Now that cruising has become very popular and many passengers seek out new adventures, there is one place in the world which offers a cruise adventure like no other. Papua New Guinea, which is part of the island of New Guinea and situated just above Australia, is definitely one of the world’s wildest places. It is a place filled with dense rain forests, steep mountains, and a culture that has not changed very much since the stone age.
Being a tropical country just below the Equator, Papua New Guinea is subject to heavy monsoonal rains. All that water running down such steep mountain slopes has cut some mighty rivers, the longest of which is the Sepik River. Fortunately, the Sepik is navigable for most of its length, and a couple of purpose-built vessels offer some of the most exciting and exhilarating river cruising in the world.
The Sepik has a total length is 1,126 kilometres (700 miles). It rises in the Victor Emmanuel Range, which is part of the Central Highlands, and flows directly into the Bismarck Sea. Apart from local villages there is virtually no development of the river, so that you do get to see it entirely in its natural state, and you do get to interact with locals who have a marvellous culture in which art, which is often referred to as primitive, is an important part of daily living.
There are currently two vessels sailing the river. Both are tiny by normal cruising standards, but they are comfortable and purpose-built for sailing the waters of the Sepik and its tributaries.
The M.Y. Kalibobo Spirit is a 30 metre luxury motor yacht which carries 12 passengers in ten cabins and staterooms and which has zodiacs for land excursions.
The M.V. Sepik Spirit is more like a floating lodge, having nine spacious rooms which accommodate a maximum of just eighteen guests, each with an en-suite bathroom, large windows and personally controlled air-conditioning.
Voyages on the river usually last from 4 to 6 nights. Whilst the scenery is magnificent, the Sepik is a magnet for collectors of primitive art and goods, such as carvings, musical instruments and ceremonial masks.
One common feature of the cruises is visits to village Spirit Houses, where many ceremonies take place and where music is played on locally-built instruments. The people here are tribal and each village has its own style and designs which are quite unique.
Although the terrain may be wild and unspoilt, the cruise vessels are very contemporary and contain all modern conveniences and facilities we expect to encounter today. Cruising the Sepik River is an adventure as well as a wonderful experience, but it is mostly suitable for those who are somewhat independent and who do not require all the entertainments normally associated with big ship cruising.