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“Upper Sepik rewarding experiences - guides and advices”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Sepik River

Sepik River
Attraction details
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
39 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Upper Sepik rewarding experiences - guides and advices”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2014

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.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
14 Thank Daniel F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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29 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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  • Any
English first
Jerusalem, Israel
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“one of the most amazing places i have visited in my life!!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 11, 2013

No matter how long your visit to the Sepik will be, half a day, a week or more, it is a MUST visit place in PNG you will never forget and it will leave a strong impression on you.
The crocodile men... WOW!!!

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
6 Thank danharati
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
140 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“The Land of the unexpected”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 1, 2013

To start it was very difficult to find information on PNG beside the obvious very expensive organized trips. We spend hours on line trying to figure out this trip. Most of what we found was very negative. But we had wanted to go there for ever, so we decided to go anyway. We, 2 older women, spent almost 3 weeks traveling in PNG, mostly on our own with the exception of a 6 days trip on the Sepik River. We had hired a guide before we arrived.He was recommended by a tourist who wrote on one of the forum.
The first thing about PNG is that it is the most expensive country I have ever been and I have been to more than a 100 and it is also the one where you get the least for your money.
Beside this, It was absolutely beautiful and the people warm, generous and so appreciative of us being tourists wanting to visit their country, so contrary to all the bad press the country gets. This is not to say that it was always easy. The usual litany of crazy transportation modes with canceled flights, 6 days in a dug out boat (motorized) doing the famed Sepik River visiting spirit houses, riding in the back of a truck with 15 others and a mountain of goods that took fording 37 rivers, and finally running off the coast of PNG in an open 20' boat with a 60hp engine and who knows how many people aboard in order to finally walked across the border to Indonesia. Needless to say, not one life jacket aboard.
One of the things that struck us most was the fact that not once were we asked for anything, no beggars, no touts, nobody wanting to sell us anything. No taxi at the airport...
In all our trip, we only saw seven other tourist who were on one of those expensive tour.
This trip was an adventure but it was fun and we are very happy that we went.
For more info, I can be contacted through this page.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
18 Thank nomade123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Napa, California
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Tumbana Show Excursion - Papua New Guinea”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 15, 2013

May, 2013: just got back from one of the BEST trips I have ever taken... Led by Greg Stathakis,
www.pngtravel.com, we had the most exciting 2 weeks traveling all over PNG: exciting, yet relaxing nights on the Sepik Spirit riverboat, as we wended our way through the annually flooded villages...in our primitive dugout canoes.... Going back through time, with villagers so excited to see tourists.... coming out to greet us in their canoes, guiding us into their spirit houses... Sing-Sing Tumbana Show Excursion, with 12 tribes, in full costume, performing their spiritual, ritualistic dances, songs, and customs. The hours watching them put on tribal makeup, traditional costumes, and familial interactions, were just as exciting as the festival itself. Greg's planning, leadership, personal relationships with the PNG people (he's been leading ONLY this tour for the past 2 1/2 decades), unique planned, as well as un-planned activities and happenings, were thrilling. Travel in PNG is not easy... so much can happen... it remains a primitive, tribal, unusual destination for travel. Greg was able to unify this fabulous group of 12 people into a cohesive unit where we were all adventurous, had a fabulous trip, and met so many wonderful, warm, friendly, real people from PNG. Listening to their stories, at night, in the lodges where we stayed, enhanced the experience of getting to know the real PNG.

Greg Stathakis, of www.pngtravel.com, is the man to show you Papua New Guinea. It was an amazing adventure. My pictures (all 3000 of them) help me to relive this incredible trip. He is going again in 2014. Contact him!!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
9 Thank daltes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Ripped off in Sepik River”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2013

In August 2012 I was part of a three week tour of Papua New Guinea organized by Elder Treks. All went well until we arrived for our Sepik River adventure. I purchased a number of masks and other artifacts and arranged to have them prepared and shipped through the outfitter "Chris" recommended by Elder Treks. I left Chris US$400 and then received another request for US$800 to ship the articles (2 packages weighing 9 and 15 kilos each) to Canada. Needless to say, I have not received the goods (which were to be shipped by air) and have not received any reply from Elder Treks.

So if anyone is planning a trip to PNG BEWARE of an outfitter named "Chris" (money was forwarded to a bank account under the name Dominica Karis). Chris does not take credit cards so I was unable to pay for shipment that way.

Anne

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
18 Thank 1947154943
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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