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Wauwap Waterfall & Adventure - Madang, PNG

A mountainous hiking adventure to Halopa Station and magnificant waterfall - Report

sunny 31 °C

Halopa is a Catholic village station within the hinterland of Alexishafen situated due north-west of Madang town. It is one of the most remote areas located towards the tip of the Adelbart Range in the upper higher lands of Madang’s north-coast that passes through St. Benedict’s Agricultural & Technical College at Danip few kilometers away from the main catholic mission at Alexishafen.

It takes almost 45minutes drive from Madang to the agricultural college at Danip on left few kilometers away from Alexishafen. The road from the college to Halopa station is unsealed and takes another 1 and half hour drive (total of almost 2hours drive from town to Halopa) by a four-wheel drive or 10-seater Hilux due to potholes and bumpy areas of the highway. The first half of the unsealed road has been upgraded but the other half of the road towards the station has potholes and ditches along the highway which causes most of the vehicles to turn at Apug Mountain leaving the passengers to walk. However, the highway is accessible with four-wheel drives and mostly frequented by the Catholic Priests and the medical workers transporting aid-post supplies for the station.

It is one of the untouched areas that is potential for hiking and bird-watching as well as other ecotourism activities.
On January 16th 2011 at 0630hrs, I left Kalagom village close to Alexishafen with locals from Halopa to explore the most talk-about waterfall at Halopa station. It took us about 3hours walk to the station.

We followed the main highway from Danip passing through a small wet-crossing, through Darimdau village within Mabonob area and leaving a junction on the left (leads to a Catholic Mission hideout at Baileb village. The missionary hideout still remains and is known as “Maria helpim” by locals which means Mother Mary was the main helper who helped showed the missionaries the hiding spot from the Japanese invasion at Alexishafen mission on September 14th on the eve of the WW2. Today, September 14th is seen as a significant day of worship at Maria Helpim where whole of the Catholic population in Madang come to celebrate and commemorate the missionaries who hid themselves with the aid of Mary (was told by Arnold Sapurie on our way to Halopa) and up to the blue mountains.
The right road leads up to the blue rugged mountains with 3 first small climbs and last 2big climbs before reaching the station at the tip of the mountain overlooking Karkar and Bagabag islands in the north on the Bismark Sea. Also looking towards south, a magnificent view of whole of Madang town and overlooking Astrolabe Bay towards Rai Coast’s mountain ranges which can easily be seen from the station.

The station was founded by the first German Catholic Missionaries with a church built on sight which influenced most of the locals into joining the Catholic religion. The astonishing butterfly shaped-like church building built by the missionaries has its roof built like a butterfly’s wing with its circular basement. It was officially opened coinciding with Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day on September 16th, 1975.
We arrived in time for the service at 0910 with the locals. After the church service, we met up with some of the locals and the resource owners (Paul and Lucia Huwan of Lagraielumba village) of the Wauwap waterfall.


Wauwap Waterfall

Wauwap Waterfall

We departed from the station at 1140hrs and arrived at the waterfall at around 1300hrs with a stop-over at Diu village on our way down to the waterfall. The hike starts at a significant lookout to the tropical rainforest with the cool mountain breezes and overlooking blue, cloud covering mountains on the right to the northern side.

The hiking trek has some of the wild flowering plants along the way with fresh, cold water springs that run non-stop out of the rocks that are drinkable by locals which was welcoming to a first-time visitor into the thick jungles. The forest is filled with the sound of the insects and birds with unexplored flora and fauna of the tropical wet jungle with mosses and fens.
On arrival at Wauwap waterfall, I was told by John Sapurie that there is a Cave downstream of the waterfall so we took a quick exploration down the shallow river.

It took us about a 10minutes walk down to the site. Upon discovery, the cave’s entrance was blocked by the continuous erosion of the river with composites and water covering the inlet of the cave. Locals are not allowed fishing to that site and are not allowed to dive into the cave’s inlet with their superstitious beliefs. Along our way, we discovered some of the good swimming location with small branches of waterfall down the small cliffs.

We departed on the other route from the Wauwap waterfall at 1500hrs and arrived at Lagraielumba village where the owners of the waterfall live at 1745hrs. It was below a 2hour walk back.

