The Sepik is an immense, lush, grassland reserve, surrounded by one of the world’s greatest river systems, running 1126 kilometers from its origins high in the mountains to the sea. The people along the river depend heavily on it for transportation, water, and food.
The Culture and History of Sepik
Their cultural links with the Sepik River are symbolised in many of their ancient and spiritual rituals, such as the manhood initiation. This requires painful carving of flesh on the backs of young men with razor blades. Patterns are that of a crocodile lying on the banks of the river.
The Beauty of Sepik’s Landscape
The Eastern Highlands Province is a one hour flight north from Port Moresby or half an hour from Lae or Mt Hagen. Once there, you are surrounded by steep, rugged mountains covered in dense rainforest graduating to sub-alpine vegetation.
The valleys are blanketed in grass and the panoramic views contain every imaginable shade of green. Altitude varies from 600 metres in the south to Mt Michael’s 2750 metre summit. Goroka, the largest town and capital, lies at 1600 metres above sea level.
Activities at Sepik
You can cruise the middle Sepik aboard the quaint Sepik Spirit, a slow house-boat. In addition, Kilibobo Spirit is available primarily for charter, though it doesn’t have a schedule. On special occasions the ship operates expeditionary cruises to the Sepik and the PNG Islands. West Sepik or Sandaun Province is near the West Papua (Irian Jaya) border and is inhospitable terrain. It is home to the Upper Sepik people who move around in long, narrow dugout canoes. Travel is always difficult as there are no roads and the rivers are narrow.