CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

Please find below some feedback comments from some of the past travellers who have taken our escorted tours and independent touring itineraries.

E-mail addresses of the individuals commenting below are available on request.

Silke & Andreas Schmidt (Austria)
After our fantastic trip to the summit of Mt. Wilhelm we visited further the Karawari area, was in Alotau for the Kundu drum and canoe festival, in Malaita Solomons with the people making shell money and panpipe-music and then we relax in Gizo in the Sanbis-Resort. This are the news from us - thank you once more for your support during our trip.






Stuart Redler (artistic photographer, UK) www.stuartredler.com
I am a UK based professional photographer and asked Aaron at Ecotourism Melanesia to organise a two week trip around Papua New Guinea for me in October 2014.
My brief to Aaron was to organise a trip to a number of different places over a period of about 2 weeks so I could photograph a variety of different tribes wearing Sing Sing and traditional PNG costumes. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to shoot but pretty much left it up to Aaron to decide exactly where I should go.
Aaron initially sent a rough itinerary by e-mail, then after I gave him the go ahead a detailed itinerary with costings. He organised all the logistics of getting from A-B, together with guides, accommodation and of course the all important Sing Sing groups. He has lots of local contacts around Papua New Guinea who organised a fantastic array of locals wearing Sing Sing costumes for me to photograph. Aaron has experience of working with photographers which helped considerably when planning.
I was very impressed with the organisation and the guides in particular were excellent, they were all extremely pleasant and very helpful, enabling me to fully concentrate on my photography. As I moved to a different place a new guide took over who had local knowledge and in all cases were able to communicate with the people I was photographing if they didn �t speak English, although many of them did. While travelling around I noticed that if there was mobile communication all the guides kept in daily contact with Ecotourism in Port Moresby with an update of how things were going. Transport was reasonably complex, involving smallish planes, very small planes landing on grass strips, 4x4 hire, taxi, canoe and walking however everything went pretty much like clockwork.
There were a few minor hiccups along the way, nothing to write home about though and in all cases the guides did all they could to help resolve any problems.
Stuart Redler PDF version


Doug and Rosemary Bates (Adelaide)
Munuwata Island was divine. The boat ride over, the canoe ride to snorkel, the generous (way too much for us) lunch, the beautiful children. The village people were generous and accommodating.
Philippe Perrin and family (France)
Aaron, the hike was great, really. The porters and the local guides were well prepared with logistics. At Simbai the accommodation is super clean with a nice shower. At Waim the people received us warmly. At Sambi we had even warmer welcome. The path from Sambi back to Simbai was the most beautiful (primary forest and scenic views). The day from Simbai to Womuk was less interesting, walking on a well-built road between the two places. At Womuk we experienced the warmest welcome of all, the village really spent a full day with us and the family was delighted. The village boss (Brian) is bright and very caring. In Dusin, the village is of less interest and the accommodation was poorest although OK with us.
This is a trip for people who like interacting with the locals and walking the mountains. The accommodations are basic but it can be seen that the village people have done their best. Thank you for organizing this trek. You can give my email to potential clients who would like to have references.
Norma Wright and Pat Macconnacher (Australia)
Aaron here are some comments re our trip to PNG. It was a great experience and we saw a diverse variety of country, village and cultural activities. I congratulate you on your guides Jane and Espinol. They made our trip so worthwhile. Jane from Ecotourism worked hard to ensure we had a wonderful experience. Jane was always courteous, helpful, knowledgeable, happy and worked hard to smooth our way through the Highlands. Espinol our driver in the Highlands was also a pleasure to be with. As he comes from the area, he knew the culture and customs and is a most reliable driver. Espinol can be recommended as a driver and guide ensuring our safety at all times. The half day tours to Akameku Village, Daulo Pass moss forest and Mt Hagen is recommended. The Kalam Culture Festival at Simbai was a wonderful cultural experience and the people at the Guest House were efficient and aware of tourists needs. While accommodation was basic, it was clean. We were welcomed to the cultural activities to watch the dancing and performances.