( Comment 1:
Our hike back from Wauwap waterfall enrooted back on the other trek to Lagraielumba village and I have suggested a brand name for the trek and waterfall as “Wauwap Waterfall & U-Trek”).

At the village, there is a great lookout to Vidar point (Pacific Marine Industrial Zone - PMIZ) with a spectacular view of whole of Madang town looking towards Rai Coast and Astrolabe Bay in the horizon.

I brought with me some store goods and gave to the locals to cook, while I sat and gave awareness and educational information about tourism to the resource owners, their families and the community chairman, Chris Ulul. It was almost a 2hour-discussion when the food was cooked and brought to us for dinner. After dinner, we departed Halopa station at 1900hrs by foot to Kalagom following the main highway back. It was a 3hours hike back arriving at 2144hours.

(Comment 2:
An authentic cultural attire and performance can be arranged by the community chairman if requested. Also can arrange a traditional fierce welcome (Warrior dance) of the tourists into the station which portrays the locals’ first exposure with the white-men in the past.

Product Status & comment 3:
New discovery, for young, energetic and adventurous tourists. Accessibility: In a remote location of hinterland of Alexishafen, tough road conditions that can only be accessed by 4wheel drive vehicles.

  • I recommend that this adventure is an overnight activity and visitors can spend a night or two with local villagers to have a good exploration to the tropical wilderness forest and waterfall.

Posted by TheosguidePNG 13:17 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged trekking backpackers adventurous madang halopa_station alexishafen wauwap_waterfall mountainous_hiking Comments (0)

Coordinating tours in the East Sepik and Simbai

Travelling with tourists from Israel to the undiscovered!

It was the busiest time of the year with traffic at the airport and lots of passengers rushing in for check-in. We pushed our way through and finally made to the counter. Not long, we had our boarding call. It was about 15minutes into our boarding time as Jane and I dashed our way through the security checkpoint and out to gate number 10 to board our Air Niugini flight. We were the last passengers to board the aircraft and took off at around 5am. It was the coldest morning of Saturday 4th December 2010.

We landed safely at Wewak's Boram Airport at 6 and the sky gave a clear dawn in the east with a spectacular sunrise view over the horizon. The hotel-shuttle bus was in time to pick us up to Boutique Hotel where we were accommodated for three nights.

We refreshed ourselves for an hour before going for an exploration into Wewak town as first-timers. We scanned through the shops in town without interest and wandered down to Dagua Market. It took us about half an hour walk from town through compounds before finally discovering the market.

It was a good morning stroll before arriving at Dagua fresh food market, an open air-market with installed canopies that sellers used to shade themselves from the sun-ray. A lot of fresh fruits and vegetables including sagos and nearly most of the protein sold were dried and smoked fish. There were other store goods as well as local artifacts sold at the roadside. Jane and I bought a couple of pig’s tusk for our tourists as their souvenirs. We then moved on buying fresh pineapples, banana, cucumbers, pawpaw and other tropical fruits for our following days’ tours: the Muschu-Kairiru Islands tours and Middle-Sepik River expedition.

At 3:30pm, we drove on the hotel-shuttle bus to the airport to receive our clients: a father and son, respectively Jonathan and Yahaley Saar from the holy land of Israel. The tourists arrived on time but unfortunately without their luggage. We were informed that most of the passengers with our clients who travelled on PX126 flight via Madang also came without their luggage. We were very disappointed and contacted Air Niugini office in Port Moresby to locate and priorities the tourists’ luggage on the next flight to Wewak (which was on Sunday afternoon), in which Air Niugini cargo services was genuine enough to solve our problem.

Muschu-Kairiru Islands: DAY 1

Sunday 5th

December, 2010

On Sunday 5th December I woke up early in the morning at 6:20am before my set alarm went off at 6:30am to get ourselves organized for the first day's tour with the tourists. I got the esky, umbrellas; two bunches of ripe bananas and two large pineapples from my room to the verandah. Jane filled the esky with bottled water while I went to the reception to arrange for the kitchen staff to peel our pineapples and arranged for the party ice. The pineapples were peeled, chopped and packed neatly in three take-away lunch boxes. I took the packed pineapples upstairs and topped them into the esky on the water bottles with the ripe bananas. By then, it was 7am when we met with one of our local guides, Wolfy Kalem.
We loaded all our cargos onto the hotel's 15-seater bus and got on with our tourists. It was the first day of the whole tour and the clients were excited to begin their first ever experience in Papua New Guinea!

