Saturday 1 February 2014

Heritage Expeditions first to visit Papua New Guinea’s Bipi

Have you ever wondered what Paradise looks and sounds like? A group of lucky travelers found out recently when they visited the tiny Melanesian island of Bipi.

Landing on the island by zodiac, the 50 passengers and guides were welcomed at the beach where they were taken through a traditional cleansing ceremony followed by a spectacular cultural performance from islanders of all ages.

The visit was part of a two-week itinerary throughout Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands organised by Heritage Expeditions, a New Zealand-based travel company that specialises in conservation tourism.

Expedition leader, Aaron Russ, said, “We were the first group of travelers to ever visit the island, so our arrival was as special for the local people as it was for us.”

“Conservation is our guiding principle and we always ensure that each place we visit is left just as we found it. Travelling to these remote and pristine places with small groups ensures this can happen”.

Bipi is a flat coral island located off the west coast of the main island of Manus in Papua New Guinea. Consisting of just three villages, it has a population of approximately one thousand inhabitants. In the 1970s and 1980s the island was famous for its master wood carvers. Today the main economic activity is fishing and harvesting sea cucumbers for the Asian markets.

While is it easy to describe Bipi Island as paradise, living in such a remote area has its challenges, including access to healthcare and schooling. Heritage Expeditions’ Discovery Fund, which is made up of passenger donations, contributes resources towards educational, environmental and cultural initiatives in regions the company travels to.

The Heritage Expeditions team is looking forward to returning to Bipi Island in October this year on the 14 day Melanesia Discoverer expedition exploring the islands of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.


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