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Papua New Guinea Firedance Festival

9 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Rabaul
Welcome to Rabaul and Papua New Guinea, a land of dense jungle and bright coral reefs that is criminally under visited. You’ll be met at Tokua Airport, on the island of New Britain, and transferred to your hotel, where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers at 6.30 in the evening. If arriving early then feel free to get out and check out the town. Rabaul’s nickname 'Pearl of the Pacific', though apt, was replaced with 'Pompeii of the Pacific' after the devastating eruption of Tarvurvur volcano in 1994. Despite this loss, Rabaul is still an alluring destination of beauty and depth.

Day 2 Firedance Festival - Vunga Village
Today the group will travel into the highlands of the Gazelle Peninsula. It’s here that the Firedance Festival takes place, and tonight you’ll enjoy the first of your homestays. Travel to Vunga village and enjoy a traditional Melanesian welcome ceremony with your hosts, which is a common practice to show the rest of the village that the strangers are welcomed and there’s no hostility. A traditional ‘mumu’ lunch follows, in which root vegetables are wrapped in leaves and cooked under hot stone, and later in the evening the fire-dance performances will begin. These performances are for the enjoyment of the villagers too, and there’s a good chance the performance will go on all night. As the performances go on, the villagers will add bundles of firewood to the bonfire and the fire-dancers will perform until their feet put out the last flames – this will be one of the more amazing cultural performances you’ll ever witness. Enjoy a BBQ dinner to break up the performances before calling it a night.

Day 3 Firedance Festival
This morning make your way to the village food hut where freshley brewed coffee will await you. Breakfast this morning will consist of a mixture of organic fruits sourced locally as well as a continental breakfast. The festivities continue after breakfast with a number of mask performances, as well as a closing party during which the village will farewell their guests. After saying goodbye, you’ll make your way to the group’s hotel and settle in for lunch. The afternoon is free for you to relax and share photos with your group.

Day 4 Duke of York Islands
Every island around East New Britain has it’s own personality, story and set of traditions. Each island offers a brand new adventure and the Duke of York islands, which are sandwiched between New Britain and New Ireland, are the place to explore and experience what many would term the ‘real’ PNG. Cruise around the islands and learn some of their history while soaking up the sun, colours and vibrancy that typify the archipelago. Keep an eye out for wildlife too, as dolphins and even dugongs are known to play in these crystal-clear waters.

A local village will host the group while visiting Duke of York and there’ll be opportunities to learn about traditional weaving, cooking and fishing. Your leader will arrange for a tour of the island, so please wear some comfortable water shoes like sandals or, if you’ve got the confidence, Crocs. Once the tour has finished there’s plenty of time to relax, unwind and forget about the frenetic pace of life back home – just sit back and enjoy the incomparable hospitality (and magical singing voices) of the Duke of York islanders during an overnight homestay.

Day 5 Rabaul
Island life is at its most peaceful in the morning, so take an opportunity wake up early and explore the sights and sounds. You could also go for a stroll through the village and chat further with the villagers who are so kindly hosting the group. After breakfast, your leader will brief you on what to expect for the rest of the day. They’ll decide on an appropriate reef for snorkelling, depending on the day’s weather conditions, and work with the boat’s skipper to determine when will be best to depart the island. On returning to Rabaul, check into the hotel and enjoy a free afternoon to relax and recover from the day’s activities.

Day 6 Rabaul
Today the group will take a historical tour of Rabaul town. There’ll be some walking on uneven surfaces, so be sure to pack good walking shoes. The lunch destination is a village called Baai Village, where you’ll be treated to a mini cultural show performed by six of the region’s tribes. The tour will include stops at military sites including Yamamoto’s bunker, the Japanese submarine base and the Japanese tunnels, as well as the Rabaul markets and the New Guinea Club, where you’ll gain some insight into life in Rabaul before PNG’s independence and the 1994 volcanic eruption.

Day 7 Matupit Island
After breakfast you’ll transfer to Matupit, a connected island that’s home to 200–300 people. It lies directly across the bay from the Tavurvur Volcano, which destroyed Rabaul in 1994, but miraculously remained almost untouched. Meet some of the islanders and visit some of the local schools, the church and the craft market. Here you’ll have an opportunity to do some shopping and contribute to the small community, and perhaps even participate in making some traditional handicrafts. Get a feel for how the islanders live their lives, and see how important fishing and the collection of megapode – big, chicken-like birds– eggs are to the local economy. Enjoy a traditional lunch by the beach cooked by some of the locals and spend some time exploring the lava landscape before returning to the village for the evening.

Day 8 Kokopo
Prepare for a memorable experience before breakfast as the group heads out to swim with the East New Britain’s resident spinner dolphins. Spend an hour watching the dolphins’ acrobatic displays then head back for breakfast and to prepare for the day. You’ll need some good walking shoes as we visit the Bitapaka War Cemetery, where WWI and WWII soldiers have been laid to rest, as well as the markets and Blue Lagoon, where the Japanese concealed barges to protect them from bombing raids during WWII. Dinner this evening is at the Ralum Country Club in Kokopo, a picture-perfect place to celebrate your final evening in Papua New Guinea with your fellow travellers.

Day 9 Rabaul
Your adventure through Papua New Guinea comes to an end today after breakfast. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time. A transfer to Tokua (Rabaul) Airport is included.
All This Included
Travel into the Papua New Guinean highlands to experience the Baining fire dance at a local village. Watch the incredible performances and immerse yourself in local life before exploring the Duke of York Islands and East New Britain to discover unrelenting natural beauty and a fascinating military history. With homestays, hotels and an encounter with the region’s resident dolphins, this limited edition trip has something for anyone who’s after a Pacific adventure with a difference.You will experience a more intimate festival and get an insight into the culture of the Firedance.
  • Meals - 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transport - Private vehicle
  • As a small group, be welcomed into a local village and watch as traditional Baining dancers circle a growing fire and perform dancing rituals – a insight into one of Papua New Guinea’s indigenous cultures.
  • Spend time before and after the performance learning more about these traditional customs, sharing meals, stories and laughs with local community members.
  • Jump straight into island life of the Duke of York Islands, marvelling at an active volcano, tucking into a beachside barbecue and experiencing a traditional sing-sing with the villagers.
  • Discover how the World Wars played out in the Pacific, by visiting the War Museum in Rabaul and heading underground for a tour of the Japanese tunnels in Kokopo.
  • Head with your expert local leader to Matupit – an ‘island’ dwarfed in the shadow of Tavurvur Volcano looming overhead – to visit the local community, their markets and streets.
Hotel (6 nights)
Multishare Homestay (2 nights)
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 1, Max 12
  • With very limited departures per year, this is a niche trip. It's perfect for those interested in tribal cultures, war history, village life or volcanic landscapes – or who simply love to take the path less travelled.
  • There are lots of water-based activities, so being comfortable on a boat is essential.
  • This trip has some communal accommodation with shared bathroom and toilet facilities.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Intrepid Travel terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.