Muschu Island

The speed boat, powered by 40Horse-power Endura motor left the wharf at 8:30am and arrived on Muschu Island at Sup village in the eastern side of the isle at around 9am.

It was raining shower when the speed boat dashed over the crashing waves and against the northern winds as we soared over the waves, taking heed of ourselves from the pouring shower. We took out umbrellas and gave to our clients who sheltered themselves and gazed excitingly at the breaking waves through the journey before reaching Muschu Island.

The people on that side of the island make up the small portion that speaks Tau language together with the Kairiru islanders, while the majority of the population on Muschu are Yangoru speakers. Like the Kairiru islanders, the Muschu islanders often eat sago and taro as their main staple food.

The place was quiet and peaceful when we arrived at Sup village consisting of about four scattered village houses. The villagers were all gone for church service and only a couple of locals where there to receive us for the sight-seeing to the amazing white sandy and coral beaches that was very romantic and peaceful on that lonely part of the island.

We departed Mushcu Island from Sup village at 11am for Kairiru Island.

Kairiru Island

It took us 50minutes before arriving on Kairiru Island at Shagur village at around 11:50am.

On our way, we went past Namasi, Krakur and Pou Primary School before reaching Shagur village. We were told that the Wewak Open MP, Moses Manuau originates from Krakur village in which his village people were given turn to offer us a traditional welcome at Shagur. Jane and I became part of the tourists and were given a warm welcome with flower laces around our neck with the clients upon arrival. The cultural dance and the chant from the traditional sing-sing was marvelous and very welcoming to us as first time visitors to that part of the world!

The cultural dance went on for 15minutes before lunch at noon. During the lunch, the villagers kept on entertaining the tourists by performing different cultural dances with a comedy drama portraying the first European visit to that island during the colonial times.

After lunch at 1:30pm I escorted the tourists with local guides up to a mountain-side to discover a spectacular waterfall while Jane stayed at the village giving awareness to the locals the concept and importance of ecotourism. It was a 20minute walk to the magnificent waterfall, about 10meters high from the cliff. The waterfall was chilling cold that the tourists enjoyed the delight of its naturally untouched surroundings as they cool themselves having a shower from the non-stop pouring of the natural water.

We arrived back at the village at 2pm and continued our tour to a hot-spring at 2:25pm via Pruan village. It was a 15minutes speed boat trip from Shagur to Pruan Village. We then left at 2:45pm for a 1hr-trek to the hot-spring.

The sea-side trek from Pruan to the hot-spring passes through Kililu village and a couple of hot streams that run down to the beachside with the sulfuric smell in the atmosphere. Final one-quarter of the trek passes through a couple of steep climb over the ridge and into the beautiful forest vines and overlooking the Victoria Bay back to the start (Pruan village) of the one-hour trek.

As soon as we arrived at the host-spring at 3:50pm, Jane and the motor crew arrived as well to pick us up in time. We spent 10minutes taking shots at the hot-spring and threw some green bananas on the hot-spring and left cooked in no time! The clients had a bit of taste of the naturally cooked bananas and enjoyed the amazement of the simmering, spouting spring before departing to Wewak at 4pm for an hour’s travel.

Middle-Sepik River Expedition: Day 2

Monday 6th


We left the hotel at 6:35am and arrived at the MAF airport gate at 6:45am. We waited for 20minutes before the gate was opened. While waiting we made several calls to Timbunke to confirm our travel to the Middle-Sepik River expedition. We got on the small aircraft (MAF, GA8 7-Seater) and departed at 8am for 25minutes flight before arriving at Timbunke airstrip.

On arrival, we met our local guide; Albert Lumut who took us for the Sepik River expedition. We left Timbunke by motor canoe at 8:45am and traveled upstream. Our first stop was at Kaminabit, sounded like 'come in a bit' yes that's right we went in a bit to rest our canoe at the riverside. It was about an hour's trip. After 15minutes of brief artifact tour, we departed for the second village known as Simbuluman within Kaminabit further 10 minutes upstream. Upon arrival, the villagers gave us a warm welcome with a traditional dance. It was very exciting to see the villagers fully dressed up with their exalted traditional costumes engaging most of the youths.

