Sepik river is very rewarding experience of remote travel in PNG. You will travel a lot by boat, many villages along the river side, village life beauty. Quite unbelievable, but there is mobile phone coverage in about every village by the river in the Sepik even in upper Sepik more remote like Wagu village.
There are more villages in middle and upper sepik with focus on spririt houses and very nice carving. Upper Sepik is more remote, takes more hours by boat to reach but you get to visit more nature and beautiful places and villages that blend into the nature with their way of life.
If you have read and liked reviews about the Wagu village and the Hustein mountain range and Wagu lake, do make sure that you stay more than a single night there. Matthew’s guesthouse is by far the best place to overnight in the whole Sepik region. And the village is large and full of activity, people fishing, building houses and canoes and kids playing. THere are also possible jungle walks and birds of paradise to sightsee, and of course the crocodiles.
The best resource of information by far is the very friendly Alois Mateos (he has a new mobile number, 7265 6367). Contact him in any case, to stay in Wewak for a couple of nights, to ask for recommendation of guides in Sepik or contacts to islands in front of Wewak. He also arranges tours to Sepik, but if you are alone, the prices will definitely frighten you off (around 6000-8000 kina for one person, four days).
Sepik is very very expensive, my first advice is don’t be put off with prices of guides and trips to get you there. Once you arrive to the remote villages, you will see how the locals also have to pay a lot to get the most basic things like rice or travel to neighbouring villages. But most of their living is self-subsistent, fishing and hunting. When preparing to go to the Sepik, take bottled water and most basic food like rice. You can buy most things in Pagwi and Ambunti, but the prices are quite expensive. You can fish and buy their potatoes, but items like rice come from the city by boat.
Wagu lakes and wagu village is highly recommended, both for nature and interaction with local very friendly people. Contact the head of the village, Mathew Kaka (7378 6776), who runs a guest house in Wagu. The village is on the upper Sepik, and it’s about 1.5 hour by canoe full speed from Ambunti. There is no regular transportation there, you will have to hire boat and driver or guide. A german friend of Matthew has put up a site for announcing the direct connection to Wagu village, www.sepiktours-individualrates.de. I also recommend that way, since you then make sure your tourist money stays where it is needed the most.
Matthew or someone from his family will pick you up where you arrive, can be at Ambunti, Pagwi, or even Wewak. Everything in Sepik can be highly unreliable in terms of trip times and what’s included. If the boat engine stops or other happenings. Take a relaxed approach at it.
Matthew will be forced to spend more fuel with the boat trips to pick you up then if you take an Ambunti based guide like Joseph, but on the other hand if you want to take a couple of days in Wagu (highly recommended 2-3 days) you will want to take directly with Matthew.
While most other villages in the Sepik are about the spirit houses and the carvings, Wagu is about remote village life and nature surrounding it. So pick your interest.
A bunch of other guides are also recommended: Chris and Philip (Palembei, Angoram), Joseph (Ambunti), Mathew (Wagu). You should chat with Alois Mateos about his prices and these guides depending on the part of the Sepik you want to visit.
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