“A full day of Volcanoes, War history, and Tolai life” (full day)
Transfers are prompt and friendly with our staff from the airport. We will drive straight to Kokopo and unpack and have a late lunch, or we will have a break for a very tasty lunch at the Rabaul Hotel (included) then we will go up Namanula Hill to the site of old German Residency and the Japanese Peace Memorial.
After lunch, we will be on our way as we begin with the trip to Rabaul for the breathtaking view of the town, the volcanoes, and the harbor looking east from the Rabaul Vulcanological Observatory on "Tunnel Hill" - named for the many tunnels dug in the soft volcanic rock by the Japanese during World War II.
By afternoon's close you will have seen the old British floating crane, the Japanese barge tunnel, and the Chinese cemetery on the way to Rabaul. After the view from the Observatory, we head straight to the foot of Mount Tavurvur to see the hot springs, sulphurous steam points, megapod eggs twice as big as a hen egg (the eggs are boiled in the hot springs), then across the old Rabaul airport to the WWII Japanese war plane wrecks.
We will also look at the resettlement and reconstruction of Matupit Island -- still struggling 20 years after the last major eruption. We drive back to the guest house to rest and dinner for the night.
Kokopo Guest House (LD)
Early after breakfast, we will drive out and visit Admiral Yamamoto's command bunker and the town market, then drive up to the Malmaluan lookout for a different perspective on the town, check out the Vunakanau wartime airstrip, and finally we go to the Toma lookout for the vista across the Kerevat River valley to the Bainings Mountains before returning to your Guest House.
Next we drive out to Bitapaka War Cemetery and then it is back to the town to finish the morning tour at the Kokopo market and return you to your hotel in time for lunch.
We will pick you up in our minibus from your lunch location in Kokopo/Rabaul at 1:30pm to begin a afternoon tour packed with interest and the history of Kokopo and East New Britain.
Our first call is the Kokopo War Museum, then Queen Emma’s Steps nearby. A visit to the German Cemetery follows, then the marvelous new cathedral at Vunapope Catholic Mission, and the Kokopo Lookout at Kenabot.
Kokopo Guest House (BLD)
Early after breakfast, we will do some SPECIALITY TOURS!
“Volcano boat cruise and hiking tour":
This half-day tour takes you around the base of Mt Tavurvur (above) and Mt Vulcan (below and smaller), on the opposite side of the harbor mouth, where you can hike to places that allow you to take a close look at points of interest.
*(We do not hike Mt Tavurvur because of the risk, but can arrange for you to do so if you wish, with reliable guides.)
Tavurvur has erupted three times in recorded history -- 1878, 1937, and 1994. Vulcan erupted for the first time in 1937 and then again in 1994 in concert with Tavurvur. The rough 60 year schedule suggests the next big eruption could be in the 2050s. Keep in touch to book! ;) Just kidding...
A complex of huge volcanoes, Rabaul harbor and town are a complex of volcanoes of various ages. Tavurvur and Vulcan are the most recent, letting off pressure on the edge of the giant plug which forms the harbor floor and the land on which Rabaul town and Matupit Island sit. Rabaul caldera was formed about 1600 years ago with a massive explosion of gas, ash, rocks and lava that shaped the Gazelle Peninsula. When the sea breached the crater wall it produced one of the finest harbors in the world, up to 100 metres deep, which gave it huge strategic significance during World War II.
The string of volcanoes on the north side (left, as you look at the scene from the Vulcanological Observatory) Kombiu (the mother) and her north and south daughters, Tovanumbatir and Turanguna, plus another to the west, Watom Island, are thousands of years old. Behind them, to the north, is the great underwater crater of unknown age which was not even recognized for what it is until the evolution of technology made it possible to plumb the depths in the 1980s.
It is hard to imagine that today's verdant Gazelle Peninsula was a dusty gray moonscape with all life wiped out after the huge blast which formed what is now the town and harbor area, but your visit to the town and to Matupit Island gives a clue what it must have been like. Nothing is regrowing yet on areas near Matupit that bore the brunt of the searing gases and acrid, abrasive ash 20 years ago.
But over centuries plants, insects, larger animals, then the Bainings people, and finally the Tolais invaded, and the land was transformed into the hugely productive lush, green, tropical landscape it is today. In fact, the inner and outer harbors are two giant breached calderas of about the same size.
We will drive back late in the afternoon to your guest house for rest and dinner.
Kokopo Guest House (BLD) - This is a "lunch enroute" tour and we will finish in the evening.
Singsings - unique spiritual and cultural expressions
Early after breakfast, we will do a full day in Tolai village for full village study/singsing/cultural performance and the tasting of the famous tasty Igir Mumu tasting.
The spectacle kicks off with a Welcome Whip Dance by the Tolai young people.
The Bainings Fire Dance if happening at the time (or come for the large one in July) capture the eyes and imagination. It is just one of many cultural expressions in costume, choreography, song, and dance which are genuine and powerful elements of New Guinea Islands daily life.
The Tubuans are a visible manifestation of a powerful secret society among the Tolai (the people of the Rabaul-Kokopo area). At the other end of the scale are singsings dramatizing important events or just for fun -- musical comedy!
Singsings are happening all the time for a variety of reasons. No major (or often minor) event is complete without a singsing to mark the occasion. Tubuans are seen marking the opening of major gatherings, new buildings, the launching of new enterprises, and on traditional occasions.
After this village, cultural and singsing tour and final wraps up for the evening flight back to Moresby or abroad.
- END OF SERVICES –
We recommend good walking shoes/boots, loose clothing, sun lotion, hat, sunglasses, water, and camera at the ready to catch those unexpected burps of gas and ash (above).
It is recommend that loose clothing, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, comfortable shoes or sandals preferably flat, camera, water. - and maybe a shoulder bag for anything you might buy (for a few kina, you can get a rough bag sewn from a rice bag at the market)
- Accommodation ( Twin Share – Private facilities )
- All meals from Lunch on day 1 to breakfast on the last day
- Cultural performance
- Entrance fees
- Services of our tour guide who will guide on the full tour of Rabaul.
We recommend that you book and purchase domestic Air Niugini air sectors together with your international sectors, as it is cheaper when you purchase domestic air sectors from outside of PNG.