Antony Dunkels and group (UK)
Aaron I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for putting together such an awesome trip, particularly as it was an itinerary devised just for us. We felt really well-looked after by your staff and others that accommodated us along the way. I would like to mention some stand out characters, places and experiences from along the way. Many whose kindness and hospitality was second to none:
Jane- was very kind and extremely hard-working. She paid close attention to us and ensured we always had everything we needed. Dickson, Ronald, Henry and all the staff at Kalam Guest House- all were so friendly and took such pride in the festival. They definitely enhanced our Simbai experience. John- helper at Kalam and a porter on the trek to Dusin. He was an absolute star- full of humour, worked himself to the bone to make sure we were okay and was an absolute joy to be around. He will be much missed by all of us. The trek from Simbai to Womuk and Dusin was the highlight of the trip for us and we would definitely recommend it to future travellers. We passed through remote villages and saw some jaw-dropping scenery. Our reception in Womuk and the hospitality shown by Brian and the rest of the village was incredible. We had a wonderful welcome Sing Sing and the whole village turned up to greet us. Our accommodation had been lovingly daubed in flowers and we were genuinely moved. Brian was a very interesting person to speak too and really gave us a great insight into rural PNG life. He was also very attentive- when it rained in the night he came down to check we were okay. The trek up to Dusin was hard-work but worth it. We were not expecting a village in the sky! We were greeted with the normal hospitality and John did his usual magic in putting together a cracking evening meal. A particular highlight of the trip for me was the steep runway in the clouds at Dusin. The flight out was nail-biting!
On the Sepik James from Ecotourism was fantastic from the start. He went to great lengths to ensure that we saw absolutely everything. He was like a sightseeing drill-sergeant! He took us to a village not on the schedule, which was great as they were not expecting us and were very excited and welcoming. We really enjoyed staying in James' village- it is a beautiful spot and he took us out on the lake to check the fishing nets, which was great fun. He is also building what looks like a fantastic (and huge) guesthouse. There was a small army of workers there hammering away. It was very kind of James to escort us all the way to Wewak. He even insisted on escorting us around the market to ensure we were safe. Then to Madang- the hotel was great and we did some decent diving. Rempi was incredible. The newly built accommodation, with mattresses and pillows, was great. So were the toilet facilities. Peter from Rempi village was so attentive, so kind and so anxious to make sure we were having fun. His kindness and hospitality and that of the whole village was just incredible. We felt like guests from the start and family by the end. We had a welcome Sing Sing. Peter took us spear-fishing on the reef and the villagers paddled us all out to the islands. After a marvellous dinner on the first night we were instructed in the art of chewing Betel nut- much to the amusement of the village. We then sat up into the night exchanging stories of home with some of the elders. On day 2 we made the trek to the bat cave with a number of Rempi villagers. Peter and others guided us into the cave and took me pretty far inside. I only lost my nerve when I almost put my hand on a spider the size of a dog! That evening we had another Sing Sing in which we were invited to partake. All the villagers joined in to teach us the moves! We then stayed up with the elders and exchanged various national songs and drank kava. An indication of how thoughtful Rempi was- a number of the males from the village guarded our guest house all night to ensure that we were safe and felt safe. They asked for no thanks for doing so. Amazing. When we left Rempi they gave us a beautiful and tear-inducing farewell Sing Sing with Peter on guitar. We really felt that we were leaving close friends.
And so our PNG experience was at an end with only 1,028 photos to show. We all had a marvellous time. We also all noted the good work that Ecotourism does with and for the villages. They value Ecotourism highly and the sustainable tourism and income stream it can provide. We think they deserve it for their effort and hospitality and will do our best to send more people over from the UK.
Pat Ferrara and Paula Malesa (New York USA)
Aaron I want to thank you all for the spectacular, in depth experience of Papua New Guinea.   The itinerary was just what Paula and I hoped for - lots of time in the villages with the  local people, enjoying their customs, food and stories. Our local guides were outstanding, our accommodations diverse and  lovely.  Even our unexpected changes worked out exceedingly well. I appreciate all you did to adjust our itinerary.  Emmanuel and Wally - you gave us great experiences in Port Moresby.  Again thank you all for all the care and effort you put in to making our stay so enlightening and fascinating.  It was truly a trip of a lifetime. Also a huge thank you for the Bird of Paradise display at Varirata!  Totally unexpected, stunning and a perfect ending to a wonderful visit.   


