Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail:    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email:

Jennifer Woolley – Director of Operations • Email:

We look forward to hearing from you!


Limit 7 spaces | $14,400* Closed
Expedition May 16 - 29, 2018 | View other workshops

Papua New Guinea with M. Westmorland

Map via Google

The land that time forgot...

After thirty-two visits to Papua New Guinea, photographer and filmmaker Michele Westmorland considers this exotic destination her second home. She invites you to experience this incredible photographic journey in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of Papua New Guinea, featuring the best accommodations available, a three-night luxury river boat cruise, and charter flight transfers between our various locations.

On her first visit to Papua New Guinea in 1991, Westmorland was immediately hooked:

"I was completely taken by the beauty and diversity of the underwater world," she says. "It was on my third or fourth trip that I raised my head above the water and realized how diverse the landscape and the people are."

PNG is home to the most linguistically diverse population on Earth with over 800 different languages spoken in a country with a population of just over 7 million people. It is a land of traditional cultures living a subsistence hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and small villages and small-scale farming are the norm. The colorful wigmen of the Huli Tribe of the Southern Highlands and Hela Province use multi-colored clays, feathers, and flowers for traditional body decoration. Birds of Paradise grace the forests with their dramatic color and form.

In contrast the young men of the Sepik region, formerly the home of a head-hunting culture, undergo painful decorative scarring on their backs. Life in the Sepik area revolves around the river, with men paddling narrow dugout canoes full of goods for trade, women fishing or making sago, and children joyfully swinging from trees to splash down in the river. Crocodiles are the manifestation of the local river spirits. The Sepik is a gallery of tribal art – each village boasts a unique style and every villager is an artisan.

Through the song, dance, and pageantry of "sing-sings," proud local people showcase their traditional customs and artistry. It's a wonderful opportunity for us to photograph the various cultures of PNG together in an array of color and passion.

Cape Nelson in Oro Province of PNG is full of mystery as we approach from the air.   The short one-hour flight from Port Moresby reveals the green fingers of land stretched out into the turquoise waters of the Solomon Sea.  Arriving in the morning, we will settle into our charming accommodations and prepare for the next 3 days of a rich cultural experience in a stunning coastal environment. Our group will experience the beauty of the fjord areas by traditional canoe allowing for exceptional photography, or a bit of video, as exotic birds swoop overhead.  Hornbills, parrots and cockatoos are common in this area.

Our village hosts will not only share their daily lives with our group of photographers, but prepare for another sing-sing where we will capture the extensive body décor that reveals the sense of pride these warm and friendly people have in their tradition.  In addition to the dance, there will be demonstrations of facial tattooing, fire making and preparation of sago, a staple food source that comes from the pulp of a endemic palm. Other activities will include a trip to waterfalls or hikes with vistas overlooking the fjord areas.

Group size is limited to seven participants, led by Michele and local guides. Michele will be very accessible and generous with her time for all participants. She will provide personalized photographic instruction in the field, and will address post processing tools and techniques, including black & white conversion. We look forward to sharing this off-the-beaten-path cultural documentary journey with you!

This trip is packaged by default as double-occupancy (single-occupancy option also available for registration), and includes all accommodations, a three-night luxury river cruise aboard Sepik Spirit, all meals, beverages (including beer or wine with dinner), air and ground transfers (including six internal charter flights), excursions, special performances and cultural photo-ops, and of course expert photographic instruction and guiding throughout by Michele Westmorland.


May 16

Upon arrival at Jacksons International Airport (POM) in Port Moresby from your international flight, you will be met and transferred to our group hotel for our initial meeting and orientation, followed by a festive group dinner. Our accommodation for the night, the Airwarys Hotel, is located by the airport. We will stay in the modern, luxurious Dakota Suites of this award-winning hotel.

Overnight: Airways Hotel (--D)

May 17

Morning excursion and then transfer to our Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby to Mt. Hagen. Meet/Greet and transfer to Highlander Hotel, nestled among tropical gardens and with very comfortable and elegant rooms.

