Sepik River

Overview

Introduction

While much has changed since anthropologist Margaret Mead first described the region, journeys on the Sepik River are still like a step back in time—life is primitive, and the abundance of plants and animals is truly astonishing. The 700-mi/1,125-km river, which can be as wide as a half mile/one kilometer in some areas, is divided into three regions: upper, middle and lower.

You can travel the river in a dugout canoe, or take a cruise on the Melanesian Discoverer or the Sepik Spirit (the latter operates out of the lodge at Karawari). You'll go deep into the jungle, passing stilt houses, tribal villages and river traffic. Most often, both of these ships begin or end their itineraries at Timbunke, in the mid-Sepik region. There are several cruises of three to five nights; we preferred the five-night trip. For those with less time (or less interest), you can take half- and full-day trips from two river cities, Ambunti and Angoram. While on the river be sure to visit one of the "Haus Tamboran"—traditional spirit houses where men gather to relax and talk. Traditionally women are not allowed in, but rules are occasionally bent for visitors. About 450 mi/725 km northwest of Port Moresby.

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