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Asia Transpacific Journeys' 16-day Papua New Guinea—Island in the Clouds trip departs in May.

Tour participants fly from Port Moresby to four Papua New Guinea destinations. The spectacular Tumbuna Sing-Sing is a trip highlight. Tumbuna means ancestors in Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea's lingua franca). Local tribes celebrate Taim Bilong Tumbuna (the time that belonged to the indigenous people, i.e. pre-European contact.) with colorful dancing competitions, costumes, tribal arts and customs.

Sing-sing chants and battles

Sing-sings are ritual ancient theater accompanied by haunting, happy or war-like chanting. Vocal sounds range from whooping to subtle, wind-like murmurs. Participants proudly display their tribal clothing and rituals.

Unlike staged events for tourists, sing-sings are serious competitions with long traditions. In the past, jealous losers waged war on winning tribes.

Sepik River cruise

Asia Transpacific Journeys' Papua New Guinea trip includes a three-night Sepik River cruise. The remote tribal Sepik people are famous for their ancestor cults, rich artistic traditions and their haus tambaran ceremonial houses.

Although some things have changed on Papua New Guinea during the last 70 years, many have not. Human communities were discovered in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s. When they were first contacted, the tribes were thriving in Stone Age agricultural communities. They believed they were the only people on earth.

Papua New Guinea has hundreds of distinct tribes that speak 850 mutually unintelligible languages. People grow yams and taro, search for edible fruits and animals in the forest and live in symbiosis with their livestock. Women have even nursed piglets.

Tribal art, masks and costumes

Traveling in Papua New Guinea is "like stepping back through the millennia, to glimpse human societies from 6,000 years ago," says Marilyn Downing Staff, CEO of Asia Transpacific Journeys, which has run tours to Papua New Guinea for more than 10 years.

She recommends bringing an empty suitcase. "Superb tribal art may be purchased from the source, particularly in the Sepik River region."

Downing Staff notes that costumes and masks, belonging to indigenous people, are often similar to Papua New Guinea's bird of paradise. Besides immersing participants in the anthropology of Papua New Guinea's people, the tour includes opportunities for birdwatching and discovering flora, like cloud forest orchids.

Papua New Guinea eco-lodges

The land price includes Papua New Guinea's best eco-lodges, expert tour guides, most meals, local beer, medical and evacuation insurance. International airfare and internal airfare are extra.

Ari Bond, the tour leader, was born and raised in Southeast Asia and educated in Europe. He has led many Papua New Guinea tours and managed expeditions, on all seven continents, for more than 30 years.