Dr Jonathan Segal (USA)
I think that the time in Simbai was probably the best part of the trip--felt more authentic than the Goroka Show, although the Show was incredible, and it really gave a sense of the remoteness, the beauty, and the traditional way of life of PNG better than anything else that we did. Staying in one rural place for several days really allows it all to sink in.


Dr Mike Bridger (UK)
The holiday was brilliant and the Kalam festival in particular unforgettable.


Julie Christensen (Australia)
Despite being sick for almost the whole trip I really enjoyed it. It was beautiful, the people were very friendly, the tour was good and my fellow travellers were a good bunch. I took a zillion pics.
Alef and Ria (Holland)
We had a wonderfull trip through PNG, although even on a organized tour it takes some open minded traveling. There are always situations which come unexpected but that makes it as real as it gets !! If you decide to go bear in mind that this region is underdeveloped it won't be a 5 star honeymoon but in return you will get to see the real life. We just returned from our world travel which took 2 years, traveled all over the world through 38 countries including all the Pacific islands but still PNG was one of our favorites !!
When we booked our trip we did not know what to expect. Ecotourism did a wonderful job and we were very pleased with their approach.
Maurice E Blake (Australia)
Aaron, a few lines to tell you how much my brothers, nephew and myself appreciated your care and attention to us whilst in PNG. It was unfortunate that the weather, previous to our visit, had upset our initial planned intention to visit the battle areas of Buna, Gona and Sanananda by land and air.
Your organisation of the charter flights from Port Moresby to Wanigela, Popondetta, Kokoda and the next day from Port Moresby to Tufi and low level up the coast to Buna, Sanananda, Gona with circuits over the battle areas are a credit to your organisation. Under the circumstances you could not have done more for us.
The visit to the cemetery at Bomana, with you and your friends, on Sunday, although sad and emotional for us was much appreciated as was the wreath you organised.
I must take the opportunity to thank the people of Port Moresby for the beautiful condition of the cemetery and surrounds. So neat, clean and well maintained.
The trip to Owers Corner was very interesting and finished our Sunday perfectly.
My only regret is that I didnt do the trip years ago when I was a bit fitter as the trail by foot would have been a challenge and a vivid reminder of our war time history and the battle our boys fought and the PNG carriers magnificent support.
The accommodation was varied but very good in the city, no complaints there under the circumstances. The trip around the city and museum was interesting; a pity we couldn't have had another day to have a good look around and take our time.
Finally, I must thank you, Aaron and Ecotourism Melanesia for an unforgettable trip with your hands-on guided tours. I will never forget you or PNG and will most certainly highly recommend your firm to all.


Zoe Riddoch (Australia)
My New Guinean adventure was a surprise to no-one more than myself. Whilst in the throes of keeping up with a hectic corporate life, I was overwhelmed by a need to get out and experience something real again - PNG was calling. Six weeks later I got off the plane in Moresby and there was no turning back.
The journey began as we left the capital on a Public Motor Vehicle, the wide eyes of the other passengers regarding me with quiet fascination. Upon arriving in the Tauri River region it was easy to see that the land was rich and glowed with jungle greens. My local guides were cousins and as the trip took me up the river I found that the village folk were all somehow connected through an extended family network. As we continued to trek and boat along the river, the number of guides and porters accompanying me increased until I had quite an entourage. I was not overly fit before arriving in New Guinea, however the trek was not overly arduous (although the tropical heat certainly had an impact). Aside from the food we carried in our packs, fresh fruit, vegetable and fish were plentiful - and delicious! The villages provided lovely local-style accommodation for me throughout the trek and at night recounted many stories and songs, even performing village dances in traditional dress! The Tauri villagers were some of the most real people I have ever come across, their generosity and interest in me exceeding all of my expectations. A lot can be learned from these people, their values and I most certainly have a refreshed appreciation for family and life. Ecotourism Melanesia did an excellent job in coordinating my trip and ensuring the provisions for myself and the local guides. At no time did I feel unsafe or hungry! I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting an experience to remember.



























