my books it is right up there with the Land Divers of Pentacost we saw with EYOS last year.
Dancers perform this ritual and literally walk through the fire again, and again, and again—all in bare feet and without any apparent harm.
The dance takes hours and is not complete until the fire has been completely extinguished by the pounding feet of the dancers.
I loved the markets. The women were always so happy and friendly, so keen to talk to a stranger from far away. They had walked for miles to be here, hand-carrying their produce which gave them access to precious cash for school fees, clothes and medicine.
A baby in a 'Bilum Bag'. Hanging in the shade provides access to the cooling breeze on a stiflingly hot day and his mother laughs that it is "Papua New Guinea air-con!"
Every place we went was so different and so memorable. I think my night in thatched hut listening to distant roar of the outer reef and the gentle wave lapping ashore gave me my best nights sleep ever.
We weren't confined to the yacht; we got out and explored every day. For our trip to the Highlands EYOS chartered a plane to fly up there. The whole thing was flawless, which is no mean feat in a place with very limited infrastructure.
An anthropologists paradise, Papua New Guinea has over 850 languages, and many hundreds of cultures. Perhaps one of the more bizarre displays is that by the 'Skeleton Men' who not only look like skeletons, they move as a skeleton might. It's likely that this dance originates from a plan to terrify an advancing enemy…and it's easy to see how.
Mt Hagen Woman. I think this head-dress really brought home to me the interconnected-ness between the people and their land. This wonderful ornament had been handed down from her mother, and her mother before her. Each generation kept the head-dress maintained and the tradition alive.
Our fantastic EYOS guides didn't just show us the famed dance of the 'Huli Wig Men'—we spent an afternoon with them. We talked about where they were from, how their dance came to be, and learned how these intricate wigs are made out of real human hair. I think I understand some of the passion behind anthropology now.
A village elder in the Highlands Region played for us and then sat and talked with us. For every question we had of him and his culture, he had two for us. The Highlands people were unknown to the outside world until 1935. A million people, none of whom had any inkling that the rest of the world existed, had their 'first contact' with the outside world at about the time this man was born.
Going to Papua New Guinea and experiencing the culture was not like going to a resort and watching some staged performance. Every day we saw genuine authentic 'real life' tradition in working use, like this traditional courtship dance. We weren't watching traditional PNG culture; we were immersed in it.
Our wonderful shipmate Per took this shot (and many of the others). This women is dressed in mourning wear; he has captured her perfectly.
The head-dress can be hundreds of years old, but is kept refreshed and replenished as new feathers come to hand. The shells are traded between the Highlands people and the coastal people; they are a display of wealth and prosperity.
A Victoria Crowned Pigeon, proudly displaying his head-dress. He may be the original owner of this plume but in Papua New Guinea he may not be the last!
The tropical high altitude climate of the Highlands region produces some of the best coffee and tea in the world. Here, two tea pickers take time out to come and say hello and ask where we are from. These welcoming happy faces are so utterly typical.
Papua New Guinea makes what many consider to be the best coffee in the world. All of it is produced on very small blocks of land & hand carried in sacks to the roadside. Then it is hand roasted in tiny little processing sheds. Here a roaster produces the first batch of the afternoon.
When I took this shot I was almost delirious with the small of fresh roasted coffee. It was beyond fantastic and I had a cup of fresh ground coffee then and there.
Papua New Guinea is one of those places you need guides who both know the language and know where to go. Rob and Mike had spent years, actually decades, in PNG and really knew some interesting spots. Like this one, which first appears to be an abandoned wharf, but turned out to be one of the best snorkel dives in the world.
This spot is acclaimed in the international dive community as one of the best 'muck dives' in the world. Who knew?!
The soft colours and strong fragrance of the Frangipani flowers are the trademark welcome to many tropical destination. In Papua New Guinea, they were given to us every time we arrived at a remote village as the first sign of the warm hospitality of these gentle people.
Both of our guides spoke the local language—an enormous help here. Thanks to Rob, we were, once again, warmly welcomed in this village and into people’s home.
For our Trobriand Island visit, the locals put on a major 'sing-sing', or a series of local traditional dances. The first act was the kids. Though perhaps not as polished as the adults, they nonetheless stole our hearts.
The warriors of the Trobriand Islands have a distinctive style and in historic time and a fearsome reputation. It was interesting going from place to place and noting the distinct variations between regional head dress and costume, and inspiring to think of these customs stretching back tens of thousands of years.
Melanesians are amongst the happiest and most contented people on Earth. Life is simple here; houses are hand made, food is home grown, material possessions are few and shared, everyone has a large family and strong ties to their broader clan.
I sat for hours watching Tavurvur, eating dinner on deck, listening to the rumbling and the roaring of the crater and watching the glow from the lava become apparent. Rob called the 1994 eruption a "Modern day Pompeii." Rabaul was once regarded as the most beautiful town in the South Pacific so I know that for him and other who used to live here this is still a painful sight.
Papua New Guinea was unlike anywhere else I had ever been, or ever will go. Every day had been better than the last, but each one memorable for completely different reasons. It was fascinating on so many levels. Looking back, it was the interactions with the locals like this little girl that stick in my mind; I couldn't have asked for a more amazing experience.