There were villagers who spread mats and sold their most unique and prestigious traditional artifacts. We had a good glance through all the artifacts and praised the villagers for displaying their unique products.

At 11:15am, we departed for Palimbei. It was a 45minutes trip when we arrived. However, we decided to turn back to Kanganaman just 5minutes across the riverside considering our clients didn't have breakfast. We arrived at Kanganaman at noon and walked to the guest house to have our lunch before proceeding to the House Tambaran (the house of spirits). However, the locals were not ready to receive us so I took the clients with the local guide and went to visit the House Tambaran while Jane stayed with the motor operator to organize our local lunch.

We departed Kanganaman for Pagwi station at around 2pm. It was a long two-hour trip to the station that the tourists fell asleep including myself in the canoe without knowing Jane taking photos at us snoozing away!

The 15-seater hire bus, fully air-conditioned and owned by Gilbert Djata was already on standby when we arrived. We loaded all our cargoes before departing for Wewak at 4pm. The road from Pagwi to Wewak town was recently being constructed and part of it was in construction when we drove past. It was a good afternoon drive to the capital! The drive took us well over a 3hours drive stopping at couple of points of interest including the local markets along the journey buying fresh fruits and vegetables before arriving at our hotel-base at 7:15pm.

Simbai: Day 3

Tuesday 7th December

We departed Wewak’s Boram Airport at 8:50am and landed safely at Simbai airstrip at 9:40am.

This was a very frightening and exhilarating trip for me as I was told by the local pilot, Captain Stanley Namalok (previously flew Air Link and now with TNT for 5years and has over 13years of flying experience) to sit next to him in front as a co-pilot. That was something I've dreamt of and flying in front with the pilot was a once-in-a-life-time experience and very exciting for me as a traveler!

We flew steadily on an altitude of 9000 feet before approaching Simbai, south-east of our point of departure. It was a bit foggy when we flew over Simbai. The thick clouds blocked our sight to spot the airstrip and did some couple of circles in the air looking for a way through the huge clouds.

Finally, we touched down at 9:42am. We had traffic in the air delaying our ETA as there was another aircraft that landed before us soon after we landed. Not long we saw another one landing just after 15 minutes on our arrival at the airstrip. This clearly indicated how busy the small air-strip was at that particular day with visitors traveling to Simbai, the highlands of Madang province.

We met Ronald and went to Wenchrau village where we were given a warm welcome by the famous Bettle-shell head-dressers of the Kalam tribe of Simbai. The local people were very friendly and were shown around the place with the tourists.

The villagers had a display of traditional way of making fire and did a traditional mumu (a traditional method of cooking where food is placed on the heated stones in a ditch and covered carefully with leaves and additionally covered by soil to conceal all the heat and steam for the food to cook) for the tourists to witness. We then left for lunch at around noon. The hospitality provided by the locals was great.

After lunch, I got the clients with Ashron, a local guide and tourism student of Divine Word University and went sightseeing before arriving at the airstrip at 2:10pm.

We departed Simbai airstrip at 2:20pm and arrived at 3:05pm hours at Mt Hagen's Kagamuga Airport.

Jane and the clients left as soon as we arrived while I stayed back to do an inventory to other selected tourism products near Mt Hagen, Western Highlands province.

Posted by TheosguidePNG 00:55 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged river east sepik_muschu island_kairiru island_middle sepike expedition_simbai_mt hagen Comments (0)

Karkar Island, Madang - PNG

Conducting tourism awareness

sunny 30 °C

On the clear bright morning of Friday 8th May 2009 twelve of us, all 3rd year degree tourism and hospitality management students of Divine Word University, were on the ‘Elly 2' to Karkar Island.

The ‘Elly 2' is a 23 feet and 225 horse powered speed boat owned by the Goodyear family. 3rd year student Graham Paulus from the highlands and I stood at the boat's bow, thrilled with excitement as our boat soared over the waves aimed towards the island.

The sea was calm as we sped past our other group of classmates who had travelled earlier for almost two hours on MV Pundock. We felt good as we overtook them with speed and waved at them, seeing disappointment on their faces.

After about 45 minutes of speed boat travel we docked on the north black sandy shores of Biabi. The receding sunset's glow sparkled on the white crest of waves as they crashed onto the beach. It was a welcoming moment for us as we stood before the island for the first time.