Rodrigo Gallegos (Mexico)
Papua New Guinea is one of those memories that prevails in your every day life, as it touches probably the simplest, yet deepest part of our human consciousness. The people of Papua and it’s unspoiled wilderness within it’s remote, yet lively and awaken valleys and mountains in the middle of the rainforest, bring out something in it’s visitors hard to describe.
Papua is in many ways the last frontier of our modern society. Not only because the country is untouched in many aspects, thus there are pristine rainforest along the country, but also because the way in which people live, relate and behave is different from what we are used to in Western societies. People in Papua are used to giving for the sake of giving without expecting anything in return, not even a thank you is expected…this may seem trivial but it really makes a differences and makes you reflect upon how we are used to expect at least a thank you, and live upon a world of expectations. This is perhaps some of the questionings that traveling across Papua start to unfold. Visiting the remote villages of Papua helped me realize that no matter how different people may seem to live, (as many hundreds of years ago) we can communicate, feel and share joy among us…there is just something amazing, nostalgic, romantic and touching when you arrive to a town where people have never seen a “Whiteman” ….yet they all come close to shake your hand, to let you know you are most welcomed and to smile and communicate with you through gestures and the deepness of each stare. And even when being stared by all the community you feel as if people are just waiting to hug you.
This is why I really recommend trekking in some of the most unexplored parts of Papua. I had the fortune to do this in the Ramu River which is off the beaten track; mine was the second expedition to go there for a trekking.
I started the trek in the Ramu River, although the adventure started when I first awaited the bus in Madang (of the eastern coast). Time is completely different in Papua, there are no set schedules and bus driver may stop many times to have a chat, a smoke or chew beetle nut with friends in small markets along the roadside between destinations. Once this continuous stopping does not worry you, you relax hoping you can be on time for the flight out from the mountains. So you start enjoying the many markets, the families which all travel with sacks of fruit in the cargo lorry we travel. I recommend trying the beetle nut just to spend some time with locals. They just love sharing this and looking at foreigners try it.
As soon as you start driving within the mud roads from Madang to Ramu River you appreciate the beauty of the pristine rainforest that covers all the mountain ranges that commence to unfold in the horizon. The bus dropped at the end of the road, close to a very small village by the river. Here you take the canoe up the river. However it is hard to coordinate with canoe drivers to be able to get the canoe that same day as obviously there are no schedules. So I had to wait for the next day to see if a canoe was to arrive as there were only 2 motor canoes in the river and nobody knew where they were.
So we walked as night began through the rainforest for about 40 minutes to another small town by the river of probably 8 little bamboo huts. We stayed at a friends house of my guide (Philippe a dear friend) and slept in a bamboo platform outside the hut (used for eating and cooking) overlooking the river under a glittering sky. I will always remember the simple yet tasteful pasta soup with all the children and family around me.
One of the things that is amazing of Papua is that there are many different tribes and more than 600 spoken languages. Probably the most diverse country in the world, considering there are only 5 million people. I believe that this has to do with the fact that there is plenty of land and almost no food scarcity across the country, thus people just share what they have without expecting anything in return. Bottom line there is no real need to invade other for resources (many of the inter tribal fighting in Papua had to do with rivalries but also with rituals where even sometimes war was simulated). Thus, today there are hundreds of different tribes coexisting in a small territory, each preserving their own traditions.
Besides being very poor people in villages along the trek do not need money as all transactions are still based on barter system. And since food can literally be taken from trees there is this true food sharing among tribes that is rarely seen in anywhere else in this planet.
The trip in the canoe took almost the double than we estimated, about 9 hours. This happens when the river is low, as you have to paddle in some places. We stopped in various villages along the river where we dropped and picked up other passengers that somehow continued to fit in the long and narrow canoe made of one sole long carved wooden tree trunk. The canoe fills up from the very beginning with sacks of food, children animals and other passengers, there is no space left for future load. It is a long trip under the sun so you should wear a hat and take plenty of water to avoid exhaustion.
