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Sepik River Adventures along the sepik river in Papua New Guinea

 
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:35 AM
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Meandering the Upper Sepik

Story and photographs by Nancy Sullivan - Paradise Magazine July-August 2002.

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Recipe for a week off - fly to Wewak, enjoy a night at the Sepik International on the beach, catch a flight the next day to Ambunti, where after a night at Ambunti Lodge, you meander by canoe up the Sepik River.

When you stop at Ambunti Lodge, a simple cheerful establishment, pick up a couple of chairs for the canoe. Gather your foodstuffs, torches, water bottles and hats, then push off. Your canoe will have its own driver who will show you Avatip, Japandai and Pagwi within the first couple of hours.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:37 AM
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The Upper Sepik is a quieter, more peaceful waterway than the Middle Sepik. It's here that you're more likely to see a crocodile sunbathing along the shore or kits gambolling and dive-bombing in the pitpit.

Along with the ever-present cormorants and starlings, there are dollar birds, herons and egrets streaking across the river. Here and there an eagle soars high overhead.

If you're not in a rush and you can cut the motor in time, you may even come across a cuscus perched high in a tree (photo below). This is the pace that villagers take when they travel to market or to visit relatives. It's the only way to see birds and wildlife in abundance.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:39 AM
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Families staying at riverside garden camps may even welcome visitors for the night, especially if you share your Maggi noodles, rice and tin fish.

A good dunk in the river at dusk is more refreshing than you might think after a long day under the unyielding sun. Some village haus tambarans, like Yentchen's, sit right by the river-bank, and like the most handsome of private homes, present their stately facades to all the river traffic.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:44 AM
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You may catch a health or political awareness meeting in one of these grand old haus tambarans (photo this page), which is one of their additional functions these days.

Don't be startled to find women inside, because they are often invited into the ground floor for special meetings like this. Traditionally, the haus tambarans are for men only.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:48 AM
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If the river current is steady, you may chug downstream quickly enough to reach Palimbe or Kaminibit by the afternoon of the second day. Here the people are much more accustomed to visitors, and they will layout a full market with a wide variety of artefacts (photos left and top).

Iatmul men will happily show you their initiatory skin cuts.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:50 AM
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In the Chambri Lakes you may even find a woman who has had her skin cut too (photo above). Nowadays, digital cameras have screens to display the picture instantly, which is very interesting for people who rarely see their own photograph.
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Old 21-04-2003, 10:53 AM
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Villagers selling their artefacts :
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