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Limit 10 spaces | $14,500* Closed
Expedition May 15 - 28, 2015 | View other workshops

Papua New Guinea with M. Westmorland and Karen Kasmauski

Map via Google

After thirty visits to PNG over the last two decades, photographer Michele Westmorland considers it her "second home." She and co-leader Karen Kasmauski, one of the world's most highly respected photojournalists with over two dozen feature assignments for National Geographic magazine to her name, invite 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 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 around 800 different languages spoken in a country with a population of around 5 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 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 Papua New Guinea together in an array of color and passion.

The Cape Nelson in Oro Province of Papua New Guinea 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 sago preparation.  Sago is a staple food source that comes from the pulp of a endemic palm.Other activities will include a trip to waterfalls or hikes to vistas overlooking the fjord areas.  And if you are willing to put your camera down, you can snorkel along the mangroves and forest growth in the shallow reef areas.

This trip is packaged as single-occupancy by default (double-occupancy guests save $1250 each), and includes all lodging, 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 and Karen Kasmauski.

ITINERARY: Click "read more" below right...


Fri 15 May, 2015

Upon arrival 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 group dinner.

Overnight: Airways Hotel (--D)

Sat 16 May, 2015

In the morning, we will transfer to our Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby to Tari. The Tari Valley is home to the Huli, a colorful and proud people still largely living the traditional manner of their ancestors, ornamenting themselves with human hair wigs adorned with brilliant feathers and flowers. Ambua Lodge is an inspired mixture of local architecture, spectacular views and modest luxury off the beaten track at 7000 feet (2100 meters) in the PNG Southern Highlands.

Afternoon guided nature walk through the highland forest looking for birds of paradise.

Overnight: Ambua Lodge (B,L,D)

Sun 17 & Mon 18 May, 2015

Enjoy two full days of exploration and cultural photography. 

Overnight: Ambua Lodge (B,L,D)

Tue 19 May, 2015

Fly by charter aircraft to Karawari airstrip over some of the most rugged and impressive landscapes in the world. The country between Ambua and the Sepik region is an amazing array of jagged limestone that seems to rise and drop at impossible angles. From the airstrip, you will be transferred by river boat to Karawari Lodge. 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.

Proceed with lunch then follow by an afternoon visit to Kundiman village for sago making demonstration.  Sago is the staple food for the river people.

Overnight: Karawari Lodge (B,L,D)

Wed 20 May, 2015

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)

Thu 21 May,  2015

Transfer from Karawari Lodge to the airstrip for our charter flight to Mount Hagen. During the flight, mountains rise up to startling heights out of the flat lands of the Sepik Basin. Mount Hagen Town is in the upper Wahgi Valley, featuring the oldest evidence of agriculture in the world.  Transfer from airport to Highlander Hotel and proceed to Mount Hagen Town and main market area.

Overnight: Highlander Hotel (B,L,D)

Fri 22 May, 2015

Today, a full day is spent at the Tumbuna sing-sing. Photograph traditional dancers, interact with cultures dating back to the stone age, and hear stories about "Taim bilong Tumbuna" (time of the ancestors).  Picnic lunch will be provided at the show grounds.

Overnight: Highlander Hotel (B,L,D)

Sat 23 May, 2015

Morning excursion, then transfer from Highlander Hotel to airport for flight back to Port Moresby.

Overnight: Airways Hotel (B,L,D)

Sun 24 May, 2015

Early morning transfer to airport for our flight to Tufi Resort on Cape Nelson. Afternoon excursion.

Overnight: Tufi Resort (B,L,D)

Mon 25 & Tues 26 May, 2015

Daily excursions exploring the overwhelming opportunities presented by the local ecology, landscape, and cultures.

Weds 27 May, 2015

Morning excursion, then transfer to airport for late afternoon flight back to Port Moresby.

Overnight: Airways Hotel (B,L,D)

Thurs 28 May, 2015

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

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

Karen Kasmauski

Consider the metaphor of a grain of sand: one grain in a thousand is insignificant, while it can also be unique in shaping everything that it touches. Now apply this idea to photography.

Since 1984, Karen Kasmauski has photographed more than two dozen major stories for National Geographic magazine. Her work examines issues of science, public health, and global change. Karen entered college with plans to become a marine biologist. The degrees she ultimately received, in anthropology and religion, helped her explore her real fascination—how science allows us to understand ourselves and how that shapes our destiny.

"My interest is the people, not the process of technology," Karen says. "Instead of saying, 'Here is the machine our understanding has created,' I say, 'Here is the person affected by our understanding.'"

Born to a Japanese mother, Karenhas explored her own roots in several stories, including an intimate look at the world of Japanese women, economic coverage of Japan in Asia, and examination of the challenges facing Okinawa. Her travels have taken her from the rain forests of Malaysia to the megacities of India to the North Slope of Alaska. She has covered earthquakes in Japan, been arrested in Africa, and exposed to radiation in Russia.

Her book, Impact: From the Frontlines of Global Health, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. An exhibition based on the book has been displayed at the Carter Center and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Karen is prominently featured in the award-winning book National Geographic Women Photographers, and she has been profiled on several television shows.

She also works closely with Nikon and is a member of their prestigious "Legends Behind the Lens" group. A sought-after speaker and educator, teaching for many colleges, including George Washington University in Washington, DC, she gives frequent presentations on global health issues for corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Prior to working for National Geographic, Karen spent five years as a staff photographer with the Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star in Norfolk, Virginia. She has received numerous awards in the annual White House News Photographers and Pictures of the Year competitions.

Video: Karen in Hong Kong for National Geographic

Video: Karen in South Africa for National Geographic

Video: Karen climbs Japan's Mount Fuji for National Geographic

Video: TED Talks – Karen Kasmauski

Video: Impact book multimedia

Video: Getty Grant Project on Appalachian coal mining

Video: Waterman for the New York Times

Visit Karen's website


  • Exceptional opportunities for photography of some of the most colorful and visually compelling native 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 and Karen Kasmauski
  • First-rate accommodations
  • 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
  • Ambua Lodge – Tari
  • Karawari Lodge – Karawari River
  • Highlander Hotel – Mount Hagen
  • Tufi Resort – Cape Nelson


airplane iconcar iconfoot iconweather icon
After your international flight into Port Moresby, all internal charter flights are included. All ground transportation and transfers are included. Be prepared to walk up to a mile on forest trails. 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.