As the afternoon fell we descended to a little wooden village besides the river were people were just so surprised to see me that I felt as if I had arrived to the New World. From there we started walking towards Aiombe a station built by the Australians. The trek is beautiful in the middle of a tall rainforest and crossing small turquoise rivers were you can have refreshing swims. On our 3 hour walk to Aiome from the river night fell and the walk was spectacular. We had not prepared well for the long day journey (as we had barely taken food with us, big mistake) so we had to stop in a small town in the forest, whose houses were above 2 meters bamboo platforms, beautiful, to have a meal. Everybody literally from the town brought something from their homes to the fire were I was sitting. I had bananas, fresh fish and bread they cook from millet. This has been one of the most memorable meals of my life, sharing with the whole community, smiling at pictures and just enjoying together.
In Aiome we slept in a teachers hut inside the school. This was great as students and teachers come to share with you their experiences and want to learn more about your country. So I found a great moment to exchange opinions and ask questions about Papua and learn from a Papuan perspective.
The next day is the most exhausting day as you climb all day long for at least 6 hours, so try and start early in the morning before the sun pours down. The views of the rainforest and the Ramu River below are stunning. Also in the highlands the temperature cools off and the views of the mountain range covered in green on the other side are breathtaking.
Here we arrived to one of the most beautiful villages you’ll encounter in your life, Kenains. Last year they had just built some small cottages for tourist and I was the first tourist to stay there. The project is brilliant as all the walls, roofs, bathrooms and furniture were built by the community with fine knitting of leaves on walls, ceilings, beds and even chairs…overwhelming! The whole community came down to greet me and perform traditional dances. They were really happy to have a foreigner stay the overnight with them.
During the night a group from the community shared stories by the fire overlooking the rainforest and the mountain range in the distance. Food was excellent and we had a great moment of exchanging and learning from each other.
In the morning before dawn we went down the mountainside to spot the Birds of Paradise in the morning dance. They already built a shelter covered in leaves so that the birds cannot see their expectators. This is one of nature’s most breathtaking exhibitions. The male just hops beside the female on the trip showing his feathers and expanding his body with grace and multiple colors. Many males dance in the same branch while they chant to a female. Yet females also cry out while they wait for males, really something worth seeing.
Leaving Kenains was definitely hard, I really enjoyed my stay in this fine corner of earth surrounded by paradise birds, orchids and the pristine forest. The next day’s walk is much more tranquil as there is no climbing and it is not as hot as it is down by the river basin as all the walk is in the highlands. From here views from the Bismarck Mt Range in front can be seen. I was really glad to be on this mountain range as on the other you can see right away how the forest is different as most of rainforest has been substituted by eucalyptus forest and there are more villages to be spotted as there are paved roads. In the late afternoon we arrived to the valley of Simbai. A beautiful green valley surrounded by pine trees were it even gets cold. Here you find some small hotels and infrastructure. It is nice quiet little town in the highlands with fine gardens and nice people.
The next morning I said goodbye to my guides (now I had another, Phillip a wonderful man from Kenains that has also joined us at Aiome). I felt this huge nostalgia of knowing that although it was only a few days experience with them, our time together had something to them that felt very real. I flew out in a small plane of the Missionaries Air Force from a small grass airstrip surrounded by high mountains, among sacks of coffee and 2 pilots. From the air I saw the Ramu River meandering as a huge brown serpent in this green sea of unspoiled rainforest stretching from the lowlands to all the mountains.
I do not have enough words to thank Ecotourism Melanesia for making this experience possible and so rewarding and hope that this is useful to encourage other travelers seeking for some of this uniqueness to discover this amazing corner of our planet. I have attached some pictures so you can have more an idea of what I mean. I recommend using Ecotourism Melanesia as they train people from communities on how to operate and build infrastructure for making this trip possible for trekkers, being part themselves of the business.










