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  • Photograph of Raggiana Bird-of-paradise

    A fabulous Raggiana Bird-of-paradise in its display tree at Varirata National Park by Mark Harper.

    PAPUA NEW GUINEA

    Photograph of Blue Bird-of-paradise

    A beautiful male Blue Bird-of-paradise in a 'garden' in the Tari Valley, by Paul Macklam.


    Best Wildlife in Papua New Guinea

    Mammals
    Speckled Dasyure and Agile Wallaby. Also a chance of Silky Cuscus, Striped Possum, Coppery Ringtail and Long-fingered Triok.

    Birds
    38 of the 43 birds-of-paradise with over 20 possible on the standard circuit including Blue Bird-of-paradise, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Raggiana, Greater, Lesser, King, Twelve-wired, King-of-Saxony, Magnificent and Superb Birds-of-paradise, Black and Brown Sicklebills, Princess Stephanie's Astrapia, Carola's and Lawes's Parotias, Magnificent (and Eastern/Growling) Riflebird(s), Short-tailed Paradigalla and manucodes. Over 75 species endemic to Papua New Guinea with many more endemic to the mainland and offshore islands. Other birds apart from birds-of-paradise include Lesser Melampitta, Crested and Loria's Satinbirds, bowerbirds including Flame, Palm Cockatoo, Southern and Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Mottled Berryhunter (previously Mottled Whistler now considered to be the sole member of a separate family, the Rhagologidae, by the IOC), Rufous-naped Whistler (now Rufous-naped Bellbird, in the Australian-Papuan Bellbird family with Crested Pitohui which also occurs in Papua New Guinea and Crested Bellbird of Australia), Blyth's Hornbill, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Wattled Ploughbill, Painted Quail Thrush, Torrent Lark, Lesser Frigatebird and White-bellied Sea Eagle, as well as Salvadori's Teal, Oriental Darter, Pied Heron, Brahminy Kite, New Guinea Eagle, Black-mantled Goshawk, Masked Lapwing, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Pratincole, cuckoo doves, fruit doves, imperial pigeons, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, lories, lorikeets, pygmy parrots, tiger parrots, Eclectus, Papuan King and Pesquet's Parrots, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Australasian Grass Owl, Greater Sooty Owl, owlet nightjars, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouths, Moustached Treeswift, Blue-winged and Shovel-billed Kookaburras, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, paradise kingfishers, Rainbow Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Hooded and Red-bellied Pittas, fairywrens, honeyeaters, New Guinea Logrunner, Fan-tailed, Tit and Crested Berrypeckers, Black-breasted and Yellow-breasted Boatbills, Great Woodswallow, Lowland and Mountain Peltops, butcherbirds, cuckoo shrikes including Golden, Black Sittella, whistlers including Dwarf and Regent, pitohuis including Hooded, fantails, monarchs including Frilled and Golden, Blue-capped Ifrita, robins including Garnet and Grey-headed (Ashy), Torrent Flycatcher, Island Thrush, Golden and Yellow-faced Mynas, Blue-faced and Papuan Parrotfinches, and munias. Also a chance of Buff-tailed Sicklebill, Greater Melampitta, Blue, Chestnut-backed and Spotted Jewel Babblers, Black-billed Brush Turkey, Spotted Whistling Duck, Great-billed Heron, Chestnut and Forbes's Forest Rails, White-browed Crake, Dusky Woodcock, Pheasant Pigeon, Mountain Kingfisher, Papuan Whipbird, and Spotted and White-eared Catbirds. Also present, off the usual circuit, at Bensbach in the Trans-Fly region, are Brolga Crane, Black-necked Stork, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australasian Bustard and Spangled Kookaburra, while seabirds present around New Ireland include White-tailed Tropicbird, White Tern and Red-footed Booby.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Some of the richest coral reefs on Earth, with 900 fish species around Walindi Dive Resort in Kimbe Bay, New Britain, for example.

    Invertebrates
    Hundreds of butterflies and moths including Hercules Moth, one of the largest moths in the world, and Queen Alexandra's Birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world, which, unfortunately, rarely casts shadows over the Popondetta Plain in northern Papua New Guinea, off the usual, well worn, circuits.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in West Papua

    Best Times for Wildlife in Papua New Guinea

    Papua New Guinea has a warm, wet equatorial climate and rain falls year round in the highlands, but there is a dry season in the lowlands which usually lasts from May to September and this is the best time to go, with July arguably being the best month. The best scuba-diving and snorkeling conditions overlap with both ends of this season; from April to June and from September to November. The average temperature in the lowlands from May to September is a hot and sticky 28°C or so but it is cooler and more pleasant in the highlands, usually around 20°C. Long-sleeved shirts, a hat and repellants for chiggers and mosquitoes are recommended.

    Recommended Books etc. for Papua New Guinea

    Birds of New Guinea by P Gregory. Lynx Edicions, 2017.

    Birds of New Guinea by T K Pratt and B M Beehler. PUP, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Birds of New Guinea by B M Beehler et al. PUP, 1986 (First Edition but arguably better than the Second).

    Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago: Photographic Guide by B Coates. Dove Publications, 2001.

    Birding Indonesia edited by P Jepson and R Ounsted. Periplus Editions, 1997.

    Mammals of New Guinea by T Flannery. Cornell University Press, 1995 (Revised Edition).

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Australasia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Papua New Guinea

    Many trip reports, some for Papua New Guinea, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Papua New Guinea. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Papua New Guinea' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Papua New Guinea

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Papua New Guinea

    Some Organized Tours to Papua New Guinea

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Papua New Guinea include the following.