Overnight: Highlander Hotel (B,L,D)

May 18

Today, a full day is spent at the Tumbuna singsing - witness traditional dances, interact with Stone Age cultures and hear stories about "Taim bilong Tumbuna" (time of the ancestors). Tumbuna is the Tok Pisin (the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea) word for ancestors. Picnic lunch will be provided at the show grounds.

Overnight: Highlander Hotel (B,L,D)

May 19

Transfer from your Hotel to Kagamuga Airport for your charter flight to Karawari.  Meet/Greet and transfer from Karawari Airstrip to the comfort of the Sepik Spirit. Inspired by the local architecture of the "haus tambaran" or spirit house, the Sepik Spirit has a truly unique design. Proceed with lunch then begin your voyage of discovery to local villages. The time aboard the Sepik Spirit will make for a very scenic trip down the Karawari River, passing thick forests and villagers paddling canoes. Our group will be the only guests of the Sepik Spirit during our stay.

Overnight: Sepik Spirit (B,L,D)

May 20-21

Enjoy two full days tour to the remote Black Water Lakes. You will visit villages where the people are prolific carvers. Here you will find many tradition handicrafts such as masks, elaborately carved hooks, ancestral figures, hand drums, baskets, bilums and gourds.

Overnight: Sepik Spirit (B,L,D)

May 22

Transfer from Sepik Spirit to Karawari Lodge sitting on a ridge above the Karawari River. The remote Karawari Lodge boasts a spectacular view over hundreds of kilometers of dense tropical jungle. Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, while still providing modern comforts.  Sitting on a ridge above the Karawari River, the lodge boasts a spectacular view over hundreds of kilometers of dense tropical jungle. Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, Karawari Lodge nevertheless provides modern comforts.  It is the perfect base for some old-fashioned jungle, river, and village exploration. You are in the middle of Arambak country – locals pole dug-out canoes, the drums throb, the wild birds call, and traditional village lifestyles continue largely unchanged. You'll feel like a participant in a classic National Geographic expedition: no roads, thick jungle, locals poling dugouts, and crocodiles.

A day excursion along the jungle-fringed waterways of the Karawari River where boatmen, standing upright, paddle their slender dugout canoes with sculpted silhouettes of crocodile masks.  Village life, including carved totems, drums, woodcarvings and different expressions of art are also experienced.  Photograph bountiful bird life along the rivers and nearby lakes.  Excursions will enhance your understanding of traditional village culture in the Sepik region.

Overnight: Karawari Lodge (B,L,D)

May 23

Transfer from Karawari Lodge to Karawari Airstrip for your charter flight to Tari/Ambua Lodge.  The Tari Valley - home of the Huli, a colorful and proud people still largely living the same way that their ancestors did. Ambua Lodge is an inspired mixture of local architecture, spectacular views and modest luxury off the beaten track. Located at 7000 feet (2100 meters) in the PNG Southern Highlands, homeland of the Huli clan with their human hair wigs adorned with colourful flowers.

Afternoon guided nature walk through the alpine forest looking for the exotic bird of Paradise.

Overnight: Ambua Lodge (B,L,D)

May 24

Enjoy full day of cultural touring. In contrast to the Sepik people whose art is manifested in ceremonial and decorative carvings, these Highland people employ as their art, body decoration, face painting and human hair wigs decorated with feathers, flowers and moss.  The Huli culture is the most vibrant intact and colourful to be experienced anywhere.

Overnight: Ambua Lodge (B,L,D)

May 25

In the morning, transfer from Ambua Lodge to Tari Airstrip of your domestic Air Niugini flight to Port Moresby. Once at Port Moresby, the group will take a second flight to arrive in the afternoon at Tufi Resort on Cape Nelson. Afternoon activity, depending on time of arrival at the Resort, could be a brief photography session or a look at post-production of selected images.

Overnight: Tufi Resort (B,L,D)

May 26-27

Daily excursions exploring the overwhelming opportunities presented by the local ecology, landscape, and cultures. Tours will include McLaren Harbour, Orotoaba Village, and a fjord cruise.

Overnight: Tufi Resort (B,L,D)

May 28

Morning transfer to airport for flight back to Port Moresby. An afternoon activity will be scheduled as well as a farewell dinner before retiring to the Dakota Suites of the Airways Hotel.