We stepped off the boat and unloaded our cargos to our lecturer, Elizabeth Goodyear's house which was only a couple of meters in from the shoreline. The Goodyear's Biabi compound had a nice backyard lawn surrounded by tropical palms and ferns. It had a pond in the middle where one could see live prawns and fish under the cover of white water lilies. If one looked intently, one could spot the watchful eyes of sleepless toads and green frogs camouflaged under the lily leaves and pond rocks.

A pathway led from the pond to a small European style cottage owned by the Goodyear family on Karkar Island. The cottage front was decorated by a sculpture of a semi-nude woman in toga trying to fetch water from a gourd-like bottle. Seeing the sculpture reminded me of the famous sculptor Michelangelo, whose artworks represent the renaissance sculptures of the human body.

At the cottage our lecturer's mum Singaok warmly welcomed us and carried our cargo into the house. While waiting for the driver who didn't turn up to drive us to Kavailo Primary School, we visited the copra dryer where the Goodyear family bought cocoa from the local farmers earning them pocket money. Karkar Island is renowned for producing 65 percent of Madang's total copra production.

It was past 2pm when the driver drove in on a Land Cruiser. Our lecturer swapped with the driver and drove us up a muddy and rough road to Kavailo Primary School. I admired my lecturer as it was my first time to experience skilful driving by a female driver. The Kavailo Primary School is situated somewhere close to the base of the volcanic mountain that towers over the island. We alighted from the vehicle and set up camp in the classrooms where we spent our three nights on the island. We were told that the former PNGDF army general Jerry Singirok attended this school.

The evening was cast with lights from the reflection of stars on the ocean. It was mesmerising as it took our breaths away. It was the weekend of Mothers' Day and all this brought fresh recollections of our wonderful mothers as each of us sat gazing into the night. We did our own cooking with the rations we brought.

On Saturday 9th May we had two separate sessions in different locations. The first session started when we introduced the ecotourism concept to the students and highlighted to them the benefits and the negative impacts on the host communities. We further emphasised to them the importance of conserving the environment and maintaining our cultures through sustainable approaches and one of the ways this could be achieved was through ‘ecotourism'.

We presented the first session using short video footages, drama presentations and a question-and-answer session at the end. We concluded the first session by awarding prizes to the students and served light refreshment for lunch. This lasted for three hours.

We began the second session at 3pm on Kavailo's main village next to the seaside. The presentation theme was based on protecting the coral reefs and was presented by our group on behalf of the Coral Reef Alliance. For us it was important that the Karkar Islanders understood the importance of protecting and sustaining their rich marine life, not just for tourism but for their future generations.

Most of the people on the island attended and a few from the nearby villages and as far away as Wadau came. The people listened attentively to the awareness and participated in the question-and-answer session. Those who correctly answered the questions received small gifts. After the second session the village councillor commented positively on the awareness and stated that it was very informative and interesting for everyone as it engaged the whole community.

The final part of the program ended at 8.30pm in the night with a documentary film titled "Importance of marine life."

Sunday 10th May was set aside for us to tour the island. Our lecturer Elizabeth kindly drove us around the island. It took us just over four hours including sightseeing stops in between to complete a revolution. The places we visited were Kulili Plantation, Tugutugu Guest House and final stop was at Kulkul Plantation where everyone had an enjoyable afternoon swim in the sea.

The location proved as ideal for a get-away. The lawn was neatly maintained and surrounded by palms, hibiscus and other tropical plants. Situated on the hillside, it provided an excellent view overlooking the sea to the west. Steep braced steps about 30 meters long wound at an angle onto the black sandy beach cove. The students couldn't resist the temptation to make the most of their time with a swim in the fresh waters of the cove.

Monday 11th May was time to say goodbye and leave Karkar Island. Early in the morning we greeted ‘Tidomlom' to the school students and bade them farewell. After we have had quick breakfast and cleaned and packed up our things, we stood at the school assembly ground. The headmaster together with students and staff expressed their gratitude for our contributions. They wished for such programs to be continued. The school headmaster commended us and wanted the awareness program to happen again which was educational to the people, who lack such information on how they can sustain their environment with the challenges of population growth and climate change.

Posted by TheosguidePNG 00:19 Archived in Papua New Guinea Tagged island png tourism karkar Comments (0)

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