Goroka Festival, Madang & The Sepik River

Goroka Festival, Madang & The Sepik River

tourhub | Crooked Compass | Goroka Festival, Madang & The Sepik River | 13785
12 Days



Goroka Festival, Madang & The Sepik River

12 Days Starting in Goroka and ending in Port Moresby

Visiting: Goroka, Madang, Wewak, Yuo Island, Ambunti, Sepik River, Port Moresby

Tour operator:

Crooked Compass

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:


Special diets catered:


Tour operated in:
Trip Styles:

Special Events


Snorkeling, Swimming

$7271 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$383

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Witness a ‘Cane Swallowing’ initiation ceremonyExperience the Goroka Cultural ShowSnorkel over a WWII plane wreck in MadangHomestay on Yuo Island and swim in natural springsExplore the remote Sepik River & visit a Spirit HausBirding in the Sepik RiverEngage with remote communitiesJoin us for an entwinement of culture, nature, birdlife, history and tribes. Experience one of the largest tribal gatherings in the world, the Goroka Cultural Show, with more than 100 tribes participating in traditional dress delivering an insight into hidden customs. Performing extraordinary displays of traditional song, rituals and dance whilst decked out in unique costumes, glorious colours and stunning face paintings, the tribes show off their distinct cultures with an undeniable passion. Continuing on, venture north to Madang – embrace the pristine underwater world and introduction to coastal based village life, before heading into the Sepik River, where life is raw and primitive. Home to a fascinating lifestyle and time frozen communities only accessible by water, as well as exceptional birdlife, the tangle of tributaries and ribbon of river will take you through swamplands, tropical rainforest and mountains. Dotted with eerie lagoons and traditional stilt villages, this is home to master carvers who create the most potent art in the Pacific.


  • Witness a ‘Cane Swallowing’ initiation ceremony

  • Experience the Goroka Cultural Show

  • Snorkel over a WWII plane wreck in Madang

  • Homestay on Yuo Island and swim in natural springs

  • Explore the remote Sepik River & visit a Spirit Haus

  • Birding in the Sepik River

  • Engage with remote communities


Expand All
Day 1 : 15Th September 2023 Arrival Goroka
Location: Goroka
Accommodation: Lodge
Accommodation Name: The Emanuel Lodge or similar
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Welcome to Papua New Guinea. Upon arrival in Goroka, you will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel.

Following lunch at the hotel, head to Keiya village. Here, you will witness some incredible cultural performances, including the ‘Cane Swallowing’ initiation ceremony, which is a ritual for boys at puberty and young men, where they swallow up to 30 centimetres of a small cane before pulling it out. There is a sacred understanding that this ritual clears the mind and enlightens the heart and body. Often referred to as Dring Kol Wara (Drink Cold Water) by the Bena people of Eastern Highlands, the initiation is practised only by young men. In previous times, women were never allowed to know about it, much less see it.

The cane is carefully carved to achieve a smooth surface to allow easy ingestion. With careful preparations, final touches are made to bend the cane into a U-shape before hanging it to dry in kitchen huts. It is dried for about one month before being used. Every now and then the dried cane is taken out and left in water to regain moisture to maintain its outer covering. Its length may vary from a metre upwards.

The initiation period may last for two to three months, depending on the amount of pork available for meals in the ‘haus man’. Mothers of young boys cry for their sons, as they are taken away to learn their custom and embrace manhood.

During the course of this initiation, initiates are required to lie on their back, face-up to sleep, as it is believed that that will straighten and elongate the intestines in preparation for the Neheya. Meals provided for the initiates comprise of only pork fat and boiled kaukau (sweet potato), believing that this dish, also known as hosamaya, ensures the smooth passing of the cane along the digestive tract. It is prepared only by elderly women who have gone past menopause. To witness this ancient practice, is a rare experience. Return to your hotel for dinner.

Day 2 : 16Th September 2023 Goroka Festival
Location: Goroka
Accommodation: Lodge
Accommodation Name: The Emanuel Lodge or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Enjoy an early breakfast, as you depart at 7:30am to get your bearing at the festival. The sing-sing groups start to arrive from 9am. You will be in awe at their body decorations, colourful traditional costumes and vibrant face painting. Learn about the different types of costumes and their significance in the cultures of these people.

Colours, kundu drums and chanting explore your senses, as thousands of warriors, all dressed in their very finest traditional regalia, performing and dancing and in sing-sing. Each group, with their own cultures and languages vow to outclass the other groups. Walk among the dancers, shake their hands and meet them.

Following the festival, you will be transferred to the Tumbuna market for the opportunity to purchase locally made handicrafts, before returning to your hotel late in the afternoon.

Day 3 : 17Th September 2023 Goroka Festival
Location: Goroka
Accommodation: Lodge
Accommodation Name: The Emanuel Lodge or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning you will enjoy another festival day at the arena with your guide. A picnic lunch will be provided, so you do not miss any of the action.

After the festival at approx. 3.00pm, you will visit the McCarthy Museum just near the showground.