Overnight: Airways Hotel (B,L,D)

May 29

Transfer to airport for flights home. (B--)


  • VISA: To enter PNG, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of intended travel, an onward/return airline ticket, and proof of sufficient funds (the latter can be a credit card, or simply a statement that you are participating in a pre-paid package holiday). You may obtain a tourist visa (valid for stays of up to 60 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 days) upon arrival at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: All participants are expected to obtain travel insurance for this expedition; has excellent options for purchasing travel insurance.
  • FLIGHTS: Six flights within PNG are included. Please contact us if you would like recommendations regarding international flights to and from Jacksons International Airport (airport code: POM).
  • GRATUITIES: Baseline tips are included. Our local guides and lodging staff work very hard to make our experience in PNG be the best it can be, and Visionary Wild budgets for a healthy group tip in recognition of their services. Please refrain from providing any tips to any individuals throughout the expedition.

M. Westmorland

Michele Westmorland is an internationally-renowned photographer, speaker, and filmmaker specializing in telling the stories of indigenous cultures and the natural history of marine life. Westmorland Images, LLC represents her vast library of imagery from around the world.

First recognized for her talents in capturing beautiful images of the ocean environment, she is passionate about conservation. She is proud to be a Founding Fellow of International League of Conservation Photographers and to have received the award for Fellow of the Year in 2016. In 2011, she was the keynote address speaker at the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) conference and she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Michele is an adept visual storyteller, whether covering exotic travel destinations or the wonders of the natural world. Papua New Guinea has been a primary focus of her work, taking her to the remote island thirty-one times since her first visit in 1991. In 2016 she received an National Endowment for the Arts grant in support of her film, Headhunt Revisited, which documents the travels of an American woman artist in the 1920s to the remote islands of Melanesia. To see more on this project, visit

Michele presents regular lectures on world cultures and the marine environment, and has extensive experience as a photography workshop instructor and photo travel leader. She has been honored as a National Fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club and NANPA, as well as a member of the Society of Woman Geographers and Wings WorldQuest.

Her photographs have appeared regularly in National Geographic Adventure & Traveler, Nature’s Best, Smithsonian and Outside magazines. Michele has won several awards for her imagery including, Grand Prize in the Papua New Guinea Underwater category, the Environmental Photography Invitational, Photo District News, and many others. She is proud to have been included in the book Adventurous Dreams-Adventurous Lives by Jason Schoonover. Her book Ocean Duets, focusing on the beauty of the underwater world, was published in 2006. Michele’s passion project is a documentary film titled Headhunt Revisited, which documents the travels of an American woman artist in the 1920s to the remote islands of Melanesia. To see more on this project, visit

Michele's website: WESTMORLAND IMAGES


  • Exceptional opportunities for photography of some of the most colorful and visually compelling indigenous cultures on Earth, including the Huli and Sepik peoples.
  • The Southern Highlands, considered "The Papuan Wonderland"
  • The Sepik region, land of the headhunters, river spirits, and incredible tribal art
  • Mount Hagen, Tumbuna "sing-sing"
  • Cape Nelson's fjords on the Solomon Sea
  • Generous expert photographic instruction and guiding throughout the trip by Michele Westmorland
  • First-rate accommodations
  • Three-night luxury riverboat cruise on the Sepik River, aboard Sepik Spirit
  • All internal charter flights from lodge to lodge, and all ground transfers are included
  • Satisfying meals and all beverages (including beer and wine with dinner) are included

Accommodations & Travel

  • Airways Hotel – Port Moresby
  • Highlander Hotel – Mount Hagen
  • Sepik Spirit Riverboat – Sepik River
  • Karawari Lodge – Karawari River
  • Ambua Lodge – Tari
  • Tufi Resort – Cape Nelson
airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
Fly into Port Moresby (POM), all internal charter flights are included. International flights are not included. All ground transportation and transfers are included. Three-night luxury riverboat cruise aboard Sepik Spirit is included. Be prepared to walk up to a mile on forest trails with your camera gear. Temperature ranges on this trip with be at their highest at sea level (90ºF – 75ºF), cooling considerably in the highlands, with highs there in the 60s and 70s. Expect partly cloudy skies to prevail with occasional showers or thunderstorms.