We journeyed down the mysterious Sepik River in a motorised dugout canoe, experiencing traditional village life along the way. Local villagers have lived along the river for millennia producing magnificent wood carvings and artful clay pottery. Ecologically, the Sepik River system is possibly the largest uncontaminated freshwater wetland system in the Asia-Pacific region. The river dominates the north-east region of PNG and the crocodiles that inhabit it, are central to the animist beliefs and initiation ceremonies that are still practised in this remote part of the world.Travelling on the Sepik River in a canoe is safe and provides an ideal vantage point from which to observe the river’s aquatic inhabitants, abundant birdlife and Sepik River peoples whose daily life seems unchanged by modernity. (Crocodiles pose no threat to tourists. The introduction of boat motors in recent decades has pushed the crocodile population away from the main Sepik River into its tributaries and extensive lake system).
Moved by the spirits
We visited the initiated men for “talk talk” in the Spirit House at night as they swapped stories of their culture, enriched with legends and myths. You can almost feel the ancestors in the shadows! (Foreign women are allowed to attend). The Kanganaman Spirit House is the oldest Haus Tambaran and one of the biggest on the river. A huge building renovated with assistance from the National Museum, it has been declared to be of national cultural importance.