 

Paul Neumann (Milwaukee USA)
On arrival in Madang, I was met by Dickson and taken to the Coastwatchers Hotel with beautiful views of the Bismarck Sea. I was met there by Jane and Angie, my knowledgeable and friendly guides for my tour of Madang. Last minute preparations were made for my four day trek in the Highlands from Kanains to Dusin. After a hot shower and a good night’s rest Dickson met me at the local airport and we waited for the six-seat airplane that would take me to Kanains.
After a spectacular one hour flight, the plane bounced to a stop at tiny Kanains and I was met by my trek guide Phillip and Stanley, one of my porters. The whole village greeted me and showed me a memorable welcome. I brought a small toy football which I tossed around with the kids. Phillip my guide is the owner of a homestay in Kanains that assures sightings of birds-of-paradise in the jungle. A stay here will result in fine photos of these spectacular birds.
Leaving Kanains, we walked with some locals higher into the jungle-covered mountains. Along the way, we met many locals on the trail and exchanged friendly greetings and handshakes. The locals seemed happy to see a foreigner passing through their remote villages.
Upon arrival in fog-shrouded Kamboin, the villagers welcomed us with a traditional sing-sing. They were proud to show off their ornate native dress and celebratory dances. The Kamboin homestay is on a high ridge overlooking the jungle. The hospitality and companionship shown by the villagers was truly heartfelt and genuine. The next day we hiked past waterfalls and small villages to the Kalam Guest House in Simbai. I was given a personal tour of the grounds by Ronaldo, the owner. The grounds include an orchid garden, native plants, a village area, and a great open area where I was retreated to a sing-sing with a backdrop of majestic mountains.
The next two days were spent trekking the seldom visited Kaironk River valley, where the residents speak an entirely different language from Simbai. The villages become sparser and there are rushing rivers to wade across—very refreshing on tired feet. All the children in a school we were passing ran out to greet us with cheers and smiles. The children followed us down the trail for awhile, curious at the foreigner passing through their remote area. That evening we arrived at Womuk, the home of Stanley, my porter. Stanley has built a homestay on a dramatic ridge with sweeping views in three directions. I was welcomed with a sing-sing and special meal. Stanley showed me his home and property and I met his family. The people of Womuk overwhelmed me with hospitality and we exchanged stories in the cool mountain air around the fire. The next day we prepared for the legendary climb to Dusin, the end point of the trek. Here the trail is a single track with single logs over ravines and streams. There was always a helping hand from Phillip, Stanley, or Kingston to pull up or over the tough sections. We enjoyed lunch with a local family along a rushing river and received gifts of a bilum and spears. Then the trail climbed steeply from the Kaironk River. This is why they call it the ‘hard trek’! We caught our breath every few minutes on the steep climbs until we came to a patch of jungle where we rested in the shade. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at Dusin and stayed in a local home. I was pretty exhausted so I leaned against my pack in the house and took a good long nap. The next morning I waited at the airstrip for my flight back to Madang. This whole experience was an amazing way to ‘get under the skin’ of Papua New Guinea and how most people live their daily lives. The people were always curious about where I was from and what my life in America was like. The people in turn exchanged stories about their lives and customs. This made the trek a true cultural immersion experience. This was a great experience that showcased cultural, natural, and scenic attractions. The region was unspoiled and I was treated like royalty, since there are not so many visitors here. All guides, porters, and homestays were local, so all benefits of the visit went directly to residents. My guide Phillip was organized, knowledgeable, and proud to show off his country. My porters, including Stanley, were wonderful companions and added more local knowledge and greatly enhanced the experience. This was an experience unique to PNG and shows the strengths and traditions of the country.