The museum’s main collections are artifacts and specimens from the Highlands region, including wooden dishes, stone mortars, stone blades, magic stones and sandstones for making stone blades. There are also some WWII relics on display, including a P-39 Airacobra.

Day 4 : 18Th September 2023 Goroka To Madang
Location: Goroka, Madang
Accommodation: Resort
Accommodation Name: Madang Resort or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, drive to Madang on the north coast. The roads are bumpy but the scenery is spectacular. Pass plantations and villages until you emerge on the fringe of the coast. A packed lunch will be enjoyed along the way. Upon arrival to your resort, the rest of the day is yours at leisure.

Day 5 : 19Th September 2023 Madang
Location: Madang
Accommodation: Resort
Accommodation Name: Madang Resort or similar
Meals Included: Lunch

Today, it’s time to hit the water and head out to Pig Island. Cruise past some small islets with stilt houses and witness the simple lifestyle of these fisherman villages. Enjoy diving (additional cost) or snorkelling in the turquoise waters of Pig Island. If it is clear, you can see the remains of a bomber plane. Lunch is included today. Why not bring a book along, as you relax on the white sand beach?

This afternoon, you will head out to the Madang Museum. A small but incredibly fascinating museum, you will learn about the 1660 eruption of Long Island. Look for the ceremonial headdress from Bosmum village on the Lower Ramu River. These are worn during the ‘cleansing of the blood’, the time in which blood is drawn from a boy’s tongue and penis during initiation to manhood. Enjoy a village visit where you will have an insight into traditional, yet simple life by the ocean.

Day 6 : 20Th September 2023 Madang To Wewak
Location: Madang, Wewak
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Wewak Boutique Hotel or similar
Meals Included: No Meals

This morning, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Wewak, (flight not included) the base for entering into the mighty Sepik River. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

Day 7 : 21St September 2023 Yuo Island
Location: Yuo Island
Accommodation Name: Naigboi Guesthouse or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, take a one-hour boat ride from Wewak to a delightful small island, which is home to about five families. Enjoy a true castaway experience, as you slip in family life on the island. Participate in cooking up delicious seafood meals, learning from the locals where the best snorkelling is and learning from the children about spearfishing. This afternoon, you will venture over to lush Kairiru Island and visit the hot springs. Spend your night in a palm thatched bungalow right on the beachfront, as you sink into life with the Marek family, who have lived on the island for over 80 years – certainly an experience that money can’t buy.

Day 8 : 22Nd September 2023 Ambunti
Location: Ambunti
Accommodation Name: Ambunti Local Guesthouse or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, farewell your local hosts, as you head back to Wewak and drive to Pagwi and onto Ambunti. The main Sepik River can become monotonous, meandering through floating logs and floating islands until you reach Ambunti. In the evening, it will rupture into a vast environment of herons, cormorants, wild ducks, egrets, kites and 1000 plus species of water birds.

Day 9 : 23Rd September 2023 Eastern Sepik River
Location: Sepik River
Accommodation: Homestay
Accommodation Name: Local Guesthouse or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today you will enjoy a tour to Meno, Tongijamp Yesan and Mayo which are remote communities within the Eastern Sepik. They had not had interaction with man until only recently and have an extremely fascinating lifestyle and culture which you will learn about.

You may have the opportunity to visit the Haus Tambaran, or ‘Spirit House’, which is – as the name implies, the home of the spirits; of ancestors, progenitors, crocodiles and other animals. Upstairs in these houses, carvers and other artisans sit quietly next to their creations – an astonishing array of figurines, half-bird, half-mammal; or half-human, part-animal and so forth. (Women require permission to enter the spirit houses).

Day 10 : 24Th September 2023 Middle Sepik
Location: Sepik River
Accommodation: Homestay
Accommodation Name: Kaminibit Guesthouse or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today following breakfast, it is a full day to the Middle Sepik. You will visit Palimbe, Yenchan and Kanganamun. These villages have stood firm against the invasion of Christianity. They still have their Haus Tambarans and practice their customs, including the initiation and scarification on young boys that depict the crocodile as a symbol of power and strength. The villages are also famous for artists and they make carvings with the heads of birds.

Day 11 : 25Th September 2023 Wewak
Location: Wewak
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Wewak Boutique Hotel or similar
Meals Included: Breakfast

Return to Pagwi today, where you will meet your vehicle and transfer back to Wewak.

Day 12 : 26Th September 2023 Departure
Location: Port Moresby
Meals Included: Breakfast

The day is yours until it is time to transfer to the airport for your flight back to Port Moresby. (Flight not included).

What's Included

  • Meet and greet service on arrival in Goroka

  • 11 nights accommodation

  • Meals as per the itinerary

  • English speaking local guide

  • All activities as per itinerary

  • Private transportation

  • Entrance fees, sightseeing and permits

What's Not Included

  • International & Domestic flights (flight from Madang to Wewak is required)

  • Drinks unless otherwise mentioned

  • Visas

  • Travel Insurance

  • Tips

  • Inoculations

  • Items of a personal nature

  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary

Check out our Q&As

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes, Entrance fees, sightseeing and permits is included.

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in itinerary.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, The local guides on the tour is English speaking

  • What is the minimum group size?

    The min group size is 2 people.

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    International & Domestic flights (flight from Madang to Wewak is required) is not included.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes. Focusing on providing authentic experiences where ever you are in the world, Crooked Compass has access to a vast array of accommodation styles. From boutique properties in larger cities to local guest houses and home stays within small villages. Crooked Compass ensures that local authenticity flows through your accommodation throughout your tour without compromising standard.

  • What sort of transportation is used for your tours?

    Transportation utilised on a Crooked Compass escorted small group tour is a combination of a private air conditioned vehicle and local transport where appropriate. This may include a local bus ride, use of the cities metro system, a domestic flight to another city or overnight train ride.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Crooked Compass strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism. Crooked Compass is firmly committed to the principles of ethical travel. Our comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Practices policy summarises our commitments and actions. Although the very basis of our ground operations lends itself to the ethos of sustainable tourism, this policy re-iterates our commitment to: Use locally owned hotels Use locally owned ground agents Use local guides and drivers Promote community tourism projects from homestays to craft shops Support charities that work within the destinations that we travel to Carbon offset our travels

  • Who runs your tours and are they experts in their fields?

    Crooked Compass works with the worlds best operators who are specialists in their country, region and cities providing you with in depth local knowledge. We use local guides who live and breathe the areas they work in, making sure you experience their region, their way. We believe it is far better to have a local guide who knows a lot about a little than a text book trained Western tour guide who knows a little about a lot. Using local guides also ensures that money stays within local communities and supports the regions we visit.

  • What can I expect from a Crooked Compass tour that I wouldn't get from travelling with an alternative company?

    Crooked Compass provides a sensory way to understand the world – we help you live like a local, eat like a local, do what the locals do and seek the faces behind the places whilst discovering untouched lands and natural beauty. Crooked Compass tours delve deep into the heart and soul of a destination ensuring you get out of your journey all you intended and much, much more. Our intriguing itineraries have been created by travellers for travellers. Steering travellers to follow a different path, Crooked Compass’ itineraries allow you to experience the world’s most fascinating destinations in ways you never dreamed possible. It brings to life those ‘bucket list’ experiences you have yearned to do and separates the travellers from the tourists. Crooked Compass tours are culturally rich, reward travellers with unexpected encounters and uncommon rendezvous, creating truly unique, authentic travel experiences.

  • Who do your tours cater for?

    Crooked Compass escorted small group tours cater for those who are well travelled seeking the what’s next and what’s new. Our travellers are curious minded soft adventurers who want to uncover something more than the mainstream tourist trail. Crooked Compass tours draw travellers with an interest in sustainable tourism and conservation for the areas they visit. A Crooked Compass traveller is someone who is seeking something fresh and unique, who has a yearning for authenticity and discovery, with an appreciation for cultures, tradition and the natural world. We call them Cultural Purists.

  • I am concerned about my impact on travelling through untouched regions. Can I offset?

    Yes. All travellers on Crooked Compass tours have the option to offset their part of their tour’s carbon footprint by donating $4AUD (tax-deductible) at time of booking. 100% of these funds are donated to Greenfleet, an environmental non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting our climate by restoring our forests. By partnering with Greenfleet, we are confident that our carbon offset program provides genuine and lasting environmental benefits. Your offset donation funds plant trees and restore permanent native forests in Australia and New Zealand. As they grow, these forests provide many community and environmental benefits by absorbing carbon emissions, protecting our unique biodiversity, restoring habitat for native wildlife, preventing soil salinity and erosion, improving water quality and much more. If you’d like to find out more and offset the rest of your carbon emissions, visit www.greenfleet.org.au

Reviews of this Operator

Jeff Rehn  

A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass


A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass. Considering the country is just opening up to tourism everything went very well - flights, trips, transfers, guides and accommodation - thank you CC - highly recommended

Pauline Mavis Rusby  

We were kept safe at all times.


We were kept safe at all times. When unexpected hurdles appeared they were handled without fuss. Our tour was informative, picturesque and comfortable.

Tina Watts-Seale  

Family holiday to Vietnam


We booked a family holiday to Vietnam with Crooked Compass and it was perfect. The booking process was easy and Lisa took all of our requests on board so that the trip was exactly what we wanted. All flights, transfers, accommodations, guides and activities were fantastic, with great communication throughout the whole trip. Would highly recommend, we will be booking again soon!


Dates & Availability

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Friday - Tuesday

Sep 13, 2024 - Sep 24, 2024
$7654 $7271 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$383 (USD)

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Friday - Tuesday

Sep 12, 2025 - Sep 23, 2025
$8036 $7634 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$402 (USD)

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  • Low Deposit

    Crooked Compass requires a minimum deposit of 20% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of